< A version of this article was published in the Spring 2017 issue of Maine DOG Magazine>
The first use of the phrase “Man’s Best Friend” originated in 1789 when Frederick, King of Prussia, used it in reference to his Italian Greyhound. Unfortunately, to this day there are still far too many dog owners, breeders, shelters, rescues and even pet care professionals such as dog trainers and veterinarians recommending and using methods and tools that no one would ever use on his or her best friend. Fortunately for dogs, two internationally recognized groups of pet care professionals are working to help both pet professionals and pet parents to learn how to treat their dogs kindly.
The Pet Professionals Guild (PPG) was founded in 2012. Membership is open to all in the pet care services industry as well as pet parents. PPG founder Niki Tudge describes the organization as a place where professionals can come together and support and learn from each other. It is also a meeting place where pet parents can connect with pet professionals that share their values.
At the heart of the Pet Professionals Guild commitment to force-free pet care is their “Guiding Principles.” A pet care professional may only become a member if they agree to abide by these principles that state: “To be in anyway affiliated with the Pet Professional Guild all members must adhere to a strict code of conduct. Pet Professional Guild Members Understand Force-Free to mean: No shock, No pain, No choke, No fear, No physical force, No physical molding, No compulsion based methods are employed to train or care for a pet.” To me, that is a very clear statement and one of the reasons that I believe the PPG is the premier pet care organization in the world. The PPG “Guiding Principles” are perfectly in synch with my facilities “pet-friendly” philosophy. That is why we enroll our staff as PPG members once they have completed their training. The PPG has also published several position statements, such as The Pet Professional Guild Position Statement on Equipment Used for the Management, Training and Care of Pets which explains how damaging the use of shock, choke and prong collars can be.
FMI – PPG Guiding Principles – https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/PPGs-Guiding-Principles
FMI – Green Acres Kennel Shop Position Statement on Pet Friendly, Force-Free Pet Care – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2006/02/01/no-pain-no-force-no-fear-green-acres-kennel-shop-position-statement-on-pet-friendly-force-free-pet-care/
The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) is an international association of more than 36,000 veterinary care providers who treat companion animals. The AAHA was established in 1933 and is well known among veterinarians and pet owners for its standards for veterinary practices and quality pet care. Many pet owners look for their veterinary facility to be accredited by the AAHA.
The AAHA established a task force because of their concern over the number of pets presenting at veterinary hospitals with behavioral problems. In August of 2015, that task force presented their findings in a document entitled the AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines. This groundbreaking document reports “Behavioral problems affect more dogs and cats than any other medical condition and are one of the most common causes of euthanasia, relinquishment, or abandonment of pets.” The report recommends that a behavioral wellness assessment should be part of every pet’s visit to the vet.
The task force also looked at the question “Why have behavior issues become the number one issue for our pets?” According to the AAHA guidelines, it is because of:
- “Mistaken or misinformed beliefs…” about canine behavior held and circulated by Breeders, Rescues/Shelters, Pet Care Professionals (Boarding Kennels and Daycares, Dog Trainers, Dog Walkers, Groomers, Pet Sitters, and Veterinarians), and Pet Owners
- The Use of Aversive Training Techniques
The 2015 AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines explicitly opposes the use of aversive methods and tools, stating:
“This Task Force opposes training methods that use aversive techniques. Aversive training has been associated with detrimental effects on the human–animal bond, problem solving ability, and the physical and behavioral health of the patient. It causes problem behaviors in normal animals and hastens progression of behavioral disorders in distressed animals. Aversive techniques are especially injurious to fearful and aggressive patients and often suppress signals of impending aggression, rendering any aggressive dog more dangerous.
Aversive techniques include prong (pinch) or choke collars, cattle prods, alpha rolls, dominance downs, electronic shock collars, lunge whips, starving or withholding food, entrapment, and beating. None of those tools and methods should be used to either teach or alter behavior.” [Emphasis added]
FMI – AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines – https://www.aaha.org/professional/resources/behavior_management_guidelines.aspx
So what can you do as a dog parent to ensure that your dog is treated kindly? Start by educating yourself. Next, ask any pet care provider (boarding kennel/daycare, breeder, dog walker, groomer, pet sitter, trainer, and veterinarian) that you use, the following questions:
- Are you aware of the 2015 AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines and are you and your staff committed to following them?
- Are you aware of the Pet Professionals Guild Guiding Principles and their Position Statement on Equipment Used for the Management, Training and Care of Pets and are you and your staff committed to their philosophy of fear-free, force-free, and pain-free pet care and training?
