The Art of Reading Dogs

Report from PPG’s Four-Day Pet Care Technician Certification Program Workshop (Part Three of Eight)

Angelica Steinker discusses avoidance–avoidance motivational conflict
Angelica Steinker discusses avoidance–avoidance motivational conflict

This is the third in a series of blogs in which I will endeavor to share a few of the highlights from PPG’s recent Certified Pet Care Technician workshop along with some of my own personal ‘take home’ points from the viewpoint of both an attendee and a presenter!

Day one had begun with a two hour presentation from PPG founder and president Niki Tudge, Caring for Pets – Protocols and Procedures Part One.  The end of a short break saw me, Louise Stapleton-Frappell,  presenting on the topic of How Pets Learn.  The afternoon presentations were given by Angelica Steinker, CAP2, CDBC, PDBC. Angelica is a DogNostics Career College co-founder & faculty member, specializing in dog behavior consulting, dog sports, dog aggression and learning theory.

Angelica Steinker’s presentation was entitled:  Canine Communication and Social Behavior Part One.

I found it particularly interesting when Steinker said, “Distance decreasing play behavior, consistent with safety, functions to access pleasure in social encounters used by dog friendly with dogs who are meeting for the first time or to provide recognition for those in established relationships.”  Mo, Steinker’s Papillon, was photographed demonstrating a beautiful play bow – a distance decreasing signal.  Steinker pointed out that pictures can be misleading.  You could label a behavior as aggression when in fact it might be play.  “A photograph is just a second in time and often does not accurately portray the animal’s emotions or actions.  Make sure you look at the whole context!  Don’t just look at one part of the body, look at the whole of the animal’s body and the context of the behavior!”

Chloe, one of the canine participants in the Certified Pet Care Technician workshop, listens attentively to Angelica Steinker stressing the importance of learning canine communication
Chloe, one of the canine participants in the Certified Pet Care Technician workshop, listens attentively to Angelica Steinker stressing the importance of learning canine communication

Steinker also spoke about aggressive behaviors. Angelica told everyone that “aggressive behavior can function to allow access to stimuli, or it can function to allow the dog to avoid or escape aversive stimuli. Dogs usually make extensive use of threat displays before resorting to actual attack.”  Many examples were given of the different signals that dogs use.  The attendees were invited to participate and demonstrate some of the signals used when the dog might wish to either increase or decrease distance between itself and another dog or person.  When talking about avoidance–avoidance motivational conflict, Steinker said that “the individual is simultaneously motivated to avoid two stimuli but avoiding one tends to result in approach to the other:  The dog wants to avoid two things and can’t decide which one to avoid first.” She gave the example of a dog who is afraid of trash cans and men.  A man approaches from the right and there is a trash can on the dog’s left. The dog now is conflicted and can’t decide which stimulus to avoid first. I thought this a very important example as it was a perfect demonstration of how we, the human part of the equation, need to be very aware of all environmental stimuli that the dog may be perceiving and reacting to.

Steinker stressed the importance of learning canine communication: “It’s important to practise reading dogs as much as possible.  To understand the range of behaviors and understand the individual in front of you.”

Steinker’s presentation was packed full of practical exercises including designing a customized ethogram for a dog you know including identifying 6 distance decreasing signals, 6 distance increasing signals, 6 aggressive distance increasing signals and 6 conflicted body language signals, 6 signs of stress and 6 signs of joy; performing a consent test; designing a slow greeting protocol for what you do or plan to do ;performing a preference test for two types of food, two toys or two types of tactile stimulation, and how to infect a dog with your happy emotion!

Day one came to an end with dogs and humans all feeling very happy with the amount of fun and learning which had taken place and eagerly awaiting day two!  Part four of this blog series will share some of the highlights of the second day when I, Louise Stapleton-Frappell had lots of fun presenting Pet Care Tools, Equipment and Toys and Rebekah King explained all about Anatomy & Physiology

A PPG Certified Pet Care Technician DVD will soon be available from Tawzer Dog, which means you will all be able to learn in the comfort of home and submit your application to become a Certified Pet Care Technician online.

Virtual Summit Logo PNG

If you would like to know more about pet care, why not sign up for The Pet Professional Guild’s Virtual Pet Care Summit taking place on Thursday, August 11 and Friday, August 12, 2016 ? There will be more than 25 hours of educational webinars across a variety of topics geared towards the pet care professional!  More information and online registration here

 

Meanwhile, if you would like to know more about pet care, why not sign up for The Pet Professional Guild’s Virtual Pet Care Summit taking place on Thursday, August 11 and Friday, August 12, 2016 ? There will be more than 25 hours of educational webinars across a variety of topics geared towards the pet care professional!  For more information and online registration, please go to:  http://petprofessionalguild.com/Virtual-Pet-Care-Summit

louise@petprofessionalguild.com'

About Louise Stapleton-Frappell

Louise Stapleton-Frappell - B.A. Hons, PCBC-A, PCT- A, CAP3, CTDI, DN-FSG, DN-CPCT, CWRI BARKS Podcast Co-Presenter and Membership Manager for The Pet Professional Guild British Isles, Louise is a Partner and Faculty Member of DogNostics Career Center and Board Member of The Pet Professional Guild. Louise has constantly built on her knowledge and furthered her education in the field of force-free, rewards based, science-based pet training. A Steering Committee Member of Doggone Safe and Regional Coordinator of Doggone Safe in Spain, Louise is the proud "Mum" of Jambo - Staffy Bull Terrier Trick Dog: The first Staffordshire Bull Terrier to achieve the Title of Trick Dog Champion. The creator of the DogNostics’ Dog Trainer Certification Program, Louise has presented at conferences internationally and has gained a reputation for expertly teaching and training humans and canines at her own establishment, The DogSmith of Estepona, in Southern Spain, where she offers a wide range of both group and private classes and pet dog services.

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