About Shock Collars

Here’s a link to an excellent, and well researched, article on why shock collars are a bad idea. Please read it whether you use them or not.


Related posts:
Shock, choke, and prong collars
Shock collar fallout
Tools to avoid

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Gilbert enjoying the yard and the sun on a better day.

Pasco County Animal Services in Land O’ Lakes, FL, decided to fumigate Building C in the spring of 2015. All animals had to be removed for one week. Burt and I agreed to take one dog for that week. One of the staff asked us to take Gilbert, a Weimaraner mix, because he humps people. He had failed a SAFER assessment by biting the fake hand. He was consequently labeled a resource guarder. When volunteers would take him out he was happy and well-mannered with possible adopters…until he started to hump them. She thought if we could get him to keep his feet on the floor, he could get adopted. I picked him up on 4/30/2015.

He was gorgeous! His short coat was sort of a brownish-gray and he had yellow eyes. He was tall and thin with small feet for his size. Burt and I really liked him and he liked us. Our dogs did not like him. He didn’t follow the house rules they had established among themselves. For example, Molly wasn’t allowed to take his toys and he did not see Candy as Queen. He had excellent house manners. He wouldn’t come into the kitchen, he went to his crate on cue, he was completely housetrained, he could shake with both paws, he knew all the basic cues, and he never took anything except dog toys.

I worked with him for that week and he got better in all areas. I could trade for anything he had in his mouth, put food into his bowl while he was eating, walk by him when he was eating, and pet him while he was eating. We worked consistently and calmly on having him put his feet on the floor instead of humping. He only humped people, not the dogs. He could safely go into the yard with the other dogs and would come when called.

After the week was over, I took him back to PCAS. I also gave a presentation to the staff that day on my training methods and used Gilbert as my demo dog. He was perfect until we’d been there 45 minutes and he was done. The staff took him and put him in a kennel. He was there 2 days and we decided to go get him again and see if he would fit in to the household well enough to adopt. He spent most days loose in the house. The other dogs would not walk past him; they walked around him. We took him to the vet to get him a dose of bordetella so we could board him with our dogs. He did ok at the kennel, though he went in to the play yard by himself.

One day while we were all in the yard, he walked up beside me and put his head under my hand and I knew we were making progress. Every day he humped a little less. As long as there were no resources involved he’s did pretty well. Still pushy when he wants to play with people or the other dogs. It’s like he doesn’t know how to ask politely. Burt and I still really liked him.

May 18
I just used the pool guy to teach Gilbert Look at That. We went from “must kill the pool guy” to a glance and a Sit. Much better!

May 19
I can grab toys Gilbert has now. I can put my nose on his nose while we’re playing. I can give him a hug while he has a toy. He’s finally quit humping Digger. He’s becoming a much more mellow guy. He’s not ready for adoption yet but he’s better.

On May 21st, I was feeding the dogs breakfast and forgot a can of food on the counter. Digger stole it, as he often does, and took it into the yard to eat. Gilbert saw him and decided to take it. Digger has NEVER defended anything as long as we’ve had him. That day he did. Gilbert and Digger got into a fight, then Molly joined in. The 3 of them are tumbling around the yard, sometimes standing up, sometimes on the ground. Noisy with lots of teeth flashing. Luckily I don’t see lots of blood. I’m yelling LEAVE IT and Digger backs off. But Gilbert and Molly are still going at it. Molly is trying to get out but Gilbert keeps going after her. I pull him out by his back legs and he turns around and bites me hard. Then goes back after Molly. I pull him out again and get him to follow me into the house. I grab a handful of treats and toss them into the crate. He goes in after them.

I wrap a towel around my hand and arm and take Molly to the vet (because the vet’s office opens before my doctor). She’s not too bad, just a bite on her chest near a front leg and a couple nicks on her ear. We take her back home and then go to my doc’s. I get a bunch of steri-strips all over my hand and arm. She counts 20 wounds in total, some deep, some superficial, that she puts on the report to PCAS. Gilbert had been at our house about 5 weeks in total.

