Podcast – ENCORE: Pet Behavior, Vets & The AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines – Dr. Dave Cloutier – Veazie Veterinary Clinic

<Click to listen to podcast>

2JUL16-ENCORE-AAHA Bhx Guidelines w Dave Cloutier 400x400Sometimes the topics we discuss on the show are so important we choose to run the show again. This is one of those shows. In this encore presentation of a show that aired on March 12th,  Kate, Don and Dr. Dave Cloutier of the Veazie Veterinary Clinic discuss the American Animal Hospital Associations (AAHA) new guidelines on behavior management for dogs and cats. This groundbreaking document represents the first time that a major veterinary organization has addressed pet behavior. According to the guidelines “More dogs and cats are affected by behavioral problems than any other condition, often resulting in euthanasia, relinquishment of the patient, or chronic suffering.” Tune in and learn why behavior is so important and why a behavioral assessment should be part of every pet’s annual wellness exam.

Dr. Cloutier, Kate, and Don discuss reasons for an increase in behavior problems, and how these problems can best be addressed. Dr. Cloutier explains changes he and his colleagues have made to work towards free-free visits for their clients. We address serious behavioral problems such as separation anxiety and aggression as well as nuisance behaviors like jumping, barking, and counter surfing. We discuss how veterinarians and dog trainers can work together and why it is essential to focus on rewarding desired behaviors and removing rewards for unwanted behaviors. Lastly, we review the guidelines recommendations on refraining from using any training methods that use aversive techniques such as electronic shock collars, choke collars, prong collars, alpha-rollovers, and other things that work on the basis of fear, intimidation, force, discomfort or pain.

You can hear The Woof Meow Show on The Pulse AM620, WZON, and WKIT HD3 at 9 AM on Saturday. If you are not near a radio, listen on your computer at http://www.wzonthepulse.com or your smartphone or tablet with the free WZON 620 AM app. A podcast of the show is typically posted immediately after the show, and can be downloaded at www.woofmeowshow.com and the Apple iTunes store.

<Click to listen to podcast>

Recommended Resources

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/

A Rescue Dogs Perspective on Dog Training – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/01/04/dog-training-a-rescue-dogs-perspective/

Canine Behavior – Understanding, Identifying, and Coping with Canine Stress – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/11/01/canine-behavior-understanding-identifying-and-coping-with-canine-stress/

Dog Behavior – Dominance: Reality or Myth – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/06/20/dog-behavior-dominance-reality-or-myth/

Dog Training: A Holistic Approach to Dog Training (Parts 1 & 2) – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/02/01/dogs-dog-training-a-holistic-approach-to-dog-training-parts-1-2/

Dog Training – The Four Essentials For A Great Dog – Part 1 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/02/02/dog-training-the-four-essentials-for-a-great-dog-part-1-knowledge-relationship-management-training/

Dog Training – The Four Essentials For A Great Dog – Part 2 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/02/28/dog-training-the-four-essentials-for-a-great-dog-part-2/

Dog Training – What Is Clicker Training? – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2007/02/01/dog-training-what-is-clicker-training/

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position Statement on Pet-Friendly, Force-Free Pet Care –  http://www.greenacreskennel.com/boarding/what-is-pet-friendly

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position Statement on the Use of Dominance and Punishment for the Training and Behavior Modification of Dogs – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/training/position-on-the-use-of-dominance-and-punishment-for-the-training-and-behavior-modification-of-dogs

The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collars – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2013/08/05/dogs-the-unintended-consequences-of-shock-collar/

 

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (http://www.woofmeowshow.com)

<Click on the title to listen to the show>

2015 Dog Training Classes at Green Acres Kennel Shop

Canine Behavior: Myths and Facts

The Four Essentials to A Great Dog  

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate with special guest host Dr. Mark Hanks – part 1

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate with special guest host Dr. Mark Hanks – part 2

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate with special guest host Dr. Mark Hanks – part 3

The Dominance and Alpha Myth
©2016, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Canine Behavior – Myths and Facts – Part 1, Where do we get our knowledge about dogs?

< A version of this article was published in the May 2016 issue of Down East Dog News>

Don and Muppy-Fall 2015-1I recently asked listeners of The Woof Meow Show to email me questions that we could answer on the show. A dog training colleague who listens to the show asked: “What is the one thing you wish every dog owner knew about dogs? My answer was that I wished people knew more about canine behavior, specifically what is factual, and what is not.

According to the American Animal Hospital Association’s 2015 AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines,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.” This document posits that mistaken or misinformed beliefs about canine behavior are a major reason for these behavioral problems, This column is the first in a multi-part series where I hope to educate readers and dispel some of these myths. However, first, I think we need to look where we get our information about dogs.

Interestingly, society has many misconceptions about dogs and what constitutes normal canine behavior. Many of those misconceptions go back to what we “learned” about dogs as children. For some of us, that goes back to Rin Tin Tin and Lassie. Both dogs were portrayed as canine perfection; however, whether it was a book, movie, or television show or all of the above, it was a marvelous, heart-wrenching piece of fiction.

In my case, in addition to fictional stories, I was also greatly influenced by two dog training books we purchased when Paula and I brought our first puppy home. The Monks of New Skete How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend was published in 1978 and Mother Knows Best by Carol Lea Benjamin was published in 1985. These books were very popular at the time. Both authors insisted that dogs are essentially wolves and thus the best way to train a dog is to treat it the way a mother wolf would treat a wolf pup. This “motherly love” often involved lots of intimidation, fear, and pain. [see Gus and the Alpha Roll below for my experience with how these techniques worked.]

For some, their knowledge of dogs is based on what a family member or friend has told them about their experience with dogs. This is may be someone with no formal training but who will tell you that they have been training dogs since “Pluto was a pup” and know all that they need to know. They often insist that this is the way they have always done it and scoff at doing anything differently for any reason, even if it is easier or offers other benefits. Sadly this approach is also often counter-productive to our relationship with our dog.

Today, many people reach their conclusions about canine behavior based on “reality” television which in reality is not very real. The Dog Whisper, broadcast by the National Geographic Channel, involves “self-credentialed” “dog psychologist” Cesar Millan solving serious behavior problems while using force, intimidation, and pain because that is all part of being the pack leader. It is the same misinformation from the two books I’ve mentioned, formulated for television. Because the National Geographic brand has a long standing reputation as being based on solid science, it gives the show an aura of credibility that it does not deserve. Since its inception, it has been challenged by experts in the field of canine behavior. For example, Dr. Nicholas Dodman, a veterinary behaviorist credentialed by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists and director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Tufts University said this back in 2006: ”My college thinks it [The Dog Whisperer – Cesar Millan] is a travesty. We’ve written to National Geographic Channel and told them they have put dog training back 20 years.” Yet versions of the show continue to air today.

Lastly, there is the internet. I know of very few professionals that do not have mixed feelings about the “Dr. Google” and the misinformation spread via the internet on a daily basis. Sharing information is great when the information is factual and reliable; however erroneous information can be very harmful. And as State Farm Insurance has taught us, just because it is on the internet does not mean it is true. Unfortunately, too many people think otherwise.

The fact is, much of what we think we know about dogs, is incorrect. Sadly, this misinformation has done a great deal of harm to the dog – human relationship and the dog’s wellbeing. To repair that damage, in future columns, I will examine the most significant and damaging myths about dogs, and then discuss the facts that counter those myths.

Gus and the Alpha Roll

My experience in my first puppy class with “experts.”

Gus and Don on lawn-croppedThe instructors in the first dog training class I attended advocated training that viewed the dog as a wolf. Gus, our Cairn Terrier, was about 12 weeks old our first night in class and had no prior training. I was told to ask Gus to sit and when Gus failed to comply, remember he had never been trained to sit, the instructor told me that Gus was being dominant and that I needed to alpha-roll him.

The Monks of New Skete described the alpha wolf roll-over as the ultimate punishment for the most severe disobedience. It involves grabbing the dog by the scruff of their neck, and firmly and rapidly rolling the dog on its back and pinning it while making eye contact and yelling at the dog. In their book the Monks asserted that these disciplinary techniques are what a mother wolf would use in the wild to discipline her pups.

Not being a dog trainer at the time, I did what I was told to do and alpha-rolled Gus. Gus reacted immediately, wildly thrashing around, growling and snapping his teeth. It was at this point the instructor told me to grab Gus’ muzzle and hold it closed. This did not sound safe or smart to me, but I believed that the instructor would not tell me to do anything dangerous, so I did what she said. Instantly Gus’s canine teeth pierced the flesh of my palm; I instinctively let him go, and we both pulled away from each other. Gus and I were wary of each other for several weeks. The trust we had built in the few days we had him was destroyed in one senseless act of violence.

Years later I learned that by alpha-rolling Gus’ I had probably caused him to fear for his life. How this was supposed to make him understand “sit” means to sit, is still unclear to me. We now know that those professing to treat dogs like wolves really did not understand either species. Sadly, these methods are still popular and recommended by some breeders, dog trainers, and even veterinarians. They are clearly responsible for much of the misinformation about canine behavior.

Gus and I eventually reconnected and became pals, but to this day, I regret the damage I caused because I blindly followed the advice of an alleged expert.

