There Are No “Stubborn” Dogs – Twelve Steps to Becoming Best Friends for Life

< A version of this article was published in the June and July 2022 issues of Downeast Dog News>

< Updated 31AUG22 >

< A short link for this page – https://bit.ly/12Steps-BestFriendsForLife >

If you have read my article, Help! My Dog is Stubborn! you already know that I believe that dogs are never stubborn but simply misunderstood. In this article, I will introduce twelve steps to help you and your dog become best friends for life, a far cry from stubborn.

Step #1Focus on being your dog’s best friend, not their master. Be committed to the idea that you and your dog are a team working together. Make it your goal to thrive on a life of companionship and the adventures you share, not blind, perfect obedience. Your dog will notice your positive and considerate attitude, and they will respond in kind.

Step #2 – Take time to learn about dogs. Your dog is a sentient being very different than a human and far more complicated than your smartphone. To make the best of your life with your dog, you need to take time to learn about them. You need to understand their senses, how they communicate, how they interpret communication from people, the best ways to teach them, how they express emotions, what constitutes normal and abnormal behavior, and what they need to have a long and happy life. A dog training class taught under the direction of a credentialed professional dog trainer or canine behavior consultant should address all of those subjects. Meanwhile, an excellent place to start is with these two books; Dog Sense: How the New Science of Dog Behavior Can Make You A Better Friend to Your Pet by John Bradshaw and On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas.

Step #3 – Build and nurture a relationship based on mutual trust. You cannot be a best friend or have a relationship with your dog unless you trust one another. Trust is earned. However, it takes time and patience, especially if you have a rescue dog who may have had a rough start. While achieving your dog’s trust can take weeks, that trust can be lost instantly.

Step #4ALWAYS be kind and patient. Smile at your dog instead of making “frowny faces.” Speak softly and gently, not loudly and with an authoritarian tone. Handle your dog gently, and don’t grab at them. Never use force or fear to intimidate your dog; always be patient and help them learn.

Step #5 – Show empathy and understand your dog’s emotions. Dogs have a rich emotional life and experience positive emotions like joy and contentment and negative emotions like fear, grief, and anger. Help your dog through those negative moments just as they may try to help you when you feel bad. Understand that an emotional response cannot typically be “trained out” of a dog. If you need help addressing your dog’s negative emotions, seek help from your veterinarian or an accredited professional dog behavior consultant sooner rather than later.

Step #6 – Let your dog make choices. Trust your dog’s instincts and understand they will feel better when they have options like you. Be their advocate when they are out in the world. Do not allow others to force your dog to interact.

Step #7 – Understand the world from your dog’s point of view. While we share our dog’s five senses of hearing, sight, smell, taste, and touch, they prioritize them differently. For example, we might enjoy a brisk walk around the same block every day, letting our minds wander. However, most dogs will enjoy a walk that involves following their nose and making frequent stops to sniff and explore. Your dog may even choose to go in an entirely different direction at any moment. These are incompatible ways to walk, so it is our responsibility to take our preferred walk without the dog and then take the dog on a walk they will enjoy. Think of it as your dog helping you increase your daily steps.

Step #8 – Gently teach your dog how to live harmoniously in your world. When we bring a dog into our world, we are responsible for teaching them how to live in a foreign culture. You need to start by learning their welfare needs and language. Then you need to patiently teach them by rewarding the behavior you like.

Behaviors that are rewarded will be repeated, and the more they are repeated, the stronger they become. So please do not hesitate to reward your dog for being calmly by your side, even if you did not ask for that behavior. For every millisecond you think about correcting your dog, spend 100 hours rewarding them. That is the key to success!

Manage your dog and its environment to prevent undesirable behavior. Understand that teaching a dog is a process and will take time. Remember, your parents spent 18+ years teaching you. It is unrealistic to expect your dog to learn everything it needs to know in a couple of months.

Training a dog also requires knowledge and skills. A credentialed professional dog trainer or canine behavior consultant can provide that knowledge and teach and coach you on those skills.

Step #9 – Accept your dog for who they are. Dogs are living, sentient beings whose personalities are just as variable as those found in people. Not all dogs are extroverts and automatically like every other person or dog on the planet. Neither do people, and that’s okay. Not every retrieving breed likes the water and retrieving, nor does every herding breed like to round up livestock. No matter what breed or mix of breeds you have in your dog, you will not always get what you want, and you need to accept your dog for the wonderful canine they are. If you need help, seek a credentialed professional dog trainer or canine behavior consultant.

Step #10 – Ensure that everyone interacting with your dog follows rules #1 thru #9. Unless you’re a hermit with no family, many other people will interact with your dog throughout their life. That can include friends, family members of all ages, co-workers, neighbors, and a wide variety of pet care professionals such as veterinarians, daycare and boarding facilities, groomers, pet sitters, dog walkers, dog trainers, and behavior consultants. You must help all these people understand and accept rules 1 through 9. If other people are not kind to your dog, it can negatively affect your dog’s behavior around other people. Remember, your dog cannot always stand up for themselves; that is up to you.

Step #11 – Do something fun with your dog every day. Often, the strongest relationships involve two parties doing something together that they both enjoy. Find that special something you and your dog love doing together, and then make the time to do it daily. Don’t overthink this. There can be more than one thing you both love, and sometimes it can be as simple as your dog sitting in your lap snuggling while you read or watch your favorite show on TV. Activities like going for walks [ as long as you allow your dog to sniff and explore], playing fetch [ in moderation ], going for car rides, or just dancing in the backyard all count. The important thing is finding those activities and making time for them. If you do, you and your dog will benefit and strengthen your bond.

