In Search of the “Perfect” Dog

< A version of this article was published in the FEB 2020 issue of Downeast Dog News >

This is part one of a three-part series published in the Downeast Dog News in February, March, and April of 2020

< Updated 01FEB20 >

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

What Can Affect Our Dogs Behavior?

I am often asked, “How do I get the perfect dog.” I always start by asking for clarification of how the person that asked the question defines “perfect.” Typical responses are; I want a dog that will: have good manners, NEVER bite, NEVER growl, like ALL people, like ALL dogs, like ALL of our current pets, will NEVER chase cars, will ALWAYS stay in an unfenced yard, will NEVER jump on people, will ALWAYS alert me when someone “sketchy” is in the yard but will NEVER bark at people I like, will NEVER kill a squirrel, will ALWAYS be safe around ALL kids, will ALWAYS come when called and will stay close to me but will not hang around me when I don’t want them to, and so on. At its most extreme, that sounds like “I want a dog that will do anything I want, whenever I want, and will do nothing and be content if I don’t want them to do anything.” That is not a realistic expectation and is failing to meet some of our dog’s most basic welfare requirements. [ FMIhttp://bit.ly/Brambells-1-5 ]

I often wonder where people get their expectations of what constitutes a “perfect” dog. Unfortunately, not all but some of the people selling dogs, breeders, shelters/rescues, pet shops, set us up to think the dogs they want us to go home with is “perfect” because they know if we think otherwise, they may lose a sale. Selling a dog is not unlike most other things for sale. We typically want the best we can get. In some cases, those selling the dog even go so far as to use puppy temperament tests and shelter behavior assessments to convince us this is the right dog for us. Unfortunately, these tests may be misrepresented and presented to us as a predictor of future behavior. If we interpret that as a guarantee, they may or may not try to dissuade us from that impression. Temperament and shelter assessment tests are nothing more than a snapshot of a dog’s behavior in a specific scenario at a single moment in time. They are not predictive of nor are they a guarantee of future “perfect” behavior.

In some cases, our expectations of a “perfect” are the result of memories of dogs popularized through the mass media like Lassie or Air Bud. As endearing as those stories are, they are fictional accounts of dogs. Assumptions about certain breeds, usually based on an opinion that may not be supported by data, such as “Schnockelfensters are ALWAYS great with children!” can also bias our opinion inappropriately. I cannot tell you how many different individual dogs and breeds I have met over the past 25 years, but I do know I have seen extremes in behavior in all breeds.

If we look at the list of the characteristics many want in a “perfect” dog, most of those characteristics focus on a dog’s behavior, what it will or will not do.  I also want to point out that people often also use lots of absolutes with words like; ‘NEVER,’ ‘ALWAYS,’ and ‘ALL.’ The problem with using absolutes when discussing the behavior of a dog, or any animal, even human behavior, is that behavior can change and often does change and, like most of life, is seldom absolute. [ FMIhttp://bit.ly/AnimalWelfare-Behavior ]

Many things can affect behavior. Genetics play a major role in future behavior. If either parent had certain genetic traits such as shyness, the puppies will probably also be shy.

We have many different breeds of dogs because they were selectively bred for certain traits. Dogs come preprogrammed with certain species-specific behavior motor patterns based on what they were bred to do. The dog is a predator, and as such has a motor pattern sequence to ORIENT > EYE > STALK > CHASE > GRAB-BITE > KILL-BITE > DISSECT > CONSUME prey.  That does not mean every dog will be an efficient predator, but they may still have a strong instinct to go through all or part of this sequence. This pattern of behaviors is what makes retrievers retrieve and what allows herding breeds to move livestock successfully. Unfortunately, a working herding dog with strong instincts to stalk, chase, and grab-bite is probably not a desirable trait for a dog that will be living with children. Something we need to consider when searching for the “perfect” dog for our family today and what it will look like throughout the dog’s expected life. A herding breed may be a perfect companion for a young couple that likes to hike, but may not be the best choice if two years later they have twin infants. [ FMI –  http://bit.ly/DoesDogBreedMatter ]

What happens during a puppy’s critical developmental period from birth to 16 weeks of age also has a great influence on behavior. If a puppy is a singleton, that puppy not have an opportunity to experience social interactions with littermates unless it is placed in another litter where it can gain the social skills it will need to interact with other dogs successfully. [ FMIhttp://bit.ly/SocializationPuppy ]

Next month I will discuss other factors that can influence our dog’s behavior.

Recommended Resources

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

Brambell’s Five Freedoms – Helping Your Dog Thrivehttp://bit.ly/Brambells-1-5

Understanding Behavior; Why It Matters – http://bit.ly/AnimalWelfare-Behavior

Does My Dogs Breed Matter? – Parts 1, 2 & 3http://bit.ly/DoesDogBreedMatter

Puppy Socialization and Habituationhttp://bit.ly/SocializationPuppy

Adopting A Pet – Finding the Right Dog for You and Your Familyhttp://bit.ly/FindingTheRightDogForYou

Adopting A Pet – We’re Getting A New Puppy (or Dog)!http://bit.ly/GettingNewPuppyDog

________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( greenacreskennel.com ) in Bangor, ME where he has been helping people with their pets since 1995. 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). Don is a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) and is committed to PPG’s Guiding Principles and the Pain-Free, Force-Free, and Fear-Free training, management, and care of all pets. 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://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/, the Apple Podcast app, and at Don’s blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com.  The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.

©01FEB20, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
< Click for Copyright and Use Policy >

Pet Nutrition – The Wisdom of Rotating Your Pets Diet – Part 2, Introducing Your Dog to Dietary Rotation

< A version of this article was published in the September 2019 issue of Downeast Dog News>

< A short link to this post http://bit.ly/DietRotation2 >

Introducing Your Dog to Dietary Rotation

Last month [ FMIhttp://bit.ly/DietRotation1-30JUL19 ] we explored why dietary rotation should be a regular part of your pet’s life. Understandably, you may be hesitant to make this change based on past experiences where you changed your dog’s diet. I have been there personally, and the initial consequence of diet change for one of my dogs was ten days of bloody diarrhea and a miserable pup. Often, it only takes one bad experience to convince ourselves that we should never try again. My argument stands, however, that we should not succumb to this fear, but instead we need to work on slowly and methodically strengthening your dog’s gut so that they can handle dietary change with ease.

The first step in introducing dietary rotation is to consider your dog as a unique individual. Things to reflect upon are your dog’s age, health issues, and how long they have been consuming a specific diet.  When dogs are young, it is usually easy to train their systems to handle a variety of diets by simply introducing an assortment of foods. Puppies typically are fed three to four times a day, and there is no reason that each of those meals cannot be something different. There is no question that it is a little more work and a bit more costly, but feeding a variety will have lifelong benefits.

For the older dogs that have been eating the same diet for months, if not years, it will most likely be necessary to move at a slower pace. A good starting point is to first determine if you want to use a different manufacturer or feed an alternate protein source from the same company. Many of the pet food companies have come to understand that people want variety for their animals. To keep you as a loyal consumer, they have tried to make transitioning your pet within their product line as easy as possible. There will often be common ingredients in their diets, identical vitamin and mineral packs, and similar probiotics and prebiotics. Usually, I recommend you start by changing the protein source to something new. Instead of feeding a chicken-based diet, choose one formulated with beef, salmon, turkey, anything but chicken.

On the other hand, if you are looking to switch manufacturers (remember many manufacturers make several brands), it may be best to match the protein source to keep the ingredients somewhat similar. For example, if an animal has been eating a chicken product from Manufacturer A, look for a chicken-based product from Manufacturer B to start. The sourcing, nutrient availability, and formulation will be different, so this keeps some things constant during that initial shift.

Whether changing proteins or manufacturers, it is recommended to start with ¼ of the new food and ¾ of the current diet and then increase by ¼ every four days. Slowly altering the diet in this manner allows for 16 days to completely switch to the new diet. Once eating 100% of the new diet, the next step is to alternate back and forth between these two diets daily. One day you feed Brand A, the next you feed Brand B. As your dog begins to tolerate this easily, it is time to add another protein source or manufacturer until you have a sufficiently wide variety of choices for your pet. For the dog with a sensitive gut, you may need to start by introducing the new food as a treat, a few kibbles at a time. If your animal has underlying health concerns, these, of course, must be taken into account; however, this does not have to mean that some rotation is not feasible.

The second area of focus regarding dietary rotation is determining what you want to include in your pet’s diet. Are you considering kibble only or are you contemplating adding some canned, dehydrated, or commercial frozen or freeze-dried raw food? If you are adding canned food to your pet’s diet, it is easiest to add a small amount to the kibble as a topper. This can be a great way to increase your animal’s moisture intake and meat consumption. (Do remember, as with kibble, not all canned is created equal.)  When introducing raw, it is easiest to start with a freeze-dried food, albeit not the least expensive way, to go. Just sprinkle some freeze-dried food on the dry kibble and you are done. From the perspective of introducing frozen raw, giving two or three nuggets a day as a snack can be a great starting point. With all of these kibble alternatives, the key is to increase gradually and methodically until you can make a complete meal out of them.

The end goal is for you to be able to routinely switch what you feed your pet and not be fixed only feeding them one, specific diet. While this can be an undertaking at the onset, it pays off in with a healthier gut. Remember, always be vigilant and avoid the potential pitfalls of feeding one food and one brand forever.

