iSpeak Dog Week

Dog body language is important.  Dog body language illiteracy is partly why his well-meaning fans haven't driven Cesar Millan off television.  It's why countless dogs' suffering is ignored or re-branded as power plays or manipulation.  It's why good people laugh at "guilty dog" memes rather than expressing outrage that a terrified animal is passing for entertainment.  It's why people aren't sure whether their dogs' play is safe or not.  It's why people miss warning signs and are bitten.  And on.  And on.  

iSpeakDog is the brainchild of Academy student and writer Tracy Krulik.  Its aim is to up our body language literacy.  This week is iSpeakDog Week and The Academy is thrilled to be partnering with Tracy to help to spread the word about accurately interpreting dog body language.    

There's a ton of content in the site, including this nifty image generator.    

 

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Dog training and decision fatigue

Dog training and decision fatigue

We train dogs for a variety of reasons: to reduce unwanted behaviour, increase desired behaviour, for their welfare, to improve public safety and of course for pure, unadulterated fun. Owners who are training for fun without clear goals might be slow to reach them (or even -gasp- never reach them!), but this is no big deal if aversive stimuli are not in play.

Professional dog trainers, however, have a greater responsibility to train in ways that are both non-damaging to the dog and also efficient. Clients pay us to achieve outcomes. Gross inefficiencies in training can drive clients to punitive trainers who will get some kind of a job done. It is therefore wise, humane, and business-savvy to focus on efficiency. This blog, the first in a series on efficiency, deals with the important topic of decision-making.

Dog training is a profession which draws rather intensely on the brain’s resources - the trainer’s brain, that is! Trainers must navigate awkward social situations while side-stepping their client’s mythologies and bizarre internet-borne training advice. We must prioritize behavioural issues in a way that answers to the client’s needs, maintains or increases the dog’s welfare, and protects the public. We must categorize problems into a few columns on the page: train? manage? ignore? We must figure out how much of the training should be delegated to the client.

Finally, and in no small feat, we must identify a “terminal behaviour” for all training. To change a dog’s behaviour, a trainer writes a plan, which is a series of criteria steps that lead to a final, or “terminal”, behaviour. (If classical counterconditioning or operant counterconditioning/DRI is the appropriate technique, the “terminal” will be or include a positive emotional state.) Every trainer needs to move from early, achievable-right-now criteria steps to the more difficult - and often real-life - steps. Moving between steps takes decisions on the part of the trainer: when to make it harder, when to stay at the current level, and when a backwards step is needed.

Decision fatigue refers to “the notion that making choices can be effortful and can therefore deplete [mental] resources.”1 Some interesting research has found that our ability to make good decisions (or even just any decision) declines if we have to make a lot of choices in a short time. A rest and a snack allow for our decision-making prowess to rebound, indicating a physiological basis.

With the prioritizing, categorizing, figuring, and identifying that are standard parts of our work, our brains are already shouldering a heavy load: choices, choices, choices. By the time we start to actually work on a dog, we are at elevated risk of decision fatigue. We might push a few steps ahead when the dog isn’t ready, and feel flustered when we have to drop back multiple times. We assume our instincts serve us well, when they likely don’t - how many of our clients have motivated, drivey, herding breeds, after all? We might stay on a step for an inordinate amount of time when the dog is ready for something harder. These training errors have a cost: they’re inefficient. The job just ain’t getting done.

All is not lost, however. The best training methods have a fantastic over-ride: they simply punt decision-making to empirical rules. They automate. It’s a sub-routine, not a conscious consideration of alternatives. They make moving through a training plan a habit, freeing mental resources for other things... like chatting with your client about enrichment. Gabbing about anti-pull gear. Driving home safely.

At the Academy, our practitioners are trained to count correct and incorrect responses in a set. If the dog gets enough right - usually at least four correct responses out of a set of five - the trainer moves smoothly on to the next step. If the dog misses enough, the trainer simply drops back. And if the dog is in-between, there’s an answer for that too: another set, counted out of habit, of the same step.

Our human and canine clients deserve the speediest resolution we can offer. Automation of criteria change decisions is a boon to efficiency and can help a trainer meet, and exceed, their client’s expectations. It reduces human fatigue and by basing the choice of when to change criteria on an objective sampling of the responses in a set, it helps a training session stay fun, challenging, and engaging for the dogs, too.

Take your training to the next level. Avoid taxing decisions like “is my client’s dog proficient enough to move to the next step?” Let the dog’s performance tell you - it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.

 


 

1. Vos et al. 2005. Decision Fatigue Exhausts Self-Regulatory Resources - But So Does Accommodating to Unchosen Alternatives. Unpublished manuscript.

