Tag Archives: dog training

Dog owner responsibilities by William E Campbell

Darwin Play Bow Rascal 011711

January 23, 2011

Joyce Kesling, CDBC, Professional Dog Trainer

I had to share this with many of you, knowing you will more than appreciate what he says.  I feel exactly the same way, but he says it so elegantly. I have referred to these types of individuals as “predators” taking advantage of others, who either lack understanding or as he suggests the needs of the individual, not the pet.

The client who wants instant, off-leash control of a potentially dangerous dog doesn’t only want to have his cake and eat it, too.  He is violating the laws of most communities and adding fuel to the forces who want to outlaw dog ownership in many cities.  His viewpoint is not only dangerous to himself and others, (including the dog), but is awash in irresponsibility.

The ‘solution’ to this type of client’s situation lies in counseling that motivates the owner to change his attitude about his responsibilities.  In other words, we need to differentiate in our minds between clients-wants and client-needs, and apply our skills to bring new insights to this kind of client.

There are those in this field who use and sell devices ranging from choke and prong collars to electrical shock-collars as a means of off-leash training or containing dogs in the yard.  However, the reality of the average dog-owner’s dilemma of ‘wants versus needs’ begs for a counselor who will help that client recognize that dilemma, deal with it, and then become a responsible dog owner in a society that is becoming alarmingly more anti-dog due to irresponsible pet owners and distorted media coverage regarding dangerous breeds.

I regard people who prey on human weakness as hucksters because these devices are not 100% effective, and because they feed on human selfishness.  Further, they utilize a mechanistic ‘ends-justifies-the-means’ mentality in man’s relationships with one of his oldest mammalian partners, the dog.

I have explained the essence of this viewpoint to many clients during preliminary discussions of problems, and the vast majority agree; when an owner must rely on painful, artificial control of a pet dog, something is terribly lacking.  Very few really want a dog who comes who comes when called simply because they, the owners, represent a means of escaping 250 volts of electric shock to the throat.


Dog Behavior Problems: The Counselor’s Handbook by William E. Campbell, 1999

Why consider the use of Shock Collars (E-Stimulus, E-Touch) carefully

Any more suggestions Cesar (Millan)?

Why consider the use of Shock Collars (E-Stimulus, E-Touch) carefully

This is a bit technical but brief overview on this issue.  I will do my best to make it easy for everyone to understand.  In the JVB (2007) Overall evaluated the molecular and cellular use of shock on the learning process.  She suggested, “we may be changing other behaviors or processes” with these devices technically called E-Stimulus Devices.

Overall (2007) uses what she describes as “a landmark study” by Schilder and van der Borg published in Applied Animal Behavior (2004).  Schilder and van der Borg noticed dogs exhibiting more stress related behavior when using these types of devices.  Stress related behavior continued with the control group, during free time in the handlers presence while at parks, when dogs should be relaxed.  Stress behaviors and/or conflict resolution behaviors is extensively defined in recent dog literature.

The authors, Schilder and van der Borg (2004), concluded three negative effects from the use of e-stimulus devices (shock collars).  They are as follows:

  1. This type of training is stressful
  2. Dogs are feeling pain
  3. Dogs learn to associate the collar with shock and presence of the handler/owner!

Overall (2007) suggests, though some guard type dogs are successfully trained using these devices, other concerns i.e. “heightened uncertainty and reactivity” were reported.  She says,  president of  a regional detection dog group in the US believed “any handler who hits the streets with a dog wearing a shock collar did not have a well-trained or reliably trained dog.”

As said earlier, I am attempting to offer only an overview on the use of e-stimulus devices, aka shock collars, not an in-depth study or research paper.  There appears a growing number of dog trainers schooled to use these devices as standard training equipment.  One such school is located in Florida.  Their slogan “We do this quickly, effectively and lovingly.  Plus we GUARANTEE our E- Touch approach and dog training for the life of your dog.”

Guaranteeing results is a very questionable practice in the discipline of behavior and often advised against in literature when selecting a dog trainer or behavior specialist.  Not even a human therapist will guarantee your results.  This is purely marketing, and when their system fails, because they have not correctly identified any underlying problems associated with a behavior complaint, the owner will either seek other counsel or worse, surrender the dog to an unknown fate at a shelter.

A legitimate concern exists for newly introduced dog trainers, veterinarians, dog owners/handlers, dog-related businesses, and dog owners who are unaware of these findings and literature on the subject is sorely lacking.

The following statement and review comes from a “Letter to the Editor” in response to Overall’s (2007) editorial cited earlier.  The response appeared in the JVB (2008)  published by a “representative” from Radio Systems Corporation, the world’s leading manufacturer of e-stimulus devices which they refer to as “static stimulation.”  The brands represented included Invisible Fence, PetSafe, Innotek, SportDOG, and Guardian Brands.

The author, in the first paragraph says, “We are in complete agreement with Overall…decisions to use such equipment should not be made lightly,” and states their literature includes warnings.  I am purposely omitting the author’s reasoning for suggesting e-stimulus devices as a “legitimate means of behavior modification” that would need discussion on learning theory, highly technical and lengthy paper.  The intended target audience is to bring attention to dog-related business’s, shelter and rescue personnel, foster parents, veterinarians, groomers, daycare owners, and dog owners.

Before making an informed decision using dog-related equipment for purposes of behavior modification, a complete behavior history and medical workup should be completed.  This gathering information about the dog, family, and dog’s environment, help the behavior consultant identify the problem and informed choices how to approach modifying the dog’s behavior.

Additionally, any medical reasons sometimes masquerading and/or contributing to a behavior problem need eliminated first by a veterinarian.

Once these two requirements are completed, any medical problems eliminated, the consultant can begin offering solutions including training, modifying the owner’s behavior, and any necessary management.  If the case involves a dog who has already bitten, a risk assessment is necessary.  The owner/handler, rescue organization, or foster care person is apprised of any risks and recommendations keeping in mind the public’s safety and anyone coming into contact with the dog.

If a certified behavior consultant (IAABC), board certified veterinarian (ACVB), ABS and/or AVSAB member were to decide the use of an e-stimulus device is warranted, then according to the representative the following must be taken into consideration.