Recommended Resources

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

The Wisdom of Rotating Your Pets Diet – Part 1http://bit.ly/DietRotation1-30JUL19

Pet Nutrition – Why Rotating Diets Makes Sense http://bit.ly/DietRotation

GAKS Philosophy on Pet Nutrition http://bit.ly/GAKS_Nut_Phil

Pet Foods We Offer At Green Acres Kennel Shop http://bit.ly/GAKS_PetFood_Brands

Things I Wish I Had Known… The Importance of What I Feed My Pets – – WWM-MAR2019 – http://bit.ly/Things-Nutrition-1

Pet Nutrition: Some Myths and Facts – Part 1 – My story with Gus – Maine Dog Magazine – Winter 2017 http://bit.ly/Gus-Nutrition

Pet Nutrition – What Should I Feed My Pet? http://bit.ly/What-Should-I-Feed-My-Pet

Pet Nutrition – What Do You Feed Your Dog? – WWM-JUN2016 – http://bit.ly/WhatDoYouFeedYourDog

Pet Nutrition – Should I Feed My Pet A Raw Diet? http://bit.ly/ShouldIFeedMyPetARawDiet

Pet Nutrition – The Science and Dogma of Pet Nutrition with Dr. Richard Patton with link to 1 hour video http://bit.ly/Video-Dr-Richard-Patton

Shared News Story – An Exposé on Prescription Diets from WJLA ABC7 Newshttp://bit.ly/Nut-RXDiets-WJLA-24MAY19

FDA Update on Heart Disease in Dogs & What Should You Do? – 7JUL19  http://bit.ly/FDA-DCM-Food-7JUL19

Shared Articles – More on the FDA, DCM and Pet Food – 10JUL19 –  http://bit.ly/FDA-DCM-Food-10JUL19

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

Podcast – DCM, the FDA, and Dog Food-the Science and the Hype with Canine Nutritionist Linda Casehttp://bit.ly/Blog-DCM-FDA-8AUG19

Podcast – Pet’s in the News–No. 4 Pet Food, DCM and The FDA http://bit.ly/WfMw-DCM-FDA-20JUL19

Podcast – Pet Nutrition with Dr. Richard Pattonhttp://bit.ly/DrPatton-Podcast

Podcast – Pet Fooled – A Look Inside A Questionable Industry with Kohl Harringtonhttp://bit.ly/WfMw-Pet-Fooled

Podcast – Is Feeding A Grain-Free Food to Our Dogs Dangerous?, with Linda Case, MS – http://bit.ly/Podcast-FDA-Grain-Free-LindaCase-29SEP18

Podcast – Pet Nutrition with Kymythy Schultze Author of Natural Nutrition for Cats: The Path to Purrfect Health http://bit.ly/KymythySchultzeCatNutrition-Podcast

Podcast – An Eastern Approach to Pet Nutrition with Dr. Michael Munzer from All Creatures Acupuncturehttp://bit.ly/WfMw-Munzer-EstrnNut-2018

Podcasts – Interview with Steve Brown about Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diethttp://bit.ly/WfMw-SteveBrown-2010

Other Resources

Wysong – The Truth About Pets Foods PDFhttp://bit.ly/WysongTheTruthAboutPetFoods-pdf

Pet Fooled on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/petfooled/

Pet Fooled Webpage https://www.petfooled.com/pet-fooled-part-1.html

________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( greenacreskennel.com ) in Bangor, ME where he has been helping people with their pets since 1995. 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). Don is a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) and is committed to PPG’s Guiding Principles and the Pain-Free, Force-Free, and Fear-Free training, management, and care of all pets. 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://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/, the Apple Podcast app, and at Don’s blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com.  The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.

©31AUG19, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
< Click for Copyright and Use Policy >

Pet Nutrition – The Wisdom of Rotating Your Pets Diet – Part 1

< A version of this article was published in the August 2019 issue of Downeast Dog News>

< A short link to this post http://bit.ly/DietRotation1-30JUL19 >

< Updated 26AUG19 >

Would You Be Healthy If You Ate the Same Thing At Every Meal?

By Guest Columnist, Kate Dutra, CPDT-KA

Tokyo turnips dipped in cilantro hummus; a ham, cheese and lettuce sandwich on organic seven-grain bread; raw pepper, tomatoes, and cucumbers; a handful of pretzels – this is what comprised my lunch today. Overall, most would agree that it was a healthy, well-balanced meal.  Now, what if I ate this same meal every day, twice a day, for several years? Is that still considered healthy and well balanced? Probably not.

Why then do we deem this acceptable for our canine and feline companions? Pet food companies, veterinarians, breeders, and others have convinced us that changing our pets’ food is difficult and will result in digestive upset. Intuitively we know our pets should have more variety in their diet; however, there is also a grain of truth to the tummy troubles. If animals have been eating only one food for several months or longer, it is only natural that they will experience digestive upset, and possibly diarrhea, when their GI tracts are exposed to other types of food.

The reality is that many companies do not want us to change our pets’ food because it impacts their bottom line. Fortunately, several companies now offer their foods with a variety of animal protein sources and have made adjustments in their diets to allow for a smooth transition from one type of food to another. While this is a good start, it is insufficient. When speaking of dietary rotation, it is not just limited to rotating within a brand of food, but also rotating among brands as well as food types.

The reasons for dietary rotation are many. The most obvious is to increase our pets’ exposure to a variety of meat sources, thus giving them variation in both macronutrients and micronutrients. Whether it is kibble, canned, freeze-dried, or raw, varying the meals between red meats, poultry, fish and some of the more novel protein sources, can be a simple way to benefit our companion’s nutritional well-being.

By rotating brands, even when using the same meat protein, we are increasing the odds of some small variations in diet. All chickens (turkey, pigs, etc.) are not created equal. For example, one company may source their chicken from a poultry farm in the Mid-West and another from New York. Both farms may be Certified Organic, but the soil in the Midwest has different nutrients than the soil in New York. Additionally, the air and water quality will vary, and the farms may be using dissimilar poultry feeds. This results in small differences between the chickens, and as we learn more about nutrition, we are discovering that these differences matter. Another rationale for brand rotation is the vitamin and mineral packs that are often supplemented in pet foods. While all of these packs should meet industry standards, there will be some variation because many of these vitamin and mineral packs are proprietary blends manufactured for specific pet food companies.

Additionally, we still do not understand everything there is to know about nutrition. Nutrition is a very complex science and one that shifts with evolution and the environment. Currently, we are experiencing an apparent increase of (DCM) in dogs (and a few cats). It has yet to be determined if there even is a link between diet and DCM, or what that link may be, but we do know that many of the dogs in the analysis did not have any variation in their feeding. If it is concluded that something in diet plays a role in DCM, had those dogs been on a rotational diet, there is the possibility that they may have had less exposure to whatever is causing the increase in DCM. In our world of genetically modifying everything, who is to say that we have not damaged the bio-availability or essential makeup of some nutrients?

Furthermore, recalls and shortages do happen. If your pet can only eat one food, and that food is recalled or unavailable for some reason, you may find yourself floundering for what to do. If however, you have introduced multiple foods and proteins to your pet, you will have other options available. It is essential also to have an alternative protein because when there is a shortage in an ingredient, it is likely to impact multiple lines of pet food.

A final reason to change up our pets’ diets is boredom. There is a middle ground between creating a picky eater and offering a variety. We control so much in our pets’ worlds, and unintentionally deprive them of choice and experiences, and this is an easy way to enrich their environment. Next month, we will explore transitioning your pet to a variety of diets, what to do about those pets that truly have sensitivities to foods, warming and cooling foods and other questions such as these.

You can learn how to implement this health practice with your dog at The Wisdom of Rotating Your Pets Diet, Part 2, Introducing Your Dog to Dietary Rotationhttp://bit.ly/DietRotation2

Recommended Resources

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

The Wisdom of Rotating Your Pets Diet, Part 2, Introducing Your Dog to Dietary Rotationhttp://bit.ly/DietRotation2

Pet Nutrition – Why Rotating Diets Makes Sense http://bit.ly/DietRotation

GAKS Philosophy on Pet Nutrition http://bit.ly/GAKS_Nut_Phil

Pet Foods We Offer At Green Acres Kennel Shop http://bit.ly/GAKS_PetFood_Brands

Things I Wish I Had Known… The Importance of What I Feed My Pets – – WWM-MAR2019 – http://bit.ly/Things-Nutrition-1

Pet Nutrition: Some Myths and Facts – Part 1 – My story with Gus – Maine Dog Magazine – Winter 2017 http://bit.ly/Gus-Nutrition

Pet Nutrition – What Should I Feed My Pet? http://bit.ly/What-Should-I-Feed-My-Pet

Pet Nutrition – What Do You Feed Your Dog? – WWM-JUN2016 – http://bit.ly/WhatDoYouFeedYourDog

Pet Nutrition – Should I Feed My Pet A Raw Diet? http://bit.ly/ShouldIFeedMyPetARawDiet

Pet Nutrition – The Science and Dogma of Pet Nutrition with Dr. Richard Patton with link to 1 hour video http://bit.ly/Video-Dr-Richard-Patton

Shared News Story – An Exposé on Prescription Diets from WJLA ABC7 Newshttp://bit.ly/Nut-RXDiets-WJLA-24MAY19

FDA Update on Heart Disease in Dogs & What Should You Do? – 7JUL19  http://bit.ly/FDA-DCM-Food-7JUL19

Shared Articles – More on the FDA, DCM and Pet Food – 10JUL19 –  http://bit.ly/FDA-DCM-Food-10JUL19

 

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

Podcast – Pet’s in the News–No. 4 Pet Food, DCM and The FDA http://bit.ly/WfMw-DCM-FDA-20JUL19

Podcast – Pet Nutrition with Dr. Richard Pattonhttp://bit.ly/DrPatton-Podcast

Podcast – Pet Fooled – A Look Inside A Questionable Industry with Kohl Harringtonhttp://bit.ly/WfMw-Pet-Fooled

Podcast – Is Feeding A Grain-Free Food to Our Dogs Dangerous?, with Linda Case, MS – http://bit.ly/Podcast-FDA-Grain-Free-LindaCase-29SEP18

Podcast – Pet Nutrition with Kymythy Schultze Author of Natural Nutrition for Cats: The Path to Purrfect Health http://bit.ly/KymythySchultzeCatNutrition-Podcast

Podcast – An Eastern Approach to Pet Nutrition with Dr. Michael Munzer from All Creatures Acupuncturehttp://bit.ly/WfMw-Munzer-EstrnNut-2018

Podcasts – Interview with Steve Brown about Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diethttp://bit.ly/WfMw-SteveBrown-2010

Other Resources

Wysong – The Truth About Pets Foods PDFhttp://bit.ly/WysongTheTruthAboutPetFoods-pdf

Pet Fooled on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/petfooled/

Pet Fooled Webpage https://www.petfooled.com/pet-fooled-part-1.html

 

________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( greenacreskennel.com ) in Bangor, ME where he has been helping people with their pets since 1995. 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). Don is a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) and is committed to PPG’s Guiding Principles and the Pain-Free, Force-Free, and Fear-Free training, management, and care of all pets. 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://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/, the Apple Podcast app, and at Don’s blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com.  The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.