Recommended Resources

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/

 A Rescue Dogs Perspective on Dog Training –http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/01/04/dog-training-a-rescue-dogs-perspective/

Canine Behavior – Understanding, Identifying, and Coping with Canine Stress –http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/11/01/canine-behavior-understanding-identifying-and-coping-with-canine-stress/

Dog Behavior – Dominance: Reality or Myth –http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/06/20/dog-behavior-dominance-reality-or-myth/

Dog Training: A Holistic Approach to Dog Training (Parts 1 & 2) –http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/02/01/dogs-dog-training-a-holistic-approach-to-dog-training-parts-1-2/

Dog Training – The Four Essentials For A Great Dog – Part 1 –http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/02/02/dog-training-the-four-essentials-for-a-great-dog-part-1-knowledge-relationship-management-training/

Dog Training – The Four Essentials For A Great Dog – Part 2 –http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/02/28/dog-training-the-four-essentials-for-a-great-dog-part-2/

Dog Training – What Is Clicker Training? –http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2007/02/01/dog-training-what-is-clicker-training/

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position Statement on Pet-Friendly, Force-Free Pet Care –  http://www.greenacreskennel.com/boarding/what-is-pet-friendly

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position Statement on the Use of Dominance and Punishment for the Training and Behavior Modification of Dogs – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/training/position-on-the-use-of-dominance-and-punishment-for-the-training-and-behavior-modification-of-dogs

The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collars – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2013/08/05/dogs-the-unintended-consequences-of-shock-collar/

 

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (http://www.woofmeowshow.com)

<Click on the title to listen to the show>

2015 Dog Training Classes at Green Acres Kennel Shop

Canine Behavior: Myths and Facts

The Four Essentials to A Great Dog  

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate with special guest host Dr. Mark Hanks – part 1

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate with special guest host Dr. Mark Hanks – part 2

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate with special guest host Dr. Mark Hanks – part 3

The Dominance and Alpha Myth

______________________________________________________________________________
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.

 

©2016, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Dog Training – How science and reward-based training have pulled dog training out of the dark ages

< A version of this article was published in the Bangor Daily News on April 21, 2016>

Happy Muppy 800x1043Last week the Bangor Daily News published an opinion piece on dog training (How we turn our dogs into mini-humans — and the damage it can do) which sadly promoted all of the outdated, inhumane ideas about dog training prevalent in the 1970’s. I wrote a response which was published today. You can read my response below or directly at the Bangor Daily News website by clicking here.

 

Thanks to science, dog training is finally on a course to leave the dark ages of pain, fear, and force that have been commonly used to train the family dog.

Science demonstrates that it is never necessary to use a choke, a prong, or a shock collar to train a dog1. Not only are these tools unnecessary, but there is also ample evidence that using them may cause severe physical injuries, as well as dangerous behavioral problems, such as aggression.

When a tool or methodology that uses force, fear or pain is unnecessary and can cause significant, sometimes irreparable, physical and psychological damage to a dog, its use is not only inhumane; it is animal abuse. That is why many trainers have been using clickers and rewards for well over 20 years.

According to the 2015 American Animal Hospital Association Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines, more cats and dogs are affected by behavioral problems than any other condition. The AAHA task force that investigated this issue addresses two primary reasons for these behavioral problems: mistaken or misinformed beliefs about canine behavior and the continued use of aversive training techniques. The guidelines include references to the many peer-reviewed articles that support their findings.

There is a wealth of information available about dogs and canine behavior and with the advent of the internet, it is readily available to anyone looking for it. However, just because a statement is on a website, is printed in a book, magazine or newspaper, or is told to you by someone, does not make that statement true — even if the author is a veterinarian, a breeder, a dog trainer or a “self-certified” pet care “expert.” Some of the most egregious and detrimental myths about dogs and their behavior are the dominance construct, the idea that dogs are wolves and live in a pack hierarchy, and the belief that you need to punish a dog by inflicting pain or causing fear to force it to do what you want.

The AAHA guidelines make the following recommendations on aversive training techniques. I’ve bolded some sections for emphasis.

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. 29–32 It causes problem behaviors in normal animals and hastens progression of behavioral disorders in distressed animals. 33 Aversive techniques are especially injurious to fearful and aggressive patients and often suppress signals of impending aggression, rendering any aggressive dog more dangerous. 34–36

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. Nonaversive techniques rely on the identification and reward of desirable behaviors and on the appropriate use of head collars, harnesses, toys, remote treat devices, wraps, and other force-free methods of restraint. This Task Force strongly endorses techniques that focus on rewarding correct behaviors and removing rewards for unwanted behaviors. 33–35,37

The guidelines also make the following recommendations on choosing a dog trainer:

Qualified trainers can be valuable partners on a veterinary behavior management team. 28 ‘‘Training’’ is an unregulated field, and unskilled, poorly schooled trainers may cause harm. It is worthwhile to establish a collaborative relationship with a qualified, certified, and insured pet trainer. An accomplished trainer can work seamlessly with the veterinary team to help clients implement behavioral interventions, provide feedback, and elevate the practice’s level of behavioral care. Diagnosis and medical intervention remain the purview of the veterinarian.

Trainers should have obtained certification from a reliable organization that has, as its foundation, the sole use of positive methods. Certification for trainers should require annual continuing education, liability insurance, and testable knowledgeable in behavior and learning theory trainers. Unfortunately, credentials don’t guarantee the use of humane methods or honest marketing. It is essential that clients ask trainers about specific tools and techniques used. If the tools or techniques include prong collars, shock collars, or leash/collar jerks/yanks, or if the trainer explains behavior in terms of ‘‘dominance’’ or throws anything at a dog, advise clients to switch trainers. Ensure that individuals teaching the class do not force fearful, reactive dogs to stay in class. Forcing dogs to remain where they are fearful, even using crates or baby gates, worsens fear. Classes should have a high ratio of instructors to clients and dogs. 28

If your veterinarian is unable to recommend a dog trainer that meets the above requirements, I encourage you to visit the websites of the following organizations, all of which require an individual to pass a comprehensive exam on the above topics and require continuing education. The credential offered by the Pet Professional Accreditation Board is relatively new but has the added benefit that certificants must agree to commit to not using shock, choke or prong collars, fear, physical force, or physical molding or any compulsion-based methods of pet care or dog training.

Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers

International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants

Pet Professional Accreditation Board

References

  1. 2015 AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines
  2. Brammeier S, Brennan J, Brown S, et al. Good trainers: how to identify one and why this is important to your practice of veterinary medicine. J Vet Behav 2006;1(1):47–52. <click to read>
  3. Horwitz DF, Pike AL. Common sense behavior modification: a guide for practitioners. Vet Clin North Am Sm Anim Pract 2014;44(3):401–26. <click to read>
  4. Schilder MB, van der Borg JA. Training dogs with help of the shock collar: short and long term behavioural effects. Appl Anim Behav Sci 2004;85(3):319–34. <click to read>
  5. Schalke E, Stichnoth J, Ott S, et al. Clinical signs caused by the use of electric training collars on dogs in everyday life situation. Appl Anim Behav Sci 2007;105(4):369–80. <click here>
  6. Grohmann K, Dickomeit MJ, Schmidt MJ, et al. Severe brain damage after punitive training technique with a choke chain collar in a German shepherd dog. J Vet Behav2013;8(3):180–4. <click to read>
  7. Rooney NJ, Cowan S. Training methods and owner-dog interactions: links with dog behaviour and learning ability. Appl Anim Behav Sci 2011;132(3–4):169–77. <click to read>
  8. Hiby EF, Rooney NJ, Bradshaw JWS. Dog training methods: their use, effectiveness and interaction with behavior and welfare. Anim Welfare 2004;13(1):63–9. <click to read>
  9. Blackwell EJ, Twells C, Seawright A, et al. The relationship between training methods and the occurrence of behavior problems, as reported by owners, in a population of domestic dogs. J Vet Behav 2008;3(5): 201–17. <click to read>
  10. Herron ME, Shofer FS, Reisner IR. Survey of the use and outcome of confrontational and non-confrontational training methods in client-owned dogs showing undesired behaviors. Appl Anim Behav Sci 2009; 117(1):47–54. <click to read>
  11. Feuerbacher EN, Wynne CDL. Shut up and pet me! Domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) prefer petting to vocal praise in concurrent and single-alternative choice procedures. Behav Processes 2015;110:47–59. <click to read>

 

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (http://www.words-woofs-meows.com)

A Rescue Dogs Perspective to Dog Traininghttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/01/04/dog-training-a-rescue-dogs-perspective/

Canine Behavior – Understanding, Identifying, and Coping with Canine Stresshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/11/01/canine-behavior-understanding-identifying-and-coping-with-canine-stress/

Dog Behavior – Dominance: Reality or Myth –http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/06/20/dog-behavior-dominance-reality-or-myth/

Dog Training: A Holistic Approach to Dog Training (Parts 1 & 2)http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/02/01/dogs-dog-training-a-holistic-approach-to-dog-training-parts-1-2/

Dog Training – The Four Essentials For A Great Dog – Part 1http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/02/02/dog-training-the-four-essentials-for-a-great-dog-part-1-knowledge-relationship-management-training/

Dog Training – The Four Essentials For A Great Dog – Part 2http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/02/28/dog-training-the-four-essentials-for-a-great-dog-part-2/

Dog Training – What Is Clicker Training?http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2007/02/01/dog-training-what-is-clicker-training/

