The Scoop 

Official Newsletter of the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers

"The CCPDT exists to be the industry leader in defining and maintaining competency in the dog training and behavior profession."


January/February 2015




In this issue

President's Letter

Good Science: Skinner's Fuctional Relations and Dog Training

Barks From the Board - Bradley Phifer

Committee Call - Certificant Compliance Committee

"P" is for "Professional"

News Quiz Contest

Humane Hierarchy





Dear Certificant,

The New Year is upon us, and hopefully you are planning your educational opportunities for 2015. There are so many great choices now - it's hard to believe that just a few short years ago you had to dig deep to find even a handful of science-based worthwhile educational venues for dog training and behavior professionals.

If you're having trouble locating any in your neighborhood, remember that you can find a list of all the CCPDT CEU-approved events for 2015 on the CCPDT website. There is an ever-growing number of online offerings, so if travel isn't in your budget for this year, you can still keep up with your CEUs.

This exponential increase in education opportunities is just one sign of the growing legitimacy of our profession. Another sign is the NCCA accreditation that CCPDT just received for your CPDT-KA and CBCC-KA credentials. (See President's Letter, below) This gives you yet one more reason to be proud of your own accomplishments and professionalism in maintaining your certification. Congratulations!!!

Yet another sign is the level of discussion that our certificants engage in as we evaluate the works emerging in our field. We are delighted to present in this issue of Scoop a counterpoint to last issue's Breeden Scott article, Bad Science: Quadrants of Operant Conditioning. We appreciate the time and thought that authors Erica Feuerbacher and Lisa Gunter put into their rebuttal of Scott's position, and we hope you will take the time to read it. We also appreciate the contributions of Jolanta Benal in this realm - Jolanta writes the Study Analysis articles that appear in alternate issues of Scoop, and is a master at taking all the confusing language and data of studies and making them digestible and understandable.

On another note... do you make New Year's Resolutions? I prefer to call them New Year's Goals, and always set myself up with several. Two of mine this year: Take time to ride a horse at least once a week, and spend at least ten minutes a day, five days a week, practicing "Copy That" (Claudia Fugazza's "Do As I Do") with my Scorgidoodle, Bonnie.

Care to share yours? We'd love to include some in the next issue of Scoop!


And, as always, if you have news of any kind you'd like to share with your fellow certificants, please send it to us at:

Warm Woofs,


Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA
Scoop Editor


(and Bonnie) 

P.S. Check out the news quiz contest in this issue of Scoop! All the answers to the quiz can be found in this issue of Scoop. Winner of a $25 Dogwise gift certificate will be drawn from all the correct entries submitted. Who can't use a $25 gift certificate from Dogwise? 





Certificants Bark Back 


In response to our announcement of CCPDT's NCCA accreditation:


I used to work with translating certification exams (for engineers and quality professionals for ASQ).  We looked at getting credentialed.  It so exciting for CCPDT- what a massive milestone and loads of work!

Thank you, thank you thank for the board and everyone involved for their time through the process.  You just took dog training and behavior to a whole new level!

-Meredith Biehl, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA

Certified Behavior Consultant Canine KA 

Certified Professional Dog Trainer KA

Thank you, Meredith! Nice to know that our certificants understand and appreciate what a significant undertaking this is...

We love hearing from you! Send your reader comments to: 






President's Letter - January 2015


by Bradley Phifer CBCC-KA CPDT-KSA

President, CCPDT


The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers is excited to announce that we have earned accreditation by the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE) through their National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) for both its Certified Professional Dog Trainers - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) and Certified Behavior Consultant Canine - Knowledge Assessed (CBCC-KA) credentials.


This is a big milestone in the history of the CCPDT. It means we are the only dog training and behavior certification program to be accredited to the highest standards in the credentialing industry.


To earn accreditation, the CCPDT had to demonstrate compliance with the strict standards set by NCCA.  They evaluated all aspects of our program including administrative procedures, role delineation studies, test development, test security, standard setting, policies, board responsibilities, eligibility criteria, recertification practices, psychometric reviews, and verification of reliability and validity of the credentials.


A team of professionals in the certification industry, including psychometricians, certification body administrators, and public members comprise the NCCA. As a group they reviewed all of our documents, website, policies, procedures, and psychometric statistics to ensure that we met their standards for best practice. The accreditation is valid for a period of five years, during which we must annually demonstrate that we continue to meet the standards. At the end of five years we must re-apply in order to maintain our accreditation.


The board is thrilled to demonstrate to the profession, our certificants and the general public it serves that a panel of impartial experts has determined our credentialing program meets the stringent standards set by the credentialing community.






Bradley Phifer CBCC-KA, CPDT-KSA

President, CCPDT   







by Erica Feurbacher, PhD, CPDT-KA and Lisa Gunter  


The utility and scientific basis for the four quadrants, specifically the distinction between positive versus negative reinforcement and punishment has become a newly revived discussion in dog training. For those of us that train animals, regardless of the discussion's endpoint, it is an opportunity to make us more conscientious in our training and aware of the implicit and explicit lines we draw about our practices. In these new discussions, however, are suggestions questioning the scientific validity of learning theory/behavior analysis/behaviorism (this accusation was levied on the apparent inability to falsify Skinner's system of behavior). This is a serious accusation that requires addressing, given that it is behavior analysis that provides the basis and framework for our ability to train our animals and understand so much of their behavior. Despite the severity of the accusation, it is inaccurate and misguided.