©26AUG19, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
< Click for Copyright and Use Policy >

Animal Welfare – An Open Letter to Shelters & Rescue Organizations – Humane Treatment –Transparency About Behavior – No Hassle Returns

< A version of this article was published in the May 2019 issue of Downeast Dog News>

A short link to this post – http://bit.ly/WWM-OpnLtrShltrs-MAY2019 >

I unequivocally believe in the mission of animal rescue; it has provided me with seven dogs and six cats that became great companions.

Having served on the board of a humane society for 15 years, I know that caring for and rehoming pets and funding those efforts is a challenging job.

I have worked with thousands of clients, and over half have had rescue pets. In most cases, they became treasured family members. However, I also know that despite an adopter’s best intentions and efforts a pet may not be an appropriate fit for their home and may even present a danger to people, others pets, or themselves. It is in the best interest of the animal, the adopter, and the rescuing organization that this happens as seldom as possible. Here are three steps that I believe are fundamental to making this happen.

Humane Treatment of The Pets Being Rescued

A shelter may place a pet with behavioral challenges because; 1) they never witnessed any problem behavior while the pet was in their care, 2) they lacked  knowledge about behavior and were not experienced identifying behavior issues, or 3) they created aggression and fear with the use of aversive tools to “cure” these pets.  Certified Animal Behavior Consultant (CABC) Steve Dale recently addressed this last issue in a blog post entitled At What Cost Is Saving Dogs Acceptable1 ( FMIhttp://bit.ly/2OvI0MY ). Dale asserts that some shelters have the attitude that their priority is to save every dog, no matter what, even if it involves using severe punishment such as shock collars. Dale believes that is unacceptable, and I concur, as does the Pet Professional Guild2 ( FMIhttps://www.petprofessionalguild.com/shockcollars ) and the American Animal Hospital Association3 ( FMIhttp://bit.ly/AAHA-2015BHx ).

When I recommend a shelter or rescue, I expect three things:

  1. They are a member of the Pet Professional Guild. Membership in the PPG only costs a shelter or rescue $35/year. A small investment to demonstrate their commitment to “No, Pain, No Force, and No Fear,” and inconsequential considering the wealth of information available to them as part of their membership.
  2. They have policies in place, ensuring that they follow the PPG Guiding Principles and the AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines.
  3. They have signed the Shock-Free Coalition Pledge.

Transparency About Behavioral Issues

In her blog post The Changing Role & Responsibility of Rescues & Shelters4 ( FMIhttp://bit.ly/2HQHit9 ), Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Debbie Jacobs addresses the fact that many dogs end up in shelters with severe behavioral issues. She notes that in most cases shelters do not have the resources to successfully rehabilitate these dogs “efficiently and humanelynor do most adopters. When most people adopt a pet they are not looking for a project in behavior modification; they merely want a companion.

This week I had two different clients that adopted dogs from two different rescues. In the first case, the shelter minimized the potential difficulty of the adopter dealing with the dog’s separation anxiety. They got the dog home and quickly discovered she could not be left home alone without having an extreme panic attack, barking, defecating, and urinating throughout the house. This dog was suffering, and these people wanted to help, but they had to leave the dog alone part of the day because they had to work. Separation anxiety seldom resolves easily and rarely without professional help. That help and medication can be quite costly. The shelter should have recognized this home was not the right fit for this dog. Instead, their error further traumatized the dog and caused some severe emotional distress for the dog’s adopters who now felt as if they had failed. The only failure here was the shelter.

In the second case, my client adopted two dogs whom they were told were “strongly bonded” and had no issues. When they got the dogs home, the dogs were constantly fighting. The aggression was serious enough that my client’s veterinarian advised against keeping the dogs. The rescues owner said: “One of the dogs is a bit bossy, just let them work it out.” Aggression is a severe issue and does not fix itself. My clients made a difficult emotional decision to return these dogs. While they felt terrible, they knew they there were not equipped to deal with this level of inter-dog aggression. They wanted two dogs they could care for, not two dogs that wanted to hurt one another.

What MUST A Shelter/Rescue Do?

Be Humane! ALWAYS! – Develop policies and procedures that comply with the AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines  ( http://bit.ly/AAHA-2015BHx ) and the PPG Guiding Principles ( http://bit.ly/PPG-GuidingPrinciples ) and then train your staff and volunteers and make sure that they are all following these policies. While you are at it, sign the Shock-Free Coalition Pledge ( https://www.shockfree.org/Pledge )

Be Honest and Transparent About Any Behavioral Issues – Behavioral issues such as separation anxiety, aggression, and resource guarding can present a danger to the animal, the adopter, and the public. If you have a pet in your shelter with these issues, you have a responsibility to be completely honest with all potential adopters. Always err on the side of public safety. If an adopter is at all hesitant, do NOT push the adoption so you can get one more pet out the door. I know many people who have had this experience and because of it will NEVER adopt from a rescue again.

Happily Accept All Returns with NO Shaming! – Not all placements are going to work. When someone brings a pet back, accept it cheerfully without trying to guilt or shame the adopter. Surrendering a pet was not an easy decision for them so please show them as much compassion as you would show the pet.

When advising clients on choosing a breeder most pet care professionals I know suggest one of the criteria of a good breeder is one that will take back any puppy they have sold, at any time, for any reason. Shelters and rescues need to step up and be held to the same standard.

Recommended References

1 At What Cost Is Savings Dog Acceptablehttp://bit.ly/2OvI0MY

2 Pet Professional Guild (PPG) – Position Statement – The Use of Shock in Animal Traininghttps://www.petprofessionalguild.com/shockcollars

3 American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) – 2015 AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines  – http://bit.ly/AAHA-2015BHx

4 The Changing Role & Responsibility of Rescues & Shelters http://bit.ly/2HQHit9

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

Help! My Dog is Aggressive, Reactive, Fearful, Anxious, etc. – What do I do? – WWM – APR2017 – http://bit.ly/HelpDogAggx

The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collarshttp://bit.ly/ShockCollars

Electric Shock Collars: Unreasonable Expectations and Misleading Advertising – WWM JUN2018http://bit.ly/ShockCollarExpectationsDeception

Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Started Training Dogs – Gus, the Dominance Myth, An Alpha Roll, and a Damaged Relationship – WWM-SEP2018 http://bit.ly/Things-Gus-Dominance

Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Selected My First Dog – Aversives are Unnecessary and Counter-Productive When Training A Dog – Part 1 – WWM-JAN2019 http://bit.ly/Things-Aversives-1

Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Selected My First Dog – Aversives are Unnecessary and Counter-Productive When Training A Dog – Part 2 – WWM-FEB2019 –  http://bit.ly/Things-Aversives-2

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

Podcast – The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collarshttp://bit.ly/ShockPodcast

Podcast – The Woof Meow Show: The Pet Professional Guild and the Shock-Free Coalition with Niki Tudgehttp://bit.ly/PodCastShockFree-NikiTudge-2017

Web Sites

Pet Professional Guild – Join Today – https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/TheGuildApplicationForm

Pet Professional Guild – Find A Professional  – http://bit.ly/PPG-Find-A-Prof

The Shock-Free Coalitionhttps://www.shockfree.org/

Take the Shock-Free Pledgehttps://www.shockfree.org/Pledge

Shock-Free Pledge Signatures – https://www.shockfree.org/Signatures

Charity Navigatorhttps://www.charitynavigator.org

________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( greenacreskennel.com ) in Bangor, ME where he has been helping people with their pets since 1995. 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). Don is a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) and is committed to PPG’s Guiding Principles and the Pain-Free, Force-Free, and Fear-Free training, management, and care of all pets. 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://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/, the Apple Podcast app, and at Don’s blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com.  The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.

©2-May-19, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
< Click for Copyright and Use Policy >

Going to the Dog Park – Is It A Good Idea for You and Your Dog?

< A version of this article was published in the April 2019 issue of Downeast Dog News>

< This is a short link to this article http://bit.ly/GoingToTheDogPark >

< A companion podcast to this post can be found at http://bit.ly/WfMwGoingToTheDogPark >

A trip to the dog park can be a joyous excursion for many dogs, but that is not always the case. A successful visit to a dog park depends on four things; you, your dog, the dog park, and the culture of the dog park.

Things You Need Before You Visit the Dog Park – A relationship with your dog built upon trust and acceptance. A dog that has been adequately and appropriately socialized and habituated to the world in which they live. Thorough knowledge of your dogs likes and dislikes. A commitment that you will immediately leave the dog park if your dog exhibits fearful or aggressive behavior towards any dog or person. A basic understanding of canine behavior, body language, and emotions which you have used to successfully train your dog using pain-free, force-free, and fear-free methods. An ability to quickly and successfully call your dog away from another dog during play if it becomes necessary. An understanding that your role at the dog park is to monitor your dog for appropriate interactions and to intervene as necessary. Acceptance of full responsibility for you and your dog’s actions at the dog park.

