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Using C-BARQ as an Assessment Tool

I accept behavioral cases within my dog training practice when I have the necessary education and experience to help, and I refer cases beyond my ability to other professionals. Gathering as much information about the dog in question is important to know which is which. One tool I use is Canine Behavioral Assessment & Research Questionnaire (C-BARQ) which is “designed to provide dog owners and professionals with standardized evaluations of canine temperament and behavior.” C-BARQ was developed by Dr. James Serpell, Professor of Animal Welfare at the University of Pennsylvania,… Continued

Pet Professional Guild publishes open letter to pet industry associations on the use of shock

Calls on organizations representing pet professionals to drive significant change by publicly saying “no” to any training technique that causes pain or fear TAMPA, Fla. – March 6, 2017 – PRLog — Pet Professional Guild (PPG) has released an open letter to pet industry representatives on the use of electric shock as a tool for training and behavior modification in pets. In the letter, PPG draws on a number of scientific studies and surveys to explain why shock constitutes a form of abuse towards pets, and should no longer be… Continued

Thoughts on the Controversy over “A Dog’s Purpose”

A reader recently asked me what I think of the controversy over the movie A Dog’s Purpose, particularly allegations that a dog was abused during filming. I had had tickets to a preview showing that was a fundraiser for a local dog rescue organization. However, the preview was canceled and the rescue organization took a loss once the film clip showing the alleged abuse was released, so I was already following this controversy. Here’s my take on it. First, a caveat: We’ll never know the whole story. There have been good… Continued

Finding the Underlying Cause for Barking

Go to any online dog forum and the question will come up rather sooner than later: My dog barks, what should I do? The advice then often starts with citronella or even shock collars, rattle cans, and other unpleasant devices such as high pitched noises to name a few. I find it rather scary how easily we resort to punishment; at best doing something unpleasant and at worst something painful and scary to the dog. I am making no excuses; this is abuse plain and simple. There is a reason… Continued

Dominance in Canine Behavior: Reality or Myth?

By Don Hanson BFRAP CDBC ACCBC CPDT-KA It was in the September of 2002 that the first version of this article appeared in Paw Prints, the Green Acres Kennel Shop newsletter. I update the article on a regular basis because sadly there are still too many people promulgating the dominance myth. Unfortunately a popular reality TV show has captured people’s attention and is talking about dogs as pack animals and again perpetuating the idea of using “calm-assertive energy” (read: fear and intimidation) to resolve issues with problem dogs.  Like most… Continued

Transparency in Training and Behavior

Those in the world of canine training and behavior know there is a wide gap between philosophy and methods employed by professionals, and even some rifts between professional organizations. It can be confusing for those of us in the field, and more so for pet owners who just want help. I have heard the founder of The Pet Professional Guild, Niki Tudge, speak passionately about the need for transparency as a consumer issue. Until I heard her say so I never thought of it that way. Now I am more… Continued

Latent Learning: The Original Definition

Latent learning has a precise definition in learning theory and it’s not what many people think. It’s not magic learning that happens during downtime–at least not in the way people assume. It is not a sudden better performance after a break between training sessions. It’s not when everything suddenly comes together after we sleep on it. Here’s the definition: [Latent learning is] learning that occurs during non-reinforced trials but that remains unused until the introduction of a reinforcer provides an incentive for using it.–Lieberman, David A. Learning: Behavior and Cognition.… Continued

The Words We Use!