First, the distinction between positive and negative is continually debated within the field by renowned behaviorists, as has been pointed out (Breeden, 2014). However, this does not open the door to a critique of the field as a whole. In other disciplines, specialists disagree about minutiae in their fields. Nevertheless, the overarching tenets of those fields hold. Second, and contrary to previous suggestions, behavior analysis is a scientifically valid field; its approach to identifying behavioral laws is similar to that of physics. The metric of falsifiability does not apply to behavioral principles as they, like the laws of physics, are not hypotheses. Therefore, the accusation of their unfalsifiability is empty. (As an aside, natural selection and evolution have been similarly accused of not being falsifiable and on similar grounds (Thompson, 1981).) The understanding that behavioral principles are functional relations, again, like physical laws has been lost in this most recent conversation and yet is essential in understanding the utility of behavior analysis.  


Behavior analysis is "a comprehensive experimental approach to the study of the behavior of organisms. Primary objectives are the discovery of principles and laws that govern behavior, the extension of these principles over species, and the development of an applied technology" (Pierce & Cheney, 2003 p. 3). That is, Skinner and other behavior analysts sought and continue to seek to identify the variables that affect behavior. These include current external environmental variables (e.g., social stimuli, setting, and cues or discriminative stimuli), internal environmental variables (e.g., hormone levels, blood glucose levels), past experience (e.g., history of reinforcement or punishment), and individual and species-specific genetic factors. Behavior analysis focuses largely on the environmental determinants of behavior (motivational factors, cues or antecedent stimuli, and consequences) and the past learning history these provide, even while acknowledging and considering species-specific and genetic factors as variables. Moreover, like physical laws, the principles of behavior identified by behavior analysis have wide generality, not only encompassing a huge variety of actions and consequences, but also being evident in a broad range of the animal kingdom, ranging from insects to mammals.


Skinner was greatly influenced by Ernst Mach, a physicist and mathematician, who proposed an analysis of the natural world via functional relations. A functional relation is a more modern take on cause-effect relations - they are "simply correlated changes in two classes of phenomena" (Smith, 1986). The force equation in physics, F = ma is just one example of a functional relation. It states that as mass (m) or acceleration (a) increases or decreases, so does force (F).


How does this apply to behavior, specifically dog training? If I increase how often my dog receives a treat after touching my hand with his nose and his touching behavior then increases in rate, the environmental event (treat delivery) and rate of behavior are correlated. If I no longer give him a treat when he touches my hand and I then see that the rate of nose touching decreases, my claim that treats and nose touching are functionally related is further substantiated.


Additionally, I can go back to delivering treats contingent on nose touches to further confirm this functional relation. In fact, we have done this very experiment (Feuerbacher & Wynne, 2012). Such experimental manipulations conducted within an individual animal are part of what make our science so strong and we can demonstrate functional relations in individuals (and it is the individual, not the "average" dog with which we should be concerned). In fact, there is a push in clinical trials to adopt these types of research methods to improve individualized medicine (Lillie et al., 2011).   


We can identify and compile countless functional relations. For example, barking in one dog might increase in frequency when it produces owner attention, in another it might increase when it produces conspecific play, and yet in another it might increase when it produces distance from an aversive stimulus. However, as Poincaré noted, "Merely to observe is not enough. We must use our observations ... The scientist must set in order. Science is built up with facts as a house is with stones. But a collection of facts is no more a science than a heap of stones is a house" (quoted in Moore, 2010). This is just what Darwin and Skinner both accomplished: they found the commonalities in individual instances of natural phenomena and organized them.


Darwin noticed individual instances of morphological differences between various species and inductively posited natural selection as a mechanism that might account for these variations. Similarly, Skinner and other behaviorists noted many instances of similar functional relations and organized them into principles of behavior. Some consequences produced increases in the rate or likelihood of a behavior that they followed (reinforcement) and others produced decreases in the rate or likelihood of a behavior that they followed (punishment). These instances of reinforcement and punishment are simply labels for functional relations between environmental events and behavior. We use these terms as shorthand: I can say more briefly "reinforcement" than "a consequence delivered contingent on behavior that increased the future likelihood of that behavior."   


As such, these terms are definitions, which, unlike hypotheses, are not falsifiable. To be clear, however, once a functional relation is indicated, that relation can be experimentally verified. That is, you can now test whether your environmental event is actually functionally related to your behavior of interest - but this does not bear on the concepts themselves of reinforcement or punishment, only that particular conjectured functional relation.  


One criticism sometimes lobbed at behavior analysis is that it involves circular reasoning (explaining a phenomenon with the same evidence that we are trying to explain). Here's one such example that at first glance might appear to be circular: Why did my dog start touching my hand more frequently? Because of reinforcement. How do I know reinforcement occurred? Because the frequency of responding increased. However, these statements are not circular; they simply state a functional relation using the shorthand of "reinforcement." Marc Branch provided a parallel to the previous example using the force equation from physics: "If you see a mass accelerated, then a physicist says a force made it happen.  But how do you know there was a force? Because a mass was accelerated!  Sounds a lot like the definition of reinforcement" (personal communication, December 8, 2014).


If falsifiability does not apply as a meaningful metric to these functional relations, by what standard should we measure them, and the methods of behavior analysis more generally? We should measure them by whether this formulation of behavior is actually effective. Does it give us a cohesive view of behavior that allows us to effectively change behavior? I should hope as dog trainers that the answer is yes. (Note: for an excellent popular summary of the resurgence and success of Skinnerian techniques in society see Freedman (2012))

Lastly, what about the distinction between positive versus negative when referring to reinforcers and punishers? With regard to the terms positive and negative, the issue is two fold: one being the actual bio-behavioral existence of these two entities, and the other in the utility of the distinction. As has been pointed out (Breeden, 2014), the addition (positive) of food could be taken as the removal (negative) of hunger. Does it matter which is the case? From a purely theoretical perspective, it is certainly intriguing. Potentially more refined measures of behavior or neuroscience can point to an answer. While there are no decisive answers on this issue, we can address the utility of the distinction from a training perspective.   


