May 2019 Newsletter

Introducing the New CFBA Magazine Forum

Editor Introduction

Dear Members,

Please allow me to introduce our new magazine forum!  Instead of a quarterly PDF containing anywhere from 8 – 12 articles, I will send 2 – 4 article blog updates via email, similar to what you have received here.  I will email the blogs when relevant news and news of interest is brought to my attention, and where applicable I will source further, complementary articles to add to the theme of the blog.  Once published, updates will only be made available to CFBA members, to include a blog archive.

I always welcome unsolicited articles, and will still request articles or input based on the subject at hand, at which time I hope you will embrace the opportunity to share your expertise.  Many of you have been diligent about doing so, to include a series of formerly published small business articles recently sent to me by Dean Hart (which will be used in upcoming marketing blogs).


As another example, one of the articles in this blog is written by me – an editorial of one of our member’s books.  I know there are many published authors within our association, thus, and again, I encourage you to share your work with the rest of us, whether you provide your own summary or submit an editorial or testimonials written by others. 

I am also interested in breed articles, rehabilitation challenges and successes, and insight into your individual work …

For this blog, and in addition to this introduction and member book editorial, I also welcome new member, Sam O’Connor.

Diane Kunas, MA, MCFBA

New Member Introduction by Sam O'Connor

I know it’s a cliché but I have been obsessed with dogs ever since I was a child.  I have no idea where my interest came from – we didn’t have pets in the family at all, I wasn’t allowed a dog as my parents worked all day but from as early as I can remember I would invent imaginary dogs that I pretended I was walking round the garden and was desperate to play with my friends dogs all the time. I was forever going up to stroke dogs I didn’t know that were tied up outside the supermarket, which not surprisingly resulted in me getting snapped at quite frequently!  This never put me off though and dogs held my interest throughout childhood, even doing my work experience placement at a local boarding kennels, until eventually I came to a bit of a crossroads and a huge decision to make – do I go to University or do I go and work with dogs?

When I was 18, going to University was the thing to do.  Everyone at my school went, and I would never have imagined that I would be any different or have the confidence to be different.  Animal behaviour degrees weren’t on offer back then and the closest thing I could get to anything related to my interest was Zoology and I tailored my A-levels towards this.. However, soon after my work experience, I spotted a tiny advert in the back of “Dog World” newspaper for Bellmead Kennel staff Training College in Berkshire, the largest & most popular animal boarding facility in the South East.  Bellmead was offering a year’s placement to study for an NVQ in Animal Care & Management and whilst this was “going against the grain” as far as my school was concerned, ultimately, I decided this was the right route for me and at 18, I took a leap of faith. 

Bellmead wasn’t just a dog & cat boarding facility and a training college, it was also the country residence for the most famous rescue in the UK, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home. 

Right from the start I was in my element, surrounded by dogs of all shapes and sizes, some who had owners, some who didn’t, but it wasn’t all fluffy puppies & cute kittens, it was really, really hard work!  Having sad that it was probably the best year of my life – I was out in the real world feeling really lucky that I was getting to do exactly what I had dreamed of, watching and learning how to handle and train dogs.  

That first year at Bellmead turned into a 23 year career in the animal welfare industry working in numerous different roles including running & managing a rehoming department, collecting stray dogs as a Local Authority dog warden, working as a canine temperament assessor, handling and training dogs of all ages, breeds & temperaments & most recently in an extremely emotionally challenging position as an intake co-ordinator for Battersea, helping people who were no longer in a position to care for their dogs.

I’ve owned two dogs of my own – Tia, a Border Terrier X who suffered with nervous aggression towards people & dogs and Dudley, a deaf Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  I worked so hard with Tia’s issues and we made such great progress together that she went on to compete in agility and was also a Battersea mascot, making appearances & greeting guests at various red-carpet events, attending photoshoots and starring in an TV advert for the Home. 

So here I am now with a wealth of knowledge and experience to share. My skills have come from observing, handling & training literally thousands of dogs but I feel my full-time career within animal welfare is drawing to a natural close. Not because I don’t genuinely love it, I do, but because, like many jobs that involve such heightened emotions & hard-hitting issues, it definitely gets harder to cope with as you get older!