Cover photo: © Monkey Business 2/Shotshop.com

Second photo: © DGLimages/istockphoto.com

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Dog Trainer Life

 

 

Appeal to Nature

Red Herring Fallacy

 

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Talk Softly and Carry a Carrot, Not a Stick

This piece was originally published in a local newspaper in 2006.  I updated it and think it's relevant to re-run given that the state of New York is currently considering licensing dog trainers.  They'd be the first state to do so.


Dog training is a divided profession. We are not like plumbers, orthodontists or termite exterminators who, if you put six in a room, will pretty much agree on how to do their jobs. Dog training camps are more like Republicans and Democrats, all agreeing that the job needs to be done but wildly differing on how to do it.

The big watershed in dog training is whether or not to include pain and fear as means of motivation. In the last twenty years the pendulum swing has been toward methods that use minimal pain, fear or intimidation – or none at all.

The force-free movement has been partly driven by improved communication from the top. Applied behaviorists, those with advanced degrees in behavior, and veterinary behaviorists, veterinarians who have completed residencies specializing in behavior problems are in greater abundance than in previous decades, and there is much more collaboration between these fields and trainers on the front lines. These two professions are quite unified on the point that the use of physical punishment or confrontation is unnecessary, often detrimental and, importantly, unsafe.  And in 2015 the American Animal Hospital Association came out with detailed behavior management guidelines that unequivocally caution owners to employ only trainers that use force-free methods. 

On a more grassroots level, trainers have found more benign and sophisticated tools by boning up on applied behavior science themselves. But dog training is currently an unregulated profession in the US: there are no laws governing practices. Prosecutions under general anti-cruelty statutes are occasionally successful but greatly hampered by the absence of legal standards pertaining specifically to training practices. Provided it’s in the name of training, someone with no formal education or certification can strangle your dog quite literally to death and conceivably get off scot-free.  

It’s not a complete wilderness: There is now the Pet Professional Guild, which specifies its member trainers must employ modern, force-free methods.  The Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) Mission Statement, Delta Society and American Humane Association (AHA) trainer guidelines all state that less invasive (i.e. without pain or force) techniques must be competently tried and exhausted before more invasive techniques attempted. Such guidelines are not law, but they’re a start. 

The current professional climate is one laden with some remaining fierce debate. There’s an ever-expanding group of trainers that train force-free (ad literature will be some variation on the theme of “dog-friendly” or “pain-free”), trainers that still train primarily with force (ad literature: “no-nonsense” or “common sense”) and trainers that employ liberal use of both force and rewards (ad literature: “balanced” or “eclectic”). From a consumer’s standpoint, the choice in methods is wide. You can hire a professional to train your dog pretty much any way that suits your fancy and it’s all legal in the US.  (More and more European countries are cracking down on the most harmful force tools and methods.)

The force-free movement gains momentum every year and a sure sign of this is that many trainers in the other camps resort to murkier and murkier euphemisms to disguise their more violent practices and retain their market share. Stressed dogs aren’t “shut down,” they’re “calm.” It’s not strangling, it’s “leading.” As a committed devotee of the dog-friendly camp, I am therefore agog at the continued presence in pop culture of “The Dog Whisperer”. This is pretty ferocious stuff by anybody’s standards. The National Geographic Channel even runs a disclaimer banner at the bottom of the screen admonishing people to “not try this at home,” a warning notably absent on home improvement shows or “Nanny 911″. I like to think people don't get dogs so that they can hurt and scare them, so I'm left wondering whether the cloaking of corporal punishment and hazing in mystical language, promise of instant results, high octane telegenicity of Cesar Millan and lucky connections with Los Angeles celebrity clients are sufficient explanation for the Dog Whisperer phenomenon. I don't know.  We need psychologists deconstructing what drives people to elect scary, painful practices.

I am willing to bet that, in what’s been termed the “post-factual universe," we’ll be battling a while longer.

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The Post-Factual World

Dog Trainer Life November 2016 Edition

 

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It's All Chew Toys

Conversations between dogs...

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Harness The Love Wrap-Up

Harness The Love Wrap-Up

From September 19th to 25th, 2016, The Academy for Dog Trainers hosted "Harness The Love" week. This all-out social media blitz was a way for us to highlight and promote the use of no-pull harnesses. Participation was through the roof and we are so very grateful to everyone who contributed. 

We were delighted to see so much participation in the form of blogs, posts and videos. Though Facebook is our primary platform, we saw over 160 posts on Instagram that week using the hashtags #HarnessTheLove #HTL and #academyfordogtrainers. We were thrilled to see posts and photos using our logo generator by so many trainers—both in and outside of The Academy—but perhaps even more thrilled to see posts by dog-loving, harness-using members of the public, not to mention rescues and shelters like Weimaraner Rescue of The South, Pitty Love Rescue, Inc.West Coast Cocker Rescue, and Women's Humane Society.