The choice of the targeted stimulation is important, and since instrumental behavior (learned) is usually rewarded by its consequences, “not all behaviors are equally likely to be associated with certain consequences.”  They state, “researchers discovered that certain responses can be exceedingly difficult to establish” using shock avoidance!

Here’s the kicker… they admit animals are not ‘biologically prepared’ to associate a negative event when faced with danger.  I’m including any type of fearful stimulus.  It is widely known animals have choices when faced with threatening situations.  They can freeze, flee, defend themselves offensively or offer appeasement behavior (tend-befriend).  The author says, “if a trainer attempts to punish defensive aggression in an already frightened dog, the aggression is likely to escalate,” not diminish.  Aggression, except predatory, is always associated with fear and unless you change the emotional response, you cannot change the dog’s perspective toward that fear.

The author suggests behavior “targeted for suppression” using e-stimulus devices include roaming, chasing vehicles, prey drive and “other high-arousal behaviors far removed from stress.”  The bolded phrase is concerning since “high-arousal” behavior can manifest in a myriad of ways and reasons and often already associated with stress!  An example of “high-arousal” behavior could be jumping, barking, or zooming around the house to release energy!  All of these suggested behaviors, often undesirable “high-arousal” behavior are always associated with the owner, not the dog.

The dog is often responding using normal dog behavior, often perceived negatively by their owners.  Many of these dogs are living in dysfunctional environments.  A dysfunctional environment often does not include clear rules and boundaries associated with the dog’s behavior, and in most cases, owner reinforcement is often present.  So punishing the dog for owner-reinforced behavior, inconsistency, lack of enough outlets for energy expenditure, and generally not meeting a dog’s needs seem rather cruel.

The following statement made by the author needs understood, especially by dog owners considering these devices for training and/or behavior modification.  The author states, “experienced trainers acknowledge…motivating learning through aversive control” is only effective if the trainer concentrates on “one response at a time” and “intermixing behaviors only when performance” of the first target response is “fluent” (reliably trained).

Most problem behavior consists of chained behavior.  For example, dog hears owner’s car arrive home, dog begins to get aroused, owner walks in, dog jumps all over owner.  If they suggest the correct way to use these devices means, the owner/dog trainer must stop the behavior before it gets started, when the dog hears the car!  All other points in the entire chain of behavior must be “fluent” (reliably trained) first, before proceeding to the next!  I have to ask, how many of these trainers are training reliably each sequence in a chain of undesirable behavior with the owners?  This is exactly how positive trainers shape desirable behavior, but without using punishment.

The author’s argument that other punitive procedures, i.e. time out, are ineffective, citing “electrical stimulation is potentially superior to and safer” than other aversive punishment, i.e. spray bottles, restraint, and noxious tastes, is unsubstantiated.  This suggestion is weak lacking any research or quantification.

I purposely left time out from their list; time out, used effectively and consistently, with rules, timing and proper social settings can/is very effective, given the dog wants to stay in the social environment.  If the dog’s social environment lacks rewarding opportunities and training an incompatible behavior, sending them to time out will have no effect at all, in some instances, it may offer the dog relief.  Therefore, the author’s statement is weak and appears to lack understanding correct time out rules and when/where its use is effective.

The author further justifies using electrical stimulation by comparing it to human cases of “self-injurious behaviors,” i.e. head banging.  Dog owners commonly complain about barking, running away and jumping, these common dog behavior problems don’t come remotely close to “head banging” but aversive punishment is commonly recommended.  A recent study, on territorial aggression suggested owners are most responsible for their dog’s behavior.  See related blog post, “Spoiling dogs, is it really good for them? .” Until owners step up to the plate, take responsibility for contributing to their dog’s behavior… after all, it was their choice to adopt or buy a dog…  We will continue to debate this issue as well as how many dogs are euthanized every day and yearly because of unresolved behavior problems.

Lastly, using the author’s own words the use of e-stimulus devices “should never be considered in isolation from positive reinforcement” when used to correct unwanted behavior.  My answer is: if more owners were properly educated in the use of positive reinforcement and life rewards, there would be limited need for these devices.

The only consideration for the use of an e-stimulus device might be to control prey drive.  However, this requires your presence, a dog allowed to roam freely will still be able to kill.  A dog diagnosed with prey drive is a danger to the community and based on a risk assessment, should be remanded to its property, and if taken out in public should wear a muzzle to protect the public and other animals.

Joyce Kesling, CDBC

Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (IAABC)

Professional Dog Trainer (APDT)

Sarasota, FL


Campaign to ban Cesar Millan’s The Dog Whisperer from Italian TV

Campaign to ban Cesar Millan’s The Dog Whisperer from Italian TV

22 October 2009
Italy trying to ban Cesar Millan Dog Whisperer

Members of the APBC have provided information and resources to concerned pet behaviour counsellors in Italy following the broadcast of The Dog Whisperer featuring Cesar Millan on Italian TV.

The Italian pet behaviour counsellor Laura Borromeo contacted members of the APBC after just three episodes of the controversial show were aired. She is developing a campaign that aims to educate the public that there are alternatives to Cesar Millan’s methods.
The Italian ASETRA web site represents the Society for the Ethological Studies of the Relationship between Animals and Humans and it is denouncing Millan’s methods with dogs: http://www.asetra.it/?Comunicati_Asetra
The Italian veterinary web site ANMVI is warning vets and owners about how dangerous and abusive Millan’s approach is towards dogs. They announce that they are taking steps to stop the show from being broadcast: http://www.anmvioggi.it/10262/12-10-09/la-veterinaria-disapprova-il-metodo-millan
There has also been coverage in the local Italian newspapers too where the headline message is equally clear; “Stop Millan – the veterinarians say he is educating people in the wrong way.”
Laura Borromeo is taking advice from lawyers so that a strategy can lead to the program being prevented from being broadcast.
Dog owners, dog trainers, pet behaviour counsellors and vets all have a choice in how pets are treated. The APBC believes in promoting the best in pet behaviour and it is clear from experience and research that some of the methods used by Cesar Millan can lead to an increase in dog aggression and behaviour problems. That’s why the APBC chooses to use better ways to train pets. There is a choice.
Graham Thompson
APBC Provisional Member.

Copyright 2009 APBC

No Shock Collar Coalition ~ Join for Dogs Sake!

Little Sunny...now Big Sunny!

No Shock Collar Coalition ~ Join for Dogs Sake!