My choice now is to put everything I have learnt along the way into practice and utilise it to prevent more dogs ending up in rescue.  I am passionate about educating people in how to raise and socialise their puppies in the very best way so as to avoid the sorts of problems I faced with my own dog & have seen in so very many of those who come through rescue and I want to work with those owners who are struggling with their dogs but who are committed to working through problems.  

I have recently committed to updating my education and am currently working towards a Higher Certificate in Professional Canine Behaviour Practice with Cambridge Institute of Dog Behaviour & Training.  Late last year I was ackowledged as a Master Trainer with the Guild of Dog trainers and am proud to say I am the newest full member of the CFBA. 

I offer private, 1-2-1 training for puppies & adult dogs and behaviour consultations throughout Surrey & West London.

Sam O’Connor, MCFBA


Puppy Coach by Jo Croft: Book Review by Diane Kunas

I recently welcomed a puppy to my home!  It’s been a while, so I thought it a good idea to brush up on what is new in the land of puppy journalism – for both my puppy and professional benefits.  What better way to start than to check out what my CFBA colleagues had to write on the subject! The reading began with Puppy Coach by Jo Croft (2017). 

Puppy Coach is literally everything and all-encompassing puppy: 30 Chapters and 300+ pages, all of which I read in a matter of days.  Of course I was very motivated by the impending arrival of my pup, but my eagerness to keep reading went beyond my own puppy-brain – it is an incredibly solid and immensely practical book! 

Another sign of a good (and again, practical) book are the number of pages that are dog-eared, and mine looks like it’s prepared for a lecture.  And while I could list the depth and breadth of what is covered, much of which, to my knowledge, has not been covered in so much detail and in one place, my biggest takeaway was an overarching theme of keeping calm regardless of whether you’re training, engaging in play, socialising, or when you’re dealing with the whole realm of common puppy problems.  This may seem like common sense, especially when you work with at least one puppy every other day of the week, it is different when the puppy is your responsibility every second of their critical, early developing life!  Therefore, and with this said, maybe the best sign of all is that I believe either I have an exceptionally remarkable puppy, or I am doing an exceptionally remarkable job –  I am inclined to say the latter, because at the top of my mind and at every moment (even when the ‘mini monster’ horns were full-on out), I stayed calm, and what is shaping before me is a calm and balanced dog. I’d like to think that this book reminded me of what I needed to remember most, and it set me up to success!

In perfect world, all new and novice dog owners would be required to complete the tasks at the end of each chapter.  If one doesn’t have time, inclination or interest to do so, perhaps they are not ready to take on a puppy!

Understanding Cats on Amazon Prime Video

Colin Tennant and John Bowe were at Barker Brown’s ‘The Pet Show’ in Earl’s Court, this is where we met cat behaviourist Roger Tabor. Following discussions about working on a project to make various videos about cats, we went on to make five titles, The Cat Indoors, Understanding Cats, The Cat Outdoors, The Mystery of the Cat and Breaking Bad Habits for Cats.

Further to this Roger Tabor was asked to make eight short programmes on various cat topics for the BBC. So the three of us with the help of many others started work on the series and all eight programmes were completed in the Autumn of 1995.

We are pleased to say this series is now available to watch for free if you’re an Amazon Prime Customer, you can also purchase the series. Click on the image below to take you to the listing on Amazon. You can also search on Amazon Prime for ‘Roger Tabor’ or ‘Colin Tennant’ Your feedback of the series is welcome.

The Understanding Cats TV series now available on Amazon Prime Video

PETbc Award to Ross McCarthy

Ross McCarthy receiving his PETbc award from David Cavill on the CIDBT stand at Crufts 2019

Ross McCarthy M.A. FCFBA Canine Behaviour expert and psychologist became the latest winner of this national education award. The PETbc awards celebrate the extraordinary commitment, quality and innovation shown by canine education experts across the UK.