                         

For us, the most exciting part of all of this was seeing actual behavior change. People were asking questions, conversation was happening and dogs were being walked on harnesses. We saw conversations like these all over the interwebz:

"Do you sell the harness there ?"
A Place for Paws "Yes, we do. Would it be for your new guy? Not really a surprise that a husky would pull!"
 
"I just got back from the best walk with Sophie and Murphy I've had in 3 years. Why? I bought the no pull harness last night for Soph and it was AMAZING! Pure pleasure, thank you Tracy Krulik!"
"Cathy can you get me one for Betsy!! Thanks in advance!"
Wonder Paws Puppy School & Family Dog Training "Yes no probs! Which color?"
"Blue please to match the wonder paws lead."
 
"... I will be shopping for one for Oliver who thinks he is a sled dog and it is his job to pull his people when we are quite capable."
West Coast Cocker Rescue "They have them at Tisol. 'Easy Walk' is the best one we found ...around $35/$40 but they really do help. Sarah used to use them on the real PULLERS back in the early days!!"
"Thanks we have a Tisol in Langley. I will go get one this weekend."
 
And our favorite kind of comment:
 
"We got ours today!"
 
We were also thrilled to see super sticky and simple posters, like the one below created by Academy staffer, Sarah Pennington of Yaletown Dog Training. 
 
                       
 
Blogs are such a great way to reach people and we had no shortage to share! Below is a list of blogs written for HTL week. Bookmark these and keep them handy so that you can share them again. So much great information on the benefits of no-pull harnesses and the brands available. Thank you to everyone who took the time to write a blog for this specific purpose! You helped open people's minds and change dogs lives!
 

Tips on Loose-Leash Walking -I Love Your Dog

Harnesses are a Great Choice to Walk Your Dog -Companion Animal Psychology

The Little Beagle Who Pulled -Dogz and their Peoplez

Do no-pull harnesses work? Ask a sled dog or two. -Kristi Benson 

Get Your Dog Into A Front-Clip Harness (The Easy Way) -Tails in the Valley

Quick & Dirty No-Pull Walkies -BravoDog

Harness the Love, for Dogs Everywhere -The Inquisitive Canine

Stop the Pop. Harness the Love. -Crosspaws

Harness The Love and Walk The Dog -Your Pit Bull and You

Pulling on Leash (8 Common Dog Training Mistakes) -Michael's Dogs

Happy first day of fall! -Vairily

#HarnessTheLove -Two Blockheads

Harness The Love -Playface

Thank you again to everyone who participated in Harness The Love week! Stay tuned for more campaigns designed to help make life more enjoyable for dogs!

                            

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A Tired False Dichotomy

Dog trainer life.

#HarnessTheLove

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An Interview with Joan Mayer

An Interview with Joan Mayer

Academy Grad Joan Mayer of The Inquisitive Canine has been hard at work for over a year designing and refining a new no-pull harness which is scheduled to hit the market soon. Seeing the development of a production through to fruition is a huge process, one with many hitches to be expected along the way, and Joan has made it through the development process with a harness that looks as comfortable as it does functional. We're very proud of Joan and really excited for the launch of the Transpaw Gear Harness

LN: You’ve got a new harness coming out soon called the Transpaw Gear Harness. Tell us a little bit about this.

JM: Lori, thanks for asking! I’m thrilled to tell everyone about it - it’s been a long time coming. The TransPaw Gear™ dog harness is a multi-functional, dog-friendly and user-friendly product for dogs-on-the-go! (TransPaw is a play on “Transpawtation”). The emphasis is on functional and comfortable.

LN: What makes this harness different?

JM: There are so many harnesses being offered nowadays! And, there are some great companies. My goal was to combine the better attributes of harnesses I liked, while minimizing those I found to be challenging. There are leash attachments in both the top back area, along with front of the chest. There are both shoulder and girth straps that are easily adjustable, with easy-release buckles. The fabric used for the body is soft, with a thin breathable padding. The outer material has enough structure to keep the girth straps back behind the front legs, to minimize irritation to sensitive areas. I also added a nifty lightweight utility handle between the shoulders to aid in sports -- you can also use it to help dogs get in and out of cars. (It’s not designed to withstand intense pulling like you’d need for lifting the dog in his or her entirety.)

LN: What inspired you to design your own harness?

JM: Funny you should ask that. I’m pretty sure most dog trainers have come up with harness ideas, and I’m no different. When we adopted our dog Poncho back in 2003, I never felt comfortable attaching the leash to his collar - so I wanted to look for an alternative. I found some great harnesses out there, but it seemed I needed to have three for the same outing: one for walking, one for driving, and one for sports. I’m all for having choices, but it got to be tiresome. I kept asking, “Why isn’t there one that has ___, ____, and ____?” The more dogs and pet parents I worked with over the years, and reading various discussion threads among trainers about still looking for good products, the more I came to realize there was still a need. So I said to myself, “Why don’t I design one!”