The following is from an organization of supporters, received as a member and supporter and being passed on in its entirety to help get the word out. Please take the time to evaluate the efficacy and harmful effects determined by scientific studies and observation and sign up to show and express your support for dogs who can’t speak up for themselves. If you’re not familiar with this information then please ask those who are already members and/or you are welcome to contact me…I have sufficient information  for using these devices. Let’s raise happy dogs, not dogs trained using fearful aversive training methods and tools. The dogs will thank you and not out of fear of you!

No Shock Collar Coalition

Getting Started
You are receiving this message because you have previously signed up with the No Shock Collar Coalition.

This silent movement began in 2006, as those who love our canine companions and respect them as our brethren objected to the use of electric shock devices being used in the training and containment of dogs. In 2006 we were concerned by the proliferation of these devices, and now, three years later, there appears to be continued focus on shock collars as acceptable tools, not only in the dog trainers’ toolbox, but in the hands of the general public.

Since this problem has not abated, we believe it is time to stand up and be counted and make our position on this matter known to those who promote these devices and profit from them. In addition, raising awareness among those well-meaning trainers and owners who use them out of ignorance is also on our agenda!

To this end, we’re asking those of you who have previously signed up for the NSCC to consider your commitment to this cause; if you are no longer interested in supporting us, please use the ‘opt out’ instructions in this email to have your email address removed from our list.

If you have continued commitment to the No Shock Collar movement, please help us by encouraging your like-minded friends, relatives, clients and others to sign up with us and lend their support to our campaign. New members can sign up by visiting http://www.baddogsinc.com/noshockcollars.html.

Over the coming months, we’ll be collecting articles and other information about the use of shock collars to help educate users and distributors alike. In addition, we’ll be looking for ways to make our position known to those who profit from these devices, either knowingly or unknowingly.

Thank you in advance for your support. Remember that a handful of committed people can make a huge difference for good!

With gratitude to those who honor and respect our canine brethren, I remain


Barbara Davis
Family Dog Training & Behavior
Corona, CA


Joyce Kesling, CDBC
Responsible Dog

Does simply being around dogs or owning dogs indicate knowledge of dog behavior? (follow up)

This is not funny!
This is not funny!

November 4, 2009

Joyce Kesling, CDBC

I’m beginning to read Alexandra Horowitz’s new book “Inside Of A Dog…” including her “prelude” and “prefatory note…” and couldn’t help but be reminded of a earlier blog when I suggested dog owners marginalize dogs, their behavior, and those who study dogs (Does simply being around dogs or owning dogs indicate knowledge of dog behavior?).  Most specifically those most equipped to help in problem solving.  According to Horowitz, the “prevailing view of behavioral scientists” suggested there was no data to be obtained from the study of dogs.  Primates remained the species of choice studying animal cognition.  She says further “dog owners seemed to have already covered the territory of theorizing about the dog mind…theories generated from anecdotes and misapplied anthropomorphisms.” 

Why do we ignore our part when a problem occurs within the human-dog relationship?  Why do dog owners continue to ignore how influential a dog behaviorist is, not only preventing problems but also resolving problems without creating more conflict? 

I suggested in “Does simply being around dogs or owning dogs indicate knowledge of dog behavior?” the following could be contributing to the continued neglect and importance placed on resolving dog behavior problems. 

Some of the most easily identified, as cause and effect are the following examples.

  1. Too much self-help on the internet – recipes to train and problem solve
  2. Dog training and problem solving made easy by TV dog trainers while sitting on one’s couch
  3. Shelters, rescues, humane societies offering free telephone call in support
  4. Shelters, rescues, humane societies offering free downloaded “recipes” for problem solving
  5. Myths and anecdotal information and experience incorrectly interpreted
  6. Lack of knowledge and understanding about normal dog behavior
  7. Misunderstanding of dog-human relationships
  8. Unskilled dog trainers lacking sufficient knowledge in behavior
  9. Publics general awareness and importance using credentialed professionals at both levels, dog trainers and behaviorist
  10. Misunderstanding dogs in general

Several of these causes suggest a general lack of seriousness by owners, shelters, rescues and some instances the veterinary community.  We think so little of our part in the equation; we further fail when we do not acknowledge both physiological and mental health is closely linked. 

We further marginalize the process offering solutions to “fix the dog” in the worst way via internet and/or TV dog training programs.  In most instances, owners need counseling, offering training solutions, in many instances, choosing painful punishment i.e. e-stimulus (shock collars) collars without first getting a behavior evaluation and history.  To do otherwise suggest dogs and cats are automatons and applying fixed general rules and/or training are applicable to all situations, environments, and families/owners.  It is simply not that easy.  If our current system is working, why do we continue to see millions of dogs and cats relinquished and euthanized because of behavior problems? 

Responsible Dog and Cat

Training and Behavior Solutions

Combining Art and Science for Training Animals

Joyce D. Kesling, CDBC

Certified Dog Behaviorist

Professional Dog Trainer

P.O. Box 15992

Sarasota, Florida 34277








The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.  Mahatma Gandhi 1869 – 1948

Copyright Responsible Dog & Cat  2009



Dog Training 101 Proofing Cues using doggie pushups and more!

Rat will work for food!
Rat will work for food!


September 29, 2009

Joyce Kesling, CDBC

Dog Training 101 Proofing Cues, using doggie pushups and more!

I decided to write this blog after following up with a puppy client today.  I recorded the training sessions this morning and while waiting on all the downloads called the client.  Like many clients, they have ups and downs for all kinds of reasons.  This is one reason pet dog training can be challenging as opposed to working with dog owners who compete with their dogs.  The competition dog trainer can rely on these owners showing up every week, training like crazy in-between classes, because their dog serves a conduit for meeting other types of human needs, not just companionship. 

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with just wanting a pet dog simply for companionship, personally that’s my choice.  Companionship with dogs, whether it requires competition or simply filling in as a friend, the dog provides  different kinds of needs.  In some instances, that’s why we have specific breeds.  However, whether we choose dogs strictly for companionship and/or going for titles, we all should strive for dogs to have good manners.  Dogs with good manners tend to be more appreciated, we enjoy being around them, like good friends.

