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Zoophilia*: A Hidden Horror for Animals

I entered law enforcement at 20 years of age.  When I retired 30 years later I thought I had seen the full spectrum of human abuse, violence and degradation.  The cruelty of humankind no longer shocked me, though it wore me down. Through the years I never investigated a single case of sexual abuse of an animal and none of my fellow officers ever spoke of it.  The crimes occurred under the radar, hiding in the long dark shadows of secrecy, pain and trauma. On January 25th of 2018 I… Continued

An Open Letter to Veterinarians on Referrals to Training and Behavior Professionals: Recommended Best Practices

Dear Veterinarian, There are numerous professional organizations that offer membership and credentials in the field of animal training and behavior. Few, however, hold their members to a strict code of conduct which involves the application of their trade through scientific protocols and the objective to cause no harm. Unfortunately, the pet training industry is entirely unregulated, meaning that anyone can say they are a trainer or behavior consultant. As a result, those who call themselves dog trainers, or even “dog whisperers,” may still be utilizing punitive methods, such as disc… Continued

New Puppy – What Now?

We’re getting a puppy!  How amazingly, brilliantly, wonderfully exciting…. then puppy arrives! No, really – having a puppy is an incredibly enriching period of our lives and we are indeed privileged to share our lives with these wondrous, funny, all absorbing beings. Truth is though that we owe it to these dogs, to serve them the very best we can and to do our utmost to ensure the transition from puppyhood to adulthood is as smooth as possible, for our sakes as well! A Time You Can’t Get Back –… Continued

Clicker Training for Cats (3/6)

By Paula Garber and Francine Miller Cats learn best when they are comfortable and free from distractions. They are sensitive and will flee from any threat or uncertainty (and we don’t work with them on a leash!) The best place to teach a cat is somewhere he finds quiet and familiar. This may be challenging because with their acute senses of smell and hearing they may be distracted by things we are unaware of. You should train in a place with a litter box available, fresh water and a place… Continued

The High and (Sometimes) Woes Of Puppy Parenting: What They Don’t Tell You!

By Joy Matthews So you’re getting a new puppy!  More exciting than all your birthdays put together; such cuteness that your insides turn to warm caramel; a huggable, kissable, wriggling snuggle-chum!  But wait, there are a few other things you need to know about becoming a puppy parent. Here’s what they don’t tell you about your new ‘job’ … Cash –  You blew your credit card at the pet store: a crate for pup to snooze in and be safely contained, complete with soft cosy bedding.  Toys – lots of toys… Continued

Tracking Training

By Jane Bowers Tracking is a fun activity many dogs can do and that most enjoy. Generally if a dog enjoys retrieving, has some prey drive, shows persistence in finding things and is in good health, they will do well in tracking. Success in tracking is also dependent on the skill of the trainer, the time spent teaching the dog the basics and beyond and the rewards for the dog. Tracking and search work utilizes the incredible senses that dogs possess. In particular, their sense of smell. When trained, dogs… Continued

Did you cause your dog’s separation anxiety?

By Julie Naismith “Is it my fault my dog has separation anxiety?” That’s the most common question dog owners have when they first find out their dog has separation anxiety. It can be hard to ignore the suggestion that you caused your dog’s separation anxiety. But, I’m here to tell you that you didn’t cause your dog to develop a panic disorder. Neither you nor your dog are at fault. As if it weren’t enough that your life is turned upside down by your separation anxiety dog, you had better… Continued

How to Make Medicating Your Cat Easy

By Dr. Lynn Bahr Cats may look like cuddly little balls of fuzz, but as soon as the time comes to administer medication, all cat people know that they turn into lean fighting machines capable of inflicting serious damage to hands, clothes, and more. The last time we had to give medication to one of our cats, Peanut, she summoned the strength of giant tiger into her little 7 lb. body and managed to successfully fight off two grown adults, before running under the couch where we couldn’t get to… Continued

