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Aversive training techniques create aggressive dogs; deemed risky

In case anyone reading this needed confirmation, treating your dog with aggression creates aggression in your dog. In an article published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science earlier this year, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania released their findings on aversive training techniques and suggested that veterinarians warn pet owners about the associated risks. The abstract:

Top 5 Dog Training Myths

As posted to the ClickerExpo Yahoo Group, an article on the top five dog training myths by Joan Orr in Pets Magazine (click to page 28). Joan notes: "Thanks to everyone who weighed in with their top dog training myths! Here is...the (very short) article that came out of this." Nice work, Joan!

Panda the Clicker Trained Miniature Guide Horse, in the New York Times

Last week the New York Times ran an article featuring Ann Edie and her guide miniature horse, Panda. (If you aren't familiar with this pair, don't miss the profile here at clickertraining.com, documenting how Alexandra Kurland clicker trained Panda.) I had the privilege of meeting Ann and Panda myself in 2007—and it was hard not to be impressed. From the Times article:

What’s most striking about Edie and Panda is that after the initial shock of seeing a horse walk into a cafe, or ride in a car, watching them work together makes the idea of guide miniature horses seem utterly logical. Even normal. So normal, in fact, that people often find it hard to believe that the United States government is considering a proposal that would force Edie and many others like her to stop using their service animals. But that’s precisely what’s happening, because a growing number of people believe the world of service animals has gotten out of control: first it was guide dogs for the blind; now it’s monkeys for quadriplegia and agoraphobia, guide miniature horses, a goat for muscular dystrophy, a parrot for psychosis and any number of animals for anxiety, including cats, ferrets, pigs, at least one iguana and a duck. They’re all showing up in stores and in restaurants, which is perfectly legal because the Americans With Disabilities Act (A.D.A.) requires that service animals be allowed wherever their owners want to go.

It's an interesting piece. You can read the full article here.

As Karen Pryor wrote in The Panda Game: "KPCT was fortunate to have Ann Edie and Panda as honored guests at ClickerExpo Newport in 2006. Everyone enjoyed meeting this distinguished pair. We were awed by Panda's calmness as she guided Ann during the day, through crowds and halls and past all sorts of dogs (some of which were distinctly upset at having a horse among them). People were wonderful about not trying to pet Panda as she worked, even though she is deliciously cute and furry. At the Saturday night autograph party Panda even signed her own books, Panda: A Guide Horse for Ann, with a little, inky front hoof."


Laurie Luck, KPA faculty member, in the news!

Laurie Luck, a Maryland-based graduate of Karen Pryor Academy (KPA), recently became the school's newest faculty member. Laurie's accomplishment has made the news at two area media outlets: the Frederick News Post and the Gazette. Congratulations, Laurie!

Laurie's first KPA Dog Trainer Program series will begin in January in Columbia, Maryland. KPA is now accepting applications for Laurie's first program and plans to offer another beginning in March 2009. For program details, visit Karen Pryor Academy.

You can read more about Laurie here. For more information on Smart Dog University, visit www.smartdoguniversity.com.


Shelters overrun with family pets during economic downturn

You may have heard that animal shelters across the US are seeing an unfortunate increase in "owner releases" due to home foreclosures and other economic difficulties. In addition, animal adoptions are on the decrease, as potential pet owners feel the budget squeeze and decide that now is not a good time to take on the expense of caring for an animal. The equation of more animals entering shelters and fewer animals finding homes means that many organizations are overrun at the moment. As reported by the New York Times and other media outlets, the problem is serious.

In response to this crisis, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has just issued a third round of shelter grants. From the HSUS website:

To help keep families and pets together through foreclosures and financial crisis, the Humane Society of the United States has created a grant program for shelters and rescue groups.

Pets have been among the voiceless victims of the current economic downturn. Animals have been left behind in foreclosed homes, and shelters are reporting that families are struggling to keep and feed pets.

To ease the current hardships, The HSUS is offering grants to animal shelters, non-sheltered rescue/adoption groups and animal care and control agencies to help establish, expand, or publicize services or programs that assist families in caring for their pets during the current economic crisis.

Grants range from $500 to $2,000 per organization. Collaboration is encouraged, and preference will be given to organizations that have a cooperative agreement with other agencies in their community such as a food bank or other community service agency.

Individuals can help keep pets and their families together by donating directly to this important fund.

"Dealing with a financial crisis is scary enough," said Stephanie Shain, director of outreach for Companion Animals at the Humane Society of the United States. "We hope to ease the burden in some way for families by helping their local shelter help them keep their pet home and part of the family."

If you can, please help.