I cried coming home from the doc but we couldn’t put our dogs at risk. If he had gone after our old dog she would have been badly hurt. When we get back home, I put our dogs in the bedroom so I can safely take him into the yard without them interacting. He and I both still have very high levels of cortisol but he walks in the yard with me. I sit in my chair under the trees and he comes over to me. I try to check him for injuries but he doesn’t want to be handled. I don’t see any wounds. I call PCAS to come pick him up though I feel like shit doing it because I know it’s most likely a death sentence for him. When the Animal Control Officer got there, he happily walked out to the truck with me and I felt even worse.

The next day I’m even more swollen so I go to the hand surgeon. He opened the worst punctures and flushed everything out. Gilbert had also broken a bone in my hand. Gilbert was in quarantine for 10 days and failed another SAFER assessment. He was put down.

I couldn’t even talk it about for weeks. I still feel disloyal to him for sending him back to the shelter and responsible for his death. Even now, months later, I can’t think about him without crying. It will be awhile (if ever) before we can have another foster. I’m so sorry, Gilbert.

Burt and Gilbert napping

Happy guy in the yard

g bite 4g bite 7


First brace for a week.

First brace for a week.


Second brace for 6 weeks.

Second brace for 6 weeks.


Final brace until the bone heals.

Final brace until the bone heals.


Posted in Animal Husbandry, Community Involvement, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Codes of Ethics and Policing Ourselves

Every so often another article comes out on the perils of dog training being unregulated. To trainers that means we are free to do pretty much what we want, within our own individual ethical code. It means much less to the people we service. Our clients are likely to do whatever we tell them because they are paying us for our opinion. On the other hand, some people who call themselves trainers couldn’t even train a stick to lie down. So how is the public to know who’s earned the title and who hasn’t? Good question with no easy answer.

I’m opening another element of the discussion that can help potential clients choose a trainer within their ethical code, reasons why it matters, and drawbacks to trainers policing ourselves. I’m offering no solutions.

Dog training is unregulated.

  • There are no laws or legal standards that prohibit or define what should or should not be included in the practice of training dogs. Any tool or method is available to any trainer.
  • There are no laws or legal standards that prohibit or define the education an individual should attain to call him/herself a dog trainer. Any or none are allowed.
  • There are no laws or legal standards that prohibit or define who can call him/herself a dog trainer. Anyone can “hang out a shingle” and do what they want to your dog.
  • The only regulation dog trainers have is the market and other dog trainers.

These are only some of the tools and methods of which I’m aware for training pet dogs.

  • Treats
  • Clickers
  • Lure and reward
  • Antecedent control
  • Stare dog down
  • Step on leash or collar and force dog down
  • Blow in nose or face
  • Slip collar
  • Prong collar
  • Head halter such as Gentle Leader®, or Comfort Trainer
  • Standard harness
  • No-pull harness such as Easy Walk®
  • Martingale or limited-slip collar
  • Electronic collar controlled by human
  • Electronic collar bark-activated
  • Citronella collar
  • Throw a can of coins or rocks
  • Water pistol or spray bottle
  • Hit dog with hand
  • Hit dog with leash or paper
  • Hit dog with board or bat
  • Step on dog’s toes
  • Knee dog in chest or belly
  • Kick dog
  • Alpha roll dog
  • Yell at dog
  • Dog psychology
  • Sssst
  • Electronic containment such as Invisible Fence®
  • Isolate dog somewhere in the house
  • Cattle prod on dog
  • Leash “pop” or jerk
  • Tie dog up
  • Hang dog by leash and collar
  • Muzzle the dog
  • Shove dog’s nose in urine, feces, or destruction

I believe all of these techniques and tools, individually and collectively, have supporters. The techniques a trainer uses may help define the label with which she identifies herself. As examples, trainers who refer to themselves as “force free, “ and “positive” often use primarily treats, clickers, and antecedent control. Those who refer to themselves as “balanced” often include tools and techniques such as slip and/or prong collars and leash pops.