Step #12 – Enjoy your journey together. The saddest part of sharing your life with a dog is that that journey ends too soon. So instead of striving for perfection, focus on the joy you feel when together. Commit to making every moment count so that when the journey ends, you can both say, “Thank you for this wonderful time together! I’ll miss you until we are reunited on the other side!”

I hope that I have convinced you that your dog is not stubborn and to give my program a try. From personal experience and feedback from my clients, I know that it will help you and your dog become best friends for life.

________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson lives in Bangor, Maine, where he is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( greenacreskennel.com ) and the founder of ForceFreePets.com, an online educational resource for people with dogs and cats. He is a Professional Canine Behavior Consultant (PCBC-A) accredited by the Pet Professional Accreditation Board (PPAB) and a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP). Don is a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG), serving on the Board of Directors and Steering Committee and chairing the Advocacy Division. He is also a founding director of Pet Advocacy International (PIAI). In addition, Don produces and co-hosts The Woof Meow Show podcast, available at http://bit.ly/WfMwPodcasts/, the Apple Podcast app, and Don’s blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com. The opinions in this article are those of Don Hanson.

©31AUG22, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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Help! My Dog Is Stubborn!

Help! My Dog Is Stubborn!
By Don Hanson, PCBC-A, BFRAP

< A version of this article was published in the April & May 2022 issue of Downeast Dog News>

< Updated 29AUG22 >

< A short link for this page – https://bit.ly/HelpStubborn >

What Is Stubborn?

I have often heard a prospective or existing student say, Can you help me? My dog is so stubborn.” I’m not a fan of the word “stubborn.” Too often, it is used in a derogatory manner as a result of frustration when something or someone is not behaving in a way that is perceived as desirable. Yet it is a word that most of us, myself included, use occasionally. “Stubborn” is used between spouses, co-workers, parents, children, and yes, by people describing their dogs.

Before starting this article, I looked at several definitions for “stubborn” and finally settled on one from Dictionary.com. All of the definitions reviewed were revealing in that they suggested the response of the “stubborn” party was “unreasonable.”This indicates a lack of understanding why another being might choose not to do something we want.

Empathy is essential when interacting with anyone, but especially when working with a different species, such as a dog, which has very different needs and communication methods than humans. Understanding these needs and what our dogs communicate to us is crucial to empathizing with them. Furthermore, if we want to have the best relationship possible with our dogs, we need to work diligently toward meeting their species-specific needs. [ FMIhttp://bit.ly/Brambells-1-5 ]

Let’s examine the simple exercise of teaching a dog to sit and examine why even a well-trained dog might choose not to “sit” when asked to do so.

Anxious/Afraid/Hyper-excited – No living thing learns or responds well when stressed. If your dog is under stress for any reason, it is not a good time to train; it does not matter if the stress is rooted in fear or excitement. When under stress, the part of the brain responsible for learning is deactivated to allow one to focus on survival. Even if your dog is exceptionally well trained, it may be unrealistic to expect them to respond reliably when they are worried or highly aroused. [ FMI – http://bit.ly/Canine-Stress ]

Physical Discomfort or Illness – Think of the last time you were hurting, nauseous, or tired. The odds are that it caused you to move slower or possibly not to move at all. Unfortunately, our dogs experience injuries and exhaustion just as people do, and this may cause them to appear to be “stubborn.” Additionally, some trainers use tools designed to cause physical pain (shock, prong, and choke collars). Pain, whether from an injury or intentionally inflicted by a person, will cause stress, which may cause a dog to shut down, act “hyper,” or respond aggressively.

Not all physical discomfort comes from pain. I have known more than one dog that refused to lie down on a cold floor or sit on hot asphalt. My dog Muppy will choose not to go outside during heavy rainfall. The anatomy of some breeds also makes certain positions, such as sitting or lying down, more or less comfortable. Is it fair to say your dog is “stubborn” for refusing to do certain behaviors when they are in physical or emotional distress? Of course not.

Lack of Understanding/Training – Have you ever started to learn something and were then asked to use that knowledge before you were ready? Was that stressful? Over the years, I have encountered people who expect their dog to “get it” with only minimal training. Unfortunately, when the dog fails to respond, they blame the dog.

Dogs are discriminators, which means that training a dog requires teaching behaviors in a wide variety of environments and situations while gradually increasing distractions for many repetitions. Training a dog for an hour a week in a six-week training class is just the beginning of a training program that would benefit almost every dog. Achieving reliable responses from a dog requires that you, the trainer, be knowledgeable and skilled in canine behavior, body language, and the selection and use of rewards. The treats you use and the timing of the treat delivery are essential to getting reliable behavior. Working with a professional and credentialed dog training instructor can be very helpful. [ FMIhttp://bit.ly/HowToSelectADogTrainer ]

Your Challenge

If your dog is not behaving as you desire, before you call them “stubborn,” ask yourself why that might be. Is your dog afraid or over-excited? Could they be experiencing physical or emotional distress? Do they understand what you want? You and the dog will get more frustrated with one another until you address the core issues for their lack of response.

I believe that a dog that appears to be stubborn is under stress or in pain, has had inadequate training, or is insufficiently motivated.