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position Statement on Pet-Friendly, Force-Free Pet Care –  http://www.greenacreskennel.com/boarding/what-is-pet-friendly

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position Statement on the Use of Dominance and Punishment for the Training and Behavior Modification of Dogs – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/training/position-on-the-use-of-dominance-and-punishment-for-the-training-and-behavior-modification-of-dogs

The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collars – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2013/08/05/dogs-the-unintended-consequences-of-shock-collar/

 

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (http://www.woofmeowshow.com)

Behavior and Training

<Click on the title to listen to the show>

2015 Dog Training Classes at Green Acres Kennel Shop – Don and Kate discuss Green Acres Kennel Shops dog training classes being offered in 2015. They start off discussing why training is so important to the relationship between you and your dog and how they teach you to train your dog so that you and your dog become best friends for life. Green Acres classes are different from many of the classes offered, and they explain how and why they are different. They describe everything from Green Acres’ introductory classes; puppy headstart and basic manners to their level 2 and level 3 classes. Tune in and learn why Green Acres Kennel Shop has been voted the region’s best source for dog training classes. – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/training
First Air Date: 6DEC14

Canine Behavior: Myths and Facts – This is a follow-up to our show of March 12 when Kate and Don discussed the AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines with Dr. Dave Cloutier from Veazie Veterinary Clinic. In that show, we discussed how behavior issues have become a significant issue and how many of those behavior problems have been caused, at least in part, by people’s misconceptions about canine behavior. This week we examine what people think they know about dogs and where that information is coming from and how reliable it is as a source of facts. We then discuss several myths about canine behavior and counter them with what science has shown to be the facts.

Myths examined include:  dogs are wolves, dogs are pack animals, people must be dominant, or Alpha over their dog, punishment and aversive tools are necessary to train a dog, dogs should work for praise alone, growls are bad, all dogs like all other dogs, crate training a dog is cruel, all dogs need a job, getting a second dog solves behavior problems, dogs do things to get revenge, dogs know right from wrong, and dogs and kids go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Facts that we bring to light include: dogs respond very well to benevolent leadership, dogs benefit from training, food rewards work very well for training, wolf packs are about families cooperating, dogs only form loose association with other dogs,  growls are a beneficial way for a dog to communicate that they are feeling threatened, you are not a bad owner if you do not take your dog to daycare or the dog park, dogs are den animals and hence most love their crates, dogs need both mental and physical stimulation, behavior problems can be contagious, dogs know safe from dangerous, and dogs and kids are lots of work.

The Four Essentials to A Great DogDon and Kate discuss the four essentials to a great dog. In their experience most great dogs are the result of time and effort by both the person and the dog, which is exactly what that they teach students in Green Acres Kennel Shop’s Basic Manners classes. The four essentials are; Knowledge, Relationship, Management, and Training. Tune in and learn how you and your dog can become a great team and best friends for life.

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate with special guest host Dr. Mark Hanks – part 1 – Dr. Hanks interviews Don and Kate about their experiences as professional dog trainers. He asks Kate and Don about how training has changed in the past 26 years since Mark began his practice, why training a dog is important, the importance of training for mental enrichment, how breed effects training and compatibility with a family, how human intervention has adversely effected health and behavior, researching dogs before one decides what dog and breed to get, making temperament a key decision when picking a dog, what we typically teach a client and their dog, Green Acres holistic approach to training (husbandry, nutrition, body language, ethology, and training), inadvertent reinforcement of undesirable behaviors, the continuing necessity to refute antiquated and inaccurate myths about canine behavior, the optimal age for starting training,  the structure of Green Acres training classes, Green Acres program to help parents find the best pet for them, how family lifestyles have changed and how that affects time for a dog, knowing when to wait before starting a group training class, and how they deal with special needs rescue dogs.

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate with special guest host Dr. Mark Hanks – part 2 – Dr. Hanks asks Kate and Don about: Green Acres holistic approach to training (husbandry, nutrition, body language, ethology, and training) and how we work with families to understand their dog and the importance of having a good foundation of education so people can better understand their dogs, how some students may attend class without their dog either because their dog is sick, in heat or simply because the dog learns better at home, private training options at Green Acres, the critical period of puppy socialization and habituation, why socialization needs to be actively planned and implemented by owners – it doesn’t just happen, what do you do you when want your puppy to be a therapy dog, the difference between therapy dogs, service/assistance dogs, and emotional support dogs, the fake service dog epidemic, can you teach an old dog new tricks, how do you deal with constant barking, and how do you deal with clients that need the dogs behavior changed tomorrow.

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate with special guest host Dr. Mark Hanks – part 3 – Dr. Hanks asks Kate and Don about: dominance, pack hierarchy and alphas and the current science which indicates wolves are a cooperative social species, the benefits of kind leadership as opposed to coercive based leadership, the myth of dogs doing things just to please us, temperament and personality in dogs, the importance of knowing parents because of the genetic role in temperament, “stubborn” dogs versus under-motivated dogs, epigenetics and the possibility of mental health disorders in dogs like autism and PTSD, and temperament as a continuum and nature versus nurture.

The Dominance and Alpha Myth – Don and Kate discuss the concept of dominance, alpha dogs, pack hierarchy, and how this whole construct is a myth with both dogs and wolves that is not supported by science. They discuss how this has led to a punishment and compulsion based system of dog training which is not only unnecessary but is often counterproductive. They discuss the importance of leadership, boundaries, management and the use of reward-based training as a smart alternative to the dominance approach. You can learn more by reading these articles: http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/06/20/dog-behavior-dominance-reality-or-myth/ and http://www.greenacreskennel.com/dog-behavior-and-training/position-on-the-use-of-dominance-and-punishment-for-the-training-and-behavior-modification-of-dogs
First Air Date: 21MAR10

______________________________________________________________________________
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.

 

©2016, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Managing An Aggressive, Fearful, or Reactive Dog

<A version of this article was published in Barks from the Guild, a publication of the Pet Professional Guild  on Nov. 2020, pp.29-31>

< Updated 29DEC20 >

< A short link for this page – http://bit.ly/MngAggxFear >

 

When you have a dog that is exhibiting aggressive behavior, you have a responsibility to keep yourself, your family, your pets, and your community safe. A dog that is behaving aggressively is experiencing some form of emotional stress, so it is your responsibility to identify and keep him away from the stressors that trigger the behavior while working with a professional who can help you.

#1. Get Help from an Accredited Professional As Soon As Possible

Helping change aggressive behavior is not a Do-It-Yourself project, nor is your dog likely to “grow out of it.”

Aggression is an emotional response. That response could be due to fear, anger, or frustration and may be intensified by chemical imbalances in the brain.

Working with a dog trainer and teaching your dog behaviors like SIT, LEAVE IT, and more are extremely unlikely to change how your dog feels.

As such, I recommend you immediately seek help from a Veterinary Behaviorist, Applied Animal Behaviorist, or credentialed behavior consultant (PCBC or CDBC). The earlier you get professional help for your dog, the sooner you can relieve his suffering and the greater probability you have of changing their aggressive behavior.

Resolving this behavior will very likely require behavior modification and, potentially, medication as well. A Veterinary Behaviorist can provide you with both.  FMI –  http://bit.ly/WWM-Trainer-Behaviorist, http://bit.ly/HumanePetPros,  https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Zip-Code-Search

#2. Ensure Safety

Preventing your dog from hurting you, another person, another animal, or themselves must be your priority.

  • Please keep your dog physically isolated from people or animals that could become the target of their aggression.

This may mean keeping him crated, preferably in another room, or closed/locked in another room when you have guests in your home.

  • When the dog is outside of your home, make sure that you can safely handle him. When he is outside of your home and in an unfenced area, he should be on a regular 6ft leash.

Please do not use a Flexi or retractable leash, as they do not provide adequate control. The leash should be securely attached to a front-connect harness.

  • Consider using a muzzle if you can do so safely. It is essential to gently condition your dog to wear a muzzle before using it. Seek the advice of a trained professional in helping you accomplish this task.

Muzzles can be a useful management tool; however, in my experience:

1) a determined dog can get out of any muzzle;
2) putting on the muzzle can cause the dog stress;
3) muzzling your dog and having them around others is tantamount to advertising that you have an aggressive dog and thus may change the people’s behavior which can cause a reaction by the dog;
4) a muzzle may make the dog more fearful; and
5.) A muzzle can limit your dog’s ability to breathe correctly, causing additional distress.

A muzzle is, at best, a temporary solution and does nothing to address the source of the dog’s behavior or his emotional state.

  • Do NOT leave your dog outside, unattended. Being tied-out can be very stressful to a dog and can be a frequent cause of fear aggression.

When a dog is tied up, he knows that he cannot flee or fight, which are both typical reactions a dog would pursue if afraid. Even if you have a fenced yard, I recommend you remain with your dog anytime that he is in the yard, as no fence can be guaranteed to be 100% secure.

  • If your dog does not need to go with you, leave him at home.

A dog that is reactive while in the car can be a threat to your safety and that of others. If he becomes reactive wherever you take them, you may make yourself unwelcome, and you are probably making him more likely to react in the future too.