These different training “camps” don’t always play nicely with each other. Most of the disagreements take place out of the public eye. Even if a trainer knows another trainer uses a tool or method she thinks is ineffective, inhumane, or damaging, this is seldom stated publicly. If we’re the only people policing each other, why don’t we let the public know? I’ve asked other trainers and these are some of the responses I’ve received.

  • Professional courtesy: Infighting makes us all look bad.
  • Fear of retaliation: If I speak badly about him, he will trash me next.
  • Fear of your own competence: A trainer may not want anyone looking too closely at her.
  • Fear of legal retaliation: One famous trainer is famous for this, too.
  • Personal ethics: It’s just the wrong thing to do.
  • Professional ethics: A Code of Ethics for an organization of which the speaker a member or certified by prohibits denigrating another trainer.

When these Codes were written, I assume they were to maintain a tone of professionalism. I’m not sure because I haven’t asked. However, the way they’re written, they inhibit the policing we need to be doing. Trainers feel they can’t turn in colleagues because it violates the Codes of Ethics. Below are the Codes of Ethics of national or international organizations regarding discussing other trainers. Where I’ve put “didn’t find one” that’s exactly what it means. A Code of Ethics wasn’t available on the website where I could find it, not that one doesn’t exist.

International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants:
“Animal behavior consultants are respectful of colleagues and other professionals and do not condemn the character of their professional acts, nor engage in public commentary, including commentary in public presentations, written media or on websites, Internet discussion lists or social media, that is disrespectful, derisive or inflammatory. This includes cyberbullying, that is, the use of electronic media for deliberate, repeated and hostile behavior against colleagues.”

Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers:
“to refrain from public defamation of colleagues, respecting their right to establish and follow their own principles of conduct, provided those principles are ethical and humane according to The CCPDT Humane Hierarchy Position Statement.”

Association of Professional Dog Trainers – USA:
“Be respectful of colleagues and other professionals and not falsely condemn the character of their professional acts.”

Canadian Association of Professional Pet Dog Trainers:
“Maintain a spirit of co-operation with other trainers and Association members, and refrain from criticizing members and other trainers in public or to clients.”

 International Association of Canine Professionals:
(Didn’t find one)

Victoria Stilwell Professional Dog Trainer:
(Didn’t find one)

Karen Pryor Academy:
(Didn’t find one)

Pat Miller Academy
(Didn’t find one)

Association of Pet Dog Trainers – UK:
“Members shall respect the views and independence of others and shall not publicly denigrate their conduct or opinions.”

Association of Animal Behavior Professionals:
“Professionals do not participate in spreading untrue information about fellow professionals. Professionals ought to ensure that any discussion about a fellow professional be accurate and constructive.”

Pet Professional Guild:
“Ensure all communications are professional and based in fact. When discussing industry practices, trends or issues, members will limit discussion to practices and consequences rather than the individuals using them thereby ensuring informed, professional and civil exchanges that enrich members and the industry of force-free pet professionals.”

I would like to posit that these sections of the Codes of Ethics are part of the reason dog training is such a difficult profession for not only the public to understand but for professional trainers too. How do we balance our own ethics, organizational ethics, the public good, and bringing about changes? What do you think?

Posted in codes of ethics, dog behavior, dog training, ethics, Philosophy, policing ourselves, Uncategorized, unregulated, unregulated industry | 5 Comments

Katy left today

Today while I was taking a nap, Katy was sleeping with Digger on the same bed.

Katy went to a new foster this evening. I’ll miss her big brown eyes.

She’s working so hard to become part of the group.