Things Your Dog Needs Before You Visit the Dog Park – A relationship with you built upon trust and acceptance. A non-reactive and non-fearful temperament. A genuine pleasure in interacting with almost all dogs. An ability to play appropriately with other dogs so that all participants are having fun. A thorough examination by your veterinarian including all recommended vaccinations and neutering. Regular checks by you to verify they are free of parasites such as fleas, ticks, and worms. Training to a level where they respond reliably to your cues for behaviors such as sit, come, and leave it.

Things to Verify About A Dog Park Before You Visit – There are posted rules and a mechanism for reporting violators.  Minimally rules should ban shock, choke, and prong collars, food, treats, toys, smoking and vaping, alcoholic beverages, and distractions such as mobile phones. A double-gated entrance. Fencing of an adequate height in good repair. Sufficient acreage for the number of dogs and people present. A separate area for smaller dogs. All necessary supplies to safely dispose of dog feces. Regular maintenance of vegetation within the park and on both side of the fencing to deter ticks and other parasites.

Dog Park Culture- Things to Verify About Other Visitors to the Dog Park – Everyone is following the posted rules. All present are actively supervising their dogs and monitoring all dog to dog interactions. That means socialization between people is a secondary priority, and no one is enraptured or distracted by a mobile phone. Ideally, there is one adult person for every dog. No dog is bullying, intimidating, or reactive towards any dog or person at the dog park. No person is intimidating people or dogs.

If you follow the four guidelines I have listed above, you and your dog have a high probability of having a great time at the dog park. However, if anything about a visit to the dog park becomes stressful, leave immediately. Sadly, while most dogs have a great time at dog parks, every year some dogs have a traumatizing experience during a visit. Dogs have even been killed at the dog park.

What if you want to take your dog to the dog park and either you, the dog or perhaps neither of you is ready? That depends on what you need to do to get ready. If you have a dog that you do not know well yet, take the time to get to know them. If your dog is not well trained or you do not know much about canine behavior, training, or body language seek out the services of a professional, accredited dog trainer that is committed to pain-free, force-free, and fear-free training. [ FMI – How to Choose a Dog Trainerhttp://bit.ly/HowToChooseADogTrainer ]

If you have a dog that is a bully or fearful, or reactive and aggressive in any way, seek help from a credentialed Certified Dog Behavior Consultant. [ FMI – Help! My Dog is Aggressive, Reactive, Fearful, Anxious, etc. – What do I do?http://bit.ly/HelpDogAggx ]

If you would like to learn more about how to prepare yourself and your dog for the dog park, and what to look for at the dog park, I invite you to my presentation: Dog Parks – Dog Behavior & Body Language. This seminar is being offered twice in May; at the P.A.W.S. Animal Adoption Center in Camden, ME on Saturday, May 11th at 10 AM and at Green Acres Kennel Shop in Bangor, ME on Sunday, May 19th at 3 PM.

You can get more details on the seminar, including how to register, athttp://bit.ly/Blog-UpcomingEvents ]

 

Recommended Resources

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

Before You Visit the Dog Park – http://bit.ly/BeforeYouVisitTheDogPark

How to Choose A Dog Trainer – http://bit.ly/HowToChooseADogTrainer

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

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

A Rescue Dogs Perspectivehttp://bit.ly/Rescue-Muppy

Podcasts

Podcast – Going to the Dog Park – Is It A Good Idea for You and Your Dog?http://bit.ly/WfMwGoingToTheDogPark

Articles on the Web

Dog Parks Are Dangerous! – The Whole Dog Journal – Nancy Kerns – https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/blog/Dog-Parks-Are-Dangerous-21816-1.html

Small dog attacked, killed by 2 large dogs at Lodi park – KCRA3 Sacramento – http://www.kcra.com/article/small-dog-attacked-killed-by-2-large-dogs-at-lodi-park/19383305

Culture of Dog Parks – The Bark – Dr. Karen London – https://thebark.com/content/culture-dog-parks

The Pros and Cons of Dog Parks – The Whole Dog Journal, January 2018 – Pat Millerhttps://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/21_1/features/Dog-Park-Pros-and-Cons_21767-1.html

How To Break Up A Dog Fighthttp://www.pethealthnetwork.com/dog-health/dog-behavior/how-break-a-dog-fight

Handouts to Download

Dog Park Etiquette – Dr. Sophia Yinhttps://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2018/04/02/dog-park-etiquette-dr-sophia-yin/

Body Language of Fear in Dogs – Dr. Sophia Yinhttps://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/04/04/body-language-of-fear-in-dogs-dr-sophia-yin/

How To Greet A Dog and What to Avoid – Dr. Sophia Yinhttps://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/04/04/canine-body-language-how-to-greet-a-dog-and-what-to-avoid-dr-sophia-yin/

Canine Bite Levels – Dr. Sophia Yinhttps://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/01/17/dog-bites-dr-sophia-yin-canine-bite-levels/

Books

On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals – Turid Rugaas

Canine Play Behavior-The Science of Dogs at Play – Mechtild Käufer

A Kids’ Comprehensive Guide to Speaking Dog! – Niki Tudge

________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( greenacreskennel.com ) in Bangor, ME where he has been helping people with their pets since 1995. 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). Don is a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) and is committed to PPG’s Guiding Principles and the Pain-Free, Force-Free, and Fear-Free training, management, and care of all pets. 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://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/, the Apple Podcast app, and at Don’s blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com.  The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.

©7APR19, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
< Click for Copyright and Use Policy >

Electric Shock Collars: Unreasonable Expectations and Misleading Advertising

< Updated 18MAR19 >

< An abbreviated version of this article entitled Unreasonable Expectations and Misleading Advertising was originally published in the June 2018 issue of Downeast Dog News>

< a short link to this article – http://bit.ly/ShockCollarExpectationsDeception >

When we bring a new dog into our home, things do not always work out the way we want. I find that there are two common reasons this occurs; we have unreasonable expectations, or we have been misled.

Unreasonable Expectations

We often create unreasonable expectations for a new dog in our life based on memories of previous dogs. Perhaps we remember the dog we had as a child. You know, the dog mom raised. If you asked your mom her true feelings about that dog, she might not recall raising him as being “easy peasy.”

Alternatively, perhaps our expectations are based on the last memories we have of a dog; the one who was sixteen and slept most of the time. While it is nice to remember the best of times, it can be helpful to recall that the sleepy sixteen-year-old was a hellion at 16 months of age.

For some reason many people expect a dog to live in our world with little or no training, or to master everything they need to know in just a few weeks. Patience seems to be a virtue sorely lacking in this day and age and one that every dog deserves.

Sometimes it is not us that creates unreasonable expectations but others with something to gain.

Misleading Advertising

Those trying to sell us a dog sometimes may portray a dog more favorably to make a sale. I have had more than one client tell me that their breeder said: “This breed is always calm and easy to train.” I have had clients who have adopted a shelter or rescue dog state “The people at the rescue said she knows how to sit and heel. She doesn’t do any of that!

Publishers like book titles that sell books. A title like “Seven Days to the Perfect Dog” may sell books, but it is blatantly deceptive and plays right into people’s unrealistic expectations.

Advertising that any dog can be reliable off-leash anytime and anywhere also seems to be in vogue. Those in pursuit of the dream of complete control over their dog and a life off-leash may turn a blind eye to the tools and methods that will be used because they want that perfect dog so badly. Other times they wish the best for their dog, and someone takes advantage of their naiveté.

I recently had a client with a puppy that had been convinced that an underground fence system would keep her dog safely in her yard. When I explained that these “fences” worked by giving the dog an electric shock, she was aghast. Unfortunately, that piece of information had never been disclosed by the salesperson. Instead, she had been told that the dog would only feel a “vibration,” “tap,” or “stim;” nice sounding slang for “electric shock.

Often those recommending shock collars insist that they cause no pain or discomfort. When they claim that a shock collar does not “hurt” the dog, they are either demonstrating their ignorance of the basic principles of operant conditioning or are intentionally being deceptive. In my opinion, an individual that does not thoroughly understand how dogs learn or are misleading about the products and methods they use and sell, should not be training dogs or offering advice on that subject.

As I have noted in previous columns, experts in animal behavior such as The Pet Professional Guild (PPG) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) have explicit principles and guidelines that state that aversives such as shock, choke, and prong collars, as well as other devices designed to cause pain, MUST NEVER BE USED. They have taken this position because these devices frequently cause aggression and other behavior problems and are NEVER necessary.

Why anyone would recommend pain to train a dog makes no logical sense.  Please, be realistic in what you expect of your dog, be wary of things that sound too good to be true, ask lots of questions, and most importantly, be kind. If you need help, seek advice from a pet care professional that is committed to No Pain, No Force, and No Fear. Your dog will thank you.

