Monday, October 31, 2011

Puppy Up!

Grab your sneakers and pooch and hit the park for cancer!

Next weekend 20 walks will take place across the country on November 6th, (a total of 27
through-out the year) all to support raising funds and awareness for
comparative oncology. To locate a Walk near you & register please visit

It began with a promise to raise awareness of canine cancer one mile, one city, and one person at time. Luke
Robinson with his two dogs walked 2000 miles from Austin
to Boston to fulfill the promise he made to his dog Malcolm who died from this horrible
disease. Visit for more information about their walk.

2 Million Dogs was formed on the belief that if 2 dogs can walk 2000 miles
to bring awareness to cancer surely 2 million dogs can walk 2 miles. Our
mission benefits the study of canine cancer and comparative oncology. Be a part
of history this November 6th as thousands in cities all across America join in
on the promise to bring awareness to cancer.

Sign up now for a 2 Million Dogs Puppy Up! Walk in your area… there will never be a better time like this to Puppy Up! against cancer.

To learn more about 2 Million Dogs and comparative oncology visit

A cancer-free world starts with one dog, each mile at a time. Puppy Up!


A 3 year old Smooth Fox Terrier Mix who has us "hooked" by his cuteness!
Chaos has been a tripawd since 3 months of age.
Submitted by Debbie M.
Cooper (Bullmastiff), Dempsey (Frenchie) & Dakota (Chocolate Lab)
Cooper was born on Halloween 2002 and passed on April 10, 2010 of a heart based tumor. Dempsey died unexpectedly at 3 years of age this past June 29th. Dakota is 8 years old and still providing love for her family & Halloween fun!
Submitted by Nicole F.
Thanks for the super cute photos. FFBF hopes everyone has a happy & safe Halloween. To find safety tips for your pets please visit

Sheila Rinks is the editor of Finding Fuzzybutt Four, producer of the Raising Indiana podcast and shares her home with her husband, 4 Great Pyrenees and 2 very well-fed kitties.

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween!

Author, Bob McMillan

Ever wonder what’s your dog’s take on Halloween? I’m pretty sure dogs don’t do holidays. They hit every day
full-throttle. Dogs don’t follow calendars. There’s a noticeable shortage of canine astronomers to track lunar cycles and seasons of the sun. Every day is literally a new thing to a dog, some hotter, some colder, but every single one full of startling surprises.

Startling like a little person in Wookie suit banging on your door one dark and windy night. Followed by Big
Bird. And then somebody in a bedsheet whose mom said a ghost is waaaay cooler than that $30 Darth Vader outfit from the megastore. Somebody in a bedsheet, muttering.

It’s too much to take in. Do you bark like mad to warn your clueless people that crazies are at the threshold? Do you skitter under the bed? Or do you wait until your owner sets that bowl of candy
down again and hope they’re addled enough for you to make your move? Maybe it
won’t be full of that sweet brown stuff that made you heave for hours last year.

In the McMillan house, you’d do all of the above ... if people still banged on your door on Oct. 31. We tell ourselves the kids on our block have all grown up. But I’m pretty sure the dogs played
their shaggy part, too. Sully, the beagle mix, barks at leaves. Wookies, freak birds
and walking sheets? It’s a full-blown bark-a-thon.

But I’m pretty sure Cuchulain was the one who ended Halloween at our manse. He’s gone now, and sorely missed, but in his heyday, he was the original long-legged beastie. Half Scottish deerhound,
half Irish wolfhound, all black and full of smarts and attitude. In the dark, all you could see were his teeth. About waist high because he was as big as a pony. Except ponies don’t rattle walls like thunder when they bark. And ponies don’t bite like a giant black hound.

When he hit middle age, Cuchulain decided he’d had quite enough of people running up to meet him and shoving their hands in his face. His idiot owner didn’t recognize his low growls were
warnings that he was ready to go Cujo. Not until Cuchulain did that thing with
his lip to show how very big his teeth really were. Which is when the idiot owner became a VERY cautious owner. And when Cuchulain’s meet and greets with strangers came to a screeching halt.

But Halloween is the night for hellhounds. Finn, our wolfhound, watched bright-eyed at the window because he’s always standing by to make new play pals. Gracie, our other deerhound, sounded
off and then retreated to the bedroom, grumbling. If we didn’t have enough
sense not to open the door, we were on our on. We had to make Sully stop to
breathe he barked so much. But nothing like Cuchulain, who shouldered Finn
aside, stuck his snout to the windowpane and rocked the night. Who knew zombies
and werewolves could U-turn so fast at the end of a driveway. Word got out.

Cuchulain’s bladder was the worry on Halloween. Could he hold it until all the little spooks were off the streets? Or, while the odd witch or pirate was still creeping about our yard, would he
stand cross-legged by the door, whimpering and grimacing? For a big dog, Cuchulain gave a surprisingly nuanced performance. Why he couldn’t use theatrics to ward off people instead of snapping at them we never knew. The motivation was the same: Keep your digits to yourself, bub.