                                 

LN: How has the process been for you?

JM: Having developed other pet-related products, I’ve gained a lot of valuable experience over the years. So this time around, I’ve been using that knowledge, creating a process that has so far been smooth. As Jim Collins talks about in his book Good to Great, I’ve made sure the right people are on my bus (Collins, 2001) http://www.jimcollins.com/article_topics/articles/good-to-great.html.

It is taking longer than I had hoped, but I believe the “slow and steady” approach creates for a better chance of success - not just for me or the company, but for all stakeholders, especially the dogs.

LN: What went into the development process?

JM: Wow, so much! Where do I begin? The road from concept to creation has been quite an adventure. A methodical one though, planning all along the way. Having been a trainer for years, and dog mom, I’ve been able to gather a lot of data. So, going into the process I had a more definitive product goal. The beginning designs included using my own dog Poncho, a local seamstress, and materials gathered from a local used sporting goods store.

After a couple of sample prototypes, I decided to take it further, consulting first with a local soft goods designer, followed by a larger development company, clear across the country. I made this choice because I wanted to consult with experts who were more familiar with the engineering aspect of design, as the movements of a dog are unique in their own way. A pretty harness is one thing, but I wanted to ensure that the design met the goals of fit and functionality. Additionally, this particular company was dog-friendly, which meant easy access to fit models throughout the three phases of designing and testing.

Once the final prototype was established, it was time to move forward with production. I reached out to a friend of mine who works with a wonderful local company that has the capability to create a small run of the harness in a few sizes. We worked together, refining the design, while having me test it on multiple dogs. This was a great opportunity, as I was able to really hone in on the details, creating a product I am really proud of. While waiting for quotes from the manufacturers, I’m working on sizing, as it will be offered in a range of sizes to cover the wide variety of dog breeds, both pure and mixed.

 LN: How much refining did you have to do along the way?

JM: There were revisions with each group I worked with. From the beginning, working with the local seamstress, to the final product development company. I could continue to make changes, but I’ve learned you also need to stop at some point, otherwise you’ll never get anything to your customer. I’ll hold onto these other ideas for different products. In all honesty, I would say I have done my due diligence.

 LN: What types of dogs did you test it on?

JMBecause I had the one prototype, I was limited to the size of dog. However, it did fit a range, from 40 - 80 pounds! The fabulous test-dogs I worked with ranged from smaller long-haired Aussie mixes to mid-sized pittie mixes, and larger Labs. I also had poodles, retrievers, and a few other mixes between.

                                             

LN: What are the key components of this harness?

JM: The real benefits of the TransPaw Gear™ dog harness is that it’s made of sturdy fabric that is soft, flexible with movement, and comfortable for dogs. This is evidenced by the way the dogs responded while wearing it. It’s easy for handlers to fit to their dog, put on and take off, and provides options for training, sports, and play. As I like to say, at TransPaw Gear™, we put the FUN in FUNctional!

LN: What are the next steps for you?

JM: While waiting to hear quotes for the initial run from various manufactures, I’m working with the local team creating prototypes in a wider range of sizes. Additionally, a provisional patent has been filed. Depending on what we hear from the PTO, we will file the permanent one within the allotted time frame. I’m also working on PR and marketing campaigns, including having a booth at a local annual fundraising pet adoption event this October.

                               

LN: When should we expect to see it available on the market?

JM: The final prototype is in the hands of two different manufacturers, awaiting bids for production. Once an agreement is reached, I hope to get it to market within a couple of months. So, my goal is Fall of 2016.

LN: Where will we be able to purchase it?

JM: Initial sales will be offered  through my website, and locally in Santa Barbara and surrounding areas. I’ll offer both business to business wholesale and retail direct to consumer. I will have a booth at the upcoming fundraising pet adoption event Wags ‘n’ Whiskers here in Santa Barbara, October 1, 2016.

For more information on the Transpaw Gear Harness, email Joan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit the Transpaw Gear page on Facebook.

 

 

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Harness The Love

Harness The Love

The Academy for Dog Trainers is excited to announce the launch of Harness The Love, an initiative that highlights the benefits of no-pull harnesses.

Starting today, Monday September 19, 2016, use the hashtags #HarnessTheLove, #HTL and #academyfordogtrainers to help us flood the interwebz with images of happy dogs and people enjoying walks without the use of precise heels or painful collars. (See below to find the logo and how-to for adding it to pictures). If you are a blogger, find a post about no-pull harnesses and share it, or write up a new one.  We will be monitoring the social channels that are using those hashtags and sharing content.