Recommended Resources

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

Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Started Training Dogs – Gus, the Dominance Myth, An Alpha Roll, and a Damaged Relationship – WWM-SEP2018 – http://bit.ly/Things-Gus-Dominance

Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Selected My First Dog – Aversives are Unnecessary and Counter-Productive When Training A Dog – Part 1 – WWM-JAN2019 http://bit.ly/Things-Aversives-1

Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Selected My First Dog – Aversives are Unnecessary and Counter-Productive When Training A Dog – Part 2 – WWM-FEB2019 –  http://bit.ly/Things-Aversives-2

Is Your Dog Your Best Friend or a Family Member? – WWM-OCT2017 –   http://bit.ly/BestFriendsAndShock

What Is Dog Training?http://bit.ly/WhatIsDogTraining

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

Thank You, PPG, and Gus Too! – from the May 2017 issue of the Pet Professional Guild journal, BARKS from the Guildhttp://bit.ly/ThanksPPG-Gus

 

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

The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collars

The Pet Professional Guild and the Shock-Free Coalition with Niki Tudge

Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – Green Acres Kennel Shop’s “Pet-Friendly” Philosophy

Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – The Pet Professional Guild and Force-Free Pet Care with Niki Tudge

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

Other Publications & Blogs

BARKS from the Guild – May 2017 – Thank You, PPG, and Gus Too! https://issuu.com/petprofessionalguild/docs/bftg_may_2017_online_edition_opt/58

BARKS blog – Choke Collar Pathologyhttp://ppgworldservices.com/2017/06/13/choke-collar-pathology/

 Videos

Dogs, Cats, and Scapegoats (The entire film)    https://vimeo.com/230807934

Malignant Behavior: The Cesar Millan Effect (from Dogs, Cats, and Scapegoats ) https://vimeo.com/243498663?fbclid=IwAR3RYOlIP7LeePV0B8ZaHhed5pPDYZbPu8KQbXNxfzOodWCRKspgcSQrwnc

Dogs, Cats, and Scapegoats – The Mind of Cesar Millanhttps://vimeo.com/236013182

 

Position Statements

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB)

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior AVSAB Position Statement on the Use of Dominance Theory in Behavior Modification of Animalshttps://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Dominance_Position_Statement_download-10-3-14.pdf

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior AVSAB Position Statement on The Use of Punishment for Behavior Modification in Animals – https://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Punishment_Position_Statement-download_-_10-6-14.pdf

Green Acres Kennel Shop

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position Statement on Pet-Friendly, Force-Free Pet Carehttp://bit.ly/GAKS_Pet-Friendly

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position on the Use of Dominance and Punishment for the Training and Behavior Modification of Dogshttp://bit.ly/GAKS-Pos-NoPain-NoForceNoFear

 Pet Professional Guild (PPG)

Pet Professional Guild – Guiding Principleshttp://www.bit.ly/2mUCTqN

Pet Professional Guild – Position Statement – The Use of Choke and Prong Collars – https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/chokeandprongcollarpositionstatement

Pet Professional Guild – Position Statement – The Use of Pet Correction Devices – https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Equipment-Used-for-the-Management-Training-and-Care-of-Pets

Pet Professional Guild – Position Statement – The Use of Shock in Animal Training – https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/shockcollars

 

Books

Dog Smart: Evidence-based Training with The Science Dog, Linda P. Case, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2018read a review at http://bit.ly/BkRvw-Case-DogSmart

Don’t Shoot the Dog – The New Art of Teaching and Training (2ndedition), Karen Pryor, Bantam Books, 1999.

The Culture Clash, Jean Donaldson, James & Kenneth Publishers, 2005.

The Power of Positive Dog Training, Pat Miller, Howell Book House, 2001.

________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( greenacreskennel.com ) in Bangor where he has been helping people with their pets since 1995. 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 AM620 WZON and streamed at http://www.wzonam.com/ every Saturday at 9 AM. Podcasts of the show are available at http://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/. Don also writes about pets at his blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com. He is committed to pet care and pet training that is free of pain, force, and fear. The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.

©18MAR19, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
< Click for Copyright and Use Policy >

Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Selected My First Dog – Aversives are Unnecessary and Counter-Productive When Training A Dog – Part 2

< A version of this article was published in the February 2019 issue of Downeast Dog News >

< A short link to this article on my blog – < http://bit.ly/Things-Aversives-2 >

< A short link to all the articles in this series – http://bit.ly/ThingsIWishIHadKnown >

Last month I described how in 1991 I had been told to use a choke collar to train our dog Gus and how that damaged our relationship. I defined the term “aversive” and discussed the use of choke and prong collars, two of the most common aversives used to train dogs. ( FMI – http://bit.ly/Things-Aversives-1 )

Today, the most extreme aversive used with dogs is the electric shock collar. A shock collar works by administering a shock to the dog’s neck to stop a behavior (positive punishment) or continuously shocks the dog until they do the desired behavior (negative reinforcement). Shock collars are promoted for remote training, containment, and to stop barking. Some trainers even routinely recommend shock be used to train a puppy to sit. All objectives that a knowledgeable and skilled trainer or behavior consultant can achieve without the use of aversives.

Why people choose to use a shock collar on a dog that is allegedly their best friend is a mystery to me. ( FMIhttp://bit.ly/BestFriendsAndShock ) Based on experience with some of my clients I believe that they did not understand that the shock from a shock collar needs to hurt their dog to be effective. These individuals had been convinced to use a shock collar because they had been told it would allow their dog more freedom and then were appalled the first time their dog was shocked, and they heard her yelp in pain. They never used the shock collar again. Unfortunately, the marketing materials for shock products are not always clear about their aversive nature.

Why a canine professional would ever recommend any aversive, but especially a shock collar, is even more unsettling. It may be because they have elected not to keep learning.  Veterinary behaviorist, Dr. Lisa Radosta noted in the 2017 documentary film Dogs, Cats, and Scapegoats: “If your trainer is still using pinch collars and choke collars they haven’t read a book or gone to a scientifically based seminar in 25 years.” That is why when choosing a dog training professional it is essential to make sure that they have been certified by an organization that mandates continuing education. ( FMI – http://bit.ly/HowToChooseADogTrainer ).

Experts in animal behavior know that the use of electric shock can be extremely harmful. That is why the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and The Pet Professional Guild (PPG) have taken positions that shock collars should NEVER be used. It is why shock collars have been banned in many countries, and why many more are working towards that goal. You can find a list of scientific resources on the dangers of shock on my blog at http://bit.ly/SayNoToShock.

Electric shocks are painful, but it is equally important to understand that there are other tools that are used with dogs with the intention of causing physical or emotional pain/discomfort. These include, but are not limited to air horns, alpha rolls, beating, cattle prods, choke collars, citronella collars, dominance downs, lunge whips, pinch/prong collars, squirt bottles, starving or withholding food, throw chains, and more.

What many people do not realize is that anything that makes your dog anxious, afraid or uncomfortable is an aversive, even if you did not intend for it to be aversive. For example, within days of adopting our current dog, Muppy, she was sitting on my lap for some snuggle time when I sneezed. Muppy bolted off of my lap and ran out of the room. When I found her she was trembling, her tail was tucked, her head was down, her mouth was closed, and she was avoiding eye contact. She did not feel comfortable approaching me until I got down on the floor, looking the other way, allowing her to decide if she wanted to approach. She eventually did, and we resumed snuggling, but she continued to react in this manner every time I sneezed for several months. We finally got past this, but it took a concerted effort on my part.

I have had clients with dogs that have experienced a shock collar who will no longer enter an area where they received the shock. Others that have a panic attack anytime they hear something that is even remotely similar to the sound made by the shock collar. Some aggressively bark, growl, and lunge at any child because that is what they were focused on when they received the shock.  I know I could never put a dog through that, especially knowing that it is NEVER necessary.

I was fortunate; I learned how to train and care for a dog with management and positive reinforcement before shock collars became the latest fad. I hope that by reading this, you can avoid causing your dog unnecessary pain.

My next column in this series will address reward-based training and why it is the most humane and most effective way to train a dog.

If you agree that the use of shock collars is harmful to dogs, I encourage you to join the many people throughout the world that have signed the Shock-Free pledge. You may pledge and join the Maine chapter of the Shock-Free Coalition at http://bit.ly/Shock-FreeME-Chapter. You can follow our activities on Facebook at http://bit.ly/ShockFreeMEFB

If you are reading this and not from Maine, check out these links:

https://www.shockfree.org/ and https://www.facebook.com/shockfreecoalition/. The Shock-Free Coalition is an international project and we value your support no matter where you live.

Recommended Resources

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

Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Selected My First Dog – Aversives are Unnecessary and Counter-Productive When Training A Dog – Part 1 – WWM-JAN2019 http://bit.ly/Things-Aversives-1

Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Started Training Dogs – Gus, the Dominance Myth, An Alpha Roll, and a Damaged Relationship – WWM-SEP2018 – http://bit.ly/Things-Gus-Dominance

Is Your Dog Your Best Friend or a Family Member? – WWM-OCT2017 –   http://bit.ly/BestFriendsAndShock

What Is Dog Training?http://bit.ly/WhatIsDogTraining

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

Thank You, PPG, and Gus Too! – from the May 2017 issue of the Pet Professional Guild journal, BARKS from the Guildhttp://bit.ly/ThanksPPG-Gus

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/

Selecting A Pet Care Provider – Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – Green Acres Kennel Shop’s “Pet-Friendly” Philosophy – Part 1http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/04/02/yes-a-trend-towards-kinder-and-gentler-professional-pet-care-green-acres-kennel-shops-pet-friendly-philosophy-part-1/

Selecting A Pet Care Provider – Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – The PPG – Part 2http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/05/02/selecting-a-pet-care-provider-yes-a-trend-towards-kinder-and-gentler-professional-pet-care-the-ppg-part-2/

 

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

<Click on the title to listen to the show>

The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collars

The Pet Professional Guild and the Shock-Free Coalition with Niki Tudge

Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – Green Acres Kennel Shop’s “Pet-Friendly” Philosophy

Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – The Pet Professional Guild and Force-Free Pet Care with Niki Tudge

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

 

Other Publications & Blogs

BARKS from the Guild – May 2017 – Thank You, PPG, and Gus Too! https://issuu.com/petprofessionalguild/docs/bftg_may_2017_online_edition_opt/58

BARKS blog – Choke Collar Pathologyhttp://ppgworldservices.com/2017/06/13/choke-collar-pathology/

 

Videos

Dogs, Cats, and Scapegoats (The entire film)    https://vimeo.com/230807934

Malignant Behavior: The Cesar Millan Effect (from Dogs, Cats, and Scapegoats ) https://vimeo.com/243498663?fbclid=IwAR3RYOlIP7LeePV0B8ZaHhed5pPDYZbPu8KQbXNxfzOodWCRKspgcSQrwnc