New Delta Rules Signal Tightening Up of Rules for Service, Emotional Support Animals

Updated Feb. 25 to reflect Delta’s change: Travelers with trained service animals are encouraged, but NOT required, to provide proof of health and vaccination records 48 hours ahead of travel; passengers should have this documentation with them as Delta might request it. Those traveling with psychiatric service animals and ESAs will be required to provide all required documentation at least 48 hours ahead of their flight. US-based airline Delta announced January 19 that, effective March 1, it is tightening the rules for passengers wanting to bring service or emotional support… Continued

Teaching Deaf (and Blind) Dogs to Use Their Mouths Gently

By Debbie Bauer A common complaint among those who live with deaf (and blind/deaf) dogs is that they use their mouths roughly. This is very common throughout puppyhood and adolescence, but if dogs are not taught to use their mouths gently, this problem can extend into adulthood.  Deaf dogs sometimes get a bad rap for being more aggressive than other dogs.  But this is a myth.  Let me tell you more … Dogs use their mouths in many ways – when they eat, chew, play, discipline, bark, and too many… Continued

Preventing Dog Reactivity with a Barrier

My back door opens onto an elevated wooden porch. There are ten steps down to the yard. The top of the steps provides a view into the neighbor’s yard, which can be a very interesting place. Clara runs there when anything might be happening, primed to react. In the picture above she is watching a guest dog at the neighbor’s house. You can see that that’s not a friendly look, right? Tight commissures (corners of the mouth) with the muscles bunched and pushing forward. Direct gaze with a fairly hard… Continued

Dogs Require Daily Enrichment

As a professional dog trainer 60% of my cases are behavioral in nature. Training is about teaching dogs (and owners) how to do things while behavioral cases usually involve changing underlying emotional states such as anxiety, stress and fear.  I often see lack of enrichment in the dog’s life in behavioral cases. I often hear from owners they have a “high energy” dog who engages in annoying behaviors such as excessive barking, chewing, jumping on people, and general inability to settle down. Very often the first recourse applied by pet owners… Continued

An Open Letter To Pet Retailers Concerning The Availability of Pet Training and Management Devices That Deliver Electric Shock

In September 2017, the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) rolled out its Shock-Free Coalition, the key purpose of which is to build a strong and broad movement committed to eliminating electric shock devices from the worldwide supply and demand chain. It is our intent to fully realize the goal of shock tools and equipment being universally unavailable and no longer permitted in the training, management and care of pets anywhere. We plan to work diligently to achieve the following: 1.     To engage and educate pet owners and shelter/rescue workers to help… Continued

Burnout: When Trying to Do Good Makes You Feel Bad

You love dogs. Loved them all your life. I mean, like it’s a your religion. You read about dogs, write about dogs, think about dogs, surround yourself with dogs, can’t imagine life without dogs. And you tie yourself up in knots over dogs in shelters. You want to help them and save them and right the wrongs that may have been done to them. Contrary to popular belief, you do not want to bring them all home. You just want someone like yourself to bring them all home and love… Continued

Cold Weather House Training

By Kelly Fahey This winter I have been getting some inquiries about puppies “backsliding” in their house training. First, let me put your minds at ease and let you know that there is likely nothing wrong with your puppy. It’s COLD out. It’s unusually cold out. These frigid temperatures have moved in and don’t seem to be going anywhere. Here’s what likely is happening: Your puppy doesn’t want to be outside in the terribly cold weather and might be relieving her bladder just enough to take the pressure off, and… Continued

Clicker Training for Cats (2/6)

By Paula Garber and Francine Miller In clicker training, primary reinforcers are things that are instinctively or inherently rewarding to a cat. Reinforcers for cats should be given in small amounts and frequently to maintain learning momentum. For cats who are food motivated, use high-value food or treats for clicker training. Many cats like foods with a high animal protein content, like cooked or freeze-dried meat or fish. Other foods to try include canned tuna, deli meat, meat-based baby food (make sure it doesn’t contain onions), and liver paste made… Continued

