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Thumbs and Empathy

By Bob McMillan I spotted it driving down a rural road in Tennessee just before dawn one morning on my way to work. At the edge of my headlights, strolling nonchalantly down a driveway, was a coyote, unperturbed by my passing car. My first thought was, “You lucky dog. You go where you want to go, do what you want to do when you want to do it. You’re free, the master of your own domain.” I was a little sleep-addled, obviously, because my three dogs were back home doing exactly… Continued

Why is Colin Growling?

Understandably we don’t like our dogs to growl and it can be embarrassing, but growling is GOOD. Growling tells us what our dog is feeling. Growling gives us the key to open the door to the dog’s emotions. When we know what he is feeling, we then know what to do about it. Colin is a four-year-old collie-terrier cross looking like a very small Border Collie. He lives with his lady owner and a 16-year-old shih tzu called Barney, who is very slow moving, blind and deaf. Whenever Barney approaches Colin, he growls. The… Continued

L-Bo’s Dog Blog: Making Memories

On the morning of May 24 I walked the Woodford Wag 2K in Versailles, Kentucky. The dog walk and accompanying 5K run benefit the Woodford Humane Society. My walking partners were my senior rat terrier Zip and his wire fox terrier buddy Clever Trevor. We had a good time. We did not walk the fastest, but we, by no means, walked the slowest. Most interesting to me is how much Zip relies on Trevor to walk with him and maintain a steady pace; otherwise, Zip can be stressed without his “goat” to keep him… Continued

How to Talk Dog

Dogs and humans have been friends for thousands of years. In fact based on some of the latest studies, it is estimated that dogs evolved from wolves almost 40,000 years ago. But what is most incredible is that science, until the last decade, hadn’t been interested in studying dogs; after all why bother with a common domesticated animal when there are so many exotic species to study? But they couldn’t have been more wrong, as it is domestication that sets these amazing creatures apart from other animals and as such… Continued

If I Knew Then What I Know Now

By Bob McMillan If the Hound of the Baskervilles ever needed a stand-in, my dog Cuchulain would have pushed to the head of the line. A Scottish deerhound/Irish Wolfhound mix, he was a 130-pound guided missile of shaggy black fur, crazy long legs and very big teeth. The day he started rushing at strangers and snapping is the day I began to seriously rethink my approach to dog training. “No really, he’s not aggressive,” I reassured them shrilly. I was a little less convincing than the dog looking them level… Continued

Heading for the Dog Park? Remember the Parable of the Gorilla and the Human in the Lion Park

Gaining some insight into how their dog might be feeling can be a big motivator for people who implement methods of force with their dog-reactive dogs, and can potentially make all the difference. People may commonly label their dog ‘aggressive’ and resort to using force, which makes matters even worse. Without realizing it they may be forcing their dog into having no other options but to behave aggressively and he may even be pushed to redirect his frustration/fear/anger onto them. It is very damaging to their relationship. A dog should be able… Continued

Never Look Back: How the Switch to Force-Free Changed My World

Like so many of us, I got involved in dog training thanks to a dog who entered my life. While I had always had dogs, my only attempted at formal training was a failure. Back in the early 80s, the methods were forceful. My dog hid when I got the training collar out for class 2. I took note of his message and terminated our classes. In 1999, another dog entered my life who was extremely challenging. She was mouthy, easily aroused and reactive to other dogs. After several classes… Continued

The Clicker versus Yes!

I have recently seen and heard discussions on message boards and dog training forums about the use of clickers versus verbal markers such as using ‘yes’. I actually use and recommend both, not at the same time as this weakens the conditioning effect through either blocking or overshadowing, but for different applications they can both have their place. When I work with my dogs I can either use ’yes’ as a conditioned reinforcer or a clicker. What is important when using either of these tools is that the conditioning has… Continued

Reality Check for Carers/Owners of Dogs with ‘Issues’

LOSING HEART Why do so many clients with fearful or reactive dogs, who often have started off so well, lose heart? The reason is because they just don’t fully accept the time and work that changing fear-based or guarding behaviors in particular can take. Teaching people is the easy bit. A large part of my job is about keeping people on track. REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS We live in an age of devices and gimmicks which make things work quickly or instantly; extra fast broadband, instant online ordering of goods, instant communication… Continued

How Did The Aversive Get There? A Call for Honesty

I am mystified by one particular argument of those who use protocols for fearful or reactive dogs other than desensitization/counterconditioning (DS/CC). These other protocols often use negative reinforcement; if not that, then sometimes desensitization without counterconditioning; sometimes extinction; sometimes habituation. People who practice these protocols intentionally expose their dogs to their triggers at an aversive level at times, as opposed to people who practice pure DS/CC, which is ideally practiced at a distance or intensity such that the trigger is not aversive to the animal. The argument that bothers me is this:… Continued

Understanding Canine Body Language Essential to Preventing Dog Bites

The Pet Professional Guild (PPG) is promoting education and a better understanding of canine body language as paramount in reducing the number of dog bites this National Dog Bite Prevention Week, taking place 18 – 24 May, 2014. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), there is an estimated population of 70 million dogs currently living in U.S. households and about 4.5 million people – most of them children – are bitten by dogs every year. However, the majority of these bites, if not all, are preventable. In spite of… Continued