Clients often have reasonable excuses for inconsistency; however, one problem often cited by pet dog owners, inconsistent cue delivery could be problematic.  Ah ha, something we all suffer from when we live with spouses, children, well meaning but…relatives and friends, we can expect inconsistent responses from our dogs.  This is a personal problem, remember the dog is just being a dog, doing what dogs do and we can always view the problem as insignificant.  However, if a dog’s behavior is causing conflicts not just between owner and dog, but other humans as well, then we need to figure out how to resolve the conflict between man and dog. 

In this case, we have an adolescent dog with a lot of energy.  Some of us recognize energy expenditure doesn’t always mean physical, in fact for some dogs too much exercise can actually be counterproductive.  We forget or neglect that training is mentally exhausting.  That is one reason pet toy manufacturers have devised so many puzzle type objects.  I’m sure some of us know what it’s like working in jobs that need a lot of mental thought and focus, we are not just mentally exhausted but physically too.

Therefore, suggestion is get going and start using doggie pushups more…thank you Dr. Ian Dunbar.  This is a great way for proofing cues.  In addition, don’t forget to slow down setting your dog up for stay training, attention and recalls, not focusing on walks and energized play sessions.  It’s also a good idea, if possible, to break up the dogs food ration to use throughout the day during these training sessions.  You can still do this even if you work away from home.  No Excuses.

These next two videos show doggie pushups, proofing cues, adding new behaviors and using non-reward markers as directive cues.  It’s also important to emphasize both verbal and especially hand cues.  Dogs do not understand the English language; they actually understand visual cues better.  They pay closer attention and understand what our body and expression is saying, rather than what’s coming out of our human mouth. 

In this first video, I briefly discuss concern-using treats with this “individual” dog.  Emphasis on “individual” since I have some knowledge of his earlier behavior problems and immediately noticed he wouldn’t work for anything unless you “bribed” him with a treat.  I still use his food during training sessions, but work at getting more and more individual behaviors before rewarding him.  I’m also adding new behaviors to break up the monotony that may impede learning when using repetitive behaviors.  This is also one reason short 5-10 minute training sessions work great in the beginning of training while slowly working up to longer sessions. 

Note using the non-reward marker provides the dog with a directive cue to try something else; you will see a few examples where this was used effectively.  There are also times when one gets stuck, simply move away, redirect your dog to do something else and then go back to your previous goal behavior.  Most of all, notice how rarely if ever cues are repeated, an occasional mistake is not going to be the end of the world, but repeated and inconsistent cues coupled with reinforcement contingencies has the potential to create frustration and anxiety for dogs. 

There’s a funny moment when our communication was not in synchrony.  I wanted Darwin to follow my hand around to my side and he chooses to get there using a different way, perhaps for him, it made more sense.  Sometimes we have to remember we are training dogs.  We are training them to do what we want dogs to do; it does not mean dogs understand why and/or that it is natural for them!  I try to remember this when training, it prevents me from blaming the dog and/or as some people and trainers might suggest the dog is trying to dominate me, is stubborn, and my favorite is trying to get back at me, spiteful behavior!  Dogs are capable of doing many things, we see it all the time, but using human emotional descriptions suggested here goes beyond what dogs are capable of thinking.  Equating “guilt” for example has been disproved, dogs are simply responding to our body language!

Proofing cues, discussing food motivation


Proofing cues, adding new behavior and distance



Responsible Dog & Cat

Training and Behavior Solutions

Joyce D. Kesling, CDBC

Sarasota, Florida 34277





The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.  Mahatma Gandhi 1869 – 1948 

Copyright Responsible Dog & Cat 2009



Pet Dog Training 101, training stand, often neglected!

Josef Standing ~ he was a beautiful dog!

Josef Standing ~ he was a beautiful dog!

September 29, 2009

Joyce Kesling, CDBC

Boudicca reliably sits 80-100%.  Recently I wanted to train a new behavior; I realized her sit was too good!  Over the months, I’ve allowed her “back” cue to include sitting (scooting) and never reliably trained and/or proofed stand.  It was not easy to reverse this; it took several days feeding her entire meals training. 

We broke training sessions up to no more than 10-minute sessions, throughout the day and used a clicker (reward stand only) and some prompting using previously trained behavior i.e. hand cues.  In this first demonstration, I’m not using treats, she’s already doing a pretty good job at standing, backing up and staying. 

Note, during the demonstration and without prior training (thought) I realized I didn’t have a cue for relaxed walking versus heel/sit, required in formal obedience and/or rally training contexts.  This just means it’s necessary to maintain heel/sit, heel acts as a directive cue in this case.  When we are relaxed and walking, I could easily using a standard pet dog cue “let’s go” indicating she has a choice, either she can sit or stand when we stop, but she still has to walk nicely on lead (no pulling). 

The purpose of this demonstration emphasizes the importance for teaching all three behaviors, sit, down and stand.  In addition, stay and distance is added to each behavior once the dog is reliably responding at least 80% (8 out of 10X) when cued/asked for each basic behavior.

If you’re wondering why we might need to teach a dog to stand (duh moment), stand can be effectively used when dogs are not under reliable recall is one example, keep this in mind when training.  Keep in mind; this is not an example of a reliably trained behavior.  It will require at least 1000 repetitions. If you prefer using positive reinforcement, rather than risk harming the relationship you are developing with your dog, it will be worth all your effort.


Responsible Dog & Cat

Training and Behavior Solutions

Joyce D. Kesling, CDBC

Sarasota, Florida 34277





The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.  Mahatma Gandhi 1869 – 1948

 Copyright Responsible Dog & Cat 2009




Considering drives and motivations when training dogs 8-)

Boudicca...doing what dogs do!

Boudicca...doing what dogs do!



Septempber 19, 2009

Joyce Kesling, CDBC

Considering drives and motivations when training dogs



The following two youtube videos demonstrate dog training using toys as rewards.  When training dogs, I like to think about what dogs do naturally, some more than others.   Dogs expressing parts of the prey drive not intended would be considered faults.  Border collies for example don’t naturally express “eye” they need the right environment to express that characteristic.  Without it, they probably wouldn’t make a good working and/or herding dog.