So every Halloween, we made the Scary Bathroom Trip. Porch light blazing. Cuchulain on a short leash. Me, peering furiously into the shadows for spooks. The hellhound doing the happy dance by a

Halloween’s calmer now that our giant hound is gone to hound heaven. Except for Sully’s barking. This year I sat the little guy down and explained that the pounding on the door really isn’t a
threat. It’s for fun. He eyed the door, unconvinced. I’ve tried to tell him the
weird creatures out there are just kids in costume. Sully doesn’t get symbolism
or guising. Once I strayed into an explanation of Wookies and Darth Vader but
... Sully’s grasp of space mythology is pretty thin. He tried. Sully sat there,
wide-eyed, listening. Then I remembered he sleeps with his eyes open. A crunch
in the leaves outside and he was back at the door, telling the scary things to
go away.

Next year I’m telling him Zombie Dog’s at the door.

Bob McMillan is an editor and columnist with the Cookeville Herald-Citizen
newspaper and lives on a mountain with several giant hounds and wary cats.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Upcoming Podcasts

If you have a question for one of the upcoming guests on Raising Indiana, post them here. 

1. Ian Dunbar - trainer extraordinaire and founder of APDT. 
2. Temple Grandin - Lifelong animal welfare advocate and author whose contributions were made into an HBO movie that received 5 Emmys. 
3. Patricia McConnell - one of the most sought after dog trainers

Raising 'Raising Indiana'

Thanks to everyone whose been very supportive of the podcasts.  Sheila, my producer, and I feel like we're heading in the right direction but we're always trying to 'raise' the bar as it were. Here's some of the ways:

1. Everyone can listen.  We've moved to the youtube format since some folks have had difficulty in downloading the podcasts.

2. They'll be shorter.  The shows have been recorded from wherever the fuzzybutts and I happen to be at the time and unedited since we essentially have no operating budget. That's going to change and we plan to keep every podcast at 10 minutes per. 

3. Air date change.  Podcasts will go live now every Thursday 9PM EST rather than Thursday 7PM EST.

4. Participation.  Each week, we'll post our upcoming interviews and allow everyone to submit questions for our guests.  I'll select one or two of the best questions to pose to our esteemed guests.  Note, our production schedule isn't the same as our release date.  Sometimes we record multiple shows per week but don't air them til later.

As we strive for continual excellence on this show, thank you for your patience.  Oh, and we're looking for a production assistant. Email us at if you're interested. 

Keep the faith & puppy up

Hudson, Indy, & Luke

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Raising Indiana: Ep 4 Intro Into Training

This week's podcast is our very first on training and we're fortunate to have with us Cindy Ludwig, a certified trainer with the Karen Pryor Academy to introduce us to the basics.  She's the owner of Canine Connection in Dubuque Iowa and a specialist in clicker training and a frequent contributor to Finding Fuzzybutt Four.  If you, like me, don't know where to begin this is the perfect podcast for you. 

Why Do You Have A Pet?

Why Do You Have a Pet?

Author, Jan Casey

It really seems like such an easy question to answer. Why do you have a pet? People volunteer lots of reasons why they don’t have a dog or cat – they don’t want to be tied
down, too much hair, too expensive, not enough space. I am always glad these
folks don’t have pets since they have clearly outlined in their heads what it
is about another living creature that would disrupt their daily existence.
Still, the responses I got when I informally surveyed folks about why they do
have a pet proved thought provoking.

I’ve tried to group responses into classifications, though I doubt it is fair. The reason a person gets a pet may start out for one stated purpose, but the relationship often
evolves, changing the ultimate answer to the question of “why.” For example, as
the Disabilities Coordinator at the University of Tampa, I had the
pleasure of working with a young woman who had been challenged with multiple
sclerosis, leaving her wheelchair bound and in need of help for even simple tasks.
She obtained a wonderful golden retriever specifically trained to pick up
dropped items, turn on lights, provide her with physical stability, and get
assistance if needed. Though her initial intent was to have help, she later
confided that it was the dog who made her want to get up in the morning, who
made her feel as if she could go on each day.

I received many responses that highlighted the bond that develops between pet and owner. One person stated “It seems to me dogs and I are able to communicate with each
other more clearly and more easily than I can with most people.” I had multiple
responses that made note of the deep connection felt with dogs, one that is
hard to describe. Indeed, authors such as Patricia McConnell, when speaking of
her beloved border collie Luke, and John Grogan, who wrote about his Labrador
in Marley and Me, have worked hard to convey this special bond, yet some
still do not understand it.

For several people, having children, naturally or through adoption, was not an option and they felt a dog would fill that void in their lives, giving them an opportunity to share with another being the love that they have. I smiled when I read the statement
“Turns out we are the ones who got so much love in return.” For couples who can
have children, some have chosen to have pets first as an opportunity to
practice their joint “nurturing skills” before bringing another human into the
world. Clearly, pets provide an opportunity to experience a love and bond that
might not otherwise exist.