       

There are many benefits to using no-pull harnesses, not the least of which is that many dogs need little to no training for the harnesses to work: pulling decreases as soon as they realize that it gets them turned around and facing their owner instead of closer to the hydrant they were heading for!  No-pull harnesses do not put pressure on dogs' necks and throats, which is safer for your pet (read more here and here). For the human end of the leash, no-pull harnesses can be a gift as soon as you step out the door: decreased pulling means less chance of injury to you.

Loose Leash Walking is a skill that dogs learn, and no-pull harnesses are a great tool to help move the process along. As dog trainers, one of the complaints we hear most often is "how do I get him to stop pulling?" Here's a couple of neat videos if you need some guidance on how to get started!

                         

                         

 

There's quite a few options to choose from and we're big fans of the Freedom Harness, the Easy Walk Harness and the Sense-ation Harness.  See a full list of front-clip harnesses on the Harness The Love page on our website.

           

You can find the logo to download, our easy-to-use picture Harness the Love picture generator, and other instructions for adding the logo to your picture here, on our the Harness the Love page.

                 

We'd love to see your dog or your client's dog stylin' in some no-pull gear! Use the generator and the hashtags #HarnessTheLove, #HTL and #academyfordogtrainers and you and your dog may be featured on The Academy's Facebook page.  Our goal is to reach as many people as possible to help them understand why the switch to a no-pull harness is the way to go.

Check out this great video by our friends at the San Francisco SPCA about the use of harnesses, other training tools and the effectiveness of rewards-based training in general. Join us this week and Harness The Love!

 

 

 

 

 

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Naked Emperor

Naked Emperor

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The Seductiveness of Why

The Seductiveness of Why

 

My training as an archaeologist prepared me well for my work with dogs.  Archaeologists tend to be consummate generalists. We learn some biology (How do bones grow?), some physics  (How do percussion waves through volcanic glass make razor-sharp flakes?), and some chemistry (How does radioactive decay tell us how old stuff is?).  Of course, we also learn a lot about humans, our culture, our society, and our fascinating history as primates.  

Dog trainers have to be generalists, too.  We need to know how to teach, how to counsel, and how to use modern applied behavior analysis techniques to change a dog’s behavior and emotions.  We must have a solid understanding of evolution, genetic and environmental effects on behavior, and of ethology.  

I once worked in a bone lab as an archaeologist, reducing animal carcasses to skeletal material for a comparative bone collection.  This cemented my ability to handle really gross stuff, a skill I’ve found useful with dogs who aren’t motivated by the usual fare.   

But I think the best gift I received from my archaeologist past is a tolerance of uncertainty.  (Did modern humans float from one continent to the next during the last ice age, exploiting the rich marine environment at the ice’s edge?  Who knows!  Who do we share our branch of the hominid tree with, really? Who knows!)  Some questions do get answered as time and science marches on.  Some questions, though, seem unanswerable, at least without time travel.  But here’s the thing: not knowing the answers to these questions has not stopped the archaeological juggernaut.  Sites are excavated, artifact collections are assessed and re-assessed, and archaeological papers are published.  

This comfort with uncertainty has been a great boon to my ability to help my dog training clients.  Beyond the broad strokes of motivation (Is the dog scared or upset?  Or is he feeling fine and just being a dog?), it often really doesn’t matter why.  In fact, getting stuck in a loop of asking why, why, why, is a common reason that owners and new trainers falter.  Yesterday, an owner asked me why her dog buries pieces of chewed-up hose in her rose garden, only to immediately excavate them, then re-bury.  (Is he angry at me for putting him outside? Is he communicating something?) An answer starting with “Because...” would likely delve into dogs’ fascinating position as a domesticated canid with remnant food caching software, made ‘buggy’ through generations without selection pressure.  Despite my own love of evolution, and her use of the seductive why, I knew that a long-winded explanation was not what this client was asking for.  My suspicion – soon confirmed – was that what she really wanted was simply to get the dog to stop digging in her rose garden.  We decided on a digging pit, I pointed out how cool it was to watch her dog showing off some of his wolf ancestry, and I was able to quickly move on to another issue she was having with her dog.  

A comfort with uncertainty allowed me to make the best use of my client’s time and money, which is no small deal.  But much more importantly, it opened up time in my consult to create a more enriching environment for this dog, and allowed us to tackle other behaviors which were interrupting the peace in their home.  Time spent on a discussion of what, if anything, the behavior communicated (or how the hose may have mimicked ligaments from a caribou’s leg) would have detracted from our session.  In other words, there would have been a real time and money cost to the client, and a welfare cost to her dog.   

Why is a seductive question.  Uncertainty is a frustrating state.  So I tip my hat to my archaeological studies for the comfort I now have side-stepping the why why why, accepting the uncertainty inherent in dog training (we really do not know what dogs are thinking! Really!), and allowing me to spend the most time doing what I really want to do: helping people, and helping dogs. 