The more I work as a behavior consultant, the more I realize how much we are all influenced by both the opinions and attitudes of those around us and, possibly more importantly, how the words we, and other people, use. One of the challenges for equine behavior consultants is the problem of stereotypical behavior. For those of you aren’t horse professionals; stereotypies in horses most commonly occur in the stable although occasionally this can be transferred into the field environment.  The behaviors most prevalent (although there are others) are windsucking, where the… Continued

Pet Professional Guild Releases Schedule, Opens Registration for 2017 Summit

Educational summit in Orlando, Florida will feature a wide range of renowned speakers, hands-on labs, academic sessions with new Ph.D presenters, package and payment options, plus an event app to keep registrants up-to-date TAMPA, Fla. – Jan. 31, 2017 – PRLog — The Pet Professional Guild (PPG) has released the schedule and opened registration for its third annual summit, taking place at the at the Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Resort in Orlando, Florida from Thursday, November 16 to Monday, November 20, 2017. The event promises three and a half days… Continued

Marshmallow Tests for Dogs

A guide dog partner, Deni Elliott, devised a dog version of the marshmallow test for her guide dog. She administered it to her guide Alberta a few years ago. Alberta did well; she actually did many of the things that children who take the marshmallow test do — she looked away, she distracted herself. She didn’t use her toes as a piano or sing a song, but she did distract herself from temptation. In her case, temptation was a bowl full of dog cookies. We were delighted with her response,… Continued

Insecure Teenage Dogs at the Off Leash Park

Recently I got asked: “What should I do when my dog goes over to another dog, puts his head over the other dog’s shoulder and, depending on the other dog’s reaction, they will start squabbling?” So far no one got hurt. The dog is just two years old and has no previous history of aggression. Most dogs go through a phase where they become a bit ‘stroppy’ (as we say in Australia) with other dogs in off leash situations. Anecdotal evidence suggests that male dogs may be more prone to… Continued

Pet Professional Guild announces scholarship program for members to further force-free education

Eligible candidates can apply for educational opportunities that support PPG’s stance on avoiding the use of aversive methods and equipment in animal care and training WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. – Jan. 17, 2017 – PRLog — The Pet Professional Guild (PPG) is to provide a limited number of scholarships for members to further their education in force-free training and/or pet care. Under the PPG Education Scholarship Program, members will be able to apply for suitable educational programs offered by organizations that support PPG’s Guiding Principles and goals, with a focus on… Continued

Words Matter

By Don Hanson BFRAP CDBC ACCBC CPDT-KA Dog lovers use a variety of words when talking about their favorite subject. Sometimes we use a word because it is it is the only one we know, or sometimes we use a word out of habit, even when we know there is a better choice. That is why, as our knowledge of dogs has changed, it is important to reevaluate some of the words and phrases that we commonly use to define our dogs and the relationship we have with them. Word… Continued

PPG Publishes Open Letter to Veterinarians on Referrals to Training and Behavior Professionals

Expresses concern that, in an unregulated industry, pet owners may be referred to individuals who do not use scientific protocols or adhere to the premise to do no harm, regardless of credentials WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. – Jan. 16, 2017 – PRLog — Pet Professional Guild (PPG) has published an open letter to veterinarians and animal care professionals regarding the practice of referring clients to pet training and behavior consultants. In the letter, PPG expresses its concern that, because the animal training and behavior industry is currently unregulated, pet owners may… Continued

Pet Professional Guild Announces New Look, Innovative Educational Events for 2017 and 2018

Conventional annual summit in Orlando, Florida will be supplemented with practical, multi-species behavior and training workshops in Kanab, Utah WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. – Jan. 9, 2017 – The Pet Professional Guild (PPG) has announced the dates and location of this year’s annual summit, as well as a smaller educational event next year to incorporate a number of hands-on, multi-species workshops with internationally acclaimed animal training and behavior experts. PPG’s third annual educational Force-Free Summit will take place at the Sheraton Lake Buena Vista hotel in Orlando, Florida from November 16-20,… Continued

Pet Professional Guild Releases Position Statement on Pet Correction Devices

Pet Professional Guild Press Release Pet Professional Guild (PPG) has released a new position statement on so-called “pet correction devices” that are used for the management, training and care of pets. PPG does not recommend such devices and the move comes as part of its ongoing mission to create greater awareness amongst pet owners, industry professionals, and the general public of non-aversive training and pet care methods. The newly-released document, Pet Professional Guild Position Statement on Pet Correction Devices, defines pet correction devices as “aversive stimuli intended for pet care,… Continued