Like us, our dogs need to be motivated to do things. Motivation is simply offering an incentive to another living being to do something. For many people, an example of a primary motivator is the paycheck we receive from our employers. Of course, our employer could punish us instead of paying us, but we are unlikely to show up the next day unless we’re enslaved.

Motivation can be either a reward or a punishment. With dogs, punishment as a motivator typically involves yelling or using force to cause physical pain, fear, or emotional distress. Pain and fear can be highly motivating the instant they are applied. However, using punishment as a motivator will likely irreparably damage the relationship between the punisher and the victim. It can make the mere presence of the punisher a demotivator for life. Thus, choosing punishment as a motivator is not only cruel; it is an inefficient and unproductive way to train. This is one of many reasons why the Pet Professional Guild (PPG), American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), and the American Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) and many trainers recommend punishment NEVER be used to train or care for a dog. [ FMIhttps://bit.ly/Pos_HumaneTraining ]

Many types of rewards can motivate dogs: food, play, and physical touch are at the top of the list. However, contrary to popular belief, praise does not qualify as a reward in and of itself. Back in the seventies, a group of Monks wrote a book suggesting that you should never use food as a reward with your dog. However, several studies have since confirmed that food has more value as a reward than either praise or touch.

Food is a great choice when training dogs.  Professional animal trainers use it all the time. At Sea World, the animals are trained with food and continue to get food as a reward for their performances long after they have been taught. Our employer doesn’t stop paying us after we learn how to do our jobs.  So why would we ever stop rewarding our dog for doing something we want?

While play can be valuable as a reward, I find it less efficient than food. Since training is all about repetition, efficiency is critical. I often get as many 5 to 10 behaviors per minute when using food while training a dog. In contrast, one must refocus the dog after every play session when using play as a reward. It is like coming in from recess when we were in grade school; the teacher had to get us settled before they could start teaching us. However, play can be a great reward after training a dog.

Food is a great motivator, but we must remember that some foods are more motivating than others, especially if what we are asked to do is difficult or something we do not enjoy. Therefore we must identify the food that our dog likes best.

While many dogs are known to eat almost anything (even what we consider inedible), some can be finicky. In my experience, treats that smell and taste of meat are usually valued higher by our canine companions. If one of my students doesn’t believe me, I suggest we call his dog at the same time. The student uses pieces of the dog’s kibble while I use some leftover roast beef or chicken. The dog races to me, and voila, the student gets it. The point is that treat value matters. So don’t be stingy to protect your ego.

Teaching a dog to sit can be relatively easy since most dogs sit anyway of their own accord. With “sit,” we are just training our dogs to do something they already do naturally.  When initially teaching the “sit” in a low distraction environment, I will probably use a mixture of low to medium-value treats (kibble or other treats with very little meat content) with a high-value treat thrown in at random for an exceptional response. However, when training in a more distracting environment, for example, in a group training class or in a park where children are playing, I will probably need to increase the value of the treats to be successful. Don’t let your ego get in the way of helping your dog be successful; use better treats when you need to!

Training recall is more difficult to teach than sit because we ask the dog to go against its instincts. Often when we most want our dogs to come, they are simultaneously distracted by something extremely motivating (a taunting squirrel or anything else they find very tempting). Therefore, if we are going to be successful, we must be even more enticing than the squirrel. For this reason, I always use special, high-value treats when training recall. Even after my dog has a reliable recall, I continue to reward them every time.

To learn how to turn your “allegedly stubborn” dog into your best friend for life, check out my article There Are No Stubborn Dogs–12 Steps to Becoming Best Friends for Life at – https://bit.ly/12Steps-BestFriendsForLife

________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson lives in Bangor, Maine, where he is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( greenacreskennel.com ) and the founder of ForceFreePets.com, an online educational resource for people with dogs and cats. He is a Professional Canine Behavior Consultant (PCBC-A) accredited by the Pet Professional Accreditation Board (PPAB) and a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP). Don is a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG), serving on the Board of Directors and Steering Committee and chairing the Advocacy Division. He is also a founding director of Pet Advocacy International (PIAI). In addition, Don produces and co-hosts The Woof Meow Show podcast, available at http://bit.ly/WfMwPodcasts/, the Apple Podcast app, and Don’s blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com. The opinions in this article are those of Don Hanson.

©24AUG22, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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Why I’m Seeking Credentialing from the Pet Professional Accreditation Board (PPAB)

< Updated 27MAR22 >

< A short link for this page – https://bit.ly/DJH-PPAB >

I currently hold two dog training and behavior credentials. Unfortunately, the two organizations that issued those credentials believe that using a shock collar is acceptable. Their position is contrary to the science that indicates that aversives, such as shock, choke, and prong collars, are unnecessary and carry a significant risk of physical and emotional harm. To me, that is unacceptable. While I believe credentialing is vital to our profession, I am no longer comfortable being part of credentialing organizations that believe hurting pets in the name of care and training is okay. Therefore, I am seeking accreditation from the Pet Professional Accreditation Board (PPAB).

The PPAB believes that there is no place for shock, choke, prong, fear, or intimidation in canine training and behavior practices. They are not alone. The Pet Professional Guild (PPG), American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), American Society of Veterinary Behavior (AVSAB), and Pet Industry Advocacy International (PIAI) have all taken positions, based on science, that state the use of aversive methods and tools in the training and care of pets is not only unnecessary but harmful.

I stand with those committed to the humane treatment of our pets and encourage all pet care professionals to join me. Using tools and methods designed to cause pets physical or emotional distress is NOT ethical pet care or training; it is abuse.