Some responded “You mean there is life without animals?” They have had animals all their lives and they seem unaware that a daily routine can exist without feeding times, grooming schedules, trips to the vets, training, and exercising. They are, however, wonderfully aware of the warmth shared by a furry being cuddled next to them on a cold winter day, the look a pet can give that conveys trust and love, the joy of
having a companion ready to go for a walk on a cool Fall morning.

Many respondents claimed to have gotten pets to help out friends or to save the animal’s life. “To care for just a few who could not care for themselves” or “she needed help finding homes for 12 giant puppies” are two responses typifying acts of kindness which brought some to pet ownership. Another writes “[we] saved a cat that had been
hit by a car. It took 3 surgeries, 2 months of recovery & hour-by-hour care
never knowing if the cat would make it before he woke up one morning &
played with a toy ball I had bought for him.
I put every bit of myself into nursing Lazarus back to health & despite the
odds we made it.” I think most people who have rescued an animal would agree
they received as much love or more in return for that act of kindness.

Animals give people a
chance to look outside themselves, to make improvements in character. To quote
one friend who responded about dogs, “Their cognitive abilities test our
character to make ideal choices, to be loving rather than impatient.” They
allow humans to give of themselves without the question of motive arising. And
for those who have an animal with a handicap or issue, the lesson of patience
is more what we learn from observing the animal as he copes with daily life
rather than something we learn in caring for the pet. They are marvelous teachers,
tolerant of their pupils (us) who are often blind to all the information they
have to offer.

To those who still don’t understand why some of us have pets, why we treat them with love and respect, why we advocate for the well-being of all animals, you may never understand. It is difficult to put into words. We don’t care more for animals and less for
people. For most of us it’s an extension of our love for all living beings.
It’s not an either/or proposition. Two Biblical passages say it all: “A righteous
man cares for the needs of his animals” and “Blessed are the compassionate, for
they shall receive compassion.”

Jan Casey is a reward-based trainer in Florida
at Courteous Canine, Inc.
and owner of Smiles and Wags Pet Services Mrs.
Casey is a member of the Association of Animal
Behavior Professionals.
Mrs. Casey is a columnist for the Cookeville,
Herald-Citizen PetPages and Kid's Korner . This column was originally written for the Herald-Citizen

"Welcome To A Dog's World"

They're Just Stupid Dogs

Author, Bob McMillan

If you’ve got a dog and actually enjoy the furry little guy’s
company, if you talk about it in your crowd much, it won’t be long before you
hear someone say, “Well, you just love dogs more than people.”

Huh? When did it get to be an either/or thing? There’s something
wrong with being decent to both people and animals?

How often do you actually find yourself in a 10-seat life raft
with six people and ... five dogs? You really don’t have to choose one over the
other. Why do we feel threatened? Life’s richer with both.

But, they’re animals, they’ll tell you. They’re just stupid
dogs. Okay, here’s a test for you. Drop in on Botswana and mix with the locals.
You don’t know their customs. You don’t speak their language. How long before
you make a major faux pas? And maybe get beaten silly for doing something

Welcome to a dog’s world.

Dogs and other animals don’t speak human, despite what you see in
the movies. They’re a different species. They’ve got their own culture and
customs. Sure, those customs sometimes include urinating on your carpet if you
don’t let them outside. Or scarfing down the walking shoes you were just about
to slip on to take them on that walk they so desperately wanted.
Misunderstandings abound.

In recent years with dog ownership “in” again, there are more than
74 million dogs in the U.S.
There’s room for a lot of misunderstandings.

Which is why it’s up to us, the higher species, to make an effort.
Dogs will keep on being dogs in all their wooly splendor. But they’ve got an
eye cocked our way waiting for us to explain our rules. Dogs are hardwired that
way. It’s what’s made us successful partners for at least 10,000 years. In the
animal world, it’s the dog that gets along best with humans.

We use dogs to herd, to track, find and fetch game, to find bombs,
to detect drugs, to rescue people, to assist the handicapped. Some dogs can
sniff out cancer cells, termites or land mines. So, why isn’t your dog
like Lassie? Why doesn’t it run and fetch Pa when you step in a hole and can’t
get up? Probably because you’ve trained him to sit, but not fully explored his
potential. Many don’t take or have the time.

The growing body of research in the last 20 years indicates that
dogs, and animals in general, are scary smart.

But, dogs don’t have feelings, they’ll tell you. Consider:
Dogs, as it turns out, have brain structures similar to ours. Brain scans show
the same areas lighting up as ours do when they’re sad, elated or fearful. Many
dog owners already know their dogs smile, get melancholy when left alone,
tremble with fear when threatened or worry when you’re late getting home.

The truth is, we miss a lot. And make quick assumptions. We do the
same with people.

Dogs are mirrors for our attitudes. A group looks at a dog and one
sees a mischievious scamp, another sees a furball waiting to shed on the
carpet, another sees a predator itching for an excuse to bite something. We see
what we expect to see.

But we often miss seeing the dog itself. And if you take the time
to see, they’re pretty amazing.