Counterconditioning Leash Reactivity, the Hybrid Approach

Leash reactivity towards dogs, humans or traffic, is one of the most challenging training endeavors. This is simply because there is no consistency in the appearance of the stimuli, and there will most assuredly be at some point, an over threshold event for the dog due to “criteria pile up”. More than one piece of criteria at a time combined with a lack of sufficient distance, too much duration, and or both, then add in the stimulus entering the environment with intensity of both the visual and auditory components known… Continued

Separation anxiety: 7 reasons why you need to have strong support

By Julie Naismith Have you been out for a coffee recently? Did you spend the time chatting about your dog’s separation anxiety? I’m guessing not. Or if it did come up, your friends probably didn’t want to go into it in any detail. At the risk of sounding dramatic, it’s a socially isolating condition. Having a dog with separation anxiety sets you apart. No one else is going to get it. No one understands what it’s like to own a separation anxiety dog until they have one themselves. I recently… Continued

Does Your Training Language Potentially Compromise Your Credibility With the Medical Community?

The words we choose to use in our training and behavior change sessions and written client plans impact the way we are perceived. Our words Impact our credibility and thus our ability to work alongside our peers and our industry partners, particularly those who hold more senior credentials such as Board-Certified Behaviorists and Veterinarians. In any profession whether you are a presidential speech writer, a career orator or an individual service provider working with clients transferring skills and knowledge, words really do matter. The nomenclature we choose to use matters… Continued

So Easy to Miscue …

A few days ago, I heard a story on the radio about police dogs and their handlers. The reporter was talking to a retired police dog handler who now trains dogs and works as an expert witness. What he said was disturbing for anyone who gets stopped by a police officer-and-dog team, but, to anyone with dog training experience, sounds plausible. What he was talking about was how common it is for the K9 handlers to miscue their dogs. Sometimes it is conscious and intentional; the officer wants to do… Continued

Ensuring Festive Fun For Fido!

Christmas will be here again before we know it – sadly, every year, dogs can become casualties during the festive season.  So how can we ensure that everyone has a fabulous time including our furry friends? Here are a few tips: KEEP CHRISTMAS PLANTS OUT OF REACH Those lovely Christmas traditional plants are poisonous for our dogs, so keep them well out of the way: mistletoe, poinsettia, holly, and amaryllis. NO BONES It’s nice to share the Christmas turkey but, remember, don’t give your dog any bones as they can splinter… Continued

Are You SURE Your Dog Prefers That Food Toy?

It just occurred to me that it is super easy to make assumptions about how much our dogs prefer a particular food toy, or even whether they really enjoy them that much. Don’t yell at me. To be clear: I use food toys for my dogs every single day. I think they can be enriching and that they are ethical things to use. But food toys present us with a funny little problem. The laws of behavior get in the way of something we might like to know. How can we tell… Continued

Santa Claus May Scare Dogs

People around the world enjoy the winter season and many nations celebrate a version of Saint Nicholas. In the United States I witnessed an increase in commercialization and marketing hype since I was a child and Christmas decorations now appear after Halloween in my locale.  There is a lot of social pressure to “be happy” during the Christmas season. Personal and social expectations of “joy and happiness” rose substantially over the years and today pet owners may draw their dogs into the frenzy by dressing them in holiday attire or… Continued

An Open Letter to Pet Industry Representatives Regarding the Use of Shock in Animal Training, Management and Care: We now know enough to stop shocking our pets

Shocking pet dogs remains a common, if controversial, training practice worldwide. In this open letter, Pet Professional Guild (PPG) combines decades of research, the opinions of certified animal behaviorists, and the question of ethics to explain why using electric shock in the name of training and care is both ineffective and harmful. PPG concludes that shocking constitutes a form of abuse towards pets, and, given that there are highly effective, positive training alternatives, should no longer be a part of the current pet industry culture of accepted practices, tools or… Continued

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