PPGPet Professional Guild Guiding Principles

AAHAAmerican Animal Hospital Association Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines

AVSABAmerican Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior Position Statement on Humane Dog Training

PIAIA Coalition of informed, ethical and humane organizations

PPABhttps://www.credentialingboard.com/Accreditation-Board-Ethics-Code

AVSAB Issues Position Statement on Humane Dog Training – Shock, Prong & Choke Collars Should NEVER Be Used

< A version of this article was published in the OCT 2021 issue of Downeast Dog News>

< Updated 10OCT21 >

< A short link for this page – https://bit.ly/AVSABHumaneDogTraining >

In August, the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) issued a position statement on humane dog training. I encourage all veterinarians, dog trainers and behavior consultants, other pet care professionals, animal shelters and rescues, breeders, and pet parents to familiarize themselves with the position statement and the cited studies. This is information they MUST be familiar with to practice ethically. The position statement refutes many myths about dogs, their behavior, and training, such as dominance, pack hierarchy, and the need to be “alpha.” AVSAB concludes its statement with the following:

Based on current scientific evidence, AVSAB recommends that only reward-based training methods are used for all dog training, including the treatment of behavior problems. Aversive training methods have a damaging effect on both animal welfare and the human-animal bond. There is no evidence that aversive methods are more effective than reward-based methods in any context. AVSAB therefore advises that aversive methods should not be used in animal training or for the treatment of behavior disorders.” [emphasis added]

AVSAB joins the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), which have similar position statements. FMI – https://bit.ly/Pos_HumaneTraining

One of the critical reasons for this position is that aversive methods and tools negatively affect animal welfare. They cause distress which is inhumane.

In observational studies, dogs trained with aversive methods or tools showed stress-related behaviors during training, including tense body, lower body posture, lip licking, tail lowering, lifting front leg, panting, yawning, and yelping.” 4–8

In contrast, “Dogs trained with reward-based methods showed increased attentiveness to their owner.” 5

As a pet parent, minimal or no stress and increased attentiveness are precisely what I want in my dog. As a professional dog trainer, I know it is what my clients desire as well. Having a relationship with your dog based on mutual trust is essential to successful training. Anyone who has been intentionally subjected to force, pain, or fear by someone knows those things will NEVER build trust.

Unfortunately, there are also long-term effects related to the use of aversives.

Survey studies have shown an association between the use of aversive training methods and long-term behavior problems including aggressive behavior towards people and other dogs, and anxiety-related behaviors such as avoidance and excitability.” 8–15 Additionally, “Several studies show the effect of aversive training persists beyond the time of training. After dogs learned a cue taught using aversive training methods, they continued to show stress-related behaviors when the cue was presented, suggesting the cue itself had become aversive.” 5,7,8

In other words, the use of aversives can create a lifetime of chronic stress for a dog. Most of us consider our dog our companion, and many refer to their dog as their best friend. But, who wants a life of chronic stress and fear for their best friend? No one, I hope.

Dogs with behavior issues such as reactivity, aggression, anxiety, and hyperactivity are challenging to live with and often have chronic stress in their lives, often creating distress for their person. Since these undesirable behaviors result from an emotional response, they cannot be “trained” away without first building trust. As noted above, aversives NEVER build trust. FMI – http://bit.ly/Canine-Stress

As a trainer, one of the first things I teach my clients is how to manage their dog and the environment to avert behaviors like aggression and anxiety. These behaviors are much easier to prevent than they are to fix after they develop. Incidentally, studies by Blackwell and Hiby10, 14 demonstrated that dogs trained using rewards are less likely to develop behavior problems than dogs trained with aversives.

Proponents of inhumane training techniques often argue that force is the only way to get results. However, that position is not supported by science. On the other hand, ample evidence in the peer-reviewed literature demonstrates that reward-based training works very well.

Reward-based training methods have been shown to be more effective than aversive methods” .1,2,17

Multiple survey studies have shown higher obedience in dogs trained with reward based methods.”9,14,18

A study by Hiby et al. (2004) “…found that obedience levels were highest for dogs trained exclusively with reward-based methods and lowest for dogs trained exclusively with aversive-based methods.” 14

The evidence from multiple studies is clear; if you want a well-trained dog, the best way to achieve that goal is with rewards, not punishment. I genuinely believe that no one with a dog wants to hurt their dog. If you or your trainer cannot get results without punishment, step back and recognize it’s time for you to learn a better way. Many trainers can help you get the results you want without resorting to aversives.

When looking for a trainer, AVSAB recommends:

An appropriate trainer should avoid any use of training tools that involve pain (choke chains, prong collars, or electronic shock collars), intimidation (squirt bottles, shaker noise cans, compressed air cans, shouting, staring, or forceful manipulation such as “alpha rolls” or “dominance downs”), physical correction techniques (leash jerking, physical force), or flooding (“exposure”). The learner must always feel safe and have the ability to “opt out” of training sessions. All efforts should be made to communicate effectively and respectfully with the learner.”

I sincerely hope that all veterinarians, pet care professionals, pet training and behavior associations, breeders, and animal shelter and rescues will develop their own positions statements and policies that support the AAHA, AVSAB, and PPG positions. It is long past time for people to continue abusing dogs in the name of training.

