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

Expresses concern that, in an unregulated industry, pet owners may be referred to individuals who do not use scientific protocols or adhere to the premise to do no harm, regardless of credentials

Pet Professional Guild (PPG) has published an open letter to veterinarians and animal care professionals regarding the practice of referring clients to pet training and behavior consultants. In the letter, PPG expresses its concern that, because the animal training and behavior industry is currently unregulated, pet owners may find themselves being referred to individuals still using outdated training methods that are reliant on the use of aversives, while eschewing modern, humane protocols that are scientifically proven and sound.

In the letter, PPG highlights the fact that, at present, anyone can call him- or herself a dog trainer, credentialed or not, and that very few industry associations do not currently hold their members to a strict code of conduct. Of primary concern to PPG is the fact that, under the guise of dog training, there are still many who use punitive methods, including startle devices, such as disc throwing, loud correctional “no’s,” and even more extreme tools, like shock collars, choke chains and prong collars. Due to the “slick, magical way they are marketed to unsuspecting pet owners,” PPG states that pet owners, and indeed those making referrals, may not immediately be aware that such individuals rely on “subtle, or even invisible,” fear-based methods for training and behavior change.

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Cheeseball Recall

jacobBy Brenna Fender

If you need to work on getting your dog to come when called, here’s a fun game to try!

  1. Select an easy-to-eat, fairly dry, easy-to-toss, visible treat. The name of this exercise comes from the use of puffed cheese ball snacks (the kind humans eat!) as treats.
  2. Toss the treat a few feet out in front of your dog. Make sure he sees you throw it.
  3. When he goes to eat the treat, wait for him to finish.
  4. As he finishes the treat, call his name and, when he looks at you, throw the next cheeseball a short distance behind you. If your dog is small enough, throw it between your legs and have your dog run through them to get the treat. If not, throw it so he runs just past you.
  5. Repeat.
  6. When your dog is anticipating each toss, add the “come” cue. As your dog is beginning to turn toward you, say “Come” in a happy, upbeat voice.
  7. Practice often!

The Cheeseball Recall is just one part of a good education in coming when called. Recalls are crucial to canine safety. If you need help training your dog, contact Courteous Canine for safe and effective recall training.

Pet Professional Guild Releases Position Statement on Pet Correction Devices

Pet Professional Guild Press Release

PPG maintains that the use of the startle response is a “management technique that uses fear as the motivation.” Photo: (c) Can Stock Photo

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

The newly-released document, Pet Professional Guild Position Statement on Pet Correction Devices, defines pet correction devices as “aversive stimuli intended for pet care, management, or training by eliciting a ‘startle response,’ and/or an alarm reaction to prevent, barking, jumping up, growling, or any other problematic behavior.” In the statement, PPG cites Ramirez-Moreno and Sejnowski (2012), who, in their article A computational model for the modulation of the prepulse inhibition of the acoustic startle reflex, define the startle response as a “largely unconscious defensive response to sudden or threatening stimuli, such as sudden noise or sharp movement” that is “associated with negative affect.” It goes on to quote Lang, Bradley and Cuthbert (1990), who state in their article Emotion, attention, and the startle reflex, that the startle response (or aversive reflex) “is enhanced during a fear state and is diminished in a pleasant emotional context.”

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News Flash: Dogs Remember

hb-daycareAnother great post by Pam Hogle on Pet Professional Guild.

Science has once again confirmed the obvious: Dogs can remember things.

OK, maybe I am being a bit hard on the researchers. They were specifically interested in whether dogs have episodic memory. Well, they call it “episodic-like” memory, since some would argue that only humans can actually have episodic memory. I’ll leave that argument for another day. Episodic memory is remembering things that have happened to you or that you have observed directly — that is, remembering “episodes” from  your own life. It differs from “semantic memory,” which is memory of facts, meanings, and concepts. While these are learned, they are not experiential or shared with others; they are general knowledge.

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