In this first video, Boudicca is demonstrating learned behavior take and give (release).  Training this behavior should be included in all puppy training. Rules are essential to maintain training new behavior during the acquisition phase, but also for maintaining already trained behaviors.  Note, how I emphasize my cues, hand signals and body language.  When we lack this type of consistency we can expect inconsistent behavior from our dogs.  However, this is not the same quality of precision one attempts to achieve in show obedience trials, however providing clear cues for behavior is essential, otherwise even pet/companion dogs may become anxious and frustrated.  Make sure you watch for my mistakes. 


In this second video, Boudicca is demonstrating how we can train dogs using parts of their natural prey drive using an internal reinforcer, rather than external.  This would be especially helpful for some dogs who might naturally express that behavior given the right environment. 

In the previous video, I used a variety of objects to generalize the behavior.  In this second video I get her started with my goal behavior, catch.  I then add the distraction, dropping a ball at my side, she should stay focused on me not the other object.  I pre-selected a soft bone shaped toy to use as the throwing object, this helps her catch a large object and express the kill bite part of the prey drive. 

The purpose for training this type of behavior not only teaches bite inhibition further but includes impulse control and cooperation.  When dogs willingly trust us to release objects, from their jaws and teeth and willingly retrieve objects to us, demonstrates very desirable manners and skills every owner should want for their dog. 

Note, how I continually use toys as rewards rather than food treats.  I use food treats to get a desirable behavior but move away from them to life rewards, especially play behaviors sooner than later!   When you consider internal and external motivation and drives, I’ve found incorporating rewards in training that stimulate internal motivations rather than relying on external motivators might be necessary for some dogs.  Teaching dogs to rely on food treats for good behavior can be compared to how we use food to satisfy unmet needs, resulting in eating disorders. 



Responsible Dog and Cat

Training and Behavior Solutions

Combining Art and Science for Training Animals

Joyce D. Kesling, CDBC

P.O. Box 15992

Sarasota, Florida 34277






The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.  Mahatma Gandhi 1869 – 1948

Coyright Responsible Dog & Cat  2009

Is the study of animal behavior being marginalized when used as a marketing tool?

Dog Behavior Counseling

Dog Behavior Counseling

I found a website yesterday, specializing in dog boarding. What alarmed me was they stated, “our camp counselors” are, “certified in dog behavior.” When I inquired, which I did, I was told they go through an in-house training program lasting a couple of weeks or less!

The problem I see with using the designation “certified in dog behavior” is, it makes the study of animal behavior, appear to be no more than friendly dog advice obtained from anyone, while marginalizing the very individuals who can and are educated to help the most. This is a disservice to the dog owner and the industry. 

This should be a concern for the public, as well as those who are degreed individuals, specializing in animal behavior.  Aside from the obvious differences, between those who actually studied behavior at universities, there are some of us who have spent a great deal of time studying on our own, taking courses on-line and/or using qualified mentors, that may include veterinarians who themselves specialize in behavior.

What I’m wondering, is will the careless and continued use, eventually inculcate the public, into thinking that understanding and treating behavior related problems, can be accomplished by anyone referring to themselves as a “behavior expert.” I can see it now; these “camp counselors” will be delivering advice on how to solve anxiety problems and aggression. This marginalizes those of us who are qualified, and it most definitely affects the welfare of dogs.  The alternative is referring owners to qualified individuals who really can help 

Given the fact that most dogs end up in shelters because of behavior problems I view this as a serious problem for the public.  If unqualified individuals continue providing uneducated advice, rather than referring dog owners to someone, who is qualified, through appropriate and acceptable training, we will continue to see more and more dogs in shelters.  

The alternative is our communities and dog related businesses, need to seek out qualified individuals and refer pet owners to them.  In turn, these professional behavior consultants will utilize dog day cares, dog walkers, and other dog trainers if they fit into the behavior modification program, designed by the behavior consultant, and fitting that individual dogs needs. 

The needs of the family and dog must be addressed first; this means the behavior consultant identifies the underlying problem/conflict as defined by the family. This means bringing the family together in agreement how best to solve the problem, then putting together a plan that works for the entire family, to solve the problem and/or conflict, as well as making sure the dogs needs are met as well. 

A good place to find qualified behavior experts are these organizations, the International Association of Behavior Consultants www.iaabc.org , the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists www.veterinarybehaviorists.org/ , the Animal Behavior Society www.animalbehavior.org.

When your business uses the right individuals, it creates a win-win situation for everyone, most of all you are ensuring the pet gets the best care possible.

Much of the problem is there are no regulations in the dog training, or dog behavior industry, so businesses are not required to seek out professional  behavior consultants.  So those of us who specialize in the behavior industry need to educate businesses about these differences, otherwise,  the continuing result will be, more and more dogs, will either be given up to shelters or euthanized out of frustration, and potential dog owners , will be less likely to purchase and/or adopt dogs in the future.

In these uncertain economic times, I increasing get frustrated when I see dog organizations including shelters and rescues, dog boutiques, and large box pet stores, dog trainers and veterinarians not specializing in behavior, give little attention where they refer clients. 

This has an impact on the welfare of pets, your clients and/or customers.  Often owners are so frustrated over the unresolved problem they eventually give up and relinquish their pet. 

As a founding member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants www.iaabc.org , it has always been our goal to “assist and educate owners and handlers of companion animals to prevent problems and to interrupt the cycle of inappropriate punishment, rejection, and euthanasia of animals with behavior problems that are resolvable.”

I keep a complete resume posted on my website www.responsibledog.net .  It is a chronological compilation www.responsibledog.net/certifications.html   of my on-going training and behavior background. I publish and keep it updated so potential clients and/or others interested in my services, am apprised of my education and skill level. 

Many of the seminars, workshops, conferences and private/semi-private mentoring sessions I attend, commonly referred to, in all teaching environments, are continuing educational units (CEU’s). I am meeting minimum standards suggested by the Journal Veterinary Behavior (2006, 1, 47-52) for dog trainers.  So, if someone calling themselves a behavior specialist/behaviorist is unable to provide up to date certificates of continuing education, related to the field of behavior, then you should look elsewhere, not only for your own sake, but also for the pet you care so much about.

