Animal Behavior College Blog

Where Animal Lovers Pursue Animal Careers

Corral Your Independent-Minded Feline Day (Or Not)


Celebrate National Cat Herders Day!

It really isn’t has hard to do as you think.

By Sandy Robins


The expression “ It’s like herding cats” is meant to describe a seemingly impossible task—just like herding independent-minded felines.

If you are suffering from the feeling of losing gravity and find yourself spinning off into the blue yonder, you are not alone. This—among other reasons— is why a California couple, who obviously understands this state of helpless chaos, stepped forward and created a special day, declaring December 15 as National Cat Herders Day.

The expression “ It’s like herding cats” is meant to describe a seemingly impossible task—just like herding independent-minded felines….

Frankly, National Cat Herders Day is simply a good reason to stop what you are doing, open a bottle of pinot grigio, sit down on the couch and enjoy the vino, preferably with a cat on your lap.

I am not too sure where the cat reference even comes from. Yes, I know cats can be independent and pretty much have their own routines based around arranging themselves in as many sleeping positions as it’s possible to achieve in a 16-hour stretch. However, if you are going to take the action of herding cats quite literally, it’s really a very easy thing to do. Simply take a bag of treats and shake it; cats will coming running from wherever they are. Moreover, if you do the Hansel and Gretel thing of dropping treats as you walk, they will simply follow you—until you run out of treats.


To herd cats, simply take a bag of treats and shake it; cats will coming running from wherever they are (getting them to stay is another matter entirely).

It’s worth noting that if you are suffering from end-of-year chaos, the power of the purr has been medically proven to be not only relaxing but a preventative measure for a heart attack. Yes, if you live with a cat you stand a 40 percent less chance of having a heart attack (all other factors being equal, of course). In addition, if you have your own mini herd of cats, well even better.

For anyone seriously considering an attempt at herding cats, stop and take a moment to watch this You Tube video. Admittedly, it is an advertisement , but it says it all. Happy holidays!

About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as, and She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Cat Fancy, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats

Dogs Offer Us Daily Lessons on Life


Dogs Keep Teaching Us

From puppy to senior, canines offer life lessons daily.

By Ava Olsen


Dogs teach us about family, love, compassion and life from the beginning to the end.

What is cuter than a puppy, cute enough to melt your heart with a single look and make all the work and effort worthwhile.

When you get a puppy you sign on for a hurricane of joy and enthusiasm. Constant activity followed by crashes into deep, deep sleep and then reawakening with all batteries charged and ready to tear into life again at full speed. They are our companions for walks and adventures. They take us outside to see the trees and forests, sunsets and seasons. We work to train them, but they learn to be part of the family.

Dogs have short life spans and we know in the back of our minds when we bring that little puppy home that in a few years we will have a mature dog as part of our family and then an old dog and all of the questions and challenges that go with that. It is our own lifespan in miniature.

My dog is now 9 and has been through a series of health problems that have been heart-wrenching and costly. With so much medical technology now available to our dogs, who are our family members, we have new considerations about quality of life, health insurance and end-of-life decisions that have come to the forefront. It broke my heart to see my dog sick and struggling but I also admired his determination to keep going and to find joy in those things he was still able to do. Now that he has recovered to a point where he goes crazy for his food and loves playing with his toys, my heart feels lighter and happier. Dogs make us laugh, they give us love and unconditional acceptance. The way they approach life with such enthusiasm brings that same enthusiasm to us. They let us see the way they love life and it makes our lives better.


As puppies, they teach us patience; as they age, they teach us a new kind of patience, compassion, love and devotion.

As puppies, they teach us patience; as they age, they teach us a new kind of patience, compassion, love and devotion. They face sickness and death with calm resolve and, in the end, acceptance. We are left to make the decisions about care and medication. We are left to make the decision as to when the pain is too much to be tolerated. We are left to be the grownups but they always remain our teachers.

In our society where families live miles or countries apart, it is our dogs who have become our immediate families. We take them on outings, we care for them, they are there at the end of a hard day to provide a friendly face and a warm hug or face lick. They are also there to aggravate us with inappropriate or bad behavior, like any good family member.