So, okay, dogs are swell, but you have an allergy or simply aren’t
interested in one. Why should you have to put up with dog poop in your yard, or
your neighbor’s poodle digging up your begonias, or be afraid that big black
dog down the street’s going to eat your kids?

You shouldn’t. Responsible dog owners do more than gush over the
virtues of their prize Borzoi. They continually train their furry pal to fit
into the human world and its ways. We need more responsible owners.
Don’t blame the dog because the owner’s a slackard.

What about all this animal rights nonsense? Are dogs going to get
the vote next? Probably not. There’s a reasonable balance. All but four
states now have animal cruelty laws because when it comes to dogs, too many
people are simply unreasonable.

Pennsylvania recently became the latest state to change its laws after a kennel owner, asked by a
state inspector to check for fleas, instead shot his 70 dogs. Most people find
that extreme. If there’s nothing wrong with it, why do we look over our
shoulders when we do these things to animals?

How we treat dogs reflects on us as much as it does dogs and their
nature. I think of this a lot:
Irish road crews digging the controversial M3 motorway across the
edge of the hill of Tara near Dublin
last year uncovered an odd, 4,000-year-old grave. Tara
was of special significance to the Bronze Age Irish. The high kings of Ireland are
buried there.

The grave was that of a huge hound, buried not with a master but
specially set apart. It wasn’t tossed in, it was laid out as if it were running
into the afterlife.

When I saw it in a photo, I knew what it was from its size, its
huge chest and build. I live with one of its descendants today, an Irish
wolfhound. When I watch him run, when we share time together, I understand why
the ancient Irish loved their horses and their hounds.

Those bones today? Hauled away in a sack and stored in a

Bob McMillan is an editor and columnist with the Cookeville
Herald-Citizen newspaper and lives on a mountain with several giant hounds and wary cats.
This column was originally printed in the Herald-Citizen in Cookeville, Tennessee.
Please visit for more information on the
newspaper. We thank the Herald-Citizen staff for allowing FFBF
to re-print this piece.

What's All The Bark About?

The Controversy About Dogs

Author, Jan Casey

Controversy. Where does it not exist? We all have been warned not to discuss politics or religion. If you live in Tennessee, you may want to add football teams to that list. What about dogs? What could be controversial about dogs? Well, it seems just about everything.

Let’s start with breed specific legislation. Many municipalities across the country have established a restriction on owning certain breeds of dog. Pit bulls are by far the most
recognized breed to be outlawed by communities, which is ironic as it is also a
breed which is so often misidentified. I checked the Center for Disease Control
in Atlanta website for statistics and found they stopped recording bites by breed in 1998. Looking at all the years combined, pits did have the highest number of
incidents for dog bite related fatalities. However, bites resulting in human
fatalities were recorded for thirty breeds including a Labrador,
a Dachshund, and a Yorkie. In the later years of the statistics, it is noted
that Rottweilers surpassed Pit Bulls in the number of dog bite related
fatalities. If you read further, you will find the CDC is opposed to breed
specific regulation. The CDC suggests “generic, non-breed-specific, dangerous
dog laws be enacted that place primary responsibility for a dog’s behavior on
the owner, regardless of the dog’s breed. In particular, targeting chronically
irresponsible dog owners may be effective.” It is their belief that educating
owners as to the appropriate breed for their life style as well as teaching
people about the importance of training and socialization will do much to
reduce the number of dog bites and the fatalities that result from them. I
admit I agree with them. The entire report can be read at

Another topic currently
creating a wealth of controversy concerns the ability of the dog to think and
to have emotions. There has been some fascinating work coming out of Europe regarding the abilities of dogs to solve problems.
Cysani has shown that dogs pay very close attention to people and use their
observations to communicate. In a type of animal shell game, he would place a
treat under one scent-proof cup, shuffle the cups, then point to the cup which
contained the treat. Dogs outperformed chimps significantly in this test. A
Border Collie named Guiness has been able to identify different landscapes,
different faces, and even different dog breeds. Another Border Collie, Rico,
has been shown to identify 200 different toys. Studies have shown dogs can tell
the difference in abstract concepts such as large and small, and in sizes and
shapes. While I don’t for a minute equate a dog’s ability to think with that of
a person, I do believe we have far underestimated the thinking capabilities of
dogs. The same can be said of emotions and dogs. The structure of the part of
the brain that controls emotions, the limbic system, is similar in dogs and
people and would suggest that dogs do experience emotion even though it may not
be exactly like human emotion. For some people, there must be scientific
measurement recorded to prove emotions in dogs. For other people, those who
come home after a brief absence to a barking, wagging, smiling dog, there is no
study on earth that will convince them dogs don’t have emotions. Most believers
will tell stories of a dog’s fear, anger, happiness, and love. Studies at this
time can only confirm the remarkable similarity between dog and human brains
and use this to conclude some sort of emotion on the part of dogs exists. If
you are interested in thought and emotion in dogs, I would highly recommend the
book For the Love of a Dog – Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best
by Dr. Patricia McConnell.