Responsible Dog & Cat

Training and Behavior Solutions

Combining Art and Science for Training Animals

Joyce D. Kesling, CDBC

P.O. Box 15992

Sarasota, Florida 34277

941-966-1188 ~ 941-587-2049







The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. Mahatma Gandhi 1869 – 1948

Copyright Responsible Dog & Cat  2009

Fetch and Retrieve

Boudicca Fetch and Retrieve
Boudicca Fetch and Retrieve






Fetch and Retrieve

I happen to love teaching dogs fetch and retrieve for a couple of very important reasons.  The first is this behavior is a building block for cooperation and what better way to teach a dog cooperation than getting him to willingly run after something, bring it back to you and then relinquish it!  The second biggest reason is providing an outlet for dogs who commonly love to chase things, what better way to redirect predatory behavior than through interactive play with our pets.  

Unfortunately, not all dogs get this training early in life.  Studies show that dogs learn this behavior best beginning when they are 9 weeks old.  However, this does not mean we can’t train this fun behavior, it just means we might need to put forth a little more effort.  Also, I tend to think all dogs are capable of learning this simple game so don’t get discouraged just because your dog isn’t a natural born retriever. 

You may also encounter other contributing factors that explain why dogs may be reluctant to play the game; some may be included in the following list. 

  1. Motivation
  2. History involving inadvertent punishment, i.e. punished previously for picking up a shoe
  3. Lack of early learning
  4. Never introduced to toys
  5. Distractions 

However, this doesn’t mean we should dismiss our dogs ability to learn this new skill, but rather we will just work harder to make it possible, keeping in mind we will gain ground in small increments that may be dependent on your individual dog. 

How we approach this training will depend on your dogs’ previous history and all the things I have already pointed out.  If we are beginning with a dog with little interest, we need to begin with the most basic step.  

Toys first 

If your dog already has a good history of playing with and interacting with toys, you may be able to skip ahead to the next level of learning.  If your dog lacks a good history of playing with toys or even you, it might be necessary to begin at the most basic level.  The idea is getting your dog in a playful mood and need to begin with an introduction to toys! 

The following is a short list of suggested toys

  1. Balls all types and materials and large enough to not be swallowed
  2. Rope toys – great for tug of war
  3. Hard rubber toys such as Kong toys and similar products
  4. Interactive toys such as Buster Cubes, stuffed Kong items, hollow stuffed marrow bones and similar products
  5. Soft Toys – I love soft toys, but unless you are familiar with how your dog interacts with soft objects I consider them to be given only under supervision to avoid swallowing any of the materials contained in them
  6. I like to suggest having a large sampling of toy types including different materials and textures – dogs love novelty and keeping toys put away keeps them more interesting
  7. Safe chew items – ask your behavior consultant or professional trainer for suggestions

This is a very limited list and a very small sampling of available options.  For more suggestions, ask your behavior consultant or trainer.  

Beginning basics – Grade School 

  1. Using one of your dog’s toys begin by rewarding any interest in the toy – if you are using click and treat, you will c/t every time your dog goes near the toy – this is shaping your dog toward the target behavior, your goal
  2. Throw the toy – your dog may chase it, if so c/t
  3. Tease him with the toy – this is my personal favorite
  4. Play peek-a-boo – hiding it behind your back
  5. If it squeaks, taunt him with it, this works great for terriers
  6. Reward any attempt to interact with the toy
  7. When he starts showing interest – put the toy away
  8. Never get angry or frustrated – always keep the activity upbeat and fun

Identifying the chain

Before we can begin, we first must identify the chain of behavior required in fetch and retrieve.  The following are the most basic steps in the behavior.

  1. Give – release item
  2. Take it – go fetch item
  3. Recall – return to you 

The behavior is performed using the following sequence, but is learned by back chaining.  

  1. Dog is in front position or along side of you using a wait cue
  2. Object is thrown
  3. Dog is cued to take it
  4. Dog returns (comes) to you
  5. Dog gives item to you 

Take it  

We first teach the dog what take it means as follows:

  1. Begin by offering your dog a treat, when he takes it c/t – do this about 8-10 times
  2. Next using 8-10 treats, offer him the treat, when he gets ready to take it, click and say the cue take it
  3. Once he is actively taking items in his mouth using the cue I like to begin introducing new items so the dog generalizes the behavior
  4. Maintain the excitement by keeping the retrieving objects put away in between training sessions
  5. Keep your training sessions short, upbeat and end when the dog is still successful 

Recalls – Sit – Wait

Recall, Sit and Wait should be part of your everyday training so this paper will not cover those training procedures.  If you are not familiar with these training procedures, ask your behavior consultant or training professional for the applicable handouts.  

Give (Release or Drop it) 

This behavior is the opposite of take it and trained as follows: 

  1. Begin first by offering a favorite toy to your dog
  2. When he takes it and has a firm hold, ask him to give or release offering him a treat at the same time
  3. The smell of the treat should immediately entice him to release the object
  4. When he releases quickly give him the treat repeating this 8-10 times
  5. When he is actively giving up the object, introduce the cue at the same time you offer the treat repeating this step 8-10 times
  6. Practice using different objects so he generalizes the behavior with many types of items, you may want to switch from using a treat in exchange for another similar toy or the exact same toy
  7. If you can’t get him to take a firm hold on the toy, you may have to shape this behavior separately 

Secondary basicsAchieving higher levels 

Once we have the foundation behaviors take it, give and recalls firmly in place we can precede to the next higher level of performance.  Remember good training is done slowly and not proceeding before the dog is ready.  Every dog will advance at their own pace and according to how much effort we put into their training, so don’t get discouraged if this takes more time than you expected, believe me it works or I wouldn’t be writing this.

  1. Start in low distraction environments this will prevent ruining any of our previously trained behaviors
  2. Make sure your dog is motivated and ready to play
  3. Rev him up if necessary
  4. Have plenty of treats
  5. Begin first by asking your dog to sit and wait
  6. Toss the toy a short distance away in front of the dog
  7. When you are ready ask him to take it
  8. Once he has taken the object in his mouth, using your recall encourage him to come using a happy tone of voice
  9. If he comes back, ask him to give offering him a treat at the same time
  10. Repeat this 3-5 times using the same distance
  11. Slowly increase the distance adding 5-10 feet depending on the dogs willingness and success at playing the game
  12. Repeat the behavior 3-5 times at every distance increase – you may even want to add additional repetitions
  13. If the dog shows any reluctance go back a step using a shorter distance and using more repetitions
  14. Use “slow dining” to reward excellent behavior
  15. Quit while your dog is successful
  16. Practice this every day slowly increasing the distance and repetitions necessary while building up the time spent performing the behavior
  17. Remember keep a smiley face on no matter how awkward your dog may seem

Slow dining is a form of jackpotting coined by Terry Ryan.  What this means is rather than quickly rewarding for good behavior, slow things down and give multiple treats or prolonged praise making it last at least 15 – 30 seconds.  This makes the reward more appetizing and furthers the bond between you and your dog. 