Drawing good/bad lines using quadrant lines can bind trainers in one of the four quadrants and certain techniques such as CAT and BAT are dismissed out of hand (Breeden, 2014). (As a side note, any training dealing with fear necessarily involves presentation of an aversive stimulus, including desensitization and counter conditioning, or click/treat for calm behavior). However, it is often how the training is carried out that matters. This suggests, then, that there are measurable ways for assessing the acceptability of our training practices even if using the quadrant system does not demarcate the correct lines for us.


If we were to eschew the nomenclature of positive and negative, we would not be free floating and now allowed to deliver any consequence we want because we have removed the distinction between what has typically been viewed as "good" (positive reinforcement) and "bad" (negative reinforcement). The reason those types of consequences have been viewed as "good" or "bad" is likely due to their other side effects on behavior. It is these side effects that can be used to judge the consequences and contingencies, without specifically appealing to which quadrant they belong.   


An example of how we can define acceptability in training is seen in the work of Alexandra Kurland. While relying heavily on what we would call positive reinforcement, she sometimes makes elegant use of negative reinforcement. Why is her use of negative reinforcement perceived as elegant and acceptable? Because the behavior of the horse, beyond the target behavior, is what we aim to achieve - the animal shows no signs of stress, no signs of avoidance, and the shaping steps she takes are so small that the horse is bound to succeed.

Why, though, is someone else's use of negative reinforcement, such as quickly pulling up on a choke chain to teach sit by only reinforcing the final behavior and not approximations unacceptable? Because the behavior of the dog, beyond the target behavior is not what we aim to achieve. If the dog has not been shaped through small steps to respond to that pressure and thus does not quickly contact reinforcement, the animal would likely show signs of stress along with escape and avoidance behaviors, all of which impede our training. From a purely practical standpoint that training is undesirable, because it would hinder the very learning we are trying to promote. Furthermore, there is a more attractive alternative that produces not just non-avoidance behaviors but actually produces affiliative behavior when training this target behavior: using food, play, or attention as consequences, not just escape from pressure.


This, then, is one of the most important questions we need to be consistently asking ourselves as trainers: are the contingencies we are applying producing the behavior that we, as humane-technique-seeking trainers want? Does the animal come freely to participate in a training session? Will it stay in the training session or would it escape if given the opportunity? Do our consequences elicit other behaviors that might interfere with our training (e.g., the dog will no longer approach the trainer or the dog is so stressed that it cannot learn)?

Perhaps we do need new nomenclature that takes these measures into account, and the positive/negative reinforcement quadrant lines do not wholly encapsulate that distinction. But we can appreciate the attempted drawing of the positive/negative line as a means of capturing a needed distinction of how different contingencies affect our animals. Given the ethics that guide our profession, the distinction between acceptable and unacceptable training, or best, better, good, and bad training still exists, and defining that distinction would mean identifying what we want from our training (effects on our target behavior as well as side-effect behaviors), and systematically evaluating when our training meets those goals and when it does not - and whether that difference falls along positive/negative quadrant lines or not. Perhaps it is time for trainers to meaningfully explore these questions and we can do so by understanding and evaluating environment-behavior relations using the strong science of behavior analysis.



We would like to thank Dr. Marc Branch for providing insightful critiques and edits on an earlier draft of this work.



Breeden, P. (2014, November). Bad science: quadrants of operant conditioning. The Scoop.

Feuerbacher, E. N., & Wynne, C. D. L. (2012). Relative efficacy of human social interaction and food as reinforcers for domestic dogs and hand-reared wolves. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 98(1), 105-129.

Freedman, D.H. (2012, May 21). The perfected self . The Atlantic. Retrieved from MailFilterGateway has detected a possible fraud attempt from "" claiming to be

Lillie, E. O., Patay, B., Diamant, J., Issell, B., Topol, E. J., & Schork, N. J. (2011). The n-of-1 clinical trial: the ultimate strategy for individualizing medicine? Personalized Medicine, 8(2), 161-173.

Moore, J. (2010). Behaviorism and the stages of scientific activity. The Behavior Analyst, 33(1), 47.

Pierce, W. D., & Cheney, C. D. (2003). Behavior analysis and learning 3rd ed. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Smith, L. D. (1986). Behaviorism and logical positivism: A reassessment of the alliance. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Thompson, N. S. (1981). Toward a falsifiable theory of evolution. In P. P. G. Bateson, & P. H. Klopfer (Eds.), Perspectives in ethology (pp. 51-73) . New York, NY: Springer.



Erica Feuerbacher is an Assistant Professor of Anthrozoology at Carroll College in Helena, MT, where she is the canine specialist and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Knowledge Assessed. She earned her Ph.D. in Psychology at the University of Florida under the advisorship of Dr. Clive Wynne in the UF Canine Cognition and Behavior Lab (now part of the Canine Science Collaboratory) and her Masters in Behavior Analysis in the Organization for Reinforcement Contingencies under the advisorship of Dr. Jesus Rosales-Ruiz. She has taught Principles of Behavior Analysis, Behaviorism in Contemporary Society, Learning and Cognition, and General Psychology, and has earned several awards from the University of Florida for her behavior analytic research and her dedication to the theoretical foundations of behavior analysis.


Erica Feuerbacher and her lovely German Shepherd, Hawks Hunt Iorek. 


