The Pet Professional Guild

The Pet Professional Guild 

ProudMembers BadgeI am proud to say I am a full member (Membership No 11266168) of the PPG. The reason I decided to join the PPG above all other associations within the dog industry is that it was the only association that met all my requirements and ethos in relation to canine behaviour and dog training. With education as one of it’s core drives, it can boast the world’s acknowledged leaders within the dog world on it’s Board who continually drive the message home throughout the industry of the positiveness and betterment for dogs and owners of force-free training, something some associations only pay lip service too.

The Pet Professional Guild History

The Pet Professional Guild (PPG) was founded based on a commitment to provide educational resources to pet care providers and the public coupled with an emphasis on building collaboration among force-free pet trainers and professional pet care providers and advocates for mutually agreed guiding principles for the pet care industry.  PPG partners, members and affiliates focus on each pet’s physical, mental, environmental and nutritional well-being adhering to a holistic approach to the care and training of family pets.

Established at the beginning of 2012, The PPG began with the very simple goal of serving the Pet Industry and as an educational antidote to the scientifically unfounded and dangerous methods and practices popularised by entertainment TV.  Niki Tudge, the founder of The Pet Professional Guild and a Dog Training and Pet Care Professional, was frustrated by the lack of comprehensive resources committed to force-free training and pet care based on current scientific learning theory.

Tudge believed the pet industry needed a source of information where pet owners and pet professionals who are committed to using force-free training and pet care methods could share ideas, exchange best practices, continue their education, collaborate on efforts and find resources that were truly force-free based.   In addition, she felt that the pet-owning public needed an educational resource that would clarify the differences in training and pet care methodologies available and where a pet owner could be confident that the information, services and products offered were on the forefront of force-free training and pet care.

Finally, Tudge wanted to establish a vehicle to help further the cause and help educate local governments, pet professionals and the pet-owning community of the fundamental advantages of force-free training and pet care. With information proliferating at an astounding rate in a world where no one can seem to even agree on what ‘organic’ or ‘all natural’ means, The PPG provides a platform for promoting information, resources, equipment, ideas, methods and techniques that owners and pet professionals could trust would reflect the force-free philosophy.

The response to the initial launch was overwhelming. Almost immediately The PPG found a latent market and gained hundreds of new members, worldwide, anxious to be part of the force-free movement.  With virtually no advertising PPG membership swelled to over 1,000 active professionals in just a few months and now includes some of the world’s most respected pet professionals serving on the PPG’s steering committee or acting as Special Council.

PPG’s growth and direction are now guided by a steering committee comprised of industry experts with special council provided by pet industry notables.  To address issues of particular concern, The PPG has established special committees responsible for membership education, communication, advocacy and ethics.

Soon after The PPG was launched, The International Association of Force-Free Pet Professionals (IAFPP – an organisation of pet industry professionals, human companions and enthusiasts who stand against abuse) announced they would join with The PPG to help spread the word of force-free dog training and pet care.

This was the first time in the pet industry that two international organisations teamed up to accomplish a common goal and create a stronger voice for ‘force-free’ dog training and pet care.

Not wanting to be “all things to all people” the PPG is the only professional pet industry member association that advocates for force-free dog training and pet care and requires that its members adhere to its “Guiding Principles”  which are made available to the public.

The Pet Professional Guild Company Structure

An Independent “Board of Directors”. Board members will be selected based on the  company by-laws to meet the criteria of a 501 c 6 not for profit membership organisation.

A “Steering Committee” managed through an Executive Director to operate the business on a daily, weekly and monthly basis with specialised advice and guidance from the “Special Council”

Working “Volunteer Groups” to develop and action the strategic goals. Working volunteer groups will be given specific criteria about their allocated goals, the scope of the project and the decision making criteria.

“Task Force Groups”  assigned to individual projects that need industry research and a feasibility study prior to allocating organisation resources.

Recent Posts

Predatory Aggression In Dogs

Predatory aggression in dogsThe number of attacks made by dogs on humans and other pets is sadly on the increase.  Whether this is down to the owners lack of knowledge, lack of proper training, poor socialisation or bad breeding, there is one possible cause that appears to be over looked.  That of predatory aggression.

What Is Predatory Aggression?

It can be difficult at times as your dog snuggles up to you, looking at you with big, round brown eyes or bounds around you in a goofy way begging for attention that at one point in his/her development, your pet is descended from hunters.   

Every dog has some level of prey drive (the motivation to chase, catch and kill small furry or feathered creatures) because hunting and killing was a way of life for their ancestors and their only means for survival.  This is hard-wired behaviour that is still present in our dogs today.  It is important to remember that predatory aggression by dogs does not reflect a psychological problem and neither is the dog being vicious, malicious or vindictive.

