Category Archives: Dog News

Dog Training’s Dirty Little Secret: Anyone Can Legally Do It

Dog training is an unregulated industry although dogs need to be licensed.

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D.

Dogs and humans beware

During the past year I’ve had a number of emails from people both lauding and severely criticizing the dog trainers to whom they went to help them teach their dog to live with them in their homes and elsewhere. Of course, different people have different needs and dogs are unique individuals, so it’s essential that a dog trainer/teacher be well versed in dog behavior and various principles of ethology/animal behavior and psychology. They also need to be able to assess the nature of dog-human interactions.

usernetsite free images

Source: usernetsite free images

In her scholarly and well researched law review article called “OCCUPATIONAL LICENSURE FOR PET DOG TRAINERS: DOGS ARE NOT THE ONLY ONES WHO SHOULD BE LICENSED,” Elizabeth Foubert notes, “In the United States anyone can work as a dog trainer, regardless of the person’s qualifications. Scientific research in animal behavior and canine ethology indicate how to humanely train dogs, but nothing in the law requires that dog trainers apply these proven methods in practice. Dog trainers may use training techniques that bring harm to dogs and deceive consumers as to its efficacy. The onus is on consumers to educate themselves to these dangers when selecting a ‘qualified dog trainer.'”

There’s a lot at stake when a person entrusts their dog’s life to a trainer. Thus, I was shocked to learn that in the United States anyone can call themself a “dog trainer.” I went online and did many different searches, and while there are many excellent certification programs, it is the case that anyone can legally hang up a shingle that says “Dog Trainer” and begin to work with dogs and their humans. I also queried a number of trainers and they also agreed that there really is a “dirty little secret” about which many, perhaps most, people are unaware, as I was. And, if course, it’s not a little secret at all, but rather a huge one, because of the incredible damage that can be done by someone who isn’t trained to be a dog trainer. Of course, certified dog trainers also can cause harm but that goes beyond what I want to write about here.

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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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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” (https://cleanrun.wordpress.com/2016/08/31/the-chute-is-eliminated-from-nearly-every-agility-venue/).

Microchip Maintenance

By Brenna Fender Murphy-Dog-Hero-300x300Your dog is microchipped and you feel confident that, if he or she was ever lost, that microchip would help get your dog returned to you. But sometimes it isn’t that easy. Did you know that there are things you can do to help increase the odds that your dog’s microchip will aid in his or her return to you? Register Register your chip with your name and information. It seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes people forget this important step, especially if they own a dog that was chipped by a previous owner or rescue organization. Update your information when you move or change phone numbers. Re-Register! You can register your chip with more than one organization. This is a particularly good idea if you have a chip from a company that does not participate in the AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Lookup site (www.petmicrochiplookup.org), like AVID. You can register any brand of chip with AKC Reunite (www.akcreunite.org/). Despite the fact that this is an American Kennel Club related registry, it is not limited to purebred dogs. You can register dogs, cats, and other pets with AKC Reunite. Check Your Chip Any time your dog goes to the vet, have your veterinarian do a scan to make sure that your dog’s chip reads correctly and is in the proper location. Microchips can migrate in a dog’s body, ending up in spots that may not be located by someone doing a quick scan. Your vet can help you determine what to do if this happens to your dog. Then Check your Data After you make sure your dog’s chip is in place, write down the number and enter it into the AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Lookup site to make sure all your information is properly listed. Microchips are a great way to permanently identify your pet. Do your part in making sure that your chip is doing its job!

Dock Jumper Has Impressive Vertical Debut

By Brenna Fender

Zac-first-time-vertical

Photo by Hillary Fuentes

Three-year-old Australian Labradoodle, Zac, made a big splash in his first ever Vertical event at a recent Courteous Canine North American Diving Dogs competition. On Saturday, he began jumping at 4′ and went to 5′, and on Sunday he started at 4’8″ and it went to 5′ again! It was a very impressive performance by a young dog.

Zac is owned by Tampa resident Suzy Giunta, who says that Zac has been a lover of the pool since he was 8 weeks old. “Zac’s favorite activity is definitely any activity involving water and a toy,” Giunta says.

Zac had an early introduction to water sports. A dog day care employee that Giunta used for Zac’s older brother, Buster, recommended that they try a dock jumping class at Courteous Canine. “Buster loved the water and took to the dock like a natural,” Giunta says. “Then Zac came along and we introduced him to the pool at 8 weeks old. He is a complete nut for the water! He always has his eye on the bumper and we cannot keep him out of the water,” she added.

Training for dock jumping is ongoing, Giunta says. Their regimen includes dock practice and conditioning with Fit Paws exercise tools. “We are always trying to improve but, most of all, we want the Doodles to have fun,” she says. The pair does not do specific training exercises for vertical jumps and are actually more likely to participate in events in which the bumper moves farther out rather than up. Zac’s exceptional performance without practice on vertical jumping is amazing!

With such success off the dock, we asked Giunta if she had some advice for owners of potential dock jumping dogs. She says, “Get your dogs in the pool, practice, be safe, have fun, and make new friends, fur and human!”

If you would like to try dock jumping with your pup, try a class at Courteous Canine (www.courteouscanine.com/group-class-main-campus/#dock) and visit the next dock jumping competition to be held at the facility in October 2016 (http://northamericadivingdogs.com/events/courteous-canine-oct-2016/).