Dogs, Cats, and Scapegoats – The Mind of Cesar Millanhttps://vimeo.com/236013182

Position Statements

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB)

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior AVSAB Position Statement on the Use of Dominance Theory in Behavior Modification of Animalshttps://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Dominance_Position_Statement_download-10-3-14.pdf

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior AVSAB Position Statement on The Use of Punishment for Behavior Modification in Animals – https://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Punishment_Position_Statement-download_-_10-6-14.pdf

Green Acres Kennel Shop

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position Statement on Pet-Friendly, Force-Free Pet Carehttp://bit.ly/GAKS_Pet-Friendly

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position on the Use of Dominance and Punishment for the Training and Behavior Modification of Dogshttp://bit.ly/GAKS-Pos-NoPain-NoForceNoFear

 Pet Professional Guild (PPG)

Pet Professional Guild – Guiding Principleshttp://www.bit.ly/2mUCTqN

Pet Professional Guild – Position Statement – The Use of Choke and Prong Collars – https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/chokeandprongcollarpositionstatement

Pet Professional Guild – Position Statement – The Use of Pet Correction Devices – https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Equipment-Used-for-the-Management-Training-and-Care-of-Pets

Pet Professional Guild – Position Statement – The Use of Shock in Animal Training – https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/shockcollars

 Books

Dog Smart: Evidence-based Training with The Science Dog, Linda P. Case, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2018read a review at http://bit.ly/BkRvw-Case-DogSmart

Don’t Shoot the Dog – The New Art of Teaching and Training (2ndedition), Karen Pryor, Bantam Books, 1999.

The Culture Clash, Jean Donaldson, James & Kenneth Publishers, 2005.

The Power of Positive Dog Training, Pat Miller, Howell Book House, 2001.

 

________________________________________________________________________
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 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). Don is a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) and is committed to PPG’s Guiding Principles and the Pain-Free, Force-Free, and Fear-Free training, management, and care of all pets. Don produces and co-hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show heard on AM620 WZON and streamed at http://www.wzonam.com/ every Saturday at 9 AM. Podcasts of the show are available at http://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/. Don also writes about pets at his blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com. The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.

©02FEB19, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
< Click for Copyright and Use Policy >

Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Selected My First Dog – Aversives are Unnecessary and Counter-Productive When Training A Dog – Part 1

< Updated 02FEB19 >

< A version of this article was published in the January 2019 issue of Downeast Dog News >

< A short link to this article on my blog – < http://bit.ly/Things-Aversives-1 >

< A short link to all the articles in this series – http://bit.ly/ThingsIWishIHadKnown >

In September I wrote the 1st of a series of columns entitled “Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Started Training Dogs” [ FMI http://bit.ly/Things-Gus-Dominance ] which I have since renamed Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Selected My First Dog, because there are things I will be sharing that are not about training.

This month I am addressing the next stage in Gus’ training.

In 1991, dogs were routinely trained with collars explicitly designed to administer an aversive; positive punishment or negative reinforcement. At the time there were two primary types of training collars; choke collars or prong collars.

Choke collars are typically made of a metal chain or nylon. They are used to give a “leash pop” or “correction” when the trainer quickly jerks the leash. The intent is to cause the dog discomfort or pain around their neck.

A single correction with a choke collar may restrict breathing, cause damage to the spine, the thyroid gland, and even to the eyes. The use of choke collars has also been reported to cause brain damage.

Prong collars, also called pinch collars, consist of a metal chain that contains several prongs that rest against the dog’s neck. Just as with the choke collar, the trainer jerks on the leash causing the prongs to press against the dog’s neck causing pain or discomfort. Prong collars, like choke collars, can cause both physical and psychological injury to a dog.

The fundamental training philosophy behind the use of choke and prong collars is to set up a training scenario where the dog will react inappropriately (e.g., the dog does not sit when cued or the dog pulls on leash) whereupon the trainer administers a correction by jerking on the leash. This jerk causes an aversive or pain which is meant to deter the dog from misbehaving in the future.

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines “aversive” as “Tending to avoid or causing avoidance of a noxious or punishing stimulus – behavior modification by aversive stimulation.”

I find the above definition somewhat cumbersome and unclear, so I define an aversive as;

An aversive is anything that makes your dog anxious, afraid or uncomfortable. An aversive makes our dogs want to be away from whatever they believe caused the aversive. If they believe we caused the aversive, they will no longer want to be near us.”

Since most people get a dog to be their companion, I have to ask; why would anyone want to use a tool that would cause our best friend to want to avoid us? Today it makes no sense to me. Unfortunately, not knowing any better back in 1991, the next stage of Gus’ training involved the use of a choke collar.

We taught Gus to sit, to lie down, and to stay when he was given a verbal cue by using a correction with a choke collar. We worked on the heel but never mastered it without using the choke collar; something fairly common with dogs trained in this manner. Gus never had a reliable recall until we discovered reward-based training.

There are those who use choke and prong collars that will insist that when used correctly there is no pain involved with the use of these tools. They are either in denial, do not have a thorough understanding of operant conditioning and the science of learning, are being dishonest to themselves and anyone that they recommend use a choke or prong collar, or just don’t care because “Hey, it’s just a dumb animal.”. Choke and prong collars were specifically designed for two purposes; to administer positive punishment or negative reinforcement as part of a dog training regime.

With a skilled trainer, both choke and prong collars can accomplish the task of training a dog. However, neither collar was meant to be used on the dog for life. If someone is still using these devices a year after they “trained” their dog, the training was obviously not successful.

Even though these tools can work, based on what science has taught us about dogs and how they learn, those in the pet care profession that believe in continuing education, know there is no acceptable use for choke or prong collars today. Dr. Lisa Radosta, a veterinarian and a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behavior, put it best in the 2017 documentary film Dogs, Cats, and Scapegoats where she stated “If your trainer is still using pinch collars and choke collars they haven’t read a book or gone to a scientifically based seminar in 25 years.”

Positive punishment uses an aversive stimulus with the intention of stopping a behavior such as a dog pulling while on a leash. If the dogs pulls, the handler jerks on the leash, administering an aversive pressure around the dog’s neck until the dog stops pulling and the dog returns to the side of the handler causing the leash to go slack. The handler continues to do this everytime the dog gets out of the heel position, with the hope that the dog will never pull again so that they avoid the aversive. An example of positive punishment with people would be someone getting a ticket for speeding or parking inappropriately. How many of those people go on to repeat the offense? While positive punishment works some of the time, it often fails.

Negative reinforcement uses an aversive with the intention of causing a behavior to occur by administering something aversive until the dog performs the desired behavior. For example, if a trainer wanted a dog to sit, they would use the leash to tighten the choke or prong collar to be sufficiently aversive so that the dog will sit, whereupon they will stop tightening the collar and end the aversive stimulus. In its most benign form, the alarm in your car that beeps until you fasten your seatbelt is an example of negative reinforcement. In its most nefarious application, negative reinforcement was the method used by the dungeon master as he stretches a person on the rack until they confess. The latter is defined as torture; something viewed as being morally wrong and which is illegal in most civilized societies. I often ask myself why we still allow animals to be tortured in the name of training, especially when a skilled trainer can get the same results using rewards?

I am not arguing that punishment and negative reinforcement do not occasionally work as training methods. I am alerting you to the fact that there are significant adverse side effects to using these tools. Peer-reviewed studies indicate reward-based techniques, emphasizing positive reinforcement, work as well or better than punishment. That is why organizations such as the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) have policies that state:

This Task Force opposes training methods that use aversive techniques. Aversive training has been associated with detrimental effects on the human–animal bond, problem solving ability, and the physical and behavioral health of the patient. It causes problem behaviors in normal animals and hastens progression of behavioral disorders in distressed animals. Aversive techniques are especially injurious to fearful and aggressive patients and often suppress signals of impending aggression, rendering any aggressive dog more dangerous.

Aversive techniques include prong (pinch) or choke collars, cattle prods, alpha rolls, dominance downs, electronic shock collars, lunge whips, starving or withholding food, entrapment, and beating. None of those tools and methods should be used to either teach or alter behavior.” – 2015 AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines [ Emphasis added ]

This is what I would have liked to have known about aversives before I started training.

  • Aversive training tools and methods are designed to hurt, and if these methods did not cause pain, they would not work.
  • The use of aversives can cause physical injury and thus both acute and chronic pain.
  • The emotional and psychological trauma caused by the use of aversives can be just as debilitating as physical injuries.
  • Causing pain and discomfort is not necessary to train a dog.
  • The better the relationship you have with your dog, the easier they are to train. Aversives are damaging to the relationship.
  • The use of aversives can cause reactive and aggressive behaviors in a dog.

Next month I will address other aversives still used far too often to train and manage dogs.