Predation is a natural survival-related behaviour even though it may sometimes alarm or disgust us.  The entire predatory sequence displayed by all predators involves searching, stalking, chasing, catching, biting, killing and then eating.

The problem we have as dog owners is that predatory behaviour is not preceded by a significant mood change or threatening gestures.  This absence of warning signals plus the fact that killing is the natural end point for predatory behaviour is what makes it dangerous for target animals, children, cyclists, joggers or anything else that moves quickly.

In domesticating dogs, certain parts of this see-chase-grab-kill sequence has been diluted but never fully eliminated.  For example, the herding breeds are very strong chasers, but do not go for the bite-hold-kill as readily as other breeds. Terriers, on the other hand, will readily grab-bite and kill.  How many of you have seen your dog grab a toy then shake it’s head rapidly from side to side?  That innocent and sometimes comical act is in reality, the final phase of the predatory sequence, the kill.    

So despite domestication, dogs still have an instinctive desire to chase, grab, bite and kill things that look like prey.  Incidentally, this is why so many dogs like to chase a ball or play with tug toys etc.  In the case of the domesticated dog, predation is instinctive and not based on hunger as is the case in wild predators. 

The level of predatory drive depends on the individual dog and what it has been bred for.  Movement always starts the sequence and allowing a dog to chase down small animals or toys will strengthen that prey drive.  Predatory behaviour may be exhibited by dogs of any sex and age and dogs showing intent or becoming agitated by the movement or vocalisations of children or other pets need to be closely monitored.

There are some people who do not regard predatory aggression as a proper form of aggression given there is little mood change and because a dog that chases after, catches and kills a rabbit shows none of the affective signs associated with dominance or fear aggression.  As far as the dog is concerned, it is just business as usual. However, when viewed another way, it seems reasonable to me to classify predatory aggression along with other forms of aggression as it results in damage or destruction of another creature.

So, what constitutes prey?

You may have seen during springtime for instance, dogs or cats killing birds and upsetting wild rabbit nests.  Our response, should we witness this sort of behaviour often ranges from being horrified to dismissing the action as the animals natural instinct.  We rarely see it as a problem.  However, it does become a problem when this predatory drive is directed towards running children, cyclists, traffic or small dogs and cats.  For us these targets are not prey, but to the dog they move like prey, sound like prey, and look like prey, hence the danger.

The results of such cases of mistaken identity can range from annoying to painful and even life-threatening.  A dog exhibiting the predatory mode may slink up on their prey and, when within range, launch an attack.  They then accelerate towards their target, either nipping at heels or biting at calves or thighs, perhaps hanging on in an attempt to drag their prey to the ground.  Sometimes other dogs will be drawn in to the attack displaying “group” aggression.  When the subject is a young child who is attempting to run away, the results can be disastrous.

What makes this type of aggression dangerous is it cannot be trained, medicated or counter conditioned out of the dog.  You may have a dog who previously chased cats, who can now be commanded to stay or sit around a cat but they will still chase a cat down at some point especially if you are not around.  This aggression can be shocking to the owners as it manifests so suddenly and is directed to what we do not see as prey.  For the dog however, instinct dictates otherwise.

Risks of Canine Predation

Realistically, there is no real treatment for predatory aggression and the only sure way to control predatory aggression is 100% avoidance of the situations that put humans and animals at risk.  The sudden high arousal level, a fixed focus on the prey subject and difficulty distracting the dog, are all indicators of a poor prognosis.  Dogs that are born with a high prey drive and have it fine-tuned by experience will always be likely to display this behaviour under certain circumstances.  Quite simply, they cannot help themselves.  This means if your dog chases cats, it cannot live with a cat.  If small dogs are the prey, your dog cannot be around any small dogs, especially when out on walks. 

As previously mentioned, this behaviour is neither malicious nor vindictive but simply biologically driven and natural  though unacceptable and downright dangerous when expressed toward humans. It therefore remains the responsibility of dog owners to recognise and appreciate tendencies in their dog and to take precautions such as keeping the dog on a lead etc.

It is your responsibility as a dog owner to recognise that if your dog only comes back to you when there are no distractions then your dog does not have a reliable recall and therefore should not be off the lead until one is taught.  It is not enough if your dog attacks another animal or child to say “he/she has never done that before” or “he/she only wanted to play”.

Reward-based obedience training will increase owner control, but will not prevent predatory behaviour when the owner’s back is turned or when the owner is absent.