Lisa Gunter is a graduate student at Arizona State University in the Canine Science Collaboratory under the direction of Clive Wynne. She graduated from Evergreen State College with a bachelors of arts in journalism and has worked with dogs in animal shelters and with their owners for nearly a decade. Her current research includes questions about breed stereotypes and labels, post-adoption intervention and the relationship between impulsivity and perseveration. She has presented her research at various conferences including the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, Interdisciplinary Forum for Applied Animal Behavior, Veterinary Behavior Symposium and the International Society of Anthrozoology.






Barks From The Board   

by  Jenna Webb, Assistant Executive Director, CCPDT 



It is my pleasure to introduce myself and my role with the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. My name is Jenna Webb and I have been working with the board for over three years. I began my time with the board as the point of contact for our certificants and for all those with questions or concerns about the certification.   Over the years I have transitioned into the position of Assistant Executive Director and taken on a larger role with the board. In addition to communicating with our certificants I assist in such tasks as recertification processing, CEUs, website updates, trade shows, candidate handbooks, board of director elections and meetings, committee activities, and financial management.   


Having had dogs most of my life has made working with the board very enlightening. I have a great appreciation for what you all do. In my current situation, living in the city and traveling makes it difficult to have my own dog, so for the time being I have rather "adopted" a friend's beautiful and vibrant little Chihuahua, Hazel. I love the days that I get to spend taking care of her. I am looking forward to my future days when I will be able to have a dog again.


I have really enjoyed working with all of you and being a part of the growth of the CCPDT. I look forward to contributing to the future of this great organization.



Jenna Webb

Assistant Executive Director, CCPDT 







Jolanta and Juni

Jolanta Benal and her dog Juni

STUDY ANALYSIS: Breed Differences
by Jolanta Benal, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA 


We often perceive that dogs of different breeds respond differently to human signaling, and that breed influences the ease or difficulty of teaching dogs particular tasks. But most such perceptions rely on anecdote and personal experience. Research does suggest that dogs from breeds developed to work closely with people do better at following a pointing gesture than dogs from "independently" working breeds, while brachycephalic dogs, whose eyes are more frontal than the eyes of dolichocephalic (long-nosed) dogs and whose brains have a larger region devoted to visual acuity, also do better at following a point than long-nosed dogs (Gácsi, M., P. McGreevy, K. Edina, and A. Miklósi, "Effects of selection for cooperation and attention in dogs," Behavioral and Brain Functions 5 [2009]).


Most trainers would agree that training experience affects dogs' behavior as well; in one study, agility dogs, search-and-rescue dogs, and pet dogs all interacted with their handlers differently during problem-solving tasks
(Marshall-Pescini, S., C. Passalacqua, S. Barnard, P. Valsecchi, and E. Prato-Previde, "Agility and search and rescue training differently affects pet dogs' behaviour in socio-cognitive tasks," Behavioural Processes 81 [2009], 416-22).


But, according to Monique Udell and her colleagues Margaret Ewald, Nicole R. Dorey, and Clive D. L. Wynne ("Exploring breed differences in dogs (Canis lupus familiaris): Does exaggeration or inhibition of predatory response predict performance on human-guided tasks?"Animal Behaviour, 89 [2-14], 99-105), the evidence on breed differences in "social cognition and gesture responsiveness" has been mixed and unclear. Udell's team asked how breed differences in the predatory sequence might affect dogs' response in what's called a human-guided object choice task - aka "Set up two containers and have a person point toward the one that has food; will the dog follow the point?"


Readers of Raymond and Lorna Coppinger's Dogs will remember the discussion of the predatory behavior sequence, orient > eye > stalk > chase > grab-bite > kill-bite > dissect > consume. The behaviors in the sequence may be exaggerated, minimized, or completely missing in different breeds.


Udell's team chose three breeds: Airedale Terriers, Border Collies, and Anatolian Shepherds. All their subjects came from working lines, where behavioral selection is still strict (whereas pet dogs and show dogs tend to be bred for looks). All, though, were kept as pets and hadn't had any training in their "jobs." Working-line Airedales, hunting dogs, would be expected to show the complete predatory sequence, all the way from "orient" through "consume." In working BC's, the end of the predatory sequence is missing, but the "visual" portions (orient > eye > stalk > chase) are amped up. And in Anatolian Shepherds, livestock guardians, predation is a fault, so orient > eye > stalk > chase is inhibited. The researchers predicted that dogs selected for an intact predatory sequence, or for exaggerated visual components, would do better at following a finger point to obtain food, because similar behaviors are involved: orienting toward a movement and traveling in the same direction.


The setup was simple. As a preliminary, the experimenter held up an appealing treat where the dog could see it, and called the dog's name. Then she set the food down on one of two paint cans equidistant from her, and the assistant released the dog. Dogs qualified for the actual experiment by going up to the can and eating the food four times in a row, demonstrating that they were food-motivated.


In the experiment itself, no food was on either paint can. With the dog watching, the experimenter pointed toward one of the cans for two seconds; then the assistant released the dog. If the dog approached the "pointed-to" can rather than the other one, the experimenter praised the dog and set a piece of food on the can for her to eat.


In control trials, the experimenter didn't point, but one can or the other was chosen in advance as "correct"; both the experimenter and the assistant knew which can that was. Just as in the experimental trials, if the dog approached the "correct" can, he got praise and food. The control trials established that the experimenter and assistant weren't cuing the dogs unintentionally, in some way other than pointing - that's why both the experimenter and assistant knew which can was "correct." No group of dogs did better than chance on the control trials, so we can feel pretty sure there wasn't any unconscious cuing.