#3. Prevent the Behavior from Getting Worse

  • This is a given but I will mention it anyway. Refrain from using any training and management tools that have the potential to cause your dog distress, discomfort, or pain. This includes alpha rollovers, shock collars, choke collars, prong collars, citronella collars, anti-bark collars, spray bottles, or anything else that has the potential to cause your dog distress, discomfort, or pain.
  • Avoid placing your dog in situations where there is a potential for him to display the behavior of concern. Preventing him from acting aggressively is essential to ending this behavior.

Each time the dog has the chance to engage in the behavior, it can make it more likely to occur again and to increase in intensity. Events like this can affect the chemistry and anatomy of the brain, making future reactions more likely.

  • Limit movement when your dog reacts. An activity can increase arousal, and this can increase the probability of aggression and reactivity.

If your dog is barking and running back and forth from window to window, either in your home or car, try to restrict movement either with a crate, a leash or if in the car, a seat belt.

If your dog chases people or other animals along your fence line, keep him on a 6ft leash.

  • Carefully consider safety issues and the possibility of making your dog’s behavior worse if you walk him away from home.

If you cannot walk your dog safely or if you continue to expose him to his triggers, you are better off staying at home. If you do take him for walks, choose locations and times when you are least likely to encounter his triggers.

When walking a dog with reactivity/aggression issues, you must be constantly aware of your environment. It is not a time to be daydreaming, thinking about tomorrow’s schedule, chatting on your cell phone, conversing with a friend walking with you, or listening to music.

Alternatively, you can find other ways to provide your dog with physical and mental stimulation, such as playing in the yard and feeding him with a Kong.

  • If your dog is aggressive towards people or dogs, you need to keep your dog away from places where people and dogs congregate. Dogs with aggression issues will not get better if you take them places like; pet stores, dog parks, dog events, charitable walks, or any site where people and dogs gather.
  • Prepare people before allowing them to interact with your dog, and do not force your dog to interact. Remember, it is not just your dog’s behavior that will determine the result of a dog/human interaction, but also the actions of the person.

Do your best to teach people that come to your home how to interact with your dog. Providing them with a copy of Dr. Sophia Yin’s How to Greet A Dog (And What to Avoid) handout is an excellent first step FMIhttp://bit.ly/YinHow2Greet.

Allow the dog to decide if he wants to interact with people, and if he declines, allow him do so. You need to be especially prepared if you have a breed that some people readily prejudge. If someone is anxious around your dog, it will likely make you and your dog nervous as well.

  • Be especially cautious in these situations:
    • whenever your dog is around large gatherings of people. Large groups are likely to increase his excitement/anxiety/fear/frustration, which increases the probability of an inappropriate response.
    • Anytime your dog is around children. Most children do not understand how to behave around dogs. Children and dogs ALWAYS need adult supervision.
  • NEVER punish your dog or get mad at them for growling. While a dog’s growl can be upsetting and disheartening to us, it also serves the beneficial purpose of alerting us to the fact that the dog is feeling threatened or uncomfortable.

It is the dog’s way of saying, “If something in this situation does not change, I may feel threatened enough to bite.” If your dog growls, calmly remove them from the situation. with as little fanfare and emotion as possible. FMIhttp://bit.ly/DogGrowls

  • Consider how your emotions and those of others may be affecting your dog. Dogs are very adept at reading the emotions of people through a person’s body language and scent, which may change how the dog reacts to them and/or you.

Since our emotions are always part of the dog’s environment, any anxiety and frustration we, or others, feel may cause our dog to become more anxious.

If your dog detects someone is angry, it may cause them to become angry or afraid. He will not inherently know why a person is angry or scared, but may react out of self-preservation.

If you are having difficulties with your emotional response, it may be beneficial for you to seek assistance. Your dog may also benefit from seeing a veterinary behaviorist that can help him temper their emotions.

#4. Reducing Your Dog’s Stress

  • Learn how stress affects your dog’s behavior. Stress, either the detrimental kind, distress, or the beneficial type, eustress, is frequently a component in undesirable behavior for people and animals.

Our bodies react very similarly when experiencing distress or eustress, producing hormones, and other chemicals that make us more likely to be reactive and irritable.  People often think of adverse events or memories of adverse events as being the cause of stress.

Even a particular scent may cause your dog distress and trigger an emotional response such as fear or anger. A scent can affect our dogs and us because smells have a more direct link to memory and emotion than any of our other senses. Knowing about the dog’s powerful sense of smell and the role of smell in emotional memories, we must consider scent when looking for a potential trigger for a reactive dog. I have worked with clients where cigarette smoke, deodorant, and cologne have triggered reactive behavior.

Even things our dog enjoys, such as playing fetch, can also cause stress.  When something our dog likes is allowed to the extreme, reactive behavior can become more likely. FMIhttp://bit.ly/Canine-Stress

  • Minimize Unpredictability and Be Consistent. Unpredictability in our behavior can be a significant stressor for our dogs. As a family, you all need to commit to working together and using the same training approach with your dog.

Getting a different response from each of you only stresses the dog more. You all need to have consistent expectations, but they do need to be reasonable.

  • Work with an accredited professional to consider options for helping reduce your dog’s stress. A veterinary behaviorist may recommend prescription medications and non-prescription products that may help alleviate your dog’s anxiety. Holistic veterinarians that practice Chinese medicine and homeopathy may also help as may other types of credentialed practitioners.

#5. Document Your Dogs Behavior

  • Keep A Daily Journal. Behavioral issues are seldom straightforward. However, if you keep a detailed journal of what happened and when, your chosen professional will be better equipped to help you help your dog.

A journal has the added benefit of allowing you to see improvements in your dog, which is positive reinforcement for you continuing to follow the program you are using.  FMIhttp://bit.ly/BHXDailyJournal.

#6. Train Your Dog

Training your dog to offer specific behaviors when cued will not necessarily change his emotional state. However, teaching him certain behaviors may make him easier to manage, especially if you can intervene well before he starts reacting.

Training your dog is also a great way to build and maintain trust, provided you use only rewards and do not use any aversives.

If you are unsure about how to train, find a professional, credentialed dog trainer (PCT, CPDT-KA). FMIhttp://bit.ly/HumanePetPros & https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Zip-Code-Search

 

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog
( http://www.words-woofs-meows.com  )

Do I Need A Dog Trainer or a “Behaviorist”http://bit.ly/WWM-Trainer-Behaviorist

Where Can I Find A Humane and Ethical Pet Care Professional?https://bit.ly/HumanePetPros

How To Greet A Dog and What to Avoid – Dr. Sophia Yinhttp://bit.ly/YinHow2Greet

What Should I Do When My Dog Growls?http://bit.ly/DogGrowls

Understanding, Identifying and Coping with Canine Stresshttp://bit.ly/Canine-Stress

Keeping A Daily Journalhttp://bit.ly/BHXDailyJournal

Help! My Dog is Aggressive, Reactive, Fearful, Anxious, etc. – http://bit.ly/HelpDogAggx

How Can I Tell When My Dog Is Anxious or Fearful?http://bit.ly/DogsSignsofFear

Introduction to Canine Communication –http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/04/05/dog-training-introduction-to-canine-communication/

The Body Language of Fear in Dogs (Dr. Sophia Yin)http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/04/04/body-language-of-fear-in-dogs-dr-sophia-yin/

Dominance: Reality or Myth –http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/06/20/dog-behavior-dominance-reality-or-myth/

the misunderstanding of time by Nancy Tannerhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/11/16/shared-blog-post-the-misunderstanding-of-time-by-nancy-tanner/

The emotional toll of a reactive dog by Jay Gurden-Dogs Todayhttp://bit.ly/SharedGurenEmotional

Dog Training – Reward Based Training versus Aversiveshttp://bit.ly/RewardVSAversive

Other Resources

Dog Training by Kikopup . (2013). Teach your dog to wear a muzzle [Video File]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJTucFnmAbw

Pet Professional Guild: Find an Experthttps://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Zip-Code-Search

Muzzle Up Project. (n.d.). Muzzle Traininghttps://muzzleupproject.com/muzzle-training/

Yin, S. (2011). Preventing Dog Bites by Learning to Greet Dogs Properlyhttps://drsophiayin.com/blog/entry/preventing-dog-bites-by-learning-to-greet-dogs-properly/

Books

Dogs In Need of Spacehttps://dogsinneedofspace.com/

________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( greenacreskennel.com ) in Bangor, Maine, where he has been helping people with their pets since 1995. He is also the founder of ForceFreePets.com, an online educational resource for people with dogs and cats. Don 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 is a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG). Don is committed to PPG’s Guiding Principles and the Pain-Free, Force-Free, and Fear-Free training, management, and care of all pets. He serves on the PPG Steering Committee and Advocacy Committee and is the Chair of The Shock-Free Coalition ( shockfree.org ). Don produces and co-hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show, that airs on Z62 Retro Radio WZON (AM620) and WKIT 103.3-HD3 and is streamed at http://bit.ly/AM620-WZON every Saturday at 9 AM. Podcasts of the show are available at http://bit.ly/WfMwPodcasts/, the Apple Podcast app, and Don’s blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com.  The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.

©2020, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Behavior Consulting – Keeping A Daily Journal

To help resolve a behavioral issue (anxiety, aggression, reactivity, etc.) with your pet, we first need to understand it. One way we can get a better understanding of what is going on will depend on your observations of your pets behavior on a daily basis. The best way for you to communicate that information to is is by keeping a daily journal. We suggest that you dedicate a computer file or notebook for this purpose. If you keep your journal in a word processing file on your computer, it will make it easier for you to share it with us as we work with you.

