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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Holiday Safety for Dogs

By Brenna Fender

No 1.The holiday season is filled with food, guests, and excitement. While these things are fun for the people in your life, they can be dangerous for your dog. But don’t worry, there are some simple things to you can do in order to keep your furry friends safe during the holidays.

Holiday food is delicious, fattening, and not appropriate for your pets. Sweet treats can contain Xylitol, a sugar substitute that is toxic to dogs. Fatty foods can lead to pancreatitis or other illnesses. Bones can cause blockages or choking. Overeating even healthy foods can cause stomach upset or other problems. So, during the holiday season, be especially aware of potential food hazards. That counter you don’t think your dog can reach might be more accessible than you think if the prize is worth it!

With all the holiday comings and goings, dogs have more opportunities to become lost. Doors may be left open and yard gates unlatched or you may be distracted by holiday activities when you are supposed to be watching the dog. Crate your pet during confusing moments to avoid potential tragedies. Microchip dogs in order to help them be more easily returned home if they do get out.

Friends and family can cause problems with both food and escape, by deliberately giving food to begging dogs or leaving food in an accessible spot, or accidentally leaving a door open. Tell guests the family rules that help keep your dog safe but be aware that they might not follow them. You may have to confine your dog more often than usual or directly supervise interactions.

Some of your guests might be children, and if your dog doesn’t normally interact with children, he may be frightened by their odd movements and erratic behaviors. But even if your dog is usually very good with children, do not trust that things will go smoothly. Holiday stress may inspire different behaviors in both your dog and the children. It’s never a good practice to leave dog unsupervised with any children, but that is especially true under these circumstances.

Tinsel, candles, and other holiday decorations may be harmful to your dog if ingested. Keep decorations up high and in safe places. Be particularly aware of your Christmas tree (if you have one) as it can be easily knocked over and onto a curious pup.

The holiday season can be filled with fun and joy. With some planning, your dog can safely enjoy the season as well!

Dog Agility Loses an Obstacle

By Brenna Fender

Nice LabrodourNearly every American agility organization has removed the chute (otherwise known as the closed tunnel) from the list of obstacles that can be used on an agility course. This has been an unprecedented move – never in agility’s history has one obstacle been dropped in such a widespread and immediate fashion.

The chute has a rigid opening and a closed fabric extension which dogs blindly push through. Many injuries have been reported as dogs slip on the fabric inside the chute or get wrapped up in the cloth while trying to exit. While the chute wasn’t really considered dangerous in agility’s early years, increased canine speed, more complicated course designs, and the use of surfaces like artificial turf have made the obstacle a hazard in the eyes of many competitors.

While several agility organizations have said that they have been looking into chute safety for some time, the seemingly sudden dropping of the obstacle across many organizations, including the very popular American Kennel Club (AKC), United States Dog Agility Association (USDAA), and Canine Performance Events (CPE), appears to have been linked to social media campaigns. A widely circulated video demonstrating chute-related injuries seems to have made a significant impact.

It’s important to note that one agility organization, the North American Dog Agility Council (NADAC), removed the chute (and several other obstacles) from use on course approximately 15 years ago, so the idea is not a completely new one.

For more information, see “The Chute is Eliminated from Nearly Every Agility Venue” (