If they answer no to either question, it suggests that they may not be aware of these new standards which also suggests that they may not be continuing their education, an alarming sign for someone that is a pet care professional. Even more alarming it suggests that they may be aware of the guidelines but refuse to follow them. Do not be afraid to ask, “Are you committed to not using any aversive tools or techniques while caring for my pet?” If they do not answer “yes,” you may want to look for another pet care provider.
Lastly, I encourage every pet parent to join PPG. What have you got to lose, it is free, and it is a great place for you to obtain knowledge! Check them out at http://www.petprofessionalguild.com/.
Articles on Don’s Blog (http://www.words-woofs-meows.com)
Dog Training – How science and reward-based training have pulled dog training out of the dark ages – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/04/21/dog-training-how-science-and-reward-based-training-have-pulled-dog-training-out-of-the-dark-ages/
Green Acres Kennel Shop Position Statement on Pet Friendly, Force-Free Pet Care – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2006/02/01/no-pain-no-force-no-fear-green-acres-kennel-shop-position-statement-on-pet-friendly-force-free-pet-care/
Green Acres Kennel Shop Position on the Use of Dominance and Punishment for the Training and Behavior Modification of Dogs – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2010/07/01/no-pain-no-force-no-fear-green-acres-kennel-shop-position-on-the-use-of-dominance-and-punishment-for-the-training-and-behavior-modification-of-dogs/
Pet Behavior and Wellness – Pet Behavior as an Essential Component to Holistic Wellness – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/10/28/pet-behavior-and-wellness-pet-behavior-as-an-essential-component-to-holistic-wellness/
Selecting A Pet Care Provider – Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – Green Acres Kennel Shop’s “Pet Friendly” Philosophy – Part 1 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/04/02/yes-a-trend-towards-kinder-and-gentler-professional-pet-care-green-acres-kennel-shops-pet-friendly-philosophy-part-1/
Selecting A Pet Care Provider – Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – The PPG – Part 2 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/05/02/selecting-a-pet-care-provider-yes-a-trend-towards-kinder-and-gentler-professional-pet-care-the-ppg-part-2/
Selecting A Pet Care Provider – Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – A Veterinary Perspective – Part 3 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/06/30/selecting-a-pet-care-provider-yes-a-trend-towards-kinder-and-gentler-professional-pet-care-a-veterinary-perspective-part-3/
Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (http://www.woofmeowshow.com)
<Click on the title to listen to the show>
Position Statements on Animal Behavior, Training, and Care
2015 American Animal Hospital Association Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines – https://www.aaha.org/professional/resources/behavior_management_guidelines.aspx
The Guiding Principles of the Pet Professional Guild – http://www.petprofessionalguild.com/PPGs-Guiding-Principles
The Pet Professional Guild Position Statement on the Use of Pet Correction Devices – http://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Equipment-Used-for-the-Management-Training-and-Care-of-Pets
The Pet Professional Guild Position Statement on the Use of Choke and Prong Collars – http://www.petprofessionalguild.com/chokeandprongcollarpositionstatement/
The Pet Professional Guild Position Statement on the Use of Shock In Animal Training – http://www.petprofessionalguild.com/shockcollars/
The Pet Professional Guild Position Statement on the Use of Dominance Theory in Animal Training – http://www.petprofessionalguild.com/DominanceTheoryPositionStatement/
The Pet Professional Guild Position Statement on Puppy Socialization – http://www.petprofessionalguild.com/PuppySocializationPositionStatement/
American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) Position Statement on the Use of Dominance Theory in Behavior Modification of Animals – https://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Dominance_Position_Statement_download-10-3-14.pdf
American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) Position Statement on The Use of Punishment for Behavior Modification in Animals – https://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Punishment_Position_Statement-download_-_10-6-14.pdf
American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) Position Statement on Puppy Socialization – https://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Puppy_Socialization_Position_Statement_Download_-_10-3-14.pdf
American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) Position Statement on Positive Veterinary Care – https://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Positive-Veterinary-Care-Position-Statement-download.pdf
Professional Pet Care Associations
The Pet Professional Guild – http://www.petprofessionalguild.com/
The Pet Professional Accreditation Board – http://www.credentialingboard.com/
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop (greenacreskennel.com) in Bangor. He is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC) and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). He produces and co- hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show heard on The Pulse AM620 WZON and streamed at http://www.wzonradio.com/ every Saturday at 9 AM. A list of upcoming shows and podcasts of past shows can be found at www.woofmeowshow.com. Don also writes about pets at his blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com.
©10-Apr-17, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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