Why does it matter if dogs think or have emotions? The answer leads to yet another controversy – how dogs should be trained. Consider a fearful dog. If a trainer does not believe or care if a dog has emotions, then the solution will probably consist of
dominating the dog (use of a shock collar or leash pops) or a technique called
“flooding” – overloading the dog with whatever it is the dog fears. The trainer
who believes the dog has emotions will choose to desensitize the dog to the
fearful object and then change the dog’s emotional state when encountering that
object (counter conditioning). I use this example with my clients: If you are
scared of snakes and I don’t care about your emotions, I will just throw you in
a room full of snakes. You’ll get over it, right? On the other hand, if I do
consider your emotional state, I will start at a distance by showing you a
picture of a snake and gradually work up to you handling a snake. I will reward
you with a $100 bill each time you are able to work more closely with the snake
to change your emotional reaction to the snake. Which would you prefer?

People will always disagree. When choosing a side, defend your position with the most current information available. Most of all, just love your dog. Dogs don’t create
controversy, people do.

Jan Casey is a reward-based trainer in Florida
at Courteous Canine, Inc.
and owner of Smiles and Wags Pet Services Mrs.
Casey is a member of the Association of Animal
Behavior Professionals.
Mrs. Casey is a columnist for the Cookeville,
Herald-Citizen Pet Pages and Kid's Korner . This column was originally written for the Herald-Citizen

Social Butterfly or Wallflower?

Need for Social Interaction

Author, Jan Casey

You’re a dog lover. You play with your dog. You exercise your dog. You feed her, you shelter her, you see that she gets her checkups with the veterinarian. This is what dog lovers do. They care for the beings they brought into their homes, it was a promise
they made, that they would attend to its needs. What happened to that promise,
that some owners now relegate their dogs to the backyard, no longer providing
the dog with the basic need of companionship?

I read an article - Critics Challenge ‘Dog Whisperer’ Methods (
– searching for any new insight in support of positive training. The article
focuses on the contentious battle between trainers who use current scientific
methods and those who still use traditional, punishment-based methods. While it
delineates the arguments of those with differing philosophies, it also notes
the sides do share some points of agreement. “Both sides of the training spectrum teach that a lack of discipline or structure is not conducive to a well-behaved dog… ‘You
have to be calm, you have to be clear, you have to be consistent, and you have
to make sure you meet your pet’s needs for other things: exercise, play, social
interaction,’ says Herron of The Ohio State University.” … The sad existence of
some dogs receiving no social interaction with people keeps popping up in my
daily conversations and consultations.

Social interaction is vital to the well-being of people and pets. When
humans are to be punished for crimes against society, short of death, solitary
confinement is considered the harshest punishment delivered by a civilized
society. Parrots, considered by scientists to have the intelligence of a five
year old human, can literally go insane from lack of attention. These birds
pluck their feathers until their bodies are naked, they scream night and day,
and swing back and forth endlessly. Parrots did not evolve in a relationship
with man, yet lack of interaction with him can make them crazy. Dogs and man
evolved together and have the closest interspecies relationship in existence.
What does lack of interaction do to dogs?

The relationship developed as one of mutual benefit. Man used dogs for many
purposes – to retrieve game, to protect, to pull carts loaded with goods. Dog
used man as a resource for necessities – food and shelter. A bond formed
between them. It’s been a nice relationship through the centuries. Now things
have changed, at least for man. With the development of grocery stores, guns,
and cars, dogs are no longer vital to our existence. Dogs still count on us for
food and shelter. People are able to interact socially with one another through
computers, jobs, phones, and social engagements. Dogs? They are still dependent
on owners for companionship.

I realize the people who read this column are not the ones I am writing
about. It’s more likely I am writing about a neighbor, a family member, a
friend, even a stranger who has a dog and refuses to meet its basic need for
social interaction. While we are more likely to see our dogs as family members,
they view their dogs as property. The question arises “What can I do about it?”
The best you can do is attempt to enlighten the owner who thinks his dog is
“just fine” left alone 24 hours a day.

When I work with people whose dog is not valued, I try to find out why.
Certainly no one goes out and gets a dog with the intention of having it sit
outside, alone, consuming food, while the owner gets nothing in return. Try to
find out what changed. Did the dog get too big? Is the dog too rambunctious? Is
the dog destroying the owner’s possessions? Has the dog become aggressive? Is
the dog barking day and night? Is the dog not housetrained, or loosing its
ability to control its bodily functions due to age or a physical problem? Once
you can determine the “why,” it can be easy to resolve if the owner is willing
to try some things.

