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“No-Kill” Shelters Are Not Enough

An article I read recently in the New York Times (online) talked about a downside of a heavy emphasis on no-kill policies at shelters: By focusing on getting dogs and cats into new homes, the shelters might be neglecting the reasons many of those animals are in the shelter in the first place. Many people abandon their pets because they cannot afford to feed them or house them or provide needed veterinary care. I don’t for a minute think that that is the only reason animals end up in shelters, but… Continued

How to Make Your Training Work!

All dogs can learn amazing things. Sometimes it’s us (maybe more than sometimes!) who don’t allow our dogs to fulfill their full potential, for whatever reason – time, other commitments, know-how etc. I want to look at a few things here that can help you make your training work better, just little things that will make that difference. Use Positive Power This one kind of goes without saying! If you’re battling with your dog, using punishment, chastising him and relying on aversives, then you’re only serving to cause fear and… Continued

Pet Professional Guild announces junior membership and accreditation program

New levels aim to ensure next generation of pet professionals is educated in force-free, ethical, scientifically sound training methods; first 20 to register sign up for free NEWS RELEASE – WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. – Aug. 22, 2018: The Pet Professional Guild (PPG) has launched a junior membership program to help educate the next generation of pet professionals in the application and practice of humane, scientifically sound training methods. As such, membership is now open to children, teenagers and young adults in order to help them learn and understand the fundamentals of pet care, behavior and… Continued

The Best I Can Be

By David Shade Unfortunately, I have seen firsthand what happens to a dog when a misinformed or unaware owner practices what one might politely call questionable training techniques, such as alpha rolling and positive punishment (a.k.a. aversives). As professional trainers and PPG members, we are aware that many dog owners have good intentions but simply do not realize that the application of outdated dominance theory can be incredibly damaging to a dog’s psyche. Indeed, when owners try to establish so-called dominance over a dog to prove themselves to be the… Continued

Project Trade at Work

By Susan Kendrick As a network, our goal is to teach, guide and coach animal caregivers how to use force-free methods, rewards, and respect to build a bond of mutual trust and love with their pets. I am happy to say we stayed busy all day with interested pet parents wanting to learn more about modern, scientifically sound training methods…As soon as people saw our no pull, no pain alternative for enjoying a walk with their dog, they were sold. People willingly wanted to do the right thing for their pet,… Continued

Dogs Don’t Write Checks

By Mary Jean Alsina I think it would be fair to say that most trainers get into dog training because they adore dogs and want to spend as much time as possible with them. However, unless dogs acquire credit cards, bank accounts and opposable thumbs, trainers must learn to work in tandem with humans. Forming relationships and connections with humans and being able to communicate what to do with the dog is an area in which trainers need to excel in order to be successful in the dog training arena. As… Continued

A Language for All Species

By Beth Napolitano I continued to observe my new baby’s behavior during several daily play sessions to make sure she was feeling amenable and having fun. We took turns mock chasing each other, sometimes with my hand and other times with her personal small stuffed toy. If she hunched up her back and intermittently hopped around or chased my hand, I knew she was enjoying it. Usually play lasted a few minutes and I let her tell me when it was over. If she stared or backed away, that was… Continued

Agility with a Difference

By Morag Heirs There are many successful deaf dogs taking part in fun agility, weekly training sessions and competing at all levels. In most cases, spectators would be hard pressed to tell the difference between the deaf dog and the hearing dog…Says Gibbs: “Horus and I started agility within a couple of months of his adoption as a 2-year-old, solely because I thought it would help us communicate and bond. There was never any intention of competing. I thought it would be impossible with a highly reactive deaf dog. Entering… Continued

The Long Way Home

By Lara Joseph It became clear to me that, during Koko’s time at the zoo his interactions with humans had commonly been paired with aversives, so I agreed to take on the challenge of working with him. It was my goal to get him out of his cage and make it a pleasurable experience for him…I was not comfortable putting my hands near Koko without cage bars between us or without him having his beak targeted between the cage bars. I had observed that he was not comfortable with large… Continued

The Equine Play System

By Kathie Gregory Play enables an animal to practice and project emotional states in safety, without intent. We have all seen play get out of hand, and that would seem to be the result of play turning into actual emotional states that take the mind out of the play circuit and into other emotional systems. These actual emotions then need to be processed and addressed, hence the change from play to seriousness. Play deprivation results in intense bouts of play when the opportunity arises. Panksepp (2014) states that the urge… Continued