Recommended Resources

References

AVSAB Humane Dog Training Position Statementhttps://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/AVSAB-Humane-Dog-Training-Position-Statement-2021.pdf

2015 AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelineshttps://www.aaha.org/globalassets/02-guidelines/behavior-management/2015_aaha_canine_and_feline_behavior_management_guidelines_final.pdf

PPG Guiding Principleshttps://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Guiding-Principles

Articles on Don’s Blog
( http://www.words-woofs-meows.com  )

How to Select A Dog Trainerhttp://bit.ly/HowToSelectADogTrainer

Important Position Statements Related to Animal Welfare & Care in the USA by Leading Organizations – https://bit.ly/Pos_HumaneTraining

Understanding, Identifying and Coping with Canine Stresshttp://bit.ly/Canine-Stress

What’s Shocking about Shock? – What Science Tells Us About the Use of Shock in Dog Training – PPG BARKS from the Guild – July 2019http://bit.ly/ShockBARK-JUL2019

The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collarshttp://bit.ly/ShockCollars

Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Started Training Dogs – Gus, the Dominance Myth, An Alpha Roll, and a Damaged Relationship – WWM-SEP2018 http://bit.ly/Things-Gus-Dominance

Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Selected My First Dog – Aversives are Unnecessary and Counter-Productive When Training A Dog – Part 1 – WWM-JAN2019http://bit.ly/Things-Aversives-1

Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Selected My First Dog – Aversives are Unnecessary and Counter-Productive When Training A Dog – Part 2 – WWM-FEB2019 –  http://bit.ly/Things-Aversives-2

Choke Collar Pathology – an excellent blog post from dog trainer Daniel Antolec on the dangers of using a choke collar on a dog. – http://ppgworldservices.com/2017/06/13/choke-collar-pathology/

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show
( http://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/ )

The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collarshttp://bit.ly/ShockPodcast

The Pet Professional Guild and the Shock-Free Coalition with Niki Tudgehttp://bit.ly/PodCastShockFree-NikiTudge-2017

What’s Shocking About Shock – What Science Tells Us About the Use of Shock in Dog Traininghttp://bit.ly/WfMw-WhatShock-27JUL19

Podcast – Charlee and the Electronic Shock Containment System w-Dan Antolechttps://bit.ly/Blog-Charlee_E-Fence

________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( greenacreskennel.com ) in Bangor, Maine, where he has been helping people with their pets since 1995. He is also the founder of ForceFreePets.com, an online educational resource for people with dogs and cats. Don is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC), and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). He is a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG), where he serves on the Board of Directors and Steering Committee and chairs the Advocacy Committee and The Shock-Free Coalition ( shockfree.org ). Don produces and co-hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show, that airs on Z62 Retro Radio WZON (AM620) and WKIT 103.3-HD3 and is streamed at http://bit.ly/AM620-WZON every Saturday at 9 AM. Podcasts of the show are available at http://bit.ly/WfMwPodcasts/, the Apple Podcast app, and Don’s blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com.  The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.

©10OCT21, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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Thank You, Trivia & Gus!

< A version of this article was published in the FEB 2021 issue of Downeast Dog News>

< Updated 07FEB21 >

< A short link for this page – http://bit.ly/ThankYouTrivia-Gus >

January marks the anniversaries of two of the dogs that have been part of my life. They have both passed, but there is not a day I do not think about them or acknowledge how they helped me to become a better dog trainer and a better person.

Trivia – I had wanted a dog since I was five years old. My parents finally succumbed when I was 17.  I found a puppy at a pet store that was described as “A Poodle/Keeshond mix, and they never found the father.” I didn’t care about the breed; I just wanted a dog. Trivia had wavy hair and was as excited to see me as I was to see her. It was love at first sight. I left the pet shop with her, a collar, a leash, food and water bowls, a couple of toys, a rawhide, and the name of the veterinarian recommended by the pet shop. I was thirty plus dollars poorer but felt like the richest guy on the planet.

Why my parents let me get a dog at this point in our lives, I will never know. I suspect it had something to do with the fact that we had lost my older sister to a brain tumor just days before Christmas. Looking back, their decision makes even less sense, as my dad was scheduled to retire in two months, and they planned on traveling.  I was a junior in high school, active in many extracurricular activities, and had a girlfriend. You know what happened and who did most of the work of caring for Trivia the first few years of her life. My mom. Thank you, mom and dad, for your crazy decision to let me get a dog. It was clearly based on love with no logic involved.

In 1977 I knew nothing about training a dog or the benefits of training a dog, and no one suggested I train Trivia. I regret I did not know then what I know now as I believe I could have made Trivia’s life so much better. Trivia inspires me to help my clients and students do all they can for their furry companions. Thank you, Trivia; you were small but were in no way trivial.  [ FMI – http://bit.ly/TriviaNOV74AUG89 ]

Gus (Laird Gustav MacMoose) – Gus was the first puppy Paula and I raised together. He was a Cairn Terrier, and despite our knowing better, we bought him at a pet shop. Most of my friends in the pet care professions believe that we learn the most from the dogs that are difficult. Paula and I remember Gus as the equivalent of a post-doctoral program.