Your journal should contain the following basic information:

  • General comments on your pets overall demeanor for that day.
  • General comments on your overall demeanor for that day.
  • A description of any positive events that occurred that day.
  • General comments on your overall day (hectic, relaxed, etc.).
  • A description of any undesirable behavior noticed, with as much detail as possible.
  • Any additional stressors that may have occurred that day or within the previous 24 hours (vet trips, children visiting, etc.).
  • An overall score for that day (1=very frustrating/difficult to 5=perfect).
  • Your goal for the next day.
  • If using the Bach Flower Remedies; the times that remedies are given, including any extra doses and why they were given (when appropriate).
  • The times that any other medications or supplements, prescribed or over-the-counter, that are being given for behavioral purposes, are given.
  • A description of any training sessions completed that day; to include the time of the sessions,  the behaviors you worked on, the people involved, the progress made, any difficulties encountered and other details.
  • A description of any desensitization and counter-conditioning sessions completed that day; to include the time of the sessions, the people involved, the environment in which they occurred, the progress made, any difficulties encountered and other details. [We will provide you with instructions on performing these sessions after your behavioral consultation. We suggest that you do not start these sessions until after meeting with us.]

We will ask you to bring this notebook with you for any future consultations or training sessions. Additionally, we may ask to have the opportunity to review this log book when refilling remedies so that we can make changes in the formulation should the need arise.

The following pages are examples of how one client completed daily journal entries.

Examples

Sunday, July 7

Bach @

  • 5:00 AM
  •  1:00 PM
  •  5:30 PM
  •  9:00 PM
  •   also extra at 2:30 PM

Rating (1-5): 4

Notes

  • Rex spent the morning with my parents. Rex was calm but lots of nervous walking until I came home.
  • Upon returning to Sunnydale Rex snapped at Fluffy 2 times while transitioning into the house. Fluffy was near Rex’s face.
  • Rex settled well after 10 minutes
  • Practiced recall (took a couple to get it)
  • Practice sit, down and stay outdoors – did well with the stay.
  • When I left the house in the AM Rex would not go in his crate

 

Monday, July 8

Bach @

  • 4:15 AM
  • 1:00 PM
  • 5:30 PM
  • 9:00 PM

Rating (1-5): 4

Notes

  • Quiet morning
  • Around 10 AM practiced
    • Sit
    • Stay
    • Down
    • Recall in house
  • Rex is responding well to lie down when in the kitchen or working in the house
  • Played hard outside with Fluffy at 12:00
  • Went for walk – lots of pulling

Tuesday, July 9

Bach @

  • 5:00 AM
  • 1:00 PM
  • 4:30 PM
  • 9:00 PM

Rating (1-5): 4

Notes

  • Great morning, very low key
  • Clicker trained
    • Paw touches
    • Sit
    • Stay
  • Went for walk – lots of pulling, at first, did well checking in during walk
  • Is slow to eat first few hand-fed bites

 

Wednesday, July 10

Bach @

  • 5:30 AM
  • 11:00 AM
  • 5:30 PM
  • 9:00 PM

Rating (1-5): 4

Notes

  • Walked in morning – reactive barking to a girl on a scooter. Stopped and waited for her to go by, no issue after.
  • Hand fed breakfast
  • Did Remedial Socialization in Piggly Wiggly parking lot – ignored all people – had chicken as treat
  • Walked before dinner
  • Had friend over
    • Introduced Rex second, Fluffy first
    • Barked 5-9x
    • Used treats to redirect towards me, away from friend
    • Very friendly with friend after 10 minutes

Thursday, July 11

Bach @

  • 5:30 AM
  • 5:30 PM
  • 8:00 PM
  • Missed one, busy day

Rating (1-5): 3

Notes

  • I was not home in the morning, but Tom said Rex had a good, quiet morning
  • Rex was very excited when I came home
  • Worked on sitting to greet with Fluffy
  • Rex snapped at Blazer while Tom and I had dinner – we put him outside and withdrew attention until we were done eating
  • Rex tried to keep Blazer from coming into the room where we had been eating.
  • Quiet rest of the night

 

Friday, July 12

Bach @

  • 5:00 AM
  • 11:00 AM
  • 6:30 PM
  • 9:00 PM

 

Rating (1-5): 5

Notes

  • Too hot for walk
  • Played outside a little – very hot
  • Clicker trained
    • Sit
    • Recall
    • Leave it
  • Worked on reactions to being startled
  • Rex’s behavior, while Tom and I had dinner, was much better

 

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (http://www.words-woofs-meows.com)

 

 

©2016, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Reflections on 20 Years as a Pet Care Professional – Changes in Dog Training

< A version of this article was published in the October 2015 issue of Down East Dog News>

Don and Muppy - July 2015
Don and Muppy – July 2015

On October 11th, it will be twenty years since my wife Paula, and I closed on Green Acres Kennel Shop, becoming its third owner. Most of the time it seems like that was only yesterday. However, when I pause and take the time to look back, I can list many changes in our profession. Our products and services have changed as have the standards that we follow. Societal attitudes towards pets have changed, and of course, we have also changed ourselves. For my next few columns, I’ll be sharing my perspective on some of these changes.

As we planned our move to Maine and Green Acres, I was looking forward to becoming more involved in dog training. We had taken our dogs to several dog training classes in Wisconsin, and it was something I enjoyed a great deal. Gus, our Cairn Terrier, had several behavioral issues and dealing with those piqued my interest in this companion called the dog.

We arrived in Maine in the middle of October 1995. At that time, Green Acres training methods involved lots of verbal encouragement and praise, little or no food rewards, and the use of choke collars and corrections. It was the era of dominance and proving ourselves to be the superior beings and with this attitude, the book we most often recommended was by the Monks of New Skete. The premise of the time was that since we were superior, dogs existed to serve us and do our bidding out of respect (read fear). Science has spoken, and we now understand how erroneous much of the information upon which we based training was; our profession has come a long way in these past 20 years.

Early on we recognized the importance of further honing our training skills. I joined the Association of Pet Dog Trainers in 1996, and Kate and I attended an Ian Dunbar training seminar in the summer of 1996. The methods we learned were so very different, and we came away from that seminar excited about incorporating games into our classes and with an interest in trying to use food rewards.

In 1997, with the encouragement of Dr. Dave Cloutier at Veazie Veterinary Clinic, we expanded our classes’ offsite to the Veazie Community Center. This meant we could offer even more classes each week, as we had previously been working out of the retail area after hours. It was at this time that we took on our first assistant trainers; we were now offering more classes than Kate, and I could teach on our own.

At the same time we were teaching in Veazie, we began the remodeling of the loft above the store into a training room at Green Acres. Our training room is far from ideal; it is smaller than average. However, working with what we have has kept our class sizes smaller than average and our instructor to student ratio higher than average. Both factors have been of great benefit to our clients. Today we teach as many as 14 classes per week, both inside and outside, the latter dependent on weather.

Tikken Recall
Tikken Recall

In early 1997, I attended my first seminars on clicker training. These seminars got me experimenting with my new Golden Retriever puppy, Tikken. In June, Tikken and I traveled to upstate NY to attend a Volhard Top Dog Instructor Camp for a week. Their focus was on motivation; not with rewards, but with corrections via a choke collar. It was a frustrating week for me as I was being taught things that I had recently rejected. I learned what I could about student management and instructional techniques, and while I learned a great deal, at night I found myself working with Tikken using my clicker and food rewards.

Don and Gus in WI
Don and Gus in WI

Gus and I continued to train and that summer we were enrolled in one of our advanced classes that Kate, our Operations Manager, was teaching. During recall work, we were to put our dog on a stay at one end of the training field, walk to the other end of the field and call them to us. Gus remained in place, and when I called him he came, but at a snail’s pace. As I recall, we did that exercise twice with the same result. At the end of the class, Kate took me aside and asked “Do you and Gus do anything that’s just fun? He’s clearly not enjoying this, and I can see that you’re disappointed in him. Why don’t you take some time off and stop classes with Gus?” Yes, I had just been kicked out of class by my employee. I am so grateful that Kate had the wisdom and the courage to make that suggestion as it was the best thing that could have happened to the relationship between Gus and me. That was the last training class Gus ever attended. Instead, we played fetch, and I taught him how to do silly things like spin using the clicker and a target stick.

After the Volhard experience, I attended another clicker training seminar, and my mind was made up. I was a bit concerned about the reception that I would get from the public, as this was a major shift away from the predominant training methodology in the area. However, in August of 1997 I sent out a press release and received coverage from our friends at the Bangor Daily News. When an article is on the first page of a section, above the fold with a color photo of a dog, people read it. Before the day was over I was getting calls; “How do we sign-up for your clicker training classes?” Still testing the waters, I quickly developed a clicker based curriculum and opened enrollment in Green Acres’ first two clicker classes. At the end of those classes, I no longer wanted to train with aversives; however, from a business perspective I was uncertain that our market would support this kinder and gentler form of training. I knew two other trainers, Gail Fisher and Carolyn Clark, that had made the switch, and they inspired me to do the same. I am glad to say that many years later I had no need to worry. Our training program has grown by leaps and bounds precisely because of our focus on science, kindness, and getting results.

