Service Animal Etiquette. Seriously, People.

This entry is part 7 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training
Cebus apella group. Capuchin Monkeys Sharing

Capuchin Monkeys Sharing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was at a restaurant once when a woman was seated at the next table with her service animal, a Capuchin monkey. I was horrified when a man brought his son to her table to “meet your monkey” and pet it.

Seriously, mister, would you bring your kid over and say, “We think your electric scooter is really cool and my son wants to push its brightly-colored buttons”? Of course not. So why would you assume you can handle other medical equipment, which is what service animals legally are?

I’ve heard horror stories from those who use service dogs daily, but still I’ve been really surprised since I started working with Mindy at just how rude some people are around service animals. And while most people are pretty good at not interfering with her or at least asking before reaching for her, there are others which are ruining the picnic for everyone, and I don’t get it. I mean, we’ve had service dogs among us for nearly a century, right?

(Warning: I acknowledge openly that R+ is the best behavior modification option. But this blog post contains P+, in that I strongly criticize. Proceed with caution.) Continue reading

A Trip to the Clinic with a Reactive Human

Did you ever wonder exactly what the heck could be going on inside your dog’s head at the vet? Maybe why your toddler is freaking out, or why your cat tries to make your insides into your outsides when it’s time for a medical exam or treatment?

We don’t have mind-reading equipment yet, but we’ve got the next best thing — a human who can explain from inside a clinic where she’s uncomfortable. Continue reading

ClickerExpo San Francisco: Day 0

It has to be Day 0, you see, because ClickerExpo doesn’t even properly start until tomorrow….

First off, KPACTPs had the opportunity to go behind the scenes at Oakland Zoo and see some amazing training. We were asked not to share photos or video — not because of anything they needed to hide, because honestly we saw fantastic work and entirely humane by the highest of animal care standards — but because they’ve had instances of images being circulated with attached incorrect information, and once out there it’s darned hard to correct. I can respect that, so you’ll just have to take my word for it that the work with the bull elephant was some of the most impressive targeting work I have seen. Continue reading

When You Should NOT Socialize Your Dog – Part 1

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series When You Should NOT Socialize
puppy with toy

“Holy cow, that thing flies?!” Photo by Eva Holderegger Walser CC-BY-SA-3.0

That’s a typo, right? I mean, a professional trainer would never advocate against socialization, right?

You’d be surprised. Continue reading

Behavior Concepts — from The Avengers!

Avengers movie posterIf there’s anything I’m particularly known for, it might be the integration of nerdy geekdom and behavior analysis. So in the spirit of “you got chocolate in my peanut butter!“, here’s some of what of I was thinking during the Avengers opening night six-movie marathon.

No, really, I was. Along with the, “Awesome!” and all that.

Continue reading

Professional Teamwork – Trainers & Vets Together! And more pet professionals


Veterinarian (Photo credit: Army Medicine)

There are a lot of professionals who might come into your dog’s life — your veterinarian, certainly, and possibly a trainer, and perhaps a groomer, a pet-sitter, a dog-walker, and others.

That’s a lot of professional advice which could come your way. And some of it might — in fact, probably will — conflict. How is a pet owner to sort and filter the many pieces of information and misinformation coming her way?

And, most importantly for us professionals, how do we work together to give our clients the best information and therefore the best combined care?

(I don’t mean this to be controversial or insulting to any profession or professional — it’s really, honestly about playing to everyone’s individual strengths!)

Continue reading

Waiting for the Mexican Elevator

Waiting for the Mexican Elevator

Actually, these elevators are in the Empire State Building, not Mexico City, but that’s where the CC-licensed photo was taken. Don’t tell.

As I write this, I am sitting in my hotel in Mexico City, taking a break from teaching clicker training to instructors from all over Mexico and as far as Guatemala and Colombia. It’s been a great time thus far! Saturday Alena and I spoke 8 hours on aggression, and this week we’ve been working on clicker mechanics, foundation work, shaping, etc.

With students of varying levels of clicker experience, we’ve been pulling a lot of everyday examples of operant and classical conditioning at work. There’s a perfect discussion topic waiting in the form of the elevator in our hotel. Continue reading