Posted in dog behavior, dog training, Katy, Katy's Blog, new foster, Training and Behavior, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Big Day for Katy

This morning while I was fixing breakfast Katy was bouncing and whining, as she’s done before, but this time she was with the other dogs. She was trotting around right behind me (first time). When it was time to go out, she was right beside my foot (first time) with the others waiting on the door to open.

She’s walking around the house, in and out of rooms, like she belong here. I took a nap this afternoon. Molly and Candy were on the bed with me, Digger was on his bed beside me, Katy joined us and slept on Candy’s bed (first time). When I offered the other dogs a treat she came into the kitchen with the others (first time). She ran behind the couch when I walked toward her so I put it on the floor.

Katy was lying down on the couch and I sat beside her. I picked her up and put her on my lap. She was comfortable enough to move off by herself (first time). She still doesn’t come to me and does run away sometimes but today was a big day.

Posted in big day, dog behavior, dog training, first time, Katy, Katy's Blog, Training and Behavior, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Katy – 4_5

Well, our family’s had a lot going on lately so I haven’t posted every day. I’ll give you all a synopsis.

Katy was tethered to the couch for a few days. She had her own water and was fed on the couch. Sometimes she would try to go somewhere else but not often. I don’t think it was too stressful since that’s where she spends most of her time anyhow. We had to take the coffee table out of the room because she kept getting wrapped around it.

With shy dogs, it’s always best to let them set the pace on social interactions. Forcing them sets back any progress made up to that time. Then you have to work back to that spot again. My colleagues have all cautioned me against it. I’m sure there is some finite reason I could document that made me think it was ok with Katy at the time. I’ve been thinking about it for days and I can’t come up with it.

On the evening of 3/31, I picked her up. She pulled away from me when I first tried it, so I stopped and stroked her slowly, talking quietly. She relaxed a little so I tried again. She let me pick her up and hold her. Ever so slightly she leaned into me. That was the turning point. From then on, her facial expressions softened enough that I’m 99% sure she won’t bite me again. I can pick her up and take her outside. I can pick her up and put her on the couch. She leans into me every time. She let me pet her while she was on the leash outside without trying to run away. She never runs away when I approach the couch. I can sit and stroke her any time. Any time she balks I just slow down until she relaxes. The morning of 4/1 I got a small but sustained tail wag while I approached!

I can now walk her on a 6’ leash, too. Calmly, slowly moving at her pace she’ll come with me. I use the cue, “Let’s go.” She will pee and poop on leash. I haven’t asked Burt to walk her but she and I have worked out a system.

She’s loose and dragging the leash unless we have to go out that day. Then she’s walked outside on leash. She’s in her crate when we leave still. The past couple times we’ve left her, it appears she’s tried to get out. So far she’s neither pulling the crate apart not injuring herself in those attempts.

We had a friend and her two dogs visit yesterday. Our friend sat beside Katy without touching her or looking at her & Katy didn’t try to get away. Our 5 dogs, she, and I were sitting in the yard for awhile & Katy kept moving closer to us. The visiting spaniel tried to get Katy to play but Katy ran away from her. However, she did continue to come closer and walk around us. Katy is still trying to get Candy to play but the biggest response she’s gotten is a play bow. Today Molly gave Katy a play bow to try & get her to play but Katy ran away. From Katy’s body language I think they would have played if Molly had run with her.

Katy’s been getting frequent non-contingent reinforcers this week. She gets a treat or a bite of my food with no expectation of earning it in any way. She likes most treats but not all, mac & cheese, Triscuits, hummus, yogurt, ice cream… I also found out I can put a little food in the bottom of a yogurt cup and she’ll clean it out. She still won’t work on a Kong. When she’s loose in the yard and I’m walking around I get squinty eyes and she’ll get about 12’ away from me.

Overall, big movement in the past week.


Posted in beagle, dog behavior, dog training, Katy, Katy's Blog, progress, Tampa Bay Beagle Rescue, Training and Behavior, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

H O W do you train?

Here’s a very interesting article by Buzz Cecil.