Today was more special than ever when David Cavill presented Ross with his award for professional achievement and at the 2019 N.E.C Crufts . This marking the PETbc commitment to awarding exceptional teachers and who work in the field of canine behaviour solutions.

Ross was most surprised at receiving the accolade and a number of other organisation representatives joined David and Ross at the event on the Crufts – Cambridge Institute of Dog Behaviour & Training stand.

PETbc chairman David Cavill said: “It gives me great pleasure to showcase the excellence and achievement taking place in the canine behaviour works which benefits all pet dog owners and their cherished dogs.. These awards promote those going above and beyond the call of duty to ensure their the best modern canine behaviour learning is imparted to students, clients and the wider industry from the most trusted experts in Great Britain and to promote enjoyable learning, building in confidence, and achieve the best standards in dog welfare and education.”

Why Do Puppies Bark and What Can We Do About It


Dogs are pack animals and geared for close socialisation with their own kind and we are and become the replacement pack.

Barking is a natural form of communication for puppies, a dog would hardly be a dog if it didn’t bark sometimes. Dogs bark for many and varied reasons; from a greeting to an alarm call and to do so is perfectly normal. Barks will differ from one dog to another and from one situation to another, you will probably come to recognise different barks (vocalisations) in your puppy.

However, barking can be prolonged or excessive, and then it can become a problem and causation needs to be identified.

Many owners give their puppy attention when they bark in an effort to calm them down but this can be interpreted as a connecting reward and make the problem worse called associative learning – so do make sure you not reacting and thereby re-enforcing the behaviour.

Some puppies bark because they are stressed at being separated from their owner and may be suffering from separation anxiety. In serious cases a canine behaviourist should be consulted from the

Others bark and howl because they don’t have enough stimuli to occupy their day. If owners routines change so they can’t spend as much time with their puppy, it may become frustrated or anxious, and as a result they may bark excessively.

Puppy’s can be left for short periods on their own and that is normal, provide interesting toys, maybe a Kong Toy stuffed with tit bits that forces the puppy to spend time extricating the juicy tit bits to deal with its temporary isolation and associated pleasure.

If your puppy starts to cry, howl or bark excessively, wait for silence then go into the room and make a mild fuss, but not too much, or you might encourage further barking.

Remember, its best to make sure your puppy understand basic rules from day one.

In an extreme case of barking it may be best to contact a member of the Canine & feline Behaviour Association.

Colin C. Tennant M.A. FCFBA.

The Wolf in our Dog

Whenever I read another distorted anti dog story in the media, perhaps of a dog attacking and injuring somebody, I am reminded that the domestic dog, be it a pedigree or a mongrel, still has some wolf tendencies within. I also have to accept that there is a lot of ignorance among dog owners and the media, which will not help in the general understanding of the incident. Dogs are an accepted part of our culture, the faithful, loyal, trusted friend, defender of house and owner, nevertheless we recoil in disbelief at yet another tabloid story blaming dogs for being dangerous. We wish to perceive the dog as a stable companion from the wild, tamed by us, in our homes. For the most part, the breeders modern, but more importantly the ancients, have made a good job of domesticating the wolf and through selective breeding have produced the plethora of breeds we see in our homes and in the show ring today.

In this article I wish to explore the wilder side of our dog friends in the hope that by understanding why dogs behave as they do we can minimise the bad behaviour and serious attacks upon people. As dog owners, if we could truly understand the full repertoire of dog communication, including vocalisation, touch, hearing, smell and body language our ability to train and control dogs safely would be much better; unfortunately, we still know little about how the dog’s mind works. Many experts believe that they do know and can produce highly trained dogs as proof. That demonstrates to me how the trainer has skillfully learnt to train a dog and does not necessarily prove that he or she understands its subtleties and its instincts.