Oh, those difficult dogs! 

So you think you have one of those difficult dogs, well don’t get discouraged, here are a couple of helpful ways to get those less than willing retrievers to playfully go along with us. 

  1. If your dog has taken to a particular toy, duplicate it and when you throw one, present the other enticing him back using this as a lure or bribe if you want to call it that, either way the object is to get your dog to learn *how* to be more cooperative and how much fun this new behavior is!
  2. If necessary use a long line – tossing your dogs favorite toy, when he firmly has it in his mouth gently reel him in but not pulling, calling him in your happiest tone of voice encourage him to come and when he arrives make sure you reward him for his good behavior.  

Responsible Dog & Cat

Training and Behavior Solutions

Joyce D. Kesling, CDBC

Sarasota, Florida 34277





The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.  Mahatma Gandhi 1869 – 1948

                                                             Copyright Responsible Dog & Cat Rev A 2005 – 2009

Florida Dog Boarding, Kenneling, Dog Sitting Services

Bad habit picked up at the kennel!

Bad habit picked up at the kennel!

Boarding, Kenneling, Dog Sitting Services

How does one choose the right service and what considerations should be evaluated?

With all the choices available for boarding, kenneling, dog sitting, some even coming with fancy names like bed and breakfasts, doggie spas, motels and hotels, it might seem like an overwhelming choice for the average owner in selecting the proper boarding facility. However, in spite of luxurious claims compared to a bare bones facility, the most important consideration should be providing a safe, secure, predictable environment, with friendly and competently trained staff.

Before you make your decision, you should visit the facility; your visit should be welcome if not encouraged by management and staff. I consider it an important part of the decision making process. This provides the owner a visual representation where their pet will be kept and viewing outdoor areas used for potty and play.

Any questions and concerns should be answered to your satisfaction; because it is important while you are away that you feel comfortable, knowing your pet is being cared for properly.


Depending on the specific environment you choose, it should be a priority to evaluate the kennel staff experience and expertise in normal dog behavior, training, and general knowledge concerning dogs and cats.  Ask how much training the staff has received, where and for how long. Beware of franchise establishments their staff has little to no experience believe me, I inquired!

If you choose to board in a facility-offering dog daycare or interactive activities including other dogs, it’s even more important the staff is sufficiently educated in normal dog behavior, dog communication, recognizing behavior problems and emphasis on aggression.

What are bare bone considerations when selecting a kennel?

  • Cleanliness is the most important feature you should consider. This should include proper sanitation procedures preventing spread of contagious disease. See important information concerning fecal matter below.
  • All accommodations including kennels, crates, outdoor-indoor runs or private rooms should be clean and odor free and pets should appear clean and well cared for.
  • Check designated potty areas and outdoor play areas. These areas should be free from accumulated fecal matter and depending on substrate routinely cleaned.
  • Ask how fecal matter is disposed of. Kennel facilities should take responsibility how fecal material is treated and disposed. See important information concerning fecal matter below.
  • Exercise should be a concern, ask how often it’s provided. Some kennels offer extra exercise opportunities at additional costs.
  • Ask to see the outdoor toilet areas your dog will be using, how often access is provided. Normal dogs need toilet breaks at least every 6 hours, the only exception during normal sleeping hours.
  • Providing natural daylight is a plus, good air circulation and proper ventilation decreases risk of spreading disease.
  • Consider the number of staff compared to number of animals. A greater number of staff versus animals may indicate more individual attention. This depends on the environment provided, dogs kept in outdoor-indoor kennels, runs, or cages don’t usually get much attention.
  • Ask about veterinary care procedures in case of an emergency.  Personal preferences should be discussed with the kennel owner.
  • If your pet requires medication or other treatments, make sure the kennel staff can accommodate your pet needs.
  • Grooming services are often required in kennels.  Sending pets home clean or freshly groomed is a plus. You want to make sure the groomer is sufficiently trained in proper grooming procedures. Providing dogs with baths and grooming requires two completely different amounts of skill.
  • Make sure someone lives on the premises; fires or other natural disasters do occur.  Kennels often do not provide this protection.
  • Ask if the owner carries liability insurance, especially for this type of business
  • Make sure you include emergency information or instructions; this should be included on the boarding intake form.

What you should know and consider when boarding, using a pet sitter or swanky spa!

When boarding includes socialization privileges

A well-socialized dog could be characterized by how readily it interacts and plays with other dogs. However, dogs will be dogs! In most cases, if there are altercations, they are often minor, but one cannot be careful enough when allowing a group of dogs to interact. If you decide to board your pet in this type of environment, make sure the staff have good working knowledge how dogs communicate, meaning they can read dogs well and have the ability to handle multiple dogs while keeping every one safe.

Often these kinds of businesses include behavior assessments, however, future behavior is not always predictable and there is always a chance that dogs may not get along with specific dogs. It’s best in these environments that numbers be limited by the effectiveness of staff, and sometimes alternating dogs in smaller groups, giving consideration to size, breed and personality can help provide safety while still providing interaction and socialization opportunity.

It’s your responsibility to make sure your dog is safe so your decision should include evaluating the level of expertise concerning animal behavior when boarding your pet in these types of environments. If the staff is not sufficiently educated in normal dog or cat behavior, and specifically aggression, how to manage it, recognize it and modify it, then you should be concerned about your dog’s welfare.

When boarding you don’t want your dog learning bad habits, proactive owners are concerned in preventing behavior problems and it’s not uncommon when dogs return from kennels poor habits have developed resulting from insufficient housing, management, exposure to dogs with bad habits and generally poor care.

Is stress a consideration during boarding?

“Stress occurs when any demand is placed upon a dog that requires the dog to change or adjust” (Lindsay, 2000). For stress to occur events or situations do not have to be unpleasant, rather any biological or psychological demand placed on an animal is capable of producing stress. There are certain amounts of healthy stress animals are capable of adapting to, however chronic stress may lead to stress-related medical conditions. This is an important consideration when making your decision on how, where and under what conditions you board your animals.