Natural vs. Contrived Negative Reinforcement

I read the following online the other day: People shouldn’t object to the use of negative reinforcement! It’s just stuff like washing my hands when they are dirty or drying them when they are wet. What’s wrong with that? This is a fairly common defense of using negative reinforcement (R-) in training. The defender points out that R- is common in life and trots out a benign-sounding example or two. Here’s a quick review of the definition of negative reinforcement: In negative reinforcement, a behavior is strengthened by the removal, or a decrease in… Continued

Countering The Aversive

Some pet dog trainers that are either using aversive methods or some that call themselves “balanced”, and use a combination of both aversive approaches and food rewards, may carry the notion that positive reward based trainers are against them personally, or that are looking to have them stop training dogs. While I can only speak for myself, it is not personal at all. What it boils down to for me, and many others, is the potential fallouts of using shock or choke, and/or physically reprimanding a dog that has me and… Continued

Proper Education, Not Faulty Legislation For Pet Dog Trainers

The profession of companion, or “pet” dog training is one that requires little more than the willingness to do it and promote oneself. There is no licensing required. Let me state right up front that given the appalling lack of education and the major divisions among pet dog trainers, there cannot be proper legitimate licensing that will give consumers more assurances of quality when they choose to hire someone. It is for these reasons and a few others that I am against the licensing of any pet dog trainers in… Continued

No More Henrys

A headline a few weeks ago caught my eye: PetSmart, groomer are sued in death of dog. Obviously, this should never happen. Reading the article just made me sad, and angry. The dog, Henry, a year-old dachshund, went to the groomer to get his nails trimmed. He emerged, bloody, with two broken ribs and a punctured lung, struggling to breathe. He died soon after. The owners’ lawsuit seeks more than damages for their suffering and Henry’s. They want change. They want the state (it happened in California) to license groomers. Grooming… Continued

Christmas Puppy – What a Great Idea?

Do not get me wrong, I am not talking about giving someone a puppy for Christmas or buying a puppy on impulse. I am talking about a long awaited puppy who, for no other reason but the mother coming into season at a certain time, comes home for Christmas. Or a family deciding to bring a new rescue dog home at this time of the year because they have time to settle him in. Christmas is the time when everyone is very social and off work so by definition it… Continued

Ad Hoc Advocacy

Advocacy opportunities sometimes pop up unexpectedly, as happened to me in November 2016. I contribute a column to a local weekly newspaper and while perusing an issue I found an interview with the public works director of a nearby village. He casually mentioned spraying herbicide in the dog park to control thistles. The director responded to my email inquiry and identified a specific 2,4-D product in use, inviting me to attend a meeting of the Park Board in two weeks. Knowing nothing about 2,4-D I did a little research and… Continued

It Was Coming Right At Me!

I am so interested in how dogs perceive things, and how they notice differences that we don’t, or that we take for granted. Those differences can matter to them a great deal. An example of that was the focus of my recent post, “Intruder in the Yard!,” about Zani’s response to a landscape timber in my yard that had rolled out of place. Clara, with her feral puppyhood, appears to discriminate between people to an extreme. She socializes with a few people besides me now, but each person has behaviors Clara is comfortable with, and everybody’s… Continued

#iSpeakDog Campaign to Bridge Communication Gap between People and Their Dogs

To help improve the relationship people have with their dogs, The Academy for Dog Trainers, the Humane Rescue Alliance, The Bark Magazine, and The Pet Professional Guild have teamed up to launch iSpeakDog, a global campaign and website designed to help people better understand dog body language and behavior. The iSpeakDog Campaign, which will launch as a week-long campaign March 27 – April 1, 2017 but is already posting on Facebook, comes at a time when canine behavior is being studied more than ever — revealing that people often misinterpret… Continued

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