  • Gus bit me on our first night in puppy class due to my ignorance and the class’s two instructors’ arrogance. That led to my interest in canine behavior and training. [ FMI – http://bit.ly/Things-Gus-Dominance ]
  • Gus was the epitome of a silent thief. He walked off with tools from people working in our home and stole food right out of our hands and those of some of our staff. He taught me that the management of a dog and his environment was as crucial as training.
  • Within the first few months of his life, Gus developed a chronic urinary tract infection, which caused crystals to form in his urine. His veterinarian felt it was due to nutrition but could offer little advice other than to suggest resources where we could teach ourselves more about his nutritional needs. That led to a lifelong interest in pet nutrition for Paula and me and a commitment to educating others. We eventually found the answer for Gus’ crystals in 1997.[ FMI – http://bit.ly/Gus-Nutrition ]
  • Thunderstorms were a significant event for Gus. One to two hours before the thunder and lightning started, he would become agitated. By the time the storm arrived, he was barking and lunging at the door to get outside so he could “kill it.” Most dogs that have issues with thunderstorms want to hide. Not Gus. The medications prescribed by his veterinarian were of no help, nor was the
    Don & Gus in 1991, Before the Alpha Roll

    desensitization CD played at very low levels on a world-class sound system. Gus knew the difference between a real storm and one on the stereo. The closest we came to a cure was moving from Wisconsin to Maine, where thunderstorms were not as frequent.

  • Gus started having seizures as he became older, which were diagnosed as idiopathic epilepsy. Like everything else in his life, Gus lived large, even with seizures, each in the Grand Mal category. He was treated for many years with the medications in use at that time. Even then, he would still have a seizure about every ten days. Eventually, we could not increase the dose of his medication without harming his liver. Paula started investigating complementary therapies such as homeopathy and acupuncture. Gus finally found his most significant relief from seizures through acupuncture, which, interestingly, also stooped his reactivity to thunderstorms. Both Paula and I credit Gus for opening our minds to complementary healing modalities that we now use with our pets and ourselves to supplement traditional medicine.

Gus was ultimately the catalyst that caused Paula and me to join the ranks of pet care professionals and to buy Green Acres Kennel Shop. He inspired our interest in behavior, training, nutrition, and complementary healthcare. While there were times, Gus frustrated us beyond belief; there was not a day he did not make us laugh. Thank you, Gus!

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog
( http://www.words-woofs-meows.com  )

 Our Pets – Remembering Trivia (13NOV74 – 04AUG89) – https://bit.ly/TriviaNOV74AUG89

Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Started Training Dogs – Gus, the Dominance Myth, An Alpha Roll, and a Damaged Relationshiphttp://bit.ly/Things-Gus-Dominance

Pet Nutrition: Some Myths and Facts – Part 1 – My story with Gushttp://bit.ly/Gus-Nutrition

Thank You, PPG, and Gus Too!http://bit.ly/ThanksPPG-Gus

In Memory of Gus (1991 – 2004)http://bit.ly/InMemoryOfGus

 

________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( greenacreskennel.com ) in Bangor, Maine, where he has been helping people with their pets since 1995. He is also the founder of ForceFreePets.com, an online educational resource for people with dogs and cats. Don is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC), and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). He is a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG). Don is committed to PPG’s Guiding Principles and the Pain-Free, Force-Free, and Fear-Free training, management, and care of all pets. He serves on the PPG Steering Committee and Advocacy Committee and is the Chair of The Shock-Free Coalition ( shockfree.org ). Don produces and co-hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show, that airs on Z62 Retro Radio WZON (AM620) and WKIT 103.3-HD3 and is streamed at http://bit.ly/AM620-WZON every Saturday at 9 AM. Podcasts of the show are available at http://bit.ly/WfMwPodcasts/, the Apple Podcast app, and Don’s blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com.  The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.

©07FEB21, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
< Click for Copyright and Use Policy >

 

Shared Blog Post – The Deferential Equation – The Importance of Learning Boundaries by Diana Logan

< Updated 03DEC20 >

< A short link for this page – https://bit.ly/SHRD-Boundaries-Logan >

The Deferential Equation is an excellent article by my friend Diana Logan of Pet Connection Dog Training that appears in the November 2020 issue of Downeast Dog News. Diana addresses the importance of a puppy learning that not all dogs will appreciate or tolerate an exuberant puppy greeting. I had one of those puppies, my Golden, Tikken. As a puppy, Tik was miss congeniality++++, and her “in your face” overly-enthusiastic greetings towards other dogs were not always well received. I still remember the day she went charging towards my friend’s dog Rey, an older dog who was a card-carrying member of the “Go Away You Obnoxious Puppy” club. What happened next occurred in a couple of seconds. As Tikken was a puppy, she still did not have the training for me to intervene successfully. Tikken was running at full speed, and Rey started showing teeth and growling when Tik was about 10 feet away. Tik just kept charging, flipped on her back when she was about 2 feet from Rey. With her forward momentum slid Tik into Rey like a baseball player sliding into home base. Rey went tumbling and responded with several choice canine expletives, and thankfully, due to Rey’s restraint, no injuries occurred. This is a lesson puppies need to learn early on, before the end of their socialization period at 14 to 16 weeks of age.

Recommended Resources

The Deferential Equation – The Importance of Learning Boundarieshttps://downeastdognews.villagesoup.com/p/the-deferential-equation/1876252

Articles on Don’s Blog
( http://www.words-woofs-meows.com  )

Especially for New Puppy Parents – http://bit.ly/EspcNewPuppyParents

 

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show
( http://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/ )

Podcast – Especially for New Puppy Parents – Part 1 – http://bit.ly/WfMw-Esp_Pups1

Podcast – Especially for New Puppy Parents – Part 2 – http://bit.ly/WfMw-Esp_Pups2

Podcast – Especially for New Puppy Parents – Part 3 – http://bit.ly/WfMw-Esp_Pups3

 

 

Podcast – This and That About Living with Pets, Volume 1

< Click to Listen to Podcast >

< Updated 01AUG20 >

< A short link for this page – https://bit.ly/2Xh4arB >

In this episode of The Woof Meow Show from August 1st, 2020, Kate and Don share some of their experiences with their pets. Even with their knowledge and expertise, their pets are not always “perfect.” In this show, they discuss our pet’s interactions with wildlife and going back to work after being home with the pets almost continuously for several weeks.