In November of 1998, I attended my first APDT Educational Conference and Trade Show, five solid days of learning and networking opportunities. One month later I was invited to join the APDT’s Education Committee by APDT’s founder Dr. Ian Dunbar. The committee developed and implemented the profession’s first certification exam. This was a significant step forward for the dog training industry. The practice of dog training is unlicensed, mostly unregulated and until the release of this examination there was no universally accepted standard of what a dog trainer needed to know.  In 2001, I was one of the first Certified Trainers. Since then a total of seven Green Acres’ trainers has been credentialed as Certified Professional Dog Trainers. Four have since moved on to different career paths, but that does not diminish their accomplishment. More and more people are taking steps to ensure that a trainer has a CPDT credential before enrolling their dog in a class. Just the idea that we now have a credentialing body for our industry, where none existed 15 years ago, shows significant growth in our field.

So in summary how has dog training changed in the past twenty years? It has become less about art and “secret” techniques and more about evidenced based science. Science has refuted the dominance construct that prescribed the need for having an adversarial relationship with your dog and replaced it with the concept of cooperation and positive reinforcement. The majority of trainers no longer use or recommend harsh punitive-based methods like alpha-rollovers, choke collars, and shock collars but instead use management, clicks, and treats. There are now several independent certification bodies that credential and ensure that those in the profession keep learning. The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) has recognized the importance of behavior as part of animal wellness and has taken a very public stand against the use of any aversive tools in training. The Pet Professional Guild is building an organization of pet care professional and pet owners committed to “No, Pain, No Force and No Fear” pet care. Dog trainers, scientists, and veterinarians recognize that the dog, as well as other animals,  are pretty amazing and more like us than we ever could have imagined. We are moving away from an egocentric understanding of their behavior to one that is more animal-centric, In other words, we have finally realized that as humans, it is NOT all about us.

All of us in the dog training profession still have much to learn and to me that is what keeps me going. I cannot wait to immerse myself in the next amazing discovery about the delightful companion that we generically call the dog.

Lastly, remember that story about my Cairn Terrier Gus, his unenthusiastic recall, and Kate kicking me out of class?  I am happy to say that my current best friend Muppy has a most remarkable recall thanks to what Gus, Shed, Sandy, Dulcie, Crystal, and Tikken have taught me on this journey. Muppy thanks you all for being so patient and kind with me.


 

Other Posts You May Find Interesting

Trends in Training – The Evolution of a Pet Care Professional<Click Here>

Dogs-Dog Training: A Holistic Approach to Dog Training (Parts 1 & 2)<Click Here>

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<Click Here>

Selecting A Pet Care Provider – Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – The PPG – Part 2<Click Here>

Selecting A Pet Care Provider – Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – A Veterinary Perspective – Part 3<Click Here>

PODCAST – Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate with special guest host Dr. Mark Hanks – part 1<Click Here>

PODCAST – Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate with special guest host Dr. Mark Hanks – part 2<Click Here>

PODCAST – Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate with special guest host Dr. Mark Hanks – part 3<Click Here>

Dog Behavior – Dominance: Reality or Myth<Click Here>

The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collars <Click Here>

How I Trained A Chicken<Click Here>

______________________________________________________________________________
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.

©2015, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

 

PODCAST – Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate with special guest host Dr. Mark Hanks – part 3

25JUL15-Dog Training w-Mark Hanks-Part-3 400x400Dr. Mark Hanks from Kindred Spirits Veterinary Clinic has been a frequent guest on The Woof Meow Show, giving Kate and I several opportunities to “pick his brain” about a wide variety of topics. For quite some time he’s been asking to “host” the show and to turn the tables so to speak; interviewing Kate and I and asking us questions about animal behavior and training.

 

This is part three of a four part series with Dr. Hanks as guest host.

In this episode Dr. Hanks asks Kate and Don about: dominance, pack hierarchy and alphas and the current science which indicates wolves are a cooperative social species, the benefits of kind leadership as opposed to coercive based leadership, the myth of dogs doing things just to please us, temperament and personality in dogs, the importance of knowing parents because of the genetic role in temperament, “stubborn” dogs versus under-motivated dogs, epigenetics and the possibility of mental health disorders in dogs like autism and PTSD, and temperament as a continuum and nature versus nurture.

You can listen to this episode of The Woof Meow Show at: http://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2015-07-25-Dog_Training_Questions_for_Don_and_Kate_w_guest_host_Dr_Mark_Hankspart-3.mp3

You can download this episode of The Woof Meow Show at the Apple iTunes store, or you can download it at: http://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/webpage

You can listen others episodes in this series at the links below.

Pet Behavior Counseling and Don and Kate – 10JAN15 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/01/10/podcast-pet-behavior-counseling-and-don-and-kate-with-special-guest-host-dr-mark-hanks/

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate, part 1– 12JUL15 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/07/12/podcast-dog-training-questions-for-don-and-kate-with-special-guest-host-dr-mark-hanks-part-1/

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate, part 2– 19JUL15 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/07/19/podcast-dog-training-questions-for-don-and-kate-with-special-guest-host-dr-mark-hanks-part-2/

For more information on the Woof Meow Show go to: http://www.greenacreskennel.com/woof-meow-show/the-woof-meow-show

©2015, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

PODCAST – Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate with special guest host Dr. Mark Hanks – part 2

18JUL15-Dog Training w-Mark Hanks-Part-2 400x400Dr. Mark Hanks from Kindred Spirits Veterinary Clinic has been a frequent guest on The Woof Meow Show, giving Kate and I several opportunities to “pick his brain” about a wide variety of topics. For quite some time he’s been asking to “host” the show and to turn the tables so to speak; interviewing Kate and I and asking us questions about animal behavior and training.

In this episode Dr. Hanks asks Kate and Don about: Green Acres holistic approach to training (husbandry, nutrition, body language, ethology, and training) and how we work with families to understand their dog and the importance of having a good foundation of education so people can better understand their dogs, how some students may attend class without their dog either because their dog is sick, in heat or simply because the dog learns better at home, private training options at Green Acres, the critical period of puppy socialization and habituation, why socialization needs to be actively planned and implemented by owners – it doesn’t just happen, what do you do you when want your puppy to be a therapy dog, the difference between therapy dogs, service/assistance dogs, and emotional support dogs, the fake service dog epidemic, can you teach an old dog new tricks, how do you deal with constant barking, and how do you deal with clients that need the dogs behavior changed tomorrow.

You can listen to this episode of The Woof Meow Show at: http://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2015-07-18-Dog_Training_Questions_for_Don_and_Kate_w_guest_host_Dr_Mark_Hankspart-2.mp3

You can download this episode of The Woof Meow Show at the Apple iTunes store, or you can download it at: http://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/webpage

You can listen others episodes in this series at the links below.

Pet Behavior Counseling and Don and Kate – 10JAN15 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/01/10/podcast-pet-behavior-counseling-and-don-and-kate-with-special-guest-host-dr-mark-hanks/

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate, part 1– 12JUL15 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/07/12/podcast-dog-training-questions-for-don-and-kate-with-special-guest-host-dr-mark-hanks-part-1/

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate, part 3– 26JUL15 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/07/27/blog-post-27jul15-podcast-dog-training-questions-for-don-and-kate-with-special-guest-host-dr-mark-hanks-part-3/

For more information on the Woof Meow Show go to: http://www.greenacreskennel.com/woof-meow-show/the-woof-meow-show

©2015, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

PODCAST – Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate with special guest host Dr. Mark Hanks – part 1

11JUL15-Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate w-Mark Hanks-Part-1 400x400Dr. Mark Hanks from Kindred Spirits Veterinary Clinic has been a frequent guest on The Woof Meow Show, giving Kate and I several opportunities to “pick his brain” about a wide variety of topics. For quite some time he’s been asking to “host” the show and to turn the tables so to speak; interviewing Kate and I and asking us questions about animal behavior and training.

In the second of four shows in this series, Dr. Hanks interviews Don and Kate about their experiences as professional dog trainers. He asks Kate and Don about: how training has changed in the past 26 years since Mark began his practice, why training a dog is important, the importance of training for mental enrichment, how breed effects training and compatibility with a family, how human intervention has adversely effected health and behavior, researching dogs before one decides what dog and breed to get, making temperament a key decision when picking a dog, what we typically teach a client and their dog, Green Acres holistic approach to training (husbandry, nutrition, body language, ethology, and training), inadvertent reinforcement of undesirable behaviors, the continuing necessity to refute antiquated and inaccurate myths about canine behavior, the optimal age for starting training,  the structure of Green Acres training classes, Green Acres program to help parents find the best pet for them, how family lifestyles have changed and how that affects time for a dog, knowing when to wait before starting a group training class, and how they deal with special needs rescue dogs.

You can listen to this episode of The Woof Meow Show at: http://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2015-07-11-Dog_Training_Questions_for_Don_and_Kate_w_guest_host_Dr_Mark_Hankspart-1.mp3

You can download this episode of The Woof Meow Show at the Apple iTunes store, or you can download it at: http://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/webpage

You can listen others episodes in this series at the links below.