For behavioral problems, once any physical problem is ruled out, providing
mental and physical exercise can do a lot toward resolving the dog’s issues.
Suggestions which I offer to owners : try using a frozen Kong or a Tug-A-Jug
with breakfast and dinner inside, making the dog work to eat. Play hide and
seek with some of the dog’s favorite toys. Teach the dog some tricks. Walk.
Play with a disc or tennis ball. Hire someone to exercise your dog. Get help
from a trainer for problem behaviors. If the owner is not receptive to working
with the dog, suggest re-homing. There are some wonderful rescue groups. Most
are overcrowded, but often have a waiting list. It’s a far better alternative
than to allow the dog to suffer by spending its life alone with no social

Until better laws protecting our pets are enacted, we can only try to help dogs who are isolated. To quote Dr. Patricia McConnell, "I wish more people would consider owning smaller pets, such as rats. They're social, interactive, trainable, and you don't have
to feel guilty about not walking them."

Jan Casey is a reward-based trainer in Florida at Courteous Canine, Inc. and owner of Smiles and Wags Pet Services Mrs. Casey is a member of the Association of Animal
Behavior Professionals.
Mrs. Casey is a columnist for the Cookeville,
Herald-Citizen Pet Pages and Kid's Korner . This column was originally written for the Herald-Citizen

Monday, October 24, 2011

Where did everyone go?

Boy, that new puppy, Indiana, is a pawful and I haven't even met him yet! He is keeping me so busy producing and scheduling guests for Indy & Papi's "Raising Indiana" podcast that I barely have time to post blogs anymore. No complaints though because Luke has some amazing guests coming on in the next few weeks and great interviews already recorded! I would love to tell you who we will be speaking with but Hudson has declared it a "stricket". So you'll just have to keep checking back to find out more, and don't miss "Raising Indiana" Thursdays at 7pm EST only here on FFBF.
Oh, Indy says Mommy S has to get back to work. Yes, boss!
P.S. I'll get back to blogging soon...

Sheila Rinks is the editor of Finding Fuzzybutt Four, producer of the Raising Indiana podcast and shares her home with her husband, 4 Great Pyrenees and 2 very well-fed kitties.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Raising Indiana Ep 3: Dog Food.. Damn, Where Do I Begin?

Broadcasting from outside of Boston, Episode Three is the first of many, many on diet and nutrition. It's a complex, contentious topic with lots of confusion and a whole host of theories.  Karla Haas owner of Rudy Greens is with us this week with a wealth of knowledge and experience on the subject. 


Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Different Theories of Training Explained

Author, Cindy Ludwig
There are as many ways to train a dog as there are people who train them. There are television shows about dog training and blogs, books and a variety of training equipment for sale in pet stores. How does the average pet owner
who just wants a well behaved dog go about sorting through all this information
to determine which equipment and methods of training are the ones he should
choose for his dog? Do different dogs require different methods of

Training methods exist on a continuum

The way I see it, dog training philosophy and methodology exist on a continuum
between hypothetical endpoints of reward-based training and correction-based
training. In reality, there is no such thing as reward-based training without
punishment (correction) because reward-based (aka “positive”) trainers withhold rewards which is a form of punishment, and there is no such thing as correction-based training without rewards since even correction-based trainers give some positive reinforcement (praise, food treats, etc.). Most trainers then lie somewhere on the continuum between the two endpoints, tending to be either reward-based or correction-based, depending on where they sit on the continuum.

Balanced training

The trainers that occupy the middle ground sometimes refer to themselves as
“balanced” trainers, using a “balance” of correction and rewards. If one imagines the reward-based end of the continuum as positive and the correction-based end of the continuum as negative, balanced training that hovers around the midpoint of zero could be conceived as having little or no effect, with the negative cancelling out the positive. In reality the result is more of a diminutive and unreliable response than an actual zero effect.

While it is totally possible to get a well behaved dog using this approach, the
trade-off is likely to be a dog that is inhibited and does not offer behaviors
for fear of being punished. Think about it, if you don’t know whether your next
move will be rewarded or punished, how likely are you to experiment and offer
new behaviors? What will your demeanor look like? Will you be very creative?
Have much initiative?

Is correction necessary to train dogs?

Many people who are not familiar with the science behind reward-based (aka “positive reinforcement”) training wonder how an animal can learn if not corrected. I think the question is not, how can you teach a dog without correction, but how can you teach a dog with it, the operative word being teach? We know, for example that stress inhibits learning and we also know that we learn more from our successes than our failures (MIT, 2009). The use of punishment – or correction in training in my opinion is really something that has its origin in outdated cultural norms.

So then, how does an animal learn what he did wrong if not corrected?

Quite simply. The basic premise of positive reinforcement training is that animals repeat what is rewarding and do not repeat what is not rewarding. So rather than correct or punish an animal for an undesired behavior, positive reinforcement trainers simply ignore unwanted behaviors and continually revise their training plan to set an animal up for success while observing for desirable responses on which to build their goal behaviors. Desired behaviors grow
stronger and undesired behaviors extinguish or go away. A motivated animal learns very quickly what works and what doesn’t to get him what he wants! For dog and handler, it’s a win-win situation!


Some wonder if an animal trained with food rewards will always need food to continue to perform a desired behavior and the answer is yes and no – depends how you use it. Once a behavior is learned, the rate
of reinforcement (rewards) is decreased and put on a variable schedule, meaning the animal doesn’t get a reward for every correct behavior but instead receives rewards on a less frequent and irregular basis, which actually serves to keep the learned behaviors strong.