Show Time
Take the show ring, for example, though we have domesticated the wolf into an endless variety of breeds, pedigree dogs, unlike their ancestors, have to deal with a show environment and learn how to negotiate their way around it without altercation. The fact that we concentrate so many dogs in one small congested space is in itself a success story, which illustrates how breeders have managed to mellow the wolf’s territorial instincts into accepting the close proximity of other dogs who are not pack members. However, the wolf’s innate behaviour is still very much alive in all the show beauties whatever their colour, size or shape and it is this, sometimes unpredictable, innate behaviour that we often try to suppress rather than understand.

The wolf, when he meets other wolves, is generally not predisposed to allowing them into his territory, let alone get so close as to actually give him the once over. His dominant stance and marking of territory is evident on initial contact. Suspicion is high and the freeze or fight triggers are at maximum level. Of course the show dog is not necessarily in its own territory. A car journey miraculously changes the territorial boundaries and all the show dogs have to deal with is this new, electrically lit landscape without any known secure areas, which is quite a test of temperament or more to the point, the result of breeder selection and domestication over the centuries.

We could argue about temperament here and what is good and bad, however, I believe temperament is of arbitrary importance and relevant only to circumstances. Many of the wolf’s natural behaviours would make dog shows on the whole impossible and breeders have tended to breed from specimens that show tolerant tendencies. You may hear, occasionally, a breeder say “he’s a bad one, he’s ready to take on anything that comes near”. What they are really describing is the wolf in their breed specimen’s clothing and that their specific dog has retained strong wolf-like dominant behaviour – even after many generations of breeding.

Handlers know which of their dogs is likely to get them into trouble and what areas to avoid (normally congested ones) in order that dominant tensions do not get out of hand. I have watched, many a time, as handlers dash from ring to ring and drag their beauty past hundreds of others, failing to notice the intense communication the dogs are trying to display. It is somewhat comical to see the dogs doing their very best to impress their dog brethren at full speed ahead. Many of the more dominant dogs are eye-posing with ears erect and forward, this  even includes the droop-eared dogs (who think their ears are forward anyway). Many dogs are encouraged and trained by handlers to use their dominant display. It is no coincidence that when a show dog is centre ring the more dominant the display the better the dog looks, in my view, at least.

The lingering scents of females permeating the air, who have recently been in oestrus, are very powerful to all alert males. Dogs meeting for the first time generally try to establish the strict ranking structure of wolves, but it must be very confusing for many who, just as they are about to exchange status cards, are whisked off again to another ring to receive their reward perhaps a CC for the top wolf.

What fascinates me about this frenetic atmosphere is that, on the whole, the dogs actually get through this psychological turmoil without too many altercations. Through social conditioning breeders have adapted and manipulated the wolf’s social rules to the extreme. For a human to try and get a dog’s eye view of this it is worth imagining placing one’s self in a packed foreign city centre like Delhi. You would be lost, confused, nervous and suspicious of those who approached and spoke to you. You would not have the security of your home environment and you would be on full alert (flight or fight) and you may over react to an innocent approach by a street vendor. In the same way, an inexperienced show dog might snap at an approaching dog or human at a show. Some dogs just can’t stand the pressure and react aggressively or insecurely and breeders have to try to discourage it. This same dog probably shows a perfect temperament in its local park or home environment; unfortunately, it will not be judged on that as dog shows are about the day and what is presented before the judge. In the wild the wolf that displays less suspicion is unlikely to live long enough to reproduce the same genes in its future offspring and domestic dogs are bred for this non-suspicious reaction. An experienced breeder understands and will generally introduce their young pups to the show ring and ring craft classes as early as possible. The adaptable dog slowly gets used to all the mayhem and eventually becomes one of those well behaved show dogs patiently sitting on his bench waiting for the results.

The Dominant Dog
At Wolf Park, Pat Goodman, the resident biologist, has observed that trying to get a dominant wolf to roll over submissively and accept a playful touch depends on who is watching. The alfa wolf is less likely to obey if other wolves are present. Some dog breeders may remember a particularly dominant dog or bitch that was the alfa (top dog) in their breeding group and how they too may have resisted being told what to do, to roll over, execute a down stay position or have their tummy groomed in the presence of low ranking (status) pack members. My own black German Shepherd Dog, Ulrich, certainly did not like rolling over on his back when unknown dogs or humans were present. He was very sure of himself and did not enjoy such public, overt submission to me. Moreover, it was the wolf within him that knew the dangers of lower ranking wolves usurping his vulnerable position. For those of you who own dominant dogs or bitches, see if they perform any differently to your commands in private as opposed to in public with other dog or human onlookers.