As the team predicted, the breeds behaved very differently. To kill your suspense: the Border Collies correctly followed the pointing finger on nearly 90 percent of trials. The Airedales did a bit better than 70 percent. And the Anatolians did no better than chance. By the way, the Airedales' behavior closely resembled that of human-socialized wolves in a similar 2008 experiment (M. Udell, N. R. Dorey, and C. D. L. Wynne, "Wolves outperform dogs in following human social cues,"Animal Behaviour 76, 1767-73).


What about those Anatolian Shepherds, though? Here's where things get really interesting. First, the Anatolians were just as motivated as the other dogs were by the food treats, as shown in the pre-experiment testing. Second, even when the Anatolians didn't choose one can or the other when the experimenter pointed, on 89 percent of those trials they still went up to the experimenter. And their responses were significantly more inhibited when the experimenter pointed than when she just stood there - for the Airedales and the BC's, it was just the opposite, as you might expect. To put it in somewhat unscientific language, it's not that the Anatolians didn't notice movement, or that they ignored it - rather, movement seems to have outright inhibited them.


So Udell's team asked another question: if the Anatolians didn't have a social-cognitive deficit (which it seems they didn't, since they engaged with the experimenter), or a deficit in food motivation, but simply a behavioral inhibition - could that inhibition be overcome by experience?


The team was able to re-test five of the Anatolians who participated in the first round of experiments. This time, the idea was to give the Anatolians plenty of opportunities to see a pointing human and to figure out what the point meant. The procedure was the same - the experimenter stood between two paint cans and pointed to one; if the dog approached that paint can, she got praise and a treat; if she didn't approach that can, she got nothing and a new trial began. The experimenters decided they'd give each dog 60 tries to learn, or not learn, how to follow a point.


Every one of the five Anatolians learned to follow a point in 30 trials or fewer. As the authors say, "failure to engage in behavior may sometimes occur even when the cognitive capacity for success exists" - or, to put it another way, we shouldn't be too quick to assume a dog can't learn something because of whatever breed-related predispositions we think it may have. In the first place, our perceptions are often subjective. Udell and her colleagues note that Siberian Huskies were considered "cooperative" workers for the purposes of one study they cite, whereas the team conducting another study considered them "independent." Can such perceptions become a self-fulfilling prophecy? Well, you get one guess which team found Huskies to be less "socially sensitive" to humans.


Besides, Udell et al. point out, it's all very well to find that breed can be a strong predictor of behavior if the breed is subject to stringent selection for specific behavior patterns. For most dogs, that qualification doesn't apply - they're mixed breeds or "village dog" types, or, if they're pedigreed, they were bred for conformation, aka looks. Of course, the size, shape, and health of a dog's body also affect his behavior, as in the differences found between dolichocephalic and brachycephalic dogs' abilities to follow finger points, probably because of the differences in their visual field and visual acuity. But most pet dogs we see don't belong to a group with a strongly selected form of the predatory sequence. However, we can observe the individual dog's "uniquely developed" form of the sequence and consider how it - and "other behavioral motor patterns" - may influence performance.


Udell and her team remark that studies of comparative cognition in dogs should be carefully designed to be sure that results really do arise from cognitive and social differences, rather than from "behavioral inhibitions, physical differences or conflicts triggered by other aspects of the experimental design." As for owners and trainers, researchers might examine what expectations we have of dogs based on how they look or what breed they belong to (or look as if they might belong to). How do we treat dogs differently, given those expectations? These, Udell et al. point out, are questions for future research. I'd add that studies like this one make me cautious, as a trainer, about assuming that a given dog can, or can't, or can't easily learn something or respond in a particular way. It would have been easy to stop this study after the first experiment, demonstrating the differences in how Airedales, BC's, and Anatolians responded to a finger point. That was a striking result. But I'm even more interested in how easily the Anatolians learned to follow a point even though they "came with" a strong behavioral inhibition against doing so. Dogs are a flexible bunch - one reason it's so rewarding to work with them.





Committee Call: Certificant Compliance Committee   

 CCPDT's Compliance Complaint Process

By Louis Mande, CPDT-KA,  

Chair, Certificant Compliance Committee 


Lou, with family members Bridget and Barkley


As most of us know, dog trainers do not have to be licensed in the United States. The closest thing to licensing for dog trainers is the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers' certification. Applicants are tested and if successful, they are certified through our organization. As part of the certification process, every certificant agrees to and signs our Code of Ethics, MailFilterGateway has detected a possible fraud attempt from "" claiming to be, and are also bound by the CCPDT's Dog Training and Behavior Intervention Practices:

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One of the standing committees of the CCPDT is the Certificant Compliance Committee ("CCC"). The CCC's job is to review and investigate complaints filed against certificants who have allegedly violated the Council's policies and practices. The investigation and determination of violations are regulated by the CCPDT's Certification Compliance and Disciplinary Procedures:  

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In the event a certificant violates our policies, a complaint may be filed. A complaint must be filed using our Complaint Form. The complaint procedure, Instructions For Filing A Complaint With The CCPDT, is found on our website:

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and a link to the complaint form is in that document.


It is very important to understand that a complaint against a certificant is taken quite seriously and certain procedures must be followed. Most importantly, the complainant must provide us with names and contact information of witnesses who can verify the actions that violate our policies. It also should be understood that our disciplinary process is an administrative procedure and not a court of law. As the result, the witnesses in this complaint procedure will not be required to testify live but they are expected to sign an affidavit if requested. An affidavit is a sworn statement that is witnessed by a notary public. The person against whom the complaint is filed has a right to see the evidence against him or her. If there is insufficient verifiable evidence, we must dismiss the complaint. Affidavits are necessary for our investigation to go forward.


