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.
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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By Marie Macher
Trick training is a fun, engaging, and great way to build a bond with your dog! Not only do you and your pup get to show off tricks to family and friends, but your dog is staying mentally stimulated while gaining confidence.
As trick training can be practiced almost anywhere, it allows both social and reactive dogs the ability to participate, recently trick training has been growing in popularity! As a result, the American Kennel Club (AKC) has partnered with Kiera Sundance, Do More With Your Dog, and now your dog can even earn an AKC title for doing tricks!
Beginning on May 1, 2017, AKC will officially offer its Trick Dog Program, which will include four level of titles ranging from Novice to Performer allowing dogs of all levels to participate. To earn an AKC title, the dog will need to be registered with AKC. Not registered yet? No problem – it is easy to obtain an AKC number for your pup. Simply register for Canine Partners (mixed breed) or Purebred Alternative Listing (purebred) on the AKC website www.AKC.org.
There are two ways that a dog can earn the AKC Titles. The first option is to perform the trick for an approved CGC Evaluator who can help witness the tricks by filling out a form from their website (http://www.akc.org/trick-Dog/trick-dog-applications/) or, in collaboration with Do More With Your Dog (DMWYD), titles earned through DMWYD can be submitted until the end of 2017 to be reviewed for the AKC Title as well!
At Courteous Canine, we have instructors certified (in AKC CGC and Do More With Your Dog CTDI) to help witness for both AKC and Do More With Your Dog titles and we are excited to offer this to our clients! Call us 813-949-1465
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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By Brenna Fender
If you need to work on getting your dog to come when called, here’s a fun game to try!
- 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.
- Toss the treat a few feet out in front of your dog. Make sure he sees you throw it.
- When he goes to eat the treat, wait for him to finish.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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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