Stress-related hormonal changes occur during separation in a number of species. Tuber and colleagues (1996) studied dogs and found a “differential glucocorticoid (cortisol and corticosterone) response” occurs during five conditions of separation.

1. Alone in a novel environment
2. With a conspecific (another dog) in a novel environment
3. Alone in a familiar environment
4. With a human in a novel environment
5. With a conspecific (another dog) in a familiar environment.

The results of their study showed dogs left alone in novel environments had the highest level of cortisol output with the lowest level occurring in home kennels with a familiar conspecific. However, dogs tested in novel environments with a human companion had significantly lower cortisol levels when compared to dogs kept in the novel environment with a conspecific. These results lend support when considering your decision concerning your dog’s welfare when kenneling or boarding.

What exactly does Your dog prefer?

According to these studies, dogs prefer the company of humans even in novel (unfamiliar) environments compared to dogs kept/left in home environments even with a familiar dog!  This means, you need to consider your dogs stress levels when using a pet sitter who drops by on occasion sometimes no longer than 30 minutes.  Compared to a kennel alternative that meets your dogs needs for socialization as well as human contact, it’s almost a no brainer.

Things you might want to include for your pets comfort

• A favorite bed, blanket, toy may help your pet feel at home.  Other dogs can destroy these items, unless provided under privately managed housing.
• Send your own food – pets can get stressed away from home, abrupt changes in diet can cause gastrointestinal upset that may include vomiting and diarrhea, you don’t want to stress your pet more than she/he needs to be. 
• You may want to include any special treats or chew items, make sure the kennel accepts these as part of their overall care.

Why is disposing fecal matter so important?

If fecal matter is not removed regularly (immediately), dogs will not continue to potty in designated areas. During housetraining, teaching the dog proper locations should be of utmost priority. Dogs will not continue to use designated potty areas contaminated with fecal matter, instead moving to other locations within the yard. When we remove feces, our dogs will continue to use designated areas, providing ideal housetraining. 

Additionally, feces should be removed because it creates a foul odor, is unsightly to humans, and presents a public health hazard.  The public hazard comes in the form of Toxocara canis, which is larvae deposited in dog stools that become mature and infective after two to three days. During the summer months, it is even more hazardous when the sun dries the fecal matter allowing wind to carry it, contaminating everything in the area.

Additionally, feces provides an excellent breeding place for flies, according to Dunbar (1986) “a single dog fecal deposit” provides for the proliferation of up to 588 flies! (Yuk) These mature flies then spread not only the toxocara larvae but also other infectious disease. These flies find their way into our homes, carrying these infectious agents. The best prevention is clean up fecal matter before flies have the opportunity to lay eggs. For owners, this is easily done using plastic bags, tying them up and disposing of them. When considering a boarding facility, you should ask how this material is being processed. You want to ask, because you don’t want to expose your pet to unnecessary illness or disease.

Lastly, this a responsible dog owner’s duty, not only does ignoring this responsibility cause potential public health problems, it does not promote good pet management and consideration of neighbors!

Health and Vaccination Requirements

All dogs and cats should be healthy and free of disease contagious to other animals. Pet owners who have pets with medical problems and currently being treated and stable should advise the kennel owner or staff prior to boarding to ensure the kennel staff could accommodate your pets’ needs.

Many products are available for treating fleas, ticks or other external or internal parasite, your pet should be treated prior to any scheduled boarding. Some kennels will treat dogs or cats if any external parasites are noticed and charge you for the treatment.

Some kennels may require health certificates or proof of vaccinations from your veterinarian. Because some veterinarians do not routinely vaccinate every year for DHLPP (distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza and parvovirus), your dog may not have all the vaccinations a kennel or boarding facility may require. It’s best to ask what an individual kennels policy is concerning vaccinations because “there is no generally accepted rule regarding vaccinations in dogs.”

FYI – Information concerning vaccination protocols

Among the veterinary community there is developing a “diversity of opinion” concerning which vaccines should be administered, frequency and safety of administering vaccines as well as their protective value.

The veterinary community attempting to individualize immunization programs has divided vaccine protocols into Core and Non-Core groups. Core vaccines are recommended for all dogs, Non-Core are recommended for dogs at risk, due to lifestyle, or exposure to infectious disease. Core vaccines are determined by infectious ability and transference to other dogs and humans.

Due to vaccine safety risks, this debate is of concern, the benefits of vaccination are well recognized, there are reports of “injection-site tumors in cats, vaccine associated autoimmune disease in dogs” and vaccine reactions occurring after booster administration.  This causes concern whether or not vaccines should be administered to all dogs and if annual booster administration is necessary for continued protection.

Recent publications suggest current vaccination schedules do not address effectiveness of vaccines protective immunity, saying, “depending on the infectious agent… protective immune response may persist for years” after vaccination questioning the continuance of boosters.  However, no published data substantiates any “uniform standard” concerning the duration of any vaccine-induced immunity with the exception of rabies.

Finally, Non-Core vaccines should be considered based on risk assessment for individual dogs, taking into consideration the dog’s history, environment and infectious agent of concern. Some Non-Core vaccines include Canine Bordetella, parinfluenza, Leptospira, coronavirus, Giardia, and Borrelia (Lyme disease). It is suggested vaccines that do not present risk to a dog be excluded from any vaccination protocol; clients should rely on their veterinarian to guide their choices, what is best for their individual pet.


Dunbar, Ian & Bohnenkamp, Gwen. Behavior Booklets – Housetraining Supplement.
CA: James & Kenneth. 1986.

Mansfield, Philip, DVM. (2000). Vaccination Issues of Concern to Dog Owners.
Retrieved from: http://www.scwtca.org/pdf/bmarch/28.2Mansfield.pdf#search=’philip%20D.%20Mansfield%2C%20D.V.M

Responsible Dog & Cat
Dog Training and Dog Behavior Solutions

Joyce D. Kesling
P.O. Box 15992
Sarasota, Florida 34277

941-966-1188 ~ 941-587-2049

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. Mahatma Gandhi 1869 – 1948
© Responsible Dog & Cat Rev A 2005-2009