Our complaint process provides due process to our certificants. This is not a subjective finding based on a gut feeling. The CCPDT has policies, and if violated, sanctions can be imposed. There are several responses to a verified complaint. Most often, a certificant may not be aware that he or she is violating our policies. Once contacted and the matter discussed, the certificant usually discontinues the behavior that caused the filing of the complaint. If the behavior is not discontinued by the certificant, there is a formal process than can result in decertifying the certificant.


An overwhelming majority of our certificants comply with our policies and procedures. It is unclear why anyone would want to be certified by the CCPDT who did not wish to behave and train within the framework that we provide. For those who violate our Code of Ethics or The Dog Training and Behavior Intervention Practices, the complaint process and the Disciplinary Procedures are available to address the problem.


Louis Mande, CPDT-KA 

Chair, Certification Compliance Committee







"P" Is For "Professional"

Looking at Ourselves and Our Choices 


by James E. Akenhead, CPDT-KA 

Board Member, CCPDT  

Things always go better if we know ourselves.


Now that we have looked at our public image and our potential for leadership, I will look into things that can actually aid us in all of our endeavors as trainers and behavior specialists.


Know Thyself

We all know humans are always at least 50% of any problem in any canine-human relationship. For that reason, leaving out consideration of what drives humans would leave a big hole in the puzzle we are putting together.


When working with dogs or people, things always go better if we know ourselves. We need to understand what kind of behavior we prefer and use most frequently and what kind of impact our behavior has in various situations. And for a trainer or behavior consultant, it also means knowing enough about how style works that we can identify the style of another who walks into our training facility with their dog on a log chain... or a pink leash and collar with a matching jacket and painted toenails.


It's tricky to break down the components that drive humans. To do this in a practical manner, I've chosen a two-fold approach. The first element, our style, can be seen through observable behavior. The second element is what goes on inside our heads as judgments are made about everything in life. While style can be readily observed, the belief system that is used to make judgments is more elusive. Here we will be looking at the style element. We will look at Beliefs and how they may be formed in the next Scoop.


Understanding both self and others enables us to make conscious choices as we interact. It is the combination of our style and our belief system that determines how we operate with others and with our companion animals. It is this combination of factors and how we manage them that helps determine our effectiveness in all relationships.


Identifying Our Own Style

There are a number of ways to think about operating style. Some call it a profile, others think of it as personality or behavior tendencies. The value of these descriptions is that they help us to understand how we come across, particularly under pressure and often without our awareness.


Are we a high-key Demanding Don, a light-hearted Social Sally, a laid-back Steady Eddy or a carefully controlled Analytical Alice?


Theses descriptions or categories and others like them can help us clarify why things sometimes go well and sometimes not so well when we are working with dogs and people.


Though we may all possess a little of each of these tendencies, it's common to prefer one or perhaps two over the others. This is not a conscious preference. Rather, it's something that we do naturally and without thinking.


Each of these general style preferences has inherent comfortable and uncomfortable ways of operating. Once we understand what our natural and most comfortable operating approach is all about, it's important to step back and look at how our approach works as we interact with our dogs and with others.


Style Descriptions

So here goes: I'm going to attempt a review of four general categories to help explain operating style. Can you find yours?


In Charge

Those with a take-charge style do not like leaving anything to chance. They may also have feelings of conflict about others who like to be in charge. Those with this style are outgoing go-getters. They jump right in, take chances and assess the results later. They may be among the first to become up-tight with their dog if she appears to be defiant or not willing to do what she is told.



A person with a social-oriented style is outgoing and wants to have a good time. For this person, having fun is a criterion for success. If a situation seems tense and his dog seems to be unhappy, a person with this style is likely to be uncomfortable and dissatisfied. If the relationship is not attended to, he or she may become discouraged and not want to go on.



Those with a steady style are laid-back and level-headed. They want everyone to get along. They don't like situations where conflict is present and will try to negotiate consensus. Those with a steady style may be concerned about pushing their dogs too hard. The relationship with their dog will be paramount. A sense of team is the preferred atmosphere.



Analytical people like details. They want to know the research and understand where opinions come from. They want to know why things happen. What makes the dog do this or that? Why won't the dog cooperate? Sometimes, psychoanalysis of the dog seems more important than solving the presenting problem. Not knowing the answers can cause this person much frustration.


Did you find your own style? If so, this awareness can help you be on guard and modify your style inclination to better relate to both dogs and humans. For instance, if you know you get frustrated when you're not in control, you can intentionally work to remain relaxed and take a break if things get too tense. If you are more social or steady, you can convince yourself to hang in a little longer when you might otherwise want to quit. If you are analytical, you might allow yourself to trust an expert with a good reputation to know what to do without giving you the minute by minute details.


Getting It Done vs. Feeling Good

In stressful situations there must be a balance between accomplishing a task and enhancing relationships. If you have a hard-driving personality style, your tendency may be to push your dog harder when things are not going well. If you have a steady, easygoing style, you may tend to back off every time things get the slightest bit confusing or frustrating for you or for your dog. If you favor a more social style, you may be so interested in having fun that you can't go on if any stress exists. If you are more analytical, you may have so many questions about "why" that you never get to working on the behavior at hand. A more desirable outcome is possible when we are committed to accomplishing the task while also being aware of the part our unconscious operating style plays in the process.


Style, Comfort and Competence

Style also affects success when it is related to our sense of comfort, particularly in new situations. We often feel uncomfortable in new situations or when we are learning something new. It's then that we may begin to doubt our competence. If we equate discomfort with the idea that we may not be competent, we limit our success.