Lastly, they discuss a new peer-reviewed study, (Efficacy of Dog Training With and Without Remote Electronic Collars vs. a Focus on Positive Reinforcement, Front. Vet. Sci., 22 July 2020-China Mills, Cooper) This study indicates that positive reinforcement training is more effective than training a dog with a shock collar. These finds are incredibly significant. Many shock collar proponents have long argued that shock is necessary for some behaviors, such as recall, and is more efficient at training than reward-based methods. Note, no research supports this conclusion by shock proponents. However, there is now evidence that suggests the exact opposite; an electric shock is not more efficient nor more reliable when teaching the recall.

You can hear The Woof Meow Show on Z62 Retro Radio, AM620, and WKIT HD3 at 9 AM on Saturday. If you are not near a radio, listen on your computer at http://bit.ly/AM620-WZON or your smartphone or tablet with the free WZON 620 AM app. A podcast of the show is typically posted immediately after the show. You can download this show and others at http://bit.ly/WfMwPodcasts, at Don’s blog http://bit.ly/Words-Woofs-Meows and the Apple iTunes store.

Contact Info

Green Acres Kennel Shop
1653 Union Street
Bangor, ME 04401
207-945-6841

www.Greenacreskennel.com

https://www.facebook.com/GreenAcresKennelShop/

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog
( http://www.words-woofs-meows.com  )

Alone Training – http://bit.ly/AloneTraining

Preventing separation anxiety – Teaching your dog to cope with being alonehttp://bit.ly/PrevSepAnx

The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collarshttp://bit.ly/ShockCollars

What’s Shocking about Shock – What Science Tells Us About the Use of Shock in Dog Traininghttp://bit.ly/ShockBARK-JUL2019

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show
( http://bit.ly/WfMwPodcasts )

 Separation Anxiety in Dogs with Dr. Christine Calder – https://bit.ly/WfMw-SepAnxDrCalder

Anxiety, Fears & Phobias with Dr. Christine Calderhttps://bit.ly/WfMw-AnxFrPhbiaDrCalder

What’s Shocking About Shock – What Science Tells Us About the Use of Shock in Dog Traininghttp://bit.ly/WfMw-WhatShock-27JUL19

Charlee and the Electronic Shock Containment System w-Dan Antolechttps://bit.ly/Blog-Charlee_E-Fence

Other Resources

Efficacy of Dog Training With and Without Remote Electronic Collars vs. a Focus on Positive Reinforcement, Front. Vet. Sci., 22 July 2020-China Mills, Cooperhttps://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2020.00508/full?fbclid=IwAR3QINaZm1Hwq-ejO30plmfK3f9Ce3YLuldwe4a9Orih6rHDSuYJg0_r3lI

Positive Reinforcement is More Effective at Training Dogs than an Electronic Collar, Study Shows, Companion Animal Psychology, Zazie Todd, PhD, July 22, 2020https://www.companionanimalpsychology.com/2020/07/positive-reinforcement-is-more.html

E-Fence Fallout, BARKS from the Guild, April 16, 2020https://barksfromtheguild.com/2020/04/16/e-fence-fallout/

 

©01AUG20, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
< Click for Copyright and Use Policy >

Podcast – Separation Anxiety in Dogs with Dr. Christine Calder

< Click to Listen to Podcast >

< Updated 09FEB21 >

< A short link for this page –
https://bit.ly/WfMw-SepAnxDrCalder >

In this episode of The Woof Meow Show from May 30th, 2020, Don talks with Veterinary Behaviorist Dr. Christine Calder about separation anxiety in dogs. Separation Anxiety is a panic disorder in dogs that cannot cope with being left alone. These dogs are not misbehaving to get revenge but are suffering.

During the show, we discuss separation anxiety and its symptoms, sharing experiences with mild and extreme cases. We discuss which dogs are more likely to suffer from separation anxiety and address other disorders that may have some of the same symptoms. We discuss treatment options and things one can do to prevent separation anxiety.

You can hear The Woof Meow Show on Z62 Retro Radio, AM620, and WKIT HD3 at 9 AM on Saturday. If you are not near a radio, listen on your computer at http://bit.ly/AM620-WZON or your smartphone or tablet with the free WZON 620 AM app. A podcast of the show is typically posted immediately after the show. You can download this show and others at http://bit.ly/WfMwPodcasts, at Don’s blog http://bit.ly/Words-Woofs-Meows and the Apple iTunes store.