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Staff Profile: Kristi Benson

Kristi Benson is a dog trainer living on a small farm in central Manitoba, Canada. An honors graduate of the program, she now works for the Academy for Dog Trainers as a student mentor and coach, directing special research projects and organizing the Academy’s Wednesday Webinar series.

Kristi’s dog addiction is firmly rooted in racing sled dogs. She has her own crew of sled dogs and for the last decade she has directed a micro-rescue, placing racing dogs in homes as pets. Through her dog-training business Kristi teaches adult dog and puppy classes in several nearby communities, works one-on-one with owners whose dogs are having behavioral issues, and consults for many local foster-based rescues. 

Her love of dogs (and her love of using humorous narrative as a pedagogical tool) was cemented during her time living and working in Canada's far north. Today, she continues to work as a research anthropologist, archaeologist, author, and cartographer with First Nations communities in Canada’s subarctic. 

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Staff Profile:Erik Tamm

Staff Profile:Erik Tamm

Erik Tamm graduated with honors from the Academy for Dog Trainers in early 2016 and joined the Academy staff a few weeks later. Erik's main responsibility in the Academy is caring for the technological infrastructure of our online community and coursework. 

Erik has a background as a software developer and became interested in dog training after moving to Hong Kong and volunteering to help the island's feral dogs.

Today, he divides his time between programming and dog training. Erik works with all kinds of cases but has taken a special liking to dogs with body handling issues.

Erik lives on a small island outside Hong Kong, Cheung Chau, with his wife and his two dogs, Charlie and James. During his time off he enjoys windsurfing and volunteer work to improve the lives of the feral dogs on the island.

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Staff Profile: Casey McGee

Staff Profile: Casey McGee

Casey McGee graduated from the Academy just this year, in February 2016. She still feels like a giddy newcomer on the dog training scene: blessed to have had the chance to learn from the best, filled with hope and passion for the future of a force-free dog training industry, and now thrilled to be a part of the amazing staff team at the Academy. 

Casey also studied with Malena DeMartini and is a proud 2015 graduate of her intensive training program—the only one of its kind to certify dog trainers to work with separation anxiety and isolation distress.

She and her partner lost an aggressive dog to euthanasia several years ago when, like so many of us, she followed the most readily-available advice for dealing with aggression and, in desperation, used coercive and intimidating training methods. At the time she didn't have access to a trainer who could help her first do no harm to her beloved pup. Today she wants to be that trainer for families struggling with the confusion and heartbreak of a serious behavior problem.  

Casey found her calling in force-free dog training after years of animal rescue volunteering and a career working with advocates, law enforcement and prosecution to reform the way that public institutions respond to domestic violence and sexual assault. She now owns and operates Upward Hound and lives on a retired dairy farm in western Wisconsin with her partner, three dogs and a flock of geriatric chickens.

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On Motivation

The Academy for Dog Trainers is honored to take part in the Companion Animal Psychology #train4rewards Blog Party!

         

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

"Those who merrily food train have made a critical leap in their thinking: their bond with the dog is separate from the technical task of manipulating his behavior. There is no rivalry. They don't see themselves in competition with food for the dog's attention; they merely point out to the dog that they control his access to food. Some people find it magical to see the intensity for which a dog will work to eat—it is, after all, a very basic motivation."

- Jean Donaldson, Dogs are From Neptune

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Lettre ouverte aux propriétaires qui pensent que des gâteries corrompront leur chien

Je comprends. Vous préférez ne pas utiliser de gâteries pour entraîner votre chien, parce qu’il devrait apprendre les bonnes manières sans recevoir quelque chose en retour. Vous pensez que si vous lui donnez des friandises, vous atténuerez la valeur des récompenses bien plus importantes, comme votre approbation. Vous vous dites qu’il ne saura jamais discerner le bien du mal et que jamais il ne vous respectera. Vous pensez aussi qu’il deviendra dépendant des gâteries et que sans elles, il ne fera plus ce qu’il a appris.

Je comprends. Vraiment.

Mais je dois vous avouer quelque chose. Vous avez tort. D’abord, votre réflexion est inexacte, parce que vous projetez des concepts de psychologie morale applicables aux humains capables d’échanges sociaux sur votre chien, alors qu’il ne sera pourtant jamais considéré comme un membre à part entière de la société. Ensuite, malgré toutes vos bonnes intentions, vous avez tort sur le plan moral, car vous opterez inévitablement pour des méthodes d’entraînement ayant recours à la douleur et à la peur. La science et les organismes professionnels réputés se rallient tous derrière un fort consensus : la douleur et la peur causées délibérément sont néfastes et inhumaines et n’inculquent pas chez le chien une capacité de discernement moral. Tout ce qu’elles permettent d’accomplir, c’est de traumatiser un chien au point où il fera tout ce que vous voulez.