Skilled trainers know how to use food appropriately in training so that an animal is neither distracted by the presence of food or dependent on the food to perform.

Some people would like to train their dogs without food for a variety of reasons,
but food is a necessary part of animal training, at least in the early stages. It is what behaviorists call a primary reinforcer, meaning it is
something that all animals need and do not have to learn to like that serves to
increase the likelihood a behavior will be repeated.

Food can be delivered at the reinforcement rate necessary to facilitate learning and keep an animal engaged in the training process. Later on in the training
process, food will be systematically replaced with secondary reinforcers such as play, petting and praise.

Food is also integral to treating animals with fear and anxiety because food
activates the parasympathetic nervous system, causing an animal to relax and
develop what we call a positive emotional response. In training food is also
useful as a gauge of stress. An animal that cannot eat is too stressed to learn, and something needs to change before asking the animal to continue with a training session.

Where people get into trouble is using food as a bribe
rather than a reward. If we do too much luring with food and food
is always within easy view of the animal, the animal may become dependent on
food and refuse to perform without it. If instead, we keep the food out of sight and make rewards contingent on performance, food is used as a reward.

Clicker training

Clicker trainers are positive reinforcement trainers who minimize luring with food and use a small mechanical device called a clicker to signal to the animal being trained when it has performed a behavior worthy of a reward. The click-click sound of the clicker marks a behavior at a precise moment in time and signals to the animal that a reward is forthcoming for that behavior.

In clicker training there is no “wrong” or “no,” only right or try again! In
clicker training we speak of cues versus commands. In compulsion training, commands are given. In clicker training we teach a behavior
before teaching the animal the name (“cue”) of the behavior, whereas in
compulsion training and some other forms of positive reinforcement training the
command is taught at the same time a behavior is taught. A cue represents an opportunity for reinforcement, whereas a command is an order. If you give a
command and your dog disobeys your only option is to increase the forcefulness of your command, but if you cue your dog to perform a certain behavior and he misses it the first time, you’d better believe he will listen better the next time!

The benefits of clicker training include 1) no harmful effects, even if used
incorrectly, 2) rapid learning, 3) enthusiasm for learning, 4) deepened bond
between owner/trainer and his or her animal, and 4) long term memory for what
has been learned.

“Clicker training” is a highly precise and versatile method of training that can be used to teach almost any animal anything the animal is physically able to do. It is used in a variety of settings these days from zoos to wildlife preserves to veterinary offices to guide dog training centers such as Guide Dogs for the Blind on the west coast. Clicker training can be used to teach scent
detection dogs, to teach canine musical freestyle, and to teach agility to
cats, horses, rabbits and sheep! It has even been used to teach rats to sniff
out land mines! Now it is available for dog owners to use with their pets!

Clicker training encourages creativity and teaches an animal how to learn. Clicker trained animals are easy to spot –they’re enthusiastic learners with happy faces and bright eyes! When not working, they’re calm and content,
but ready to start their next training session when the opportunity arises.

Lure-reward training

Lure-reward trainers are generally positive reinforcement trainers who use food as a lure moreso than clicker trainers and may or may not use a clicker or other marker signal in training. Lure-reward trainers vary greatly in their methodology and may employ some degree of correction.

Correction-based training

In stark contrast to positive reinforcement training is correction-based training,
aka compulsion, or force-based training. Correction-based trainers believe they must correct or punish undesired behaviors in order for an animal to learn.

Correction-based trainers use such training aids as prong (“pinch”) collars, choke chain collars and shock collars, aka “remote trainers” or “e-collars.” All of these devices work by applying what is known in behavior science as positive
and negative reinforcement. Quite simply, an aversive stimulus is applied for an undesired behavior and it is discontinued when the animal complies with a desired behavior.

Positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement – what do all these terms mean?

Don’t get confused about the term, “positive punishment.” “Positive” in behavioral terms simply means to add something.
egative” means to take something away. “Positive reinforcement” means to add something that is reinforcing, and “reinforcement” is something which increases the likelihood a behavior will be repeated. “Positive punishment” means to add punishment, aka correction. “Punishment,” in behavioral terms means something which decreases the likelihood of a behavior being repeated.

“Negative reinforcement” is a little trickier – it means to remove something which will cause an animal to repeat a desired behavior. i.e., comply. Stopping electrical shock when an animal lies down or comes when called would be an example of negative reinforcement. Using a “force retrieve” by pinching a dog’s
ear or his toe until he takes a dumbbell in his mouth is another example of
negative reinforcement. The pain stops when the animal complies. Negative
reinforcement is a very powerful method of training, but it raises ethical
questions in the minds of positive reinforcement trainers who contend that we
have just as effective if not more effective means of training without the
unwanted effects of punishment, aka correction.