A Dirty Big Secret – Get With The Program

A basic strategic marketing plan is paramount as a small business owner, no matter how good you are at what you do, says Niki Tudge First published in “Barks From The Guild” (Spring 2014), the official publication of The Pet Professional Guild. For many small business owners, taking the time to develop a marketing strategy can seem so overwhelming that it never even makes it onto their to-do list. In fact, one’s marketing strategy may never even emerge from being a thought or a remote possibility. But let me share… Continued

If They Could March

re blogged from  Your Pit Bull and You If They Could March by Jean Donaldson If dogs could march on Washington, what would they march about?  Adequate food, shelter, veterinary care?  Big ticket stuff, but I doubt it.  When people march, it’s never for something everybody already agrees on and for which there are laws on the books.  Everybody gets it that it’s Wrong and Bad and Illegal to starve dogs.  It’d be like people marching on Washington against burglary. What about dog fighting?  It’s a hellish scourge, which the… Continued

Got Voice? Can Sing! The PPG Force-Free Boogie

Get into the force-free boogie. Sing along to the upbeat, toe- tapping, music about force-free training and PPG. On a serious note PPG is looking for some vocal talent to record this song for us. Contact Niki Tudge by email if you are interested Lyrics by Melissa Hagood Music and Recording by Ted Performed by Puppy Breath featuring Ted and SoWal Steve   What’s the fun way to train?        Force free! What’s the loving way to train?    Force free! Make it the only way you train!    Force free! Force… Continued

Choke, prong and shock collars can irreversibly damage your dog.

by Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM Read the full blog here Why can collars cause hypothyroidism and other health problems Learn about better alternatives. Before you start reading the following lines, I invite you to do a little test. Open your hands with your thumbs touching each other. Place the thumbs at the base of the throat and with the fingers pointing back and surrounding the neck. Now, take a deep breath, squeeze and pull back with all your force keeping your thumbs connected. This is how many dogs feel when… Continued

Why Would We Want to Be Pack Leaders?

By Niki Tudge There are so many inaccurate facts that need to be dispelled about dogs and the dog training industry. The use of dominance theory and the necessity to be a pack leader using this dominance theory is one of the more concerning inaccurate facts that as professionals we have an obligation to educate pet owners about.  Using powerful, engaging and educational messages we need to encourage pet owners to reconsider these outdated facts and misconceptions about their dogs and their relationship with their dogs and look toward more… Continued

The PPG Ethics Review Process

The Ethics Committee The ethics committee at The Pet Professional Guild consists of a committee Chair and three other PPG members. The key role of the Ethics Committee is to investigate all reported ethics violations. Your Pet Professional Guild Ethics Committee are: Chair – Catherine Zehner. Committee Members are Robert A King, Diane Garrod and Debra Millikan. How To Report an Ethics Violation The following is how a report of an alleged violation of the Pet Professional Guild’s Guiding Principles is handled. Reports of alleged membership violations will be handled… Continued

The PPG Position Statement On Reality Dog Training

In recent years, much creditable scientific study has been given to dog training and behavior modification methods and their respective efficacy and consequences.  The preponderance of the evidence shown by these studies indicates that the implementation of training and/or behavior modification protocols predicated upon “dominance theory” and social structures (“alpha,” or “leader of pack”), usage of physical or mental force, intimidation, coercion or fear are empirically less effective and often create as a consequence “fallout” behaviors – behaviors which may be dangerous to the human and animal involved. Some of… Continued

Choke and Prong Collars: Health Concerns Call for Equipment Change in Dog Training

By Angelica Steinker and Niki Tudge © 2012 Effective training procedures lay the foundation for an animal’s healthy socialization, capacity for learning and will help prevent behavior problems.  Since a wide variety of equipment and tools are commonly used when training pets and in their daily activities, the pet-owning public needs to be aware of the potential problems and dangers some equipment may pose. Specifically, the use of collars and leads that are intended to apply constriction, pressure, pain or force around a dog’s neck (such as ‘choke chains’ and… Continued

Take the Choke Out of Walking Your Dog!

by Niki Tudge April is designated Pet First Aid Awareness Month™ so I started thinking about the things  that pet dog owners may be doing on a daily basis that could be risking the long term health of their dogs without their knowledge. The practice of using choke collars and jerking the lead as a “correction” that many people still use when training and handling their dog can do so much physical and mental damage to the dog. The most common ‘use’ of the ‘jerk’ correction I have noticed is… Continued

Coercion in Pet Dog Training Leads Dogs To a “Life of Quiet Desperation”

by Niki Tudge Scientifically we all acknowledge that negative and positive reinforcement in the scientific sense can develop and strengthen behaviors.  The question is, at what cost? I make this statement very loosely as one must consider the meaning of “teach.” As Murray Sidman states in his book, “Coercion and Its Fallout,” if you want to do studies on escape or avoidance behaviors then present negative reinforcers (Sidman 2000). When training your pet dog, if you want to turn them into a creature devoid of personality then approach your teaching… Continued

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