Peut-être fermez-vous les yeux devant tant de preuves et de bonnes raisons parce que vous n’êtes pas intéressé à connaître la perspective scientifique ou encore trouvez-vous émotionnellement insupportable de motiver votre chien avec des morceaux de poulet. Si c’est votre cas, alors je ne peux rien faire pour vous. Cette approche d’entraînement où vous traumatisez consciemment et délibérément votre chien, je ne la comprendrai jamais. Éventuellement, la loi fléchira sous le poids de la science et vous interdira d’étrangler, de frapper, d’électrocuter ou d’effrayer votre chien. Entretemps, malheureusement, il semble que vous puissiez faire comme bon vous semble. 

Si toutefois les preuves vous ont ouvert les yeux et qu’en plus vous ne retirez aucun plaisir à voir votre chien se recroqueviller de peur ni ne voyez cette méthode comme triste, mais nécessaire, alors la suite vous intéressera. Voici la réalité : vous faites du mal à votre chien sans même améliorer son intelligence morale, ce que vous visiez au départ. C’est une illusion. Ne pensez surtout pas que votre chien vous en remerciera un jour. Il ne fera jamais la bonne chose parce que c’est la bonne chose à faire. Il fera ce que vous lui dites de faire pour que vous arrêtiez de lui faire peur. 

Sur Google, vous trouverez une panacée de recherches exhaustives transculturelles sur l’« évolution du désir de punir les transgresseurs sociaux », qui traitent de notre motivation profonde de veiller à la droiture morale chez les autres membres de la société. Cela touche un vaste éventail de choses, des systèmes juridiques à l’éducation des enfants. Cependant, un chien n’est pas un humain. Il n’a pas la capacité de discerner le bien du mal que nous aimerions tant lui apprendre. Par contre, comme il peut distinguer ce qui est sécuritaire de ce qui est dangereux, nous concluons que nous avons réussi à améliorer sa boussole morale en l’empêchant de faire ce qui nous embête grâce à l’intimidation que nous lui infligeons, et non pas des gâteries. Mais ne soyez pas dupe. Ce n’est pas la droiture morale ni votre approbation qui motive votre chien. Ce sont les cris, les coups, les coups de pied, les colliers étrangleurs, à pics et électriques qui lui font faire ce que vous lui demandez. Si vous voyiez un gardien de zoo s’en prendre ainsi à un animal, vous appelleriez la police. 

Les entraîneurs canins louches savent que voulez que votre chien soit moralement docile. Ils exploiteront ce désir et vous feront croire que ces méthodes ne lui font aucun mal ni ne lui font peur. Selon eux, la peur, c’est le respect. Ils vous diront que les gâteries corrompront votre chien. Si vous y croyez aveuglément, vous finirez par accorder plus d’importance à la soi-disant amélioration morale de votre chien qu’à votre chien lui-même. 

L’erreur de confondre l’éducation des enfants à celle des chiens est très compréhensible. Notre chien fait partie de la famille, alors nous sommes très tentés de suivre notre instinct moral. Je cède maintenant la place à deux de mes collègues qui ont partagé avec moi leurs points de vue quant à ce phénomène lors d’une récente discussion.

L’experte en entraînement Ann-Marie Brady Levine résume bien cette erreur : (traduction libre)

« Dans le cas d’un enfant, nous lui apprenons les comportements appropriés pour notre espèce. Toutefois, dans le cas d’un chien, nous exigeons souvent de lui qu’il n’adopte pas les comportements pourtant appropriés pour son espèce. Nous lui demandons d’exécuter quelque chose qui ne correspond pas à son comportement programmé naturellement. Et pour qu’il y arrive, il nous faut souvent le récompenser. Tout comme vous le feriez si vous demandiez à votre tout-petit de marcher sur les mains au lieu des pieds. Les mots encouragement ne vaudraient pas grand-chose, surtout sur une route de gravier. »

La vétérinaire Dawn Crandell explique comment les objectifs des chiens et des humains diffèrent : (traduction libre)

« La récompense d’un enfant qui se comporte bien socialement est sociale : il se fait des amis, les gens sont gentils avec lui et le tiennent en haute estime. N’importe quel humain comprend et valorise cela. Cependant, les chiens ne saisissent pas toutes les subtilités des interactions sociales humaines et le fait de penser ou de suggérer que c’est le cas, c’est tout simplement faire preuve d’anthropomorphisme. »

 

   Translation by Academy grad, Claudine Prud'homme, of The Learned Dog

 

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Staff Profile: Kelly Shutt

Staff Profile: Kelly Shutt

Kelly Shutt graduated from The Academy for Dog Trainers with honors in 2013. During her studies, she apprenticed under Gallivan Burwell (also an Academy grad) of Upward Dog Training and Counseling in New Orleans, Louisiana. She has also served as the Vice President of The Sula Foundation, an advocacy organization devoted to fostering responsible pit bull guardianship in New Orleans. 