In our society where our old relatives are put in facilities, it is our old dogs who continue to teach us about aging and end of life. Our old dogs give us the patience to go for very slow walks or “sniffing” outings. Our old dogs teach us that even though they are not cute puppies we still love and value them and want to care for them.

Why are there millions of dogs living in our homes? Dogs of all ages? They are here to teach us about family, love, compassion and life from the beginning to the end.

About the Author: Ava Olsen is a long-time dog owner and rescue advocate, and is the Brand Manager for Charlee Bear Dog Treats, headquartered in Madison, Wis. Ava spends a fair amount of time in Costa Rica each year, where she has been known to foster dogs. 

Great Products for Dogs and Cats


Nifty New Pet Products

MudMonstersMuttluks Mud Monsters and Snow Mushers boots are made for walking, hiking, rugged terrain, snow, ice and extreme heat or cold. Made with 100 percent recycled rubber, the unique flexible soles with traction treads incorporate “barefoot” technology that makes the boots “pawsitively” comfortable for dog paws. Mud Monsters are a rugged summer boot with a breathable mesh upper fabric; Snow Mushers are a rugged winter boot with warm fleece inner lining. Both feature elastic soft-cinch fastening and are available in eight sizes and three colors.




Kats ‘n Us TUFF Kitty Puffs feature colorful yarn and tinsel that are tightly woven together to outlast the hunter instinct and playfulness of any cat. The cat-pleasing toys come in assorted brilliant sparkly colors—blue, white, gold, green, red and dark pink—and are 1 1/2 inches in diameter.




flexi-NEONDesigned to improve safety and visibility for dog owners during evening walks, the flexi® Neon retractable leash offers highly reflective, neon components, on the leash handle break button and the 16-ft. retractable cord or tape. Highly durable, lightweight and equipped with an easy-to-use thumb breaking-system, NEON comes in three different sizes—small, medium and large.




Petmate’s Glow Dots cat collars incorporate glow-in-the-dark ink to provide nighttime visibility for added security. Sized 3/8 in. x 8 ½ in., the collars feature breakaway buckles to ensure cat safety while on the prowl indoors or out. The dot-patterned collars come in three colors: purple, orange and yellow.






Give your dog a reward as unique as he is with new Fruitables Vanilla Snowflake Flavor dog treats. Each limited edition treat pouch includes an estimated 300 snowflakes, sustainably harvested in the Rockies. To make these novelty holiday treats, Fruitables combines a snowball’s worth of real, fresh high-altitude snow with its delightful pumpkin granola and yogurt recipe. The finished product is both satisfyingly crunchy and creamy. And, with only 9 calories per treat, dogs can guiltlessly indulge without worrying about winter weight gain.





Kitty Connection®, from Innovation Pet, is a patent-pending, modular playground featuring the SmartLink® Toys system for cats of all ages—from kitten to senior. You can choose from two starter kits, Essential or Deluxe (shown), and add-on a wide variety of accessories that connect together, allowing for endless possibilities in movement and sound attractants, creating the ultimate playground for your cat.





Bravo Pet Foods Homestyle Complete Dinners have premium meat or poultry as the No. 1 ingredient. The freeze-dried diets also contain wholesome ingredients such as organ meat and chickpeas plus a generous helping of garden vegetables and cranberries, as well as natural herbs such as turmeric and sage. Available in three different proteins—beef, pork and turkey—each dinner is 100 percent complete and balanced, low in fat and grain- and gluten-free. In addition, no artificial preservatives, flavors or colors of any kind are used.

Animal Behavior College Fall Class Graduation 2014


Animal Behavior College (ABC) ( held its fourth commencement ceremony on November 21, honoring the achievements of its Dog Trainer In-Classroom Program students.

The graduating class of military veterans received certification for mastering various dog training tools and techniques using positive reinforcement for handling canine behaviors. The program also covered effective problem solving, pet first aid and an opportunity to gain hands-on experience via internship.

“You have all come a ways since starting this program, and I am sure there were times when some of you wondered if you would make it through,” said Steven Appelbaum, president and CEO of Animal Behavior College, to an audience of family, friends and employees of the college. “I know as former members of the armed forces this isn’t the first adversity you have faced. You dealt with each day, each challenge and as a result, you are sitting in graduation regalia ready to be certified ABCDTs [Animal Behavior College Dog Trainer]!”