Contact Info for Dr. Calder

Business: Calder Veterinary Behavior Services
Address:
Phone: (207) 298-4375
Email: reception@caldervbs.com
Websitewww.caldervbs.com
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Christine-Calder-DVM-DACVB-Veterinary-Behaviorist-104864721012254/

More info on Dr. Calder from the January 2020 issue of Downeast Dog Newshttps://downeastdognews.villagesoup.com/p/what-is-a-veterinary-behaviorist/1846547

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog
( http://www.words-woofs-meows.com  )

 Alone Traininghttp://bit.ly/AloneTraining

Crate Habituation to Reduce Anxietyhttp://bit.ly/CrateHabituation

How Can I Tell When My Dog Is Anxious or Fearful? – http://bit.ly/DogsSignsofFear

Management of An Aggressive, Fearful or Reactive Doghttp://bit.ly/BhxManagement

Preventing separation anxiety – Teaching your dog to cope with being alonehttp://bit.ly/PrevSepAnx

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show
( http://bit.ly/WfMwPodcasts )

Podcast – Introducing Dr. Christine Calder, Maine’s 1st Veterinary Behaviorist – http://bit.ly/WMw-DrCalderVetBhx

Podcast – Anxiety, Fears & Phobias with Dr. Christine Calderhttps://bit.ly/WfMw-AnxFrPhbiaDrCalder

From Downeast Dog News

Separation Anxiety (Part 1) – What is it? –  https://bit.ly/SepAnx-Calder-1

Separation Anxiety Treatment (Part 2) – https://bit.ly/SepAnx-Calder-2

©17JUN20, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
< Click for Copyright and Use Policy >

Podcast – The Benefits of Training Your Dog and 2020 Classes at Green Acres Kennel Shop

< Click to Listen to Podcast >

< Updated 7DEC19 >

< A short link for this page – insert link >

In this episode of The Woof Meow Show from December 7th, 2019, Kate and Don discuss the benefits of training a dog and why it’s so important. They explain how your learning about canine behavior and how your dog communicates is an essential part of your ability to successfully and efficiently teach them things like sit, down, and coming when called. They also review training classes offered at Green Acres Kennel Shop in 2020 and stress the benefits of working with an accredited professional and always making sure that the learning process is fun for both you and your dog!

You can find more resources on dog training and behavior at – Resources When Looking for A Dog Trainerhttp://bit.ly/DogTraining-Resources

You can hear The Woof Meow Show on Z62 Retro Radio, AM620, and WKIT HD3 at 9 AM on Saturday. If you are not near a radio, listen on your computer at http://bit.ly/AM620-WZON or your smartphone or tablet with the free WZON 620 AM app. A podcast of the show is typically posted immediately after the show. You can download this show and others at http://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/ , at Don’s blog http://bit.ly/Words-Woofs-Meows and the Apple iTunes store.

< Click to Listen to Podcast >

Contact Info

Green Acres Kennel Shop
1653 Union Street
Bangor, ME 04401
207-945-6841

www.Greenacreskennel.com

https://www.facebook.com/GreenAcresKennelShop/

©06DEC19, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
< Click for Copyright and Use Policy >

Resources When Looking for A Dog Trainer

< Version – 6DEC19 >

< a short link to this page – http://bit.ly/DogTraining-Resources >

This is a companion piece to a Woof Meow Show podcast on the benefits of training your dog and working with a credentialed dog professional. It provides information on determining if you need a dog trainer or a behavior specialist, and what to look for when choosing any pet care professional.

Do I Need a Dog Trainer or a “Behaviorist”? – http://bit.ly/WWM-Trainer-Behaviorist

How to Choose A Dog Trainer – http://bit.ly/HowToSelectADogTrainer

Recommended Resources for People with Petshttp://bit.ly/KnowledgeforPetParents

Especially for New Dog Parentshttp://bit.ly/EspNewDogParents

Especially for New Puppy Parentshttp://bit.ly/EspcNewPuppyParents

Additional Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog
( http://www.word-woofs-meows.com )

About Don Hanson  http://bit.ly/AboutDonHanson

Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Selected My First Dog Link Page http://bit.ly/ThingsIWishIHadKnown

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position Statement on Pet-Friendly, Force-Free Pet Carehttp://bit.ly/GAKS_Pet-Friendly

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position on the Use of Dominance and Punishment for the Training and Behavior Modification of Dogshttp://bit.ly/GAKS-Pos-NoPain-NoForceNoFear

Help! My Dog is Aggressive, Reactive, Fearful, Anxious, etc. – What do I do? – WWM – APR2017 – http://bit.ly/HelpDogAggx

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show
( http://www.woofmeowshow.com )

How to Choose A Dog Trainer – http://bit.ly/HowToSelectADogTrainer

Don Hanson and Dr. Dave Cloutier on Puppy Socialization and Vaccinationhttp://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/Pet_Tip_-Don_Hanson_and_Dr._Dave_Cloutier_on_Puppy_Socialization_and_Vaccinations.mp3

Dog Training and Dog Smart: Evidence-based Training with The Science Dog, an interview with Linda Case, Part 1 – http://bit.ly/WfMw-LCase-11MAY19

Dog Training and Dog Smart: Evidence-based Training with The Science Dog, an interview with Linda Case, Part 2 – http://bit.ly/WfMw-LCase-18MAY19

Podcast – Especially for New Puppy Parents – Part 1 http://bit.ly/WfMw-Esp_Pups1

Podcast – Especially for New Puppy Parents – Part 2 http://bit.ly/WfMw-Esp_Pups2

Podcast – Especially for New Puppy Parents – Part 3 http://bit.ly/WfMw-Esp_Pups3

Websites

Green Acres Kennel Shop website – https://www.greenacreskennel.com/

Don’s Blog – (Words-Woofs-Meows.com) – http://bit.ly/Words-Woofs-Meows

Maine Pet Care Professionals We Recommend http://bit.ly/MEPetPro

Pet Professional Guild (PPG) http://www.petprofessionalguild.com/

Pet Professional Guild – Find A Professional  – http://bit.ly/PPG-Find-A-Prof