An excerpt:

What you do have, if at all lucky, is an 8-10 week old pup who has only known his brothers and sisters and mom and maybe the breeder ― yep, a broken-single-mom family, but that’s the norm in the dog world. Fortunately Dad p@ssed off long before the pups even knew there was such a thing as a Dad, but Mom was busy teaching the pups the rules of being a pup with her. His brothers and sisters were busy teaching each other what the rules were of being pups with each other. But none of them had ever heard of YOU and YOUR rules.

Add to that, when you take that little guy home, you are rrrripping him out of the only home and comfort he’s ever known. You’ve kidnapped him from his own mother ― are you crying yet? And know it or not, your only hope in all this, without otherwise any real effort on your part, is that human psychologists are correct, when they talk about “Stockholm Syndrome”, because YOU are not the victim, when he pees on your carpet or howls at night. HE is the victim. And you’ve got a big job cut out for you. Either you can continue to just be the terrorist kidnapper with your little male version of Patti Hearst, inflicting punishments for rules he doesn’t even know existed (thanks Dr. Ian Dunbar for that formulation) and counting on that “Stockholm Syndrome” forever or you can get down to being an adoptive parent.

Posted in dog behavior, dog training, force free, Philosophy, reinforcement, reward based, Training and Behavior, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Katy – Offering Play Bows


The lump on Katy’s side has broken open and scabbed over. I’ll keep an eye on it. If it doesn’t heal up, she’ll have to go to the vet. She’s been licking her right front foot but I don’t see anything wrong. The dew claw is healing ok.

Today I’m trying to get her out from behind the couch. For most of the day, she’s been coming with me on leash. The last time I tried it, she wasn’t budging. So, I dropped the leash. That probably set a bad precedent but I’ll try again later. About 2 hrs later, I picked up the leash again and said, “Let’s go.” She moved a couple steps and lay down. I put just enough tension on the leash to straighten it but not enough to put pressure on the collar. I had to wait about 10 minutes before she came out and jumped onto the couch. Multiple times today I’ve led her out from behind the couch and she’s either gotten on the “dog” chair or the couch. For most of the day she’s allowed me to pet her; every time I approach I try to remember of have turkey with me. Burt can pet her just about any time she’s out here.

She came in today when it started raining. She hasn’t gone out since. When some sort of waterworks come on outside, she comes in and won’t go out again until the next day. That can be rain, sprinklers, or thunder. I’ll have to try and get her out one more time tonight before we all go to bed.


She spent all morning outside. Just as I was wondering how I was going to get her inside so I could leave, she followed Digger in. I could only let her out on leash when I have a schedule but she’s SO happy running around the yard. She needs that stress release.

When she’s been inside, she hasn’t been allowed to hide behind the couch. Late today I put the 20’ leash on and tried to get her outside but she just lay down and refused to move.

She started the second round of Panacur today. I put it in yogurt today instead of squirting it in her mouth. She ate it all. J


This morning she was really funny while I was fixing breakfast. Bouncing around and barking at me. Giving me play bows about 10’ away. She’s eating on the patio now. She runs away, I put her bowl down, go inside, and close the sliding door. I can sit and watch her but if I’m out there, she won’t eat. I haven’t had time to just sit and read waiting on her but that’s what I’ll be doing this weekend. Most of the time, she’s still eating with her weight shifted forward and her tail slightly tucked. Sometimes she stands with her weight evenly distributed over her feet and eats but not often. I’ve been sitting on the chaise and tossing turkey. She will come in and eat what’s close to the door but won’t eat what’s less than 5’ from the chaise until I’m inside.

She tolerates walking on leash. To get her to eliminate I attach a 20’ leash so she can get away from me. For more than a week, she’s been on the long lead after dark. Too many nights I was up until after midnight waiting on her to come in.