Pet Behavior Counseling and Don and Kate – 10JAN15 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/01/10/podcast-pet-behavior-counseling-and-don-and-kate-with-special-guest-host-dr-mark-hanks/

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate, part 2– 19JUL15 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/07/19/podcast-dog-training-questions-for-don-and-kate-with-special-guest-host-dr-mark-hanks-part-2/

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate, part 3– 26JUL15 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/07/27/blog-post-27jul15-podcast-dog-training-questions-for-don-and-kate-with-special-guest-host-dr-mark-hanks-part-3/

For more information on the Woof Meow Show go to: www.woofmeowshow.com

 

©2015, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Bach Flower Remedies – An Overview of the Bach Flower Remedies

(This article was first published in the March/April 2006 issue of The APDT Chronicle of the Dog. Copyright 2006 The Association of Professional Dog Trainers, www.apdt.com, 1-800-PET-DOGS, information@apdt.com, and was included in the book The Dog Trainer’s Resource 2, edited by Mychelle Blake, and published by Dogwise Publishing in 2008. The article was updated 0n 24JUN15 to include new web addresses, to change the term “Bach Flower Essences” to “Bach Flower Remedies,” to provide updated information on our consultation services, and to add additional references.)

BFFP_Cafe_PressLike many people, I was initially very skeptical of complementary and alternative medicine and treatments such as Bach Flower Remedies. Having an engineering/science background, I found it difficult to deal with the concept that complementary medicine could not always be explained by science. It wasn’t until one day when I had one of those “a-ha!” moments that I discovered they might be a subject worthy of further study. My moment began with a client who had a dog with mild separation anxiety. Our discussion revealed 1) the dog was mildly destructive when left home alone; 2) the clients were concerned about the dogs emotional state but not what was being destroyed; 3) they were uncomfortable with the idea of using any drugs such as Clomicalm but were open to natural remedies; and 4) in my opinion the couple was unlikely to have the time or motivation to follow my standard behavior modification protocol. They were very busy and the problem was just not severe enough to cause them to take action.

I wanted to help these people and their dog, but was uncertain how to proceed. Based upon their comments it was obvious that my normal treatment plan, Clomicalm from their veterinarian and a behavior modification protocol, was not going to be acceptable. I asked if they had heard of Bach Rescue Remedy®. I explained that I had limited knowledge of flower remedies, but that I had been looking for a natural, anti-anxiety treatment for one of our dogs, and had done a little research on this product and had heard of many people who had great success using Rescue Remedy®. I provided them with dosage guidelines, and sent them to the local health food store to buy a bottle (since this was before we sold the Bach Flower Remedies at our store). Approximately one week later my clients called and told me that after giving the dog Rescue Remedy® for a week, all separation problems had resolved! The clients indicated that they had made no changes in their routine, were not treating the dog with anything other than the Rescue Remedy® and had done no behavior modification. They reported that there dog was no longer showing any signs of stress when left alone and all destructive behavior had ceased. While this is only anecdotal evidence, it was enough to convince me that I needed to learn more about Bach Flower Remedies.

Most of the information I will be presenting in this article is based upon anecdotal evidence. Because it is not based upon statistical research and the scientific method, anecdotal evidence is often dismissed by the scientific community, yet the following is a prime example of the role and importance that it plays. As early as the 1700’s, sailors were fed limes as a way of preventing scurvy. This practice was based strictly on anecdotal evidence. It wasn’t until 1932 and the discovery of vitamin C that the scientific method was able to prove why limes and other citrus fruits helped prevent and cure scurvy. Fortunately, no one stopped sailors from eating limes because scientists had not completed a study demonstrating that eating limes cures scurvy. Anecdotal evidence is often the first step in the discovery of new methods and ways of thinking.

Bach Flower Remedies fall into the realm of complementary and alternative medicine along with Chinese medicine and acupuncture, herbal medicine, aromatherapy, homeopathy, and others. You will not find vast numbers of studies scientifically and statistically proving these modalities work, yet much of the world’s population, including many scientifically trained physicians and veterinarians, use these modalities with great success on a daily basis. While my engineering background initially caused me to be very close-minded about complementary medicine, I have seen first-hand, with myself, pets, friends, family and clients, how complementary modalities do heal.

A few studies have been published on the use of Bach Flower Remedies with people. These studies concluded that they were effective in treating clinically depressed patients1, safe and effective when used with children for a variety of disorders2, and effective at reducing stress3,4.

What Are the Bach Flower Remedies

The Bach Flower Remedies are all natural, very dilute solutions made from spring water, an alcohol preservative, and the parts of specific flowers. They are used to help balance the emotions and bring about a state of equilibrium in living organisms, and have been successfully used with people, animals, and even plants. Bach Flower Remedies are listed in the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States (HPUS), have been issued with National Drug Code (NDC) numbers by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are sold as over-the-counter homeopathic products in the United States.

Although the Bach Flower Remedies are listed in the HPUS and are prepared at a 5X homeopathic dilution (0.00001 gram of active substance per milliliter of tincture) they are not considered homeopathic medicine. While they are prepared from plant material, they do not fall in the same category as herbal medicine. The fact that we refer to them as “essences” suggests to some that they are aromatherapy—the use of essential oils and other aromatic compounds from plants to affect someone’s mood or health—which they are not. Flower remedies fill their own unique niche in the arsenal of complementary medicine. Like homeopathy, Chinese medicine and acupuncture and Reiki, the Bach Flower Remedies work at an energetic level in the body. This class of complementary therapies is usually called vibrational medicine. In his book, A Practical Guide to Vibrational Medicine, Dr. Richard Gerber, a physician, describes vibrational medicine and the Bach Flower Remedies thusly:

Vibrational medicine is based upon modern scientific insights into the energetic nature of the atoms and molecules making up our bodies, combined with ancient mystical observations of the body’s unique life-energy systems that are critical but less well understood aspects of human functioning. Bach believed that his flower remedies would not only neutralize negative emotionaland mentalenergy patterns but also infuse positive vibrations associated with specific virtues into an individual such as the virtues of love, peace, steadfastness, gentleness, strength, understanding, tolerance, wisdom, forgiveness, courage or joy.”

The Chinese call this energy Qi, homeopaths call it vital force, and Dr. Bach called it “positive vibrations.” While we cannot currently use scientific instruments to measure any of these forms of energy, many believe in their healing ability. There are many entrenched in the world of orthodox, traditional medicine who would say it is unwise to use a method of healing when we do not completely understand how it works. This is why there has been resistance to complementary medicine by many modern scientists. Yet, our knowledge of many medicines accepted by the traditionalists is equally sketchy. Aspirin, found in most household medicine cabinets, has been commercially available since 1899, yet scientists only began to understand how aspirin worked in the 1970’s. Buspirone (Buspar) is a commonly prescribed drug for certain anxiety disorders. In 2006 when I originally wrote this article, The National Institutes of Health MedlinePlus database (www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/uspdi/202100.html) contained the following citations for Buspirone:

“Buspirone is used to treat certain anxiety disorders or to relieve the symptoms of anxiety.”

“It is not known exactly how Buspirone works to relieve the symptoms of anxiety.”

[NOTE: The Internet changes and the web address above no longer works. However, thanks to the WayBack Machine, a project to archive the internet, you can still view this citation at: https://web.archive.org/web/20060613050327/http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/uspdi/202100.html.]

Considering that Bach Flower Remedies can also be used to treat anxiety and do not have the side effects of Buspirone, I believe consideration of the Bach Flower Remedies would be a smart choice.

There are a total of 38 different Bach Flower Remedies, 37 made from specific flowers and one made from the water of a spring believed to have healing properties. Each remedy is used to treat a specific emotion or state of mind such as fear, anger, apathy, etc. These are all emotions that most people can readily identify in themselves and in other people, and with training can also identify in animals. These emotional states and their corresponding remedy are all described in The Twelve Healers and Other Remedies by Edward Bach, MB, BS, MRCS, LRCP, DPH. Dr. Bach’s goal was to create a system of medicine that was simple enough that people who become familiar with the remedies through his publications could identify their negative emotional state, select the corresponding remedy and thus treat themselves.

The Bach Flower Remedies may be used individually or in combination. Rescue Remedy® is the only combination remedy prepared and sold ready-made; it contains five remedies and is typically only used for emergencies or extremely stressful situations when the subject is in a state of mental or physical shock, terror, or panic. It should not be used as a replacement for veterinary care, but it is often used as a complement to traditional treatments. I know of many people who use Rescue Remedy® to calm themselves before trips to the dentist and who also use it with their pets before trips to the veterinarian. I always carry a bottle in my briefcase and car, so it is available in case of an emergency or accident.

The Bach Flower Remedies are very safe. The only contra-indication is hypersensitivity to any of the ingredients. Since the botanical component is so dilute, a reaction is very unlikely. Grape alcohol is used as a preservative, so the essences may be unsuitable for those sensitive to alcohol.

Bach Flower Remedies are not used to treat physical disease, but rather the emotional state of the patient. They can be used to help resolve fear and anxiety, anger, grief, and many other emotions. Common sense and numerous research studies5 have shown how stress can have a negative impact on the immune system. Anything that we do to reduce or relieve stress, including use of Bach Flower Remedies, has the potential to positively affect our immune system and thus aid in maintaining physical health.

History of the Bach Flower Remedies

The Bach Flower Remedies were discovered by Dr. Edward Bach, a Welsh physician practicing medicine in the early 1900’s. Trained in conventional allopathic medicine, Dr. Bach observed that his patients’ recovery seemed to have as much to do with their emotional health as it did with any physical condition. Those in a positive emotional state recovered quicker.