The clever trainer will mainly use the reward based methods and contrary to the opinion of popular book taught weekend course experts (nouveau trainers) it is not new. Successful trainers have always known that it is quicker to teach what you want a dog to do rather than punish it for the negative action. Working Trials trainers are an excellent example of this training genre. They teach scent discrimination and tracking, always using inducement reward methods to encourage nose work – you cannot force a dog to track.

Wolves have little tolerance for physical punishment and restraint if a handler tries to enforce their will by trials of strength. The wolf becomes aggressive or shies away as it finds the human approach alien to its pack communication system. Because of domestication our pet dogs do appear accept a much higher degree of physical punishment and rough handling without too much complaint, but the wolf still lurks within them and on many occasions the rough handler is attacked, bitten or threatened by the dog. Such dogs are often categorised as dangerous, untrustworthy or badly bred when in fact they have retained a little too much of their wild ancestry for the bully’s liking. The truth is that if the handlers knew more about the dog/wolf’s mind then the confrontations would take place with less frequency and the same animal would be described as good tempered and with good breeding lines; so the way a dog is reared and treated will determine its temperament not just its breeding.

A large number of dogs returned to breeders as rejects, because of temperament are actually perfectly good specimens; unfortunately the owners have failed to socialise the puppies wisely and as we live in a blame culture the breeder becomes the whipping boy.

In my consulting rooms in Hertfordshire I am regularly presented with aggressive dogs; if the aggression is directed at me I have found that by pretending to engage is some nondescript activity like typing, reading or fiddling with some paperwork, during which I engage in no eye contact with the dog, the aggressive behaviour is quickly defused. I normally say to the owner ” oh you’ve brought your dog” or some other daft, irrelevant comment. Why? Because this is what dogs and wolves often do when they are encountering other high ranking dogs they are unsure of. Many, like me, play the pretending game of not noticing the other sniffing this and that – all of which is a procedure to convince the other that no intent to attack is imminent. They weigh up the opposition and providing both dominant dogs are socially skilled they keep a respectful distance. Humans often interrupt the meeting in a panic, shouting commands and the like causing a greater problem. The dog’s eyes flicker as they try to read all the confusing, half-baked signals from the owners and the sudden pulling or grabbing of one or more dogs sparks off a fight. This rarely happens with wolves.

When wolves interact with each other the main authority they use is psychological not physical, but to the novice observer it can appear to be the opposite. Teeth flashing, growling, snapping and squawking – all seems to be chaos, but if you observe closely, muzzle clamping by one wolf to another may seem like biting; in reality, however, the inhibition not to bite the fellow pack member is working well. The dominant wolf may appear to be forcing the other wolf down to the ground by strength, but in fact this is not usually possible as they tend to be equally matched. The lower ranking wolf goes down through its own wish to show deference to the dominant wolf, which uses its mouth to push and direct the lower ranking wolf downwards. This is not the same as a trainer forcing a dog down by pure physical strength.

Sexual Behaviour
Unlike domesticated dogs wolves only come into oestrus yearly; from November onwards the entire pack becomes involved and is stimulated by the various hormonal changes as well as an abundance of pheromones – scent signals – that the bitches give off. In this heightened and very reactive atmosphere, the staff at Wolf Park take more safety precautions as the aggression in the pack is fueled by competition and can cause displaced aggression onto the staff. This is a dangerous situation for the unwary and has an interesting analogy with the domestic dog.