Next month I will address other aversives still used far too often to train and manage dogs. < Click to Read part 2 NOW >

Recommended Resources

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

 

Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Started Training Dogs – Gus, the Dominance Myth, An Alpha Roll, and a Damaged Relationship – WWM-SEP2018 – http://bit.ly/Things-Gus-Dominance

What Is Dog Training?http://bit.ly/WhatIsDogTraining

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

Thank You, PPG, and Gus Too! – from the May 2017 issue of the Pet Professional Guild journal, BARKS from the Guildhttp://bit.ly/ThanksPPG-Gus

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/

Selecting A Pet Care Provider – Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – Green Acres Kennel Shop’s “Pet-Friendly” Philosophy – Part 1http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/04/02/yes-a-trend-towards-kinder-and-gentler-professional-pet-care-green-acres-kennel-shops-pet-friendly-philosophy-part-1/

Selecting A Pet Care Provider – Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – The PPG – Part 2http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/05/02/selecting-a-pet-care-provider-yes-a-trend-towards-kinder-and-gentler-professional-pet-care-the-ppg-part-2/

 

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

<Click on the title to listen to the show>

Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – Green Acres Kennel Shop’s “Pet-Friendly” Philosophy

Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – The Pet Professional Guild and Force-Free Pet Care with Niki Tudge

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

Other Publications & Blogs

BARKS from the Guild – May 2017 – Thank You, PPG, and Gus Too! https://issuu.com/petprofessionalguild/docs/bftg_may_2017_online_edition_opt/58

BARKS blog – Choke Collar Pathologyhttp://ppgworldservices.com/2017/06/13/choke-collar-pathology/

 

Videos

Dogs, Cats, and Scapegoats (The entire film)    https://vimeo.com/230807934

Malignant Behavior: The Cesar Millan Effect (from Dogs, Cats, and Scapegoats ) https://vimeo.com/243498663?fbclid=IwAR3RYOlIP7LeePV0B8ZaHhed5pPDYZbPu8KQbXNxfzOodWCRKspgcSQrwnc

Dogs, Cats, and Scapegoats – The Mind of Cesar Millanhttps://vimeo.com/236013182

Position Statements

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB)

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior AVSAB Position Statement on the Use of Dominance Theory in Behavior Modification of Animalshttps://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Dominance_Position_Statement_download-10-3-14.pdf

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior AVSAB Position Statement on The Use of Punishment for Behavior Modification in Animals – https://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Punishment_Position_Statement-download_-_10-6-14.pdf

Green Acres Kennel Shop

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position Statement on Pet-Friendly, Force-Free Pet Carehttp://bit.ly/GAKS_Pet-Friendly

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position on the Use of Dominance and Punishment for the Training and Behavior Modification of Dogshttp://bit.ly/GAKS-Pos-NoPain-NoForceNoFear

 

Pet Professional Guild (PPG)

Pet Professional Guild – Guiding Principleshttp://www.bit.ly/2mUCTqN

Pet Professional Guild – Position Statement – The Use of Choke and Prong Collars – https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/chokeandprongcollarpositionstatement

Pet Professional Guild – Position Statement – The Use of Pet Correction Devices – https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Equipment-Used-for-the-Management-Training-and-Care-of-Pets

Pet Professional Guild – Position Statement – The Use of Shock in Animal Training – https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/shockcollars

 Books

Dog Smart: Evidence-based Training with The Science Dog, Linda P. Case, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2018read a review at http://bit.ly/BkRvw-Case-DogSmart

Don’t Shoot the Dog – The New Art of Teaching and Training (2ndedition), Karen Pryor, Bantam Books, 1999.

The Culture Clash, Jean Donaldson, James & Kenneth Publishers, 2005.

The Power of Positive Dog Training, Pat Miller, Howell Book House, 2001.

 

________________________________________________________________________
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 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). Don is a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) and is committed to PPG’s Guiding Principles and the Pain-Free, Force-Free, and Fear-Free training, management, and care of all pets. Don produces and co-hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show heard on AM620 WZON and streamed at http://www.wzonam.com/ every Saturday at 9 AM. Podcasts of the show are available at http://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/. Don also writes about pets at his blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com. The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.

©01JAN19, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
< Click for Copyright and Use Policy >

Book Review – Dog Smart: Evidence-based Training with The Science Dog by Linda P. Case

< Updated 20MAY19 >

< A short link to this article – http://bit.ly/BkRvw-Case-DogSmart >

< A version of this article was published in the December 2018 issue of Downeast Dog News>

If You Love Dogs or Work with Those Who Love Dogs, You Need to Read This Book!

What we know about the science of canine behavior and dog training is continually evolving. As such, every year I like to select a new book to recommend to my students, my staff, area veterinarians, and my colleagues that I feel will be the most beneficial to them and their dogs. This year I have chosen Dog Smart: Evidence-based Training with The Science Dog by Linda P. Case.

In May of 2019, The Woof Meow Show released two podcasts where Don and Kate interviewed Linda Case about Dog Smart: Evidence-based Training with The Science Dog. Links to those podcasts can be found below:

Dog Training and Dog Smart: Evidence-based Training with The Science Dog, an interview with Linda Case, Part 1 – http://bit.ly/WfMw-LCase-11MAY19

Dog Training and Dog Smart: Evidence-based Training with The Science Dog, an interview with Linda Case, Part 2 – http://bit.ly/WfMw-LCase-18MAY19

At the beginning of her book, Case states she has two primary objectives: “…to provide accurate summaries of some of the most important evidence regarding present day understanding of the dog’s history and domestication, behavior, social cognition, and learning process.” and “… to apply this information to practical dog training methods and to provide means for communicating this information and teaching these methods in ways that are both interesting and useful to all dog owners.” From both my perspective as a pet care professional and as a pet parent, I believe that Case has met her objectives admirably.

Those of you familiar with my column know that I am passionate about setting the record straight on the following; dominance ( http://bit.ly/Things-Gus-Dominance ), dog breeds ( http://bit.ly/DoesDogBreedMatter ), the importance of puppy socialization ( http://bit.ly/SocializationPuppy ), and the unnecessary use of aversives for the training dogs. ( http://bit.ly/RewardVSAversive ). Case addresses all of these issues thoroughly.

The idea that one must be dominant or the “Alpha” with their dog has probably done more damage to the human-dog relationship than any other piece of bad advice given by anyone about dogs. Case does an excellent job of getting into the scientific details about dominance. She clearly explains how dogs and wolves are related and how they are also very different. Case then goes on to discuss the scientific view of how the dog evolved and eventually became our companion. No discussion of that process would be complete without a review of how humans developed a seriously flawed theory called the “hierarchical model of pack behavior” which led to the false belief that we had to dominate our dogs and physically punish them to ensure we were always in control. Case uses science to explain how this model has been refuted and goes on to state “A parent-family model better describes wolf relationships in packs than does an outdated hierarchy model that focuses on strict social roles and conflict.” If you are a trainer and having difficulty explaining this to your clients, or a pet parent trying to explain this to other family members, you need to purchase and share this book.

Other topics addressed by Case include:

  • Dog breeds and how they influence behavior. Anyone thinking of getting a dog should read this section before deciding which kind of dog they want as a companion.
  • The critical importance of adequate and appropriate puppy socialization and habituation. Case explains why early socialization is crucial to a puppy’s development but adds a very important warning; if you do not do it right, you may create behavioral problems. Socialization is one of those issues that I find far too many alleged “dog experts” do not understand well. They are all perfect candidates for this book.
  • The emotional response to the use of aversives in training and why reward-based training free of pain, fear, and force is the only humane choice. Case notes that she has chosen “…reward-based training methods (aka positive reinforcement) as a training approach because: 1) It works well. 2) It has desirable emotional and relationship benefits for our dogs and for us and is not associated with causing pain, anxiety or stress in dogs. 3) We have evidence for 1 and 2.”

As a pet care professional, I have found the biggest obstacle to helping my clients, and their dogs are often the erroneous beliefs they have acquired about dogs and their behavior from the internet, TV, friends, family, and sadly even ill-informed pet care professionals. The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) acknowledged this as a serious problem in 2015 when they published their 2015 Canine and Feline Behavior Guidelines. Unfortunately, this document was not written for Jane and Joe Pet-Parent and does not offer the additional wise counsel found in Dog Smart: Evidence-based Training with The Science Dog. Linda Case, thank you for filling that void! For those that want to know as much as possible, Case has also provided ample references to the scientific articles supporting her work.

If you love your dog, or if you work with people that love their dogs, you owe it to them to read Dog Smart: Evidence-based Training with The Science Dog by Linda P. Case. It is the smart thing to do.

Recommended Resources

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

A Recommended Reading and Listening List for Pet Care Professionals – http://bit.ly/ForPetCarePros

Brambell’s Five Freedoms – Parts 1 thru 5 as a printable PDF file – WWM JAN2018 thru WWM MAY2018 – http://bit.ly/Brambell-1thru5-PDF

Dominance: Reality or Myth –  http://bit.ly/Dominance-RealityorMyth

Does My Dogs Breed Matter? – Parts 1, 2 & 3http://bit.ly/DoesDogBreedMatter

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position Statement on Pet-Friendly, Force-Free Pet Carehttp://bit.ly/GAKS_Pet-Friendly

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position on the Use of Dominance and Punishment for the Training and Behavior Modification of Dogshttp://bit.ly/GAKS-Pos-NoPain-NoForceNoFear

How to Choose a Dog Trainerhttp://bit.ly/HowToChooseADogTrainer

Puppy Socialization and Habituationhttp://bit.ly/SocializationPuppy

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

Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Started Training Dogs – Gus, the Dominance Myth, An Alpha Roll, and a Damaged Relationship – WWM-SEP2018 – http://bit.ly/Things-Gus-Dominance

What Is Clicker Training? – http://bit.ly/WhatIsClickerTraining

What Is Dog Training?http://bit.ly/WhatIsDogTraining

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

Dog Training and Dog Smart: Evidence-based Training with The Science Dog, an interview with Linda Case, Part 1 – http://bit.ly/WfMw-LCase-11MAY19

Dog Training and Dog Smart: Evidence-based Training with The Science Dog, an interview with Linda Case, Part 2 – http://bit.ly/WfMw-LCase-18MAY19

Canine Behavior: Myths & Facts (2016)< click to listen or download >

The Dominance and Alpha Myth – < click to listen or download >

Don Hanson and Dr. Dave Cloutier on Puppy Socialization and Vaccination – < click to listen or download >

Does My Dogs Breed Matter –  < click to listen or download >

How to Choose A Dog Trainer (2017) < click to listen or download >

Pet Behavior, Vets & The AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines with Dr. Dave Cloutier from Veazie Veterinary Clinic< click to listen or download >

Prof. Chad Montrie and the documentary Tough Love: A Meditation on Dominance and Dogs – < click to listen or download >

 

________________________________________________________________________
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 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). Don is a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) and is committed to PPG’s Guiding Principles and the Pain-Free, Force-Free, and Fear-Free training, management, and care of all pets. Don produces and co-hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show heard on AM620 WZON and streamed at http://www.wzonam.com/ every Saturday at 9 AM. Podcasts of the show are available at http://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/. Don also writes about pets at his blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com. The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.