I don’t know what to do with her tonight. She’s been loose every night & sleeps on the couch with the other dogs. I have to be able to get her into a crate tomorrow so she may be in the crate tonight. Or leave her tethered. Or something.


Posted in dog, dog behavior, dog training, Katy, Katy's Blog, Training and Behavior, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Katy’s week


While I was fixing breakfast this morning, Katy was running back and forth between the kitchen doorway and the couch. At one point she barked at me like she was saying, “Hurry up!” With her eating her dry food last night & being really hungry this morning, maybe this is a sign that her appetite is up. That would be good because it may signal a mood improvement. I’ll have to wait & see if it sets a pattern.

She didn’t even touch the dry food tonight. Breakfast is dry kibble with something on it. Could be leftovers, canned dog food, pumpkin, vegetables, yogurt… and enough water or vegetable juice to make a sort of stew. Dinner is dry kibble alone.


She was bouncing around, running back and forth and barking at me this morning while I was fixing breakfast. I don’t think there was even any smell left in her bowl when she was done. Katy and Candy gave each other play bows this morning, too. That’s a first.

She’s been outside most of the morning and doesn’t want to come in. I need to get her inside so we can go meet someone for lunch. She finally followed the other dogs in. Then I had to put her in her crate where she still doesn’t want to be. At least she goes in easier, each time is easier. But then she didn’t want me to get near her for the rest of the day.

When I let her out, I held her long enough to put topical flea medicine on her. She was terrified. She let Burt pet her throughout the day, though. I want him to be “good cop” because I’m the “bad cop.” One of us needs to be able to get close to her.

Because I have so much trouble getting her in at night, when the dogs went out late I put her on a 20’ leash. The end of the leash she’s dragging was sticking out the end of the couch (she was behind it). I attached the long line to that leash. That way she can do her business but I can get her back inside. She was ok with that and came with me when I said, “Let’s go.”


She still won’t let me get near her today. She wouldn’t stay on the couch to eat her breakfast. I put it outside because she wouldn’t come back in. She ate it on the patio.

After dark she was on the couch and I was able to walk up and give her some turkey. I had to approach obliquely, not look in her direction, and move very slowly. When I reached the couch I crouched and moved just my hand toward her. She ate the turkey. When I tried it again a few minutes later, she ran away.

She was outside most of the day. She only comes in if she can come with all the other dogs. If she ends up by herself, she runs back outside.


Candy often sleeps under a desk when Burt is in the office. Today Katy went in with her. When he called me to come see, she ran behind the couch.

Posted in dog, dog behavior, dog training, Katy, Katy's Blog, Training and Behavior, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Katy 3_17

I forgot to mention in yesterday’s post that we still need to put her in the crate when we leave. One morning Katy tried to come into the kitchen when I was fixing breakfast. Candy snapped at her then Molly started barking at her. If that happened while we were gone, she might get hurt.

She’s so happy when she’s in the yard with the other dogs. Her tail is up, her body language is relaxed. She’s often following one of them around. She’s found a couple cool places under trees to take a nap. She sometimes stands with her front feet on the edge of the hot tub and she looks magnificent. I wish I could get a picture but she leaves when I come out with the camera.

She’s still afraid of the sprinklers. When she hears them come on, she won’t go outside for the rest of the night. They’re going to be on twice this week, poor baby. She was outside when the pool guy came this week. She got in before he came into the enclosure but she was scared. Now she won’t go outside at all. Sigh. I had to lead her out on leash for the first time after he left. She followed me but she was almost doing an army crawl. Now she won’t let me get within 10’ of her.

Slow eye blinks and yawns get the best response from her. When I do a couple slow eye blinks, her eyes get squinty. When she does a yawn, I respond with one and vice versa.

She at her dry food this evening. She doesn’t usually eat it if it’s dry. Tonight she was really hungry and ate it all as soon as I put it down.

Posted in dog, dog behavior, dog training, Katy, Katy's Blog, Training and Behavior, Uncategorized | Leave a comment