What I find fascinating about dog sexual behaviour is the fact that many breeders, including myself, have known for years that though most stud dogs behave in a gentlemanly way, there are individuals who behave more like wolves. These males will growl or threaten humans they are familiar with when a bitch in oestrus is ready to mate. The handler may try to discipline or control the stud dog, which increases the tension and the dog sees the handler as a pack member and a challenger for the bitch. As most stud dogs mate regularly and only the top wolf mates regularly in the wild, the domestic stud dog by definition behaves like a top dog and as a consequence may on occasion challenge the handler or nearby perceived rivals. So does that dog have a bad temperament or is it just behaving like a dog? Most breeders will know the answer.

Young Children
When dogs are sexually aroused, children in their company can become a target for displaced sexual attention, sometimes arousal and out of character aggression. We must remember that these individual dogs are reacting to their deep down innate behaviour. It is not personal or hate driven; it is as normal as men and women fancying each other and fighting off the competition. Experienced breeders who have witnessed these aggressive sexual behaviours probably take precautions and children are not generally present during mating sessions. However, if we move the scene to a public park and a pet male dog picks up the strong, highly stimulating scent of a bitch, I have seen a dog begin to mount a child nearby due to their size and approachability. I believe the dog confuses the child for the bitch, as odd as it might seem and as there is no organised pack order, the resulting sexual behaviour is confused and erratic. When I have seen people try to remove the dog, it grips onto the child in a sudden burst of competitive aggression, though normally a few sharp commands tend to bring the dog back to its real world and the child can be separated. Again we should learn why the dog acts in the way it does instead of describing the dog’s temperament as defective.

The ongoing work at Wolf Park will hopefully help all domestic dog owners and breeders to delve into their dog’s mind to find out how it truly works. After all it was man who invited the wolf into our alien environment. I have an image in my mind of a lady living in Mayfair, London, who will read this, probably lying on her four poster bed adorned with silks and tapestries. She will be looking at her little Lhasa Aphso stretched out in ostentatious comfort and she is saying “Darling, can you believe it, that Mr Tennant thinks you’re in an alien environment”.

by Colin Tennant

The Evolution of the Dog

Until recently, archaeological findings were the only evidence to pinpoint the beginning of man’s symbiotic relationship with dog. The commonly accepted date of dog’s domestication was placed at 10,000 to 14,000 years ago. However, anthropologist, Dr. Colin Groves, now suggests that the human-dog relationship could be almost as old as modern man, himself.

Basing his hypothesis on a recent DNA research project, Dr. Groves uses the results to support his statement that “humans domesticated dogs and dogs domesticated humans.” Led by biologist, Robert K. Wayne of UCLA, a team of international geneticists studied mutations in the DNA of 162 wolves, 140 purebred dogs of 67 breeds, 5 coyotes and 8 Simian jackals. Finding many more mutations than would have been possible had dog been domesticated 14,000 years ago, they concluded that dog’s domestication took place over 100,000 years ago.

The study further showed that dogs do not share DNA with either the coyote or jackal and have only one common ancestor – the wolf. There is, however, evidence to support the theory that domestic dogs originated from multiple wolf populations over a wide geographic area, this has not yet been proven conclusively.

There is no doubt that dogs are the oldest of all domesticated species and their domestication was based on a mutually beneficial relationship with man. In return for companionship and food, the early ancestor of the dog assisted man in tracking, hunting, guarding and a variety of other purposes. Eventually man began to selectively breed these animals for specific traits. Physical characteristics changed and individual breeds began to take shape. As man wandered across Asia and Europe, he took his dogs with him, using them for additional tasks and further breeding them for selected qualities that would better enable them to perform specific duties.

Valuable insight into the evolution of dogs can be gained by studying a small group of primitive breeds believed to be descended from the Indian Plains wolf. Some members of this group are genuinely primitive, being at an early stage of domestication, while others show the dramatic effects of human intervention in their breeding.

Today, more than 400 breeds of purebred dogs exist throughout the world. Of these, the AKC recognises only 140 while the CKC recognises 162. A further 140 are awaiting CKC recognition. Breeds currently recognised, are categorised into one of seven groups, based on the purpose for which they were developed; although many no longer perform their original function, the history of each breed is an intrinsic part of the standard, helping to set the ideal that breeders strive to attain.

Robert Wayne