©20MAY19, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
< Click for Copyright and Use Policy >

Keys to Successfully Training Your Dog

< DRAFT >

This article is a work-in-progress but if you attended my seminar at the P.A.W.S. Animal Adoption Center on 10NOV18, I wanted you to have at least an outline of what I discussed. I encourage you to check back at this link < http://bit.ly/DogTrainingKeysToSuccess > as I finalize this article.

Recognize That Your Dog Is A Sentient Being with Feelings

Dogs are thinking and emotional creatures. They clearly demonstrate positive feelings such as happiness, joy, and contentment. A dogs emotions can also have a negative nature, like anxiety, sadness, fear, and anger. Whether positive or negative, the emotions of you and your dog can both affect training. Make sure that both of you are in a positive and healthy emotional place before beginning any training session. Take the time to learn how your dog expresses their emotions. < FMIIntroduction to Canine Communication – http://bit.ly/CanineComm >

Recognize That Training Will NOT Resolve Negative Emotions

Training a dog to sit, or down, or to come when called will not typically resolve the dogs fear or anger. Asking a dog to do something counter to their emotional instincts may in fact make their emotional response more severe. This is often misunderstood by trainers, veterinarians, and shelters or rescue groups. Those that are unaware may suggest that a dog with aggression or reactivity issues towards dogs or other people, or both will improve with obedience training. While such training can be wonderful for helping an unruly dog to learn manners to make them easier to live with, it will not inherently make their fear go away or their anger dissipate. If a dog is reacting to people or other dogs, putting them in an environment where they are confronted by their triggers may in fact make their reactive behavior become more likely and more intense. Dogs and the people who love them can be helped but they would be better off working with a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC) or a veterinarian accredited by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB). It is also imperative that no aversive of any kind are used with these dogs as a response to their reactivity or aggression.
< FMI – What Is A Pet Behavior Consultant?  http://bit.ly/WhatIsPetBhxConsulting >

< FMI – Reward Based Training versus Aversiveshttp://bit.ly/RewardVSAversive >

Accept the Dog That You Have

When you get a dog, you may have certain goals and ambitions for that dog. Your dog may have a different agenda. It is important to recognize that not every dog will be the dog we want them to be. When I brought my Golden Retriever Tikken home, it was with the goal and the hope that she and I would eventually compete in agility. Tikken had no real interest in agility so I found something else for her to do that she enjoyed, being a therapy dog and visiting seniors and children. < FMIAccepting the Pet You Have http://bit.ly/AcceptingYourPet >

Work As A Team & Be Consistent – ALWAYS!

Training your dog will be much easier if you and your dog have a relationship based on mutual trust and acceptance and the simple fact that you enjoy being with one another. The old model of dog training was based on the idea that you and your dog were on two different teams. I can tell you that after twenty-three plus years of working with people and their dogs, those that view themselves as being on the same team and working together are not only happier but they are also more successful.

If your dog lives with more than one person, or frequently is around other people, you need to recruit those people to join the team and to work with you and your dog. It only takes one person around your dog to undo what you and your dog have accomplished together. You know that one person that continues to encourage and reward your dog for jumping up on them? They are not helping. Even extended family members, those that might only see your dog every couple of months, can and should be part of the training process.

Consistent rules, training methods, and cues are essential to successfully training your dog. All those involved need to understand and be doing things in the same manner.

< FMIWhat Is Dog Training?http://bit.ly/WhatIsDogTraining >

ALWAYS – Manage to Prevent Behavior You Do Not Want

At some point, almost all dogs will exhibit a behavior we do not like. While we do not need to accept these behaviors, in most cases, we do not always need an elaborate training solution to stop the behavior. Sometimes the simplest and most effective solution is to use are allegedly more powerful brains to develop a strategy to prevent the behavior. For example, if our dog is anxious and uncomfortable around the grandchildren when they visit once a year, keep the dog in another room with their favorite toys or board them when the grand kids come to visit.

Many of the behaviors we do not like, such as jumping, are inadvertently rewarded by us because we give the dog attention whenever they exhibit the behavior. Attention can be looking at the dog, talking to them, or touching them. The same often happens if you have a dog that steals socks. They can quickly learn that stealing socks from the floor or the laundry basket results in a rousing game of chase. Since they love the game, they quickly learn exactly what to do to get you to play. Would it not be easier just to keep the socks somewhere the dog cannot get to them? As Ben Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

ALWAYS Focus on Rewarding Behavior You Like

Equally important to ignoring undesirable behavior is the need to reward behavior you like. A reward can be many things and will vary from dog to dog, but in most cases, it will be food. If you ignore the dog when they jump up on you and instantly reward them with a tiny morsel of food the instant they have all four feet on the ground, they will learn much faster. One of the most frequent errors I see people make when training there dog is to failing to reward behavior, or to stop rewarding the behavior before it is firmly established.

Do NOT Get Stingy with Rewards & Treats

Directly related to rewarding behavior is the quality of the treat you are using. Just as most people would find a piece of fine chocolate more rewarding than a stale saltine cracker, most dogs will find a tiny piece of meat more valuable than the largest dog biscuit.

The frequency of the reward is also important, especially when training in more distracting environments or when working on more difficult behaviors like walking on a loose leash. If you are not making progress, try rewarding more frequently.

NEVER Forget to Reward Your Dog For Just Being Good

Sadly, it seems to be human nature, mine included, to be more likely to react when our dog is doing something we do not want than it is to acknowledge desired behavior with a reward. If you enjoy your dog when they are lying at your feet or calmly sitting in your lap, do not forget to reward them. If our employer forgot to pay us, would we be happy? Remember, behaviors that are rewarded consistently will be consistently repeated.

Be Thoughtful About the Cues You Use for Behavior

People like to talk hoping their dog will listen and perform a requested behavior, while dogs like to watch not understanding the need for all the chatter. Remember dogs are visual creatures. Start by training a visual cue before you even think about adding a verbal cue. Do not add a verbal cue until the visual cue is reliable; the dog responds 90 times out of 100 in any environment, context or situation. Dogs typically never develop a reliable response to a cue because people do not adequately train the cue and do not sufficiently reward the desired behavior.

Visual and verbal cues need to be consistent among all of those training the dog; they need to look the same. Remember your dog is great at discriminating tiny differences while they generalize poorly. I also find that many people like to give visual cues like a “fast-talking” urbanite that has consumed five Red Bulls too many. Or alternatively, a visual cue where the individual giving the cue has so many moving body parts, it looks like a pitcher winding up to win the World Series. Make your visual cues slow, deliberate, and simple.

Consistency is equally important with verbal cues. There is a difference between: “sit”, “siiiit,” “sit sit, sit?” and “can you sit?” Again, keeping a verbal cue short, deliberate, and simple will make training easier. Also, make sure a verbal cue for one behavior does not sound like that for another behavior.

ALWAYS Keep Training FUN! – ALWAYS!

If a training session stops being fun for either you or your dog, STOP and go do something you will both enjoy. If that is not possible, STOP and seriously evaluate why training is no longer fun.

Back when I first started training dogs professionally, I was still taking my Cairn Terrier Gus to classes on a regular basis. At one point, Kate, our class instructor, witnessed what was probably the least enthusiastic recall she has ever seen. Gus and I were at opposite ends of our field when I gave him his cue to come. He came but at the slowest pace possible, acting like he wanted to do anything but come to me. At the end of the class, after the other students had left, Kate took me aside and politely kicked us out of class. She observed that neither Gus nor I were having fun and that training was damaging our relationship. She suggested we just go and have fun. It was the last class Gus and I were part of, and we had a great relationship the rest of his life. Thank you Kate for such good advice and your honesty!

Work with a Force-Free Certified Professional Dog Trainer

No matter how many dogs you have trained or how many training classes you have attended, I would encourage you to work with a Force-Free, Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) every time you bring a new dog into your home. Such an individual has proven their knowledge experience through a rigorous examination and will typically have experience with more dogs and a wider variety of breeds and temperaments than you ever will. They should also be committed to force-free, fear-free, and pain-free training, as any other type of training will be counter-productive. Even though I am a CPDT I take my dogs through classes taught by others. Many of my colleagues do the same.
< FMIHow to Choose a Dog Trainerhttp://bit.ly/HowToChooseADogTrainer >

 

A Force-Free Certified Professional Dog Trainer will:

  • Help you understand your dog’s physical, mental and emotional needs.
  • Teach you about the myths and facts about dog behavior.
  • Help you to understand how your dog communicates.
  • Teach you how to most effectively and efficiently teach and reward behaviors.
  • Help prevent you from unintentionally rewarding undesired behaviors.
  • Coach and reward you on what you are doing, because it is not just your dog that is learning.
  • Teach you the importance of being proactive and not just reactive.
  • Help you set realistic expectations for your dog, you and your family, and your situation.
  • Show you the benefit of making training FUN! for both you and your dog.

In addition to teaching people how to train their dogs, I also help people that have dogs with often extremely serious behavioral issues such as aggression and separation anxiety. In my twenty-three years of training and working on behavioral cases, the vast majority of dogs I have seen for behavioral issues have never been trained. Training, when done proactively, can prevent behavioral issues.

Recommended Resources

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

Introduction to Canine Communication – http://bit.ly/CanineComm

What Is A Pet Behavior Consultant? – http://bit.ly/WhatIsPetBhxConsulting

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

Accepting the Pet You Have http://bit.ly/AcceptingYourPet

What Is Dog Training?http://bit.ly/WhatIsDogTraining

How to Choose a Dog Trainerhttp://bit.ly/HowToChooseADogTrainer

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

©9-Nov-18, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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