“Negative punishment” is yet another option for getting a dog to respond the way that we would like by manipulating consequences. In negative punishment, we are “punishing” the dog by removing something the dog desires, for example, our attention, in order to decrease the likelihood a behavior will be repeated. A good example of this is turning your back to your dog when he jumps on you for attention. If you turn your back consistently your dog will learn that jumping up doesn’t get him what he wants and this behavior will extinguish, or disappear. Positive trainers also teach the dog what to do instead of jumping, so they will reward the dog with attention when he sits or at least isn’t jumping. This is positive reinforcement.

So in summary, “positive reinforcement” trainers rely on positive reinforcement and negative punishment to train dogs and modify behavior. Correction-based (aka compulsion) and “balanced” trainers employ positive punishment and negative reinforcement whereas positive reinforcement trainers, particularly clicker trainers do not.

The vastly different paradigms of reward-based trainers and correction-based

The overarching difference between positive reinforcement (aka reward-based) trainers and correction or force-based trainers is where they place the locus of
control. Positive reinforcement trainers, especially clicker trainers work hard
to positively motivate and empower their animals to give them ample opportunity for success while correction-based trainers work to control their animals through external devices and the threat of punishment.

The problem with punishment

Positive reinforcement trainers recognize that the fallout from punishment can be harmful to their animal’s mental health, their relationship and the training
process. They know that for punishment to be effective it must meet a number of criteria:

·      It must be applied at the right intensity the first time and every time; otherwise the animal may get used to (“habituate” to) the pain and increasing levels are required to be effective
·      It must be applied consistently; otherwise it can actually have the unintended effect of strengthening the undesired behavior
·      It must be applied at the precise moment an undesired behavior occurs for the animal to make the intended association between the punishment and the undesired behavior

Punishment can result in:
·      Suppressed fearful or aggressive behavior and worsening of the animal’s underlying emotional state
·      An unintended association between the punishment and the punisher, another animal, object or situation
·      Physical harm due to electrical burns, trauma to the trachea, damage to the nerves of the eyes or life-threatening pulmonary edema (AVSAB, 2007)

In a recent study, investigators found that dogs whose owners managed aggression with confrontational techniques such as yelling, growling at the dog, hitting, kicking, grabbing the dog and shaking, physically forcing the dog down onto its side, physically forcing a dog to release something from its mouth, alpha rolls (physically rolling the dog onto its back and holding it there), or staring developed increased aggression. The researchers concluded that these maneuvers were “fear-eliciting and may lead to owner aggression.” (Univ. of PA, 2009)

Do we really need to show our dogs who’s boss?

It is a misconception derived from outdated information about wolf packs that we need to dominate our dogs and be their “pack leader.” We now know, based on the work of Dr. Ray Coppinger that dogs, although close relatives of the wolf, aren’t pack animals as we previously thought, but rather scavengers
that form loose associations with one another around food resources.

Of course all that has changed somewhat with selective breeding and integration into the human family unit. But one thing remains certain – dogs are dogs and humans are humans and we humans don’t do a very good job of imitating canines. Don’t think for a minute that your dog thinks you are his canine pack leader –
he recognizes you as a species apart from his own and tries very hard to
understand you as a human. We form a social unit with our pet dogs, but it is probably not best described as a “pack.”


If we give up the idea that we need to be the pack leader and dominate our canine companions, we should also be able to give up outdated training methods aimed at subduing them in favor of tools and techniques such as clicker training which bridge the communication gap and deepen our relationship.

While impeccable technique is no guarantee that correction-based training will have no untoward effects on our canine partners, the worst that can happen with amateur clicker trainers is that the dog gets a few ill-timed clicks and treats
and the bond between owner and dog is strenghtened.  Dog and human handler alike will still learn – and have fun doing it!

It is debatable whether correction-based or reward-based training works
faster. If punishment is applied absolutely correctly, it will stop undesired behavior without having to be repeated. But since punishment also inhibits learning, new behaviors may be acquired much more slowly, requiring far more repetition than with positive reinforcement training.

Positive reinforcement (reward-based) training is not only humane, but highly effective without side effects. It is founded on well established principles of behavior science. We know that this type of training is valid
and reliable because it works on virtually any animal and the same consistent
results can be replicated time and time again.

The choice of which training method to use really comes down to one simple
question. Do you want to make your dog obey using external control or do you want to motivate your dog through positive reinforcement of desired behaviors? If you want a partnership with your dog, a deeper relationship, if you want to develop an animal that thinks and is emotionally healthy, that is joyful and loves learning the choice is clear.

Training that rewards and builds on what a dog does right
rather than what he does wrong is not only a training philosophy, it is a way of life. Clicker trainers for example, use the same positive reinforcement methods with their human students as they do with their canine students. If you can relinquish control to gain it you will discover the wonderful world of positive reinforcement dog training and when you do, you will find that what you can accomplish with your dog is only limited by your imagination and what your dog is physically able to do!

Cindy Ludwig is a
Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner and owner of Canine Connection
LLC in Dubuque, Iowa  She is a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and the International
Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.


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