If our most comfortable operating style tends to be structure and detail oriented, we will probably feel most at ease in situations where we are operating in a highly organized setting with clear, step-by-step directions. Not only might we want a detailed explanation, we might want to see pictures of each step and then a live demonstration. We may not care about humor or charisma, and we might hate it if someone takes what appears to be a very loosely structured approach.


Along with awareness that style is strongly connected to our comfort zone, it is also important to realize that we are capable of adapting our style to fulfill most tasks and relationship needs. We only need to modify our style, based on the situation, to enhance success. And, when doing so, remember that discomfort has nothing to do with our competence.


To maximize our style, we must become aware of the circumstances that make us uncomfortable. We must understand that each person's style brings with it some natural strength and some vulnerability. Strength can then be maximized and we can offset vulnerability by conscious personal choice.


What Dogs Want

According to one of today's top behaviorists, your dog may very well prefer you to have a personality style like Gandhi. My interpretation of that style is:


  • Someone who maintains his or her composure no matter what
  • A person who doesn't show frustration or anger to the dog or client
  • A person who knows when to get excited, and when to remain calm
  • A person who knows when to take a breath.
  • Someone who is clear and consistent about structure and guidelines
  • A person who can manage style rather than let it manage him or her

I believe these traits make good goals, even if we can't live up to them 100% of the time. And, I am sure readers could add many ideals to the list.


A Best Style

By now it should be clear that I am not suggesting that there is a best style. Instead, we need to recognize the strengths in our style as well as where a given style might make us vulnerable. This understanding enables us to consciously manage and enhance our potential for success.


In future issues of The Scoop we will address other topics that can help you evaluate your professionalism.









Welcome to our Scoop News Quiz contest.  We had 32 entries last month - 29 correct ones. The winner of last issue's contest and recipient of a $25 Dogwise gift certificate is: Nina Sorochynskyj, CPDT-KA, of The Sniff Squad in Beach Lake, Pennsylvania. Congratulations, Nina!


Here are the correct answers to last issue's News Quiz:

1. What quadrant of operant conditioning is commonly assigned to the BAT procedure? 

Negative Reinforcement 


2. What new FBI crime category will take effect January of 2016?

Animal Cruelty

3. What are three approaches to leadership?

1 - Leaders Who Don't Care 

2 - Leaders Who are Politically Correct 

3 - Leaders Who Value Others 


4. What breed of dog does Brad Phifer breed and show?

5. How many candidates passed the recent CPDT-KA exam?

6.  What company was featured in the first Certificant Benefits Package announcement on October 24th?
The Clicker Company 


See this issue's 6 Scoop News Quiz questions below. Winner will be selected randomly from all the correct entries submitted.
Send your entry to:


Entry deadline is February 15, 2015. One entry per person. Contest open to CCPDT certificants only. Correct answers will be published in next issue.

Winner of the January/February contest will receive a $25 gift certificate to Dogwise (WooHoo!!)



1.    How often does CCPDT have to re-apply to maintain NCCA accreditation?

2.    What physicist and mathematician was a significant influence on B.F. Skinner?

3.    What document must the CCPDT have in order to take action against a certificant for violation of policies or our Code of Ethics?

4.    What four operating styles are identified by James Akenhead, CPDT-KA?

5.    Why can we not take action against someone who identifies themselves as a CPDT and isn't following the CCPDT Humane Hierarchy?

6.    What is the first step in the Humane Hierarchy?



Important Upcoming CPDT-KA Testing Date!
Please Share with Your Non-Certified Trainer-Friends

Please read and forward the following information to your canine training colleagues:

The deadline for submitting an application for the Certification Council for Professional Dog Training's credentialing examination for dog trainers (CPDT-KA Exam: Certified Professional Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed) is January 23rd, 2015.


The CPDT-KA is the only psychometrically sound, legally defensible, NCCA accredited credentialing examination available to dog trainers. Push yourself and your profession to the next level - take the exam!



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The current CPDT-KA Candidate's Handbook (with details about the eligibility requirements, the application process and more), the Log (to document hours) and the Application are available at:

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You can your submit your application by FAX to 212-356-0678. The fax must contain all required documents, including the filled out credit card information on the Application Form. If you wish to pay by check, you must snail mail the application. Instructions are in the application, and in the Candidate Handbook.


The Spring testing period for the CPDT-KA Exam is March 7th to March 21, 2015.


The Certification Examination for Professional Dog Trainers - Knowledge Assessed is administered for The CCPDT by the Professional Testing Corporation (PTC), 1350 Broadway - 17th Floor, New York, NY 10018, (212) 356-0660, MailFilterGateway has detected a possible fraud attempt from "" claiming to be Prior to taking and passing the examination, questions concerning the examination should be directed to PTC.





The Humane Hierarchy


Here is the oft-referred to and newly-updated version of the Humane Hierarchy(1) version (from our website) to which our certificants are expected to adhere:


Application of the Humane Hierarchy


The Humane Hierarchy serves to guide certificants of the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) in their decision-making process during dog training and behavior modification. Additionally, it will assist the public in understanding the standard of care to be applied by dog training and behavior professionals when determining the order of implementation for applying training practices and methodologies.



The standard of care for CCPDT certificants is that the Humane Hierarchy will be used as a guide in their decision making process when implementing training and behavior protocols. This standard of care should be followed when the certificant is working directly with a dog, creating a training plan for the client to follow, or assisting a colleague.




Please utilize the following steps to modify or manage a behavior:

1. Health, nutritional, and physical factors: The certificant ensures that any indicators for possible medical, nutritional, or health factors are addressed by a licensed veterinarian. The certificant also ensures that factors in the physical environment that have a potential to impact the dog's health, nutrition and physical condition are addressed.