Debbie Kendrick, vice president of operations for ABC, praised the graduates’ accomplishments before handing out complimentary certificates to enroll in an ABC Continuing Education Program (CEP) of their choice. Appelbaum joined Kendrick and Candace Mason, ABC’s director of admission, in presenting award certificates to students. Those students include Richard (Ricky) Kripps, Kristen (Meghan) Clark, Jesse Araujo, James (Jim) Minick and Carlos Valle Jr.

Beth Harrison, a certified dog trainer and course instructor for ABC’s Dog Trainer In-Classroom Program, thanked her former students for their military service and for their dedication and commitment to working in “the world of humans and dogs.” Amanda Yocom, a caregiver and playgroup coordinator for Best Friends’ Animal Society, also thanked students for volunteering at the shelter and complimented their “eagerness to learn.”

“After graduating from college with a degree in fisheries and wildlife management, I served 10 years in the Navy. However, I always wanted to work with animals,” said James Minick, ABC honors graduate, during his commencement address. “After leaving the Navy and getting a job, I came to a crossroad in my life. What am I going to do? I knew I wanted to work with animals and needed a viable living. That is when I found ABC.”

For Minick and other ABC dog-training graduates and other animal care and service workers, the jobs forecast in the U.S. appear promising. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment will grow 23 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. With more people in the U.S. owning dogs (35.5 percent or 43,346,000), ABC’s programs are ideal for veterans and career changers. As certified dog trainers, they have the option of working for an established company or building their own dog training business.

Coastal Pet Products Facebook/Twitter Contest


All Your Dog Wants for the Holidays is…

Submit what your dog wants more than anything else, win a personalized collar and leash!

If your dog could have only one thing for the holidays, what would he or she ask for? Animal Behavior College and Coastal Pet Products want to know. To find out–and to celebrate the holiday season–we present the Coastal Pet Products Facebook/Twitter Contest. Tell us what your dog wants most in one or more of the following categories:

  • Weirdest/most unusual: What is the most un-canine-like thing your dog wants you to give him/her?
  • If money is no object: The sky’s the limit—you just won the lottery and your dog knows it.
  • Most-selfless: Your dog doesn’t want anything for him/herself; just something to benefit of all canine and/or human kind.

The winner of each category will receive:

  • A personalized collar and leash set from Coastal Pet Products.

How to Enter:

  1. Follow Coastal Pet Products on Facebook here.*
  2. Follow Animal Behavior College on Facebook here.*
  3. Submit what your pet wants for the holidays in picture or text form with the hashtag #ABCHolidayWishes via our Facebook or Twitter pages.

*You do not have to follow either company to have your entry accepted.

Contest Rules:

  1. You may enter all three categories, but you will only win one of the three prizes.
  2. Contest ends December 24th. No submissions will be accepted after this time.
  3. Winners will be subjectively selected based on how the entries best fit each category.

About the Contest Sponsor: Established in 1968, Coastal Pet Products manufacturers a wide variety of high-quality pet products, from collars, leashes and harnesses to toys, apparel and grooming aids and much more.

December Grooming Instruction Program Canadian Student Of The Month – 2014


ABC Grooming Instruction Program Canadian Student of the Month– December 2014

Kimberly Hardy

Kimberly Hardy

Kimberly Hardy has worked very hard to be where she is. She has done extremely well in the Grooming Instruction Program. Kimberly also worked very hard in her externship at Divine Doggies located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She is not only a student, but also a part-time groomer and a strong supporter of animal-rescue organizations.

  • What prompted you to become a pet groomer? Was there a specific event, circumstance or person who inspired you to pursue this career?

I wanted to work with animals all my life. I was interested in going into the medical side of the animal industry so I took an animal science course. I volunteered at Pawsitive Match, a rescue organization in Calgary, which I found while looking for a reputable rescue to adopt a new furry family member from. At Pawsitive Match, I walk the dogs, give them flea medication and put in the microchips. With the microchipping, I realized how emotionally challenging the medical side of the animal industry could be. While doing the bathing and brushing at Pawsitive Match and seeing the dogs so happy to have attention and relief, I decided grooming would be a better match for me.

  • What was/is the biggest challenge you faced during your externship and how did you overcome it?