Dr. Bach’s area of expertise was bacteriology, but as he became more intrigued with the emotions of his patients, he started to study the work of Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathic medicine. Homeopathic medicine emphasizes treating the “whole” patient including their emotions and mental state, rather than focusing exclusively on physical symptoms. As a result of his research, Dr. Bach developed seven nosodes to treat intestinal disease. A nosode is a homeopathic remedy made from a pathological specimen. The Bach nosodes are made from bacteria found in the bowels. As Dr. Bach began to use the nosodes with his patients (which are still in use today) he observed that he could select the appropriate curative nosode for his patients based solely on their emotional state6.

While Dr. Bach was very satisfied with the positive effects of homeopathy, he was concerned that many of the typical homeopathic remedies were made from toxic substances (bacteria, Belladonna, Mercury, Arsenic, etc.). He was convinced that if he were to devote his efforts to searching among the wonders of the natural world, he would find non-toxic medicines that would have a similar effect. In 1930 Dr. Bach left an extremely lucrative private practice in London and started on his quest to find what would become known as the Bach Flower Remedies. During the next six years he would discover and successfully use the same 38 essences that we use today.

My Journey with the Bach Flower Remedies®

After my “a-ha!” experience I enrolled in the Dr. Edward Bach Foundation’s practitioner training program. (http://www.bachcentre.com/found/index.php) The foundation offers two training tracks; one for those who wish to use the remedies with people and one for those who wish to use them with animals. You must complete the first two levels of the human track before applying for the animal program. My level one and two human classes each involved two days of study in Boston, MA. These classes provided an in-depth review of each of the 38 essences and their use. The level two class also included case studies and an overview of counseling techniques.

I completed my animal training at the Natural Animal Centre in the United Kingdom, the only place where the animal courses were offered at the time. This training involved a two -day, three-day, and four-day class and readings to complete at home in between sessions. (http://www.bachcentre.com/found/animal.htm) The classes covered the remedies as well as animal behavior and emotions, and counseling techniques. While we focused on canine, feline, and equine behavior we also studied turtles, rabbits, pigs, and other species. At the conclusion of the classes there is both an oral and written exam. Upon passing the exam, I had to successfully complete a series of case studies and a field study, before qualifying as a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP). I have taken additional continuing education on the use of the Bach Flower Remedies both in the UK and the US.

Since completing my qualifications in December of 2003, I have been using the remedies with almost all of my behavioral clients. I have found them especially useful in treating many of the fears and phobias seen in pets. If a client’s veterinarian has recommended a prescription drug, I advise the client to continue to use that drug in conjunction with the Bach Flower Remedies. One of the nice things about the remedies is that they can be used with other treatments, including homeopathy, without interference.

The Consultation Process

The most current information on our behavior consultation services can be found at: http://www.greenacreskennel.com/behavior-consultations.

The Bach Foundation Code of Practice requires that I have a veterinary referral before recommending specific remedies and that I actually observe the animal’s behavior. When working with clients that are unable to bring their pet to my office in Maine, I review video of the pet’s behavior and work with the client, their local veterinarian, and a training or behavior specialist.

At the conclusion of the consultation I provide the client with a behavior modification protocol as well as a combination of remedies for their pet’s specific emotional profile. I usually use both behavior modification and Bach Flower Remedies because it has been my experience that the use of the remedies can shorten the amount of time for a given behavior modification protocol. One of the biggest problems with behavior modification is getting the pet’s guardian to comply with the protocol. If the remedies shorten the amount of time required it’s a win-win for the guardian and the pet. In these cases I cannot prove the remedies helped resolve the issue; however, I have also treated some cases only with remedies and have seen dramatic results.

I continue to have “a-ha!” moments with the remedies. For example, In 2005 I was treating a dog with severe resource guarding issues, some of the worst I have ever seen. Seven days after treatment with the remedies, and prior to beginning any behavior modification, the client sent me an e-mail noting “profound changes” in the dog’s behavior. I had them continue with the remedies and behavior modification due to the severity of previous incidents, but the dog has never again exhibited any guarding behavior and has become more engaged with her guardians. The behavior modification protocol we used involved safely identifying the items that were considered valued resources, managing the environment to prevent uncontrolled access to those items, and gradual desensitization to the loss of those items. While there is no scientific evidence to demonstrate that the Bach Flower Remedies caused this dramatic change in this dog’s behavior, if I look at the dog’s behavior, the remedies selected, and the short time in which the change occurred, I believe it makes a very strong anecdotal case for the use of Bach Flower Remedies.

I do not have a set of standard combinations of remedies used for specific problems (e.g. separation anxiety, resource guarding, show dog formula, etc.) as each pet must be evaluated as an individual. Two dogs, each with separation anxiety, may be treated with entirely different combinations of remedies. I remain in contact with the client and meet with them as the situation requires. At times I treat both pet and guardian, as often the pet is feeding off the guardian’s emotions. In almost all cases, the problem is treated as a chronic problem rather than an acute issue or passing mood. For chronic behavior problems, remedies should be administered at least four times per day7, 8.

The Bach Flower Remedies are not the proverbial “magic bullet.” While the two cases I have summarized showed dramatic improvement within a week, treatment typically takes longer. Depending on the issue being treated, the length of time the problem has existed, and the clients compliance, issues may start to resolve in anywhere from two weeks to a year. I have found the remedies typically help to accelerate the behavior modification process and therefore help improve client compliance. If clients start to see results, they are more likely to continue with the behavior modification protocol and the administration of recommended remedies.

Tips on Using Rescue Remedy®

Bach Rescue Remedy®, the most well-known of the Bach Flower Remedies, is a combination flower remedy formula created specifically for addressing stress in emergency or crisis situations. The remedies used in this formula help with trauma and shock (Star of Bethlehem), terror and panic (Rock Rose), hysteria or loss of control (Cherry Plum), impatience and agitation (Impatiens), and faintness and stunned feelings (Clematis). It is usually only used for acute or emergency situations, but can be used for treating chronic conditions, when appropriate. It can help after an accident or in any situation that causes extreme anxiety, nervousness or terror. Rescue Remedy® often has an immediate calming effect, and is safe, gentle, and non-toxic. It may be taken as often as needed without fear of overdosing.

Rescue Remedy® is not, however, a magic, instantaneous solution for long standing behavioral problems. While it can be helpful in reducing the stress and anxiety of a timid animal, it will not make them into a gregarious, “I love everybody” dog. Nor will Rescue Remedy® remove your pet’s natural instincts, although it can help your pet to adapt those instincts to its environment.

When dealing with sudden behavior changes, you should arrange for a complete medical evaluation by your veterinarian to rule out any physical or medical reasons for the behavior change before trying Rescue Remedy® or any of the other Bach Flower Remedies

How to treat your pet with Rescue Remedy®

Do NOT use Rescue Pastilles with pets as they contain the artificial sweetener Xylitol which is toxic to pets.

Rescue Remedy® is usually administered by mouth, diluted in spring water. A little goes a long way, because it is not necessary to use it directly from the stock bottle you purchase. If you wish, when you purchase a stock bottle, you may also buy an empty 30 ml eyedropper bottle to be your treatment bottle. To prepare the treatment bottle for use with your pet, do the following:

  1. Fill the treatment bottle ¼ full with vegetable glycerin, brandy, or vodka to act as a preservative. If you chose not to use a preservative, you must refrigerate the treatment bottle.
  2. Fill the remainder of the bottle with spring water (do not use not tap water). Dr. Bach specified spring water because he felt it was natural, unlike tap water which can be loaded with chemicals.
  3. Put four drops of Bach Rescue Remedy® in the treatment bottle. You will treat your pet from this bottle.

Treating for an Acute Condition or Emergency

An acute situation might be a visit to the veterinarian or groomer, a thunderstorm, a dog fight, or a seizure. It is something that happens suddenly and rapidly affects your pet’s emotional state.

Place four drops of the mixture from the treatment bottle on your pet’s gums or tongue or on a treat or small piece of bread. Alternatively, you may apply the mixture to the paw pads, nose, belly, or ears. The remedy will be quickly absorbed from these areas.

If you see no improvement in 20 minutes, administer an additional four drops.

 References

1Masi, MP. (2003) BFE treatment of chronic major depressive disorder, Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, Vol. 9 No. 6.

2Campanini, M. (1997) Italian medical study of 115 patients, La Medicine Biologica; Anno XV, n.2, Aprile-Guigno.

3 Cram, J. (2001). Two double-blind scientific studies of flower essences and stress. Flower Essence Society, www.flowersociety.org.

4 Walach, H. & Rilling, C. (2001). Efficacy of Bach-flower remedies in test anxiety: A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial with partial crossover. Journal of Anxiety Disorders UK. 15(4) July-August.

5Segerstrom, SC & Miller, GE (2004). Psychological stress and the human immune system: A meta-analytic study of 30 years of inquiry. Psychological Bulletin, 130, 4.

6Howard, J. & Ramsell, J. (1990) The Original Writings of Edward Bach. The C. W. Daniel Company, Ltd., England.

7Bach E. (1933) The Twelve Healers and Other Remedies. The C. W. Daniel Company, Ltd., England.

8Product Information and Usage Guidance Sheet, Nelson Bach USA Ltd., Wilmington, MA. http://www.nelsonsnaturalworld.com/en-us/us/our-brands/bachoriginalflowerremedies/about-the-remedies/faqs.

©2015, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>