Lost and Found

By Paula Garber Sabi and Wabi are 7-year-old long-haired Russian blue neutered male siblings. When their previous owner, an elderly man, died suddenly, they were left alone in their home for several months “fending for themselves.” Family members stopped by once a week only to put out food and water. Although the family described them as affectionate, the cats had become extremely fearful. When a local shelter was called in to remove them from the home, they “went wild” and had to be captured. Both Sabi’s and Wabi’s fur was badly… Continued

Lulu’s Lottery: Life Lessons from a Boxer

By David Shade I was one of many returning warfighters who had to walk this difficult path of transitioning back into society…I still felt like I had to keep my guard up around the clock. And Lulu would also help me with this. She showed off her skills as an organic alarm system, always letting me know whenever someone approached our house. When I was asleep at night and there was a noise, she would immediately alert me of the impending danger. For some people, this might have been irritating.… Continued

Distinguishing Night from Day

By Debbie Bauer Some people living with blind/deaf dogs report that their dogs have trouble staying asleep all night.  Often their dogs will wake them during the night and can’t seem to settle back down to sleep. If your blind/deaf dog is unable to distinguish between light and dark, it may be challenging to help her tell the difference between day and night.  This can make it challenging for you to get enough sleep on a proper schedule. Keeping a bedtime routine can be helpful.  Create as many clear cues… Continued

Dog Owners Appreciative of Gear Swap

By Kathy Reilly In April, we participated in Pet Palooza, a local event which was sponsored by the Charlotte Humane Society…In order to attract people to our booth and really begin to change their minds about aversive training devices, however, we planned a trade-in program. Much like PPG’s gear switch program, Project Trade, we offered free harnesses to anyone that would trade in their shock, prong, or choke collar. The result was amazing…If a dog passed our booth wearing a shock, prong or choke collar, we would approach (with harness… Continued

Canine Professionals and Court Testimony

By Daniel Antolec “Overaggressive marketing of training services can result in liability based on false expectations about a trainer. If you hold yourself up to possess special expertise in an area, then you will be held to the same standard as an expert in that area. I am thinking specifically of the term ‘behaviorist’ to describe a trainer. If you are not an accredited applied animal behaviorist or a veterinarian who is board certified in animal behavior, my recommendation is do not use the term ‘behaviorist’ to describe what you do.… Continued

From the Horse’s Perspective

By Kathie Gregory There is a general perception that using food in teaching will cause the horse to be rude, mug you, be “pushy,” or start nipping. People often dismiss the possibility of using food for these reasons, but the above situations can arise when working with any animal, it is not unique to horses. There are plenty of dogs who will behave in the same manner if they haven’t been trained otherwise…All of these words are labels from a human perspective. In fact, a horse does not know the concept… Continued

A Quick Fix

By Vicki Ronchette If we expect an animal’s behavior to change, we need to implement changes in the world around them…Quick fixes are generally not permanent, long-term solutions. However, there is one piece of applied behavior analysis that allows us to sometimes get a quick, sometimes immediate change in behavior and that is by creating a change in the antecedent…When faced with a problem behavior with a bird take a look at the environment and see if there is anything you can change in the general set up to affect the… Continued

A Good Start in Life

By Francine Miller The amount of handling a cat receives, the age at which this occurs, and the number of handlers all affect a kitten’s degree of friendliness towards people later in life. Frequent gentle handling and play with varied people including men, women and supervised children is ideal. It is important to encourage the cat to be comfortable with being held, picked up and touched in different places, such as the ears, paws and belly. You can socialize a kitten very well in as little as 15 minutes of daily… Continued

A Life Full of Learning

By Rachel Lane Dustin was scared of many things (for example, the refrigerator, and any sort of extreme emotions on my part, such as being too angry, excited or upset). He was scared any time he made a mess inside my apartment, like urinating or vomiting. I learned that he was happy and content in his crate; liked squishy treats, but not biscuits; and that he was potty-trained, and not destructive. He would play with his toys for hours and he was a little cuddle bug at night on the… Continued

Setting a Course to Confidence

By Diane Garrod Can confidence be built in dogs? If so, how and what does a confident dog look like versus one that isn’t confident? Confidence building requires helping a dog to feel safe, to trust again, and to change habits, while guardians may be changing attitudes, tweaking their home environments and also changing life-long habits. A dog who is not confident portrays this in a way that looks very much like fear. Fear in dogs can be debilitating, stressful, and cause them to act out, react and even aggress. All… Continued

Reading List for Dog Owners

When I got my first dog in 1983 I knew nothing about living with dogs, so naturally I got a puppy.  Needless to say I knew even less about raising a puppy.  Samantha relied upon me to teach her, and I relied upon the only source available at the time: a book. If there were local dog trainers or puppy classes in particular I was unaware of them.  There was no internet to search nor a Pet Professional Guild to inform me.  I bought the best selling dog training book… Continued

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