2. Antecedents: The certificant implements environmental management strategies to prevent the behavior from occurring.

3. Positive Reinforcement, Classical Conditioning (not listed in order of preference):

a. Positive Reinforcement: The certificant ensures that reinforcement is delivered for the desirable alternative behavior, and that such reinforcement is of higher value to the dog than the reinforcement the dog has received in the past for the unwanted behavior.

b. Classical Conditioning: The certificant changes the dog's association with an aversive stimulus while presenting the aversive stimulus at a sub-threshold intensity.

4. Live With or Manage the Behavior, Negative Punishment, Negative Reinforcement, Extinction, Consult Another Professional (not listed in order of preference):

a. Live With or Manage The Behavior: Certificant elects to cease modification techniques and implement a management plan.

b. Consult Another Professional: At times, it may be beneficial for the certificant to consult another professional such as a dog trainer, veterinarian, or behaviorist for additional advice. Consulting with other professionals can be beneficial, particularly when a problem behavior does not resolve with the previously mentioned interventions.

c. Negative Punishment: The certificant withdraws a positive reinforcer when the undesirable behavior occurs to reduce the probability that the behavior will occur in the future.

d. Extinction: The certificant withholds reinforcement of a previously reinforced behavior with the goal of extinguishing the behavior.

e. Negative Reinforcement: The certificant withdraws an aversive stimulus when the desired behavior occurs in order to increase the probability that the behavior will occur in the future.

5. Positive Punishment: The certificant delivers an aversive consequence in response to the undesirable behavior in order to reduce the probability that the behavior will occur in the future.



Please direct any questions regarding this standard of care to our administrator at


(1) Adapted from What's Wrong With This Picture? Effectiveness is Not Enough, Susan Friedman Ph.D., Good Bird Magazine, Volume 4-4; Winter 2008. 








We routinely hear from certificants alerting us when they have seen a CPDT exhibit behavior not inline with the CCPDT Code of Ethics and Humane Hierarchy. We appreciate the pride each of you take in your certification and your willingness to let us know when a colleague may not be adhering to their professional code of ethics.

The initials CPDT were not able to be protected as a service mark. They can be used by anyone who feels he/she is a "certified professional dog trainer." However, the CPDT-KA, CPDT-KSA, and CBCC-KA initials are protected as service marks and the CCPDT has the right to legally pursue anyone who falsely uses those initials. Please be sure you are using the full initials of your credential on all of your materials and website, in order to distinguish yourself as someone who has been independently tested and shown to possess the knowledge and skills of a professional dog trainer and/or behavior consultant.








Bradley Phifer, CPDT-KSA, CBCC-KA

Indianapolis, IN  

 Vice President

Julie Buesser, CPDT-KA

Forest Park, IL


Joan Campbell, Executive Director 

New York, NY


Ruth LaRocque, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Seattle, WA 



James E. Akenhead, CPDT-KA

Alliance, OH

Carol Hutelmyer, Public Member

Philadelphia, PA 

Nicole Skeehan, CDPT-KA

Morrisville, PA

Louis Mande, CPDT-KA

Elkins Park, PA

Lisa McCluskey, CPDT-KSA, CBCC-KA

Seattle, WA

Penny Milne, CPDT-KSA, CBCC-KA

Laguna Beach, CA 

Pat Miller, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Fairplay, MD  

Shawn Smith, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA

Whitewater, WI 

Cecilia Sumner, CPDT-KSA, CBCC-KA

Vero Beach, FL  


More About Us 

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Board email:

Executive Director

Non-voting: Joan Campbell

New York, NY 10018-0903

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Scoop Editor

Pat Miller,  CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

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Lisa R. McCluskey, CPDT-KSA, CBCC-KA, CHAIR 

Amy Blum, CPDT-KSA

Jamie Bozzi, CPDT-KSA, CBCC-KA
Sally Bushwaller, CPDT-KSA

Catherine G. Cobb, CPDT-KSA

Doug Duncan, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Gina B. Kaiser, CPDT-KSA

Ruth LaRocque,  CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
Vivian Leven, CPDT-KSA  

Stephen McKay, CPDT-KSA

Penelope Milne, CPDT-KSA, CBCC-KA 

Shawn Smith, CPDT-KSA, CBCC-KA  

Daniel Spangler, CPDT-KA
Cecilia Sumner, CPDT-KSA, CBCC-KA



Penelope Milne, CPDT-KSA, CBCC, CHAIR 

Cheryle Homuth, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA

Doug Duncan, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA,

Beth Mattei-Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA

Jamie Bozzi, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KSA

Lisa R. McCluskey, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KSA

Shawn Smith, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA

Ruth LaRocque, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA


Louis Mande, CPDT-KA, CHAIR

Pat Miller, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA



Julie Buesser, CPDT-KA, CHAIR

Deborah DeSilva, CPDT-KA




James Aikenhead, CPDT-KA

Ruth LaRocque, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Julie Buesser, CPDT-KA

Legal Beagles

California: Jami LoVullo, CPDT-KA

Minnesota: Nancy Driver, CPDT-KA

Nevada: Christine Vaught, CPDT-KA

Texas: Wanda Woodworth, CPDT-KA 



Nicole Skeehan, CPDT-KA, CHAIR
Cissy Sumner, CPDT-KSA
Ruth LaRocque,  CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA 




Ann Allums, CPDT-KSA 

Terry Cuyler, CPDT-KA

Stevie Mathre, CPDT-KSA
Laura Roach, CPDT-KA
Niki Tudge, CPDT-KA                  
Monique A Williams, CPDT-KA




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