When I started grooming, I was really afraid of cutting and injuring a dog. The worst part was knowing how upset the clients would be that I hurt their babies. These animals we work with are so much more that just pets. They are family members. I would hate for the clients to be upset. I overcame this fear with a lot of practice and with the guidance and support of my mentors Charisma and Charlotte at Divine Doggies. With grooming, there is always a chance an animal could get hurt so you need to be confident in your abilities, listen to the advice and constructive criticism of those more experienced around you, and groom safely.

  • What has been your most rewarding moment during your externship?

The most rewarding thing was realizing that I’m the “tail person” at the shop. If anyone needs a tail done, I am the groomer they come to. Charlotte and Charisma told me I do the “prettiest tails” in the shop. I am not even sure what I do differently, but it looks good. Clients are noticing it now too.

  • What one thing stands out for you in terms of knowledge and/or skills acquired from the program?

I have learned that each and every salon and groomer you meet does things differently. For example, I used to work at a different salon before starting with ABC and that shop hand-dried dogs. At Divine Doggies, they kennel-dry them. The ABC curriculum discusses the pros and cons of both methods so it was really interesting to see and experience these differences in person.

  • Have you started working professionally as a groomer yet? If yes, where? And are you working full- or part-time?

I have started working as a part-time groomer at Divine Doggies. I also started my own business out of my home in my small town. I am excited to continue learning under my mentors. I eventually would like to be able to build my skills so I can successfully groom a Westie without any help.

December – Veterinary Assistant Program Student Of The Month – 2014


ABC Veterinary Assistant Program
Student of the Month
December 2014

Deborah White

Deborah White

Deborah White currently lives in Joppatowne, Maryland, with her daughter, 10 cats and a dog. She works for Blue Buffalo Pet Food Company. In her spare time, Deborah does some pet sitting and dog walking.

  • What prompted you to become a veterinary assistant?

After too many years of sitting in an office, being very bored and feeling like I wasn’t doing what I was meant to do, I quit my job of almost 28 years and decided to do something that made me happy instead of doing what I was expected to do.

  • Was there a specific event, circumstance or person who inspired you to pursue this career?

I was out on medical leave last year and had a lot of time to do some soul searching. A dear friend of mine I used to sing with asked me if I could do anything I wanted to and money was no object, what would I want to do? I thought about it and said I wasn’t exactly sure, but knew it would have something to do with animals because that is when I’m truly happy.

  • What has been your most rewarding moment during your externship?

Everyday that I walked into my externship location was rewarding because I had an opportunity to work with some of the most dedicated, caring and compassionate people I’ve ever met. One of the most rewarding aspects involves a little kitten I’ve been fostering. He came into the clinic at about 2- to 3-days-old. He was in pretty rough shape and the doctor wasn’t sure he’d make it. She took him home over the weekend and cared for him. Then, when she brought him back the following Monday and I cat-napped him, he’s been with me ever since. I’ve got him weaned and using the litter box and he will go to his new daddy in a couple of weeks. He’s a beautiful boy.

I saw an advertisement online and decided to give them a call. I wound up talking with Marla. She was delightful and very positive and encouraging.

  • What has your experience been like in the vet assistant program?

I’ve had a very positive experience. I like the flexibility of being able to study at my own convenience while doing all of the other necessary things in my life. All of the staff I’ve had contact with has been very helpful and encouraging.

  • What are your future career plans?

My goal is to move to Kanab, Utah, to work for Best Friends Animal Society. I am inspired by the work they do and they are part of the reason I decided to become a veterinary assistant. I know it’s a position that can be widely utilized in a rescue. I volunteer locally with a couple of rescue organizations and would love to pursue further that career path. I also see myself continuing my education with the goal of becoming an RVT.

December 2014 – ABC Dog Training Program Student of the Month – USA


ABC Dog Training Program Student of the Month – USA – December 2014

James Blanchard

James Blanchard

James and his four dogs: Hendrix, the big Lab mix; Khloe, the medium Pit Bull mix; Harlow, the small Terrier Shih Tzu mix; and Bambi, the Chihuahua.