More recently, Kelly served as the Behavior and Training Manager at The Louisiana SPCA (LA/SPCA), an open-admission shelter providing animal control and community outreach for the City of New Orleans. During her time at the LA/SPCA, Kelly created a Behavior and Training department, including a volunteer-led training program for shelter dogs. She also transformed the training culture from "mixed bag" to exclusively force-free. 

Kelly currently owns and operates Dogspeed Positive Training, where she specializes in resource guarding and dog-dog reactivity. Committed to providing the most efficient, user-friendly solutions to her clients’ dog training needs, Kelly passionately pursues ongoing professional development by attending multiple seminars per year and keeping abreast of all industry developments. Kelly recently moved to Akron, Ohio, where she lives with her fiancé, Kevin Duggan of All Dogs Go To Kevin and their three dogs Villere, Rosa, and V.

 

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Staff Profile: Sarah Pennington

Staff Profile: Sarah Pennington

Sarah Pennington graduated from The Academy for Dog Trainers in 2013. The entire Academy experience has helped her in ways she never expected. A member of Academy staff since 2014, Sarah coaches students on their mechanical training skills and mentors students with their assignment submissions. She especially enjoys watching new students develop professional-level training skills.

In addition, Sarah volunteers as a trainer at the BC SPCA in Vancouver.

Sarah is happiest when working with people to help them better understand and train their dogs using a blend of compassion and modern, evidence-based training methods.

Sarah works with all types of behavior cases in her business Yaletown Dog Training but has a soft spot for fearful dogs. She tries to bust myths and spread the message of humane training with simple messages on Yaletown's Facebook page.

   

Sarah’s nursing experience in an inner-city emergency department and in a police department, working with marginalized clients, has taught her the importance of empathy and non-judgment. She tries to incorporate these qualities into her work with dog training clients who are trying to do the best they can for their pets.

Sarah also works part-time in health care where she is the Project Manager for a variety of clinical trials in cardiac arrest and stroke.

Sarah hopes that one day all animals will be trained with compassion and that the use of fear, pain or coercion will no longer be considered acceptable. Dogs make people happy. Sarah’s goal is to teach people how to make their dogs happy too, especially when training them.

Sarah lives in Vancouver, Canada, with her partner and their two dogs.

                                        

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Staff Profile: Lori Nanan

Staff Profile: Lori Nanan

Lori Nanan graduated from The Academy in 2013 and since then, has seen her life change in more ways than she could have ever imagined. As a member of The Academy staff, Lori provides orientation and support to new students, runs special projects and feels incredibly lucky beyond words to be a part of something so close to her heart. 

In her "day job", Lori works as the Canine Behavior Education Coordinator at Women's Humane Society in Bensalem, PA. In addition to teaching classes to the public, Lori runs educational workshops, where she often has the opportunity to expand upon what she has learned through The Academy in a way that makes it accessible to more people. Lori's true passion is working with shelter dogs and loves helping those who are fearful, shy or experiencing kennel stress adjust more easily. Mooka (seen below) is a dog who trembled in her kennel, but through something Lori affectionately calls "desk fostering", not only came out of her shell, but thrived with one-on-one attention and was even able to learn some fun tricks before being adopted.

Lori also works for Academy Grad, Malena DeMartini, who is considered the expert in treating separation anxiety in dogs. In this job, Lori gets to utilize skills she gained in her previous career as a counselor and case manager. One of the things Lori has learned in this position is that people who have dogs with separation anxiety are among the most dedicated dog owners out there and she loves being able to support them.

One of Lori's side projects is Your Pit Bull and You, an educational resource that focuses on highlighting pit bull type dogs in the most positive light, but carries the very important tagline "Animal Learning Isn't Breed Specific". She is incredibly proud of the message and the culture around Your Pit Bull and You, which has attracted an extremely savvy, kind and dedicated audience. 

 Lori has a dream: a world in which all dogs are trained without pain. Lori hopes that through each of her endeavors, she is helping create that world and strives to do so every day.

Lori has a motto and it's one that helps her get through even the roughest of days:

            "Dogs make the rest of life bearable."

Dogs really are such a gift and they deserve for us to not only love them, but to truly understand them. Understanding and utilizing the science of animal learning and behavior is not mutually exclusive with loving our dogs. In fact, in understanding them, we can actually create deeper relationships with them. Lori's goal is to help people who love dogs have both.

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