Recent ABC Graduate James Blanchard of Green Valley, California, just started his own dog training company called Caring Canine Commands. He trains part-time on the weekends while still working full-time during the week. He found out about ABC’s Dog Obedience Program from the Internet and he also knows an ABC graduate. The program’s biggest draw for James was the flexibility of the distance-learning component, which allowed him to schedule it around his existing job. James doesn’t accept failure and said he will do everything he can to get the job done. If it involves extra training time, different training techniques or doggie day camp, he will make sure that clients are satisfied and the dogs succeed.

  • What was/is the biggest challenge you faced during your externship and how did you overcome it?

Since I am a quiet person and a bit introverted, talking in front of a group of people I don’t know was the hardest part. I overcame it by knowing my material and practicing what I would say ahead of time and just made myself do it. It got easier the more I did it.

  • What was your most rewarding moment during your externship?

The most rewarding part was seeing the puppies obey their owners and enjoy it just as much as their owners were. I love helping people and their dogs succeed together.

  • Describe one pet story that touched you the most during your volunteer hours. Do you plan to continue your volunteer work?

I can’t describe just one story. It just makes me sad knowing how many dogs are out there that need a home. I will definitely continue to volunteer at Best Friends Animal Society in Mission Hills, California, and the Brittany Foundation in Acton, California. I’m currently taking the ABC Grooming Program as well so I will volunteer at both places to help keep the dogs looking and acting as good as possible to get them a forever home.

  • What has your experience been like in the ABC Dog Obedience Program?

I’ve had a very positive experience. The things I have learned have really helped me to train my own dogs during the program. Since I have graduated, I’m seeing a lot of clients succeed with ABC’s training methods. I love the fact that you can be positive and still get awesome results from the dogs you are training.

  • What are your plans for dog training? Do you want to specialize in a particular type of training or in training a particular breed of dog?

In the future, I want to work in all fields of dog training. I want to learn how to train therapy and search-and-rescue dogs. I also want to study dog behavior so I can help cure dogs of aggression, separation anxiety and PTSD. Basically, I want to be a dog guru.

Thanksgiving Foods To Not Share With Your Pet


Foods Not to Share

With elaborate dishes, especially prepared meats, vibrant libations and rich desserts, Thanksgiving is a time when most people overindulge. For pet owners, it is tempting to share tidbits of food with Fido and Frisky. However, many of these delicious foods can make them sick. Animal Behavior College cautions pet owners to avoid feeding pets table scraps and offers healthy food alternatives that will keep them safe and happy on this special day.

Turkey Skin and Bones

Cooked turkey skin with no seasoning is hard to digest and turkey skin with butter and spices is even worse. If you decide to feed turkey to your pet, choose white meat, as it is not as rich as dark meat and is easier to digest. Remove the skin and cut the meat into small pieces before serving. Also, avoid feeding dogs cooked bones, as certain bones can lodge in a dog’s intestines.

Gravy/Buttery Side Dishes

Rich gravies and side dishes can wreak havoc on a pet’s digestive system. Dogs can develop inflammation of a digestive gland, pancreatitis, diarrhea and other painful and serious conditions. Instead, add a little turkey broth to their regular meal as a tasty alternative.

Onions, Garlic and Sage

Onions, garlic and sage are staples in Thanksgiving stuffing and other festive dishes. However, they can make pets sick. Onions and garlic are poisonous to dogs and cats and can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting. If ingested, sage causes gastrointestinal upset if consumed in large quantities. Instead, give green beans or a plain hard-boiled egg.

Also be sure to not allow your pets in the kitchen. With food preparations and other busy kitchen activities, a spilled hot dish or dropped pan or bowl can injure or burn a curious pet. Have someone watch your pet or put her in a quiet room or in a crate or carrier away from the fray. Keep a closed lid on the trash bin to prevent pets from feasting on disposed food that could make them sick.

If a dog or cat is ill from eating toxic food, contact a veterinarian immediately, or call the Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680 or visit at

Sergeant Stubby: A Canine Champion of Freedom


In Animal Behavior College’s continuing salute to Canine Champions of Freedom, today we’re highlighting Sergeant Stubby. Stubby has been called the most decorated war dog of World War I, assigned to the 26th (Yankee) Division. Stubby warned his unit of poison gas attacks, located wounded soldiers in no man’s land, and captured a German spy in the Argonne. After the war, Stubby returned home and led many parades across the country and even became the Georgetown Hoyas’ team mascot. Stubby died in his sleep in 1926.