Animal Behavior College Blog

Where Animal Lovers Pursue Animal Careers

Smoky: A Canine Champion of Freedom


In Animal Behavior College’s continuing salute to Canine Champions of Freedom, today we’re highlighting Smoky, a Yorkshire Terrier who served in World War II. Smoky was credited with twelve combat missions and awarded eight battle stars. She saved a soldiers life from incoming shells and helped them duck fire. Along with serving in combat she also entertained the troops with various tricks. After the war Smoky became a national sensation and even appeared in various TV programs. Smoky died in 1957 at the age of 14.

Animal Behavior College Champions of Freedom Who Sacrifice For All


In an ongoing campaign to support veterans both in the classroom and online, Animal Behavior College has begun a campaign to honor military veterans and strengthen the school’s commitment to them and their spouses who work in the pet-services industry. The campaign, “Champions of Freedom Who Sacrifice for All,” will award dog-training scholarships to veteran volunteers of a nonprofit organization that trains medical-alert service dogs for veterans. The campaign will also spotlight unemployment and underemployment challenges facing many military spouses and share success stories from those who are enjoying rewarding careers in the flourishing pet-services industry.

In addition, ABC is commemorating Veteran’s Day with video tributes. One video features ABC employees thanking veterans, active military and their families for their commitment and service. A second video pays homage to canine veterans and their handlers.

The campaign will conclude in December with an employee fundraiser for a charity that provides an online network of volunteers who offer pet care for military during their deployment and a thank-you-letter-writing and holiday-card drive for deployed troops.

Lex: A Canine Champion of Freedom


In Animal Behavior College’s continuing salute to Canine Champions of Freedom, today we’re highlighting Lex, a bomb-sniffing military German shepherd, who served with CPL. Dustin Jerome Lee in 2007. Lee and Lex worked close together, scouring roads for explosives and sleeping in the same area at night. A rocket explosion in Iraq killed Lee and despite being injured, Lex stayed by Lee’s side on the battlefield. With shrapnel in his leg and whimpering from his own injuries, medics had to pull Lex away from the body of Lee. Months later, Lee’s family lobbied for permission to adopt the dog and succeeded. Years later, Lex died of cancer.

November is Pet Diabetes Month


Living with a Diabetic Pet

Thanks to treatment  improvements, the disease is now very manageable.

By Stacy Mantle

November is Pet Diabetes Month and it’s important for owners to know what signs to look for in their pets.

November is Pet Diabetes Month and it’s important for owners to know what signs to look for in their pets.

November is Pet Diabetes Month and as this is a disease that affects nearly every species, it’s important for pet owners to know a little about it. All types of animals, from ferrets to cats and humans to dogs, can develop diabetes.

To understand the condition, you need to know a bit about insulin. Insulin is a hormone that enables a body to use sugar (glucose), which is converted from consumed food, for energy or save it for use later. Glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream from the intestines; it then flows to the body’s cells. If the pancreas isn’t producing enough insulin, which acts as a key to open up cells to glucose, the sugar cannot be absorbed by the cells. This results in a buildup of sugar in the bloodstream.  

This buildup is what causes your pets want to eat constantly, but still appear to be malnourished. It is due to the cells not properly absorbing glucose for energy.

If your pet is showing signs of excessive thirst, frequent urination or acting like he or she is tired all of the time, it’s time to get some blood work done. Diabetes is one of those diseases that can sneak up on you and if you don’t pay attention, you could quickly lose your pet. Caught early, and your pets can live a normal, healthy life.


Types of Diabetes in Pets

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas produces no insulin at all. For Type 2, the pancreas produces insulin, but the body’s cells don’t respond well or have become resistant to it.

Dogs tend to develop insulin-dependent diabetes (Type 1), which means they will need injections—probably forever. Cats, however, are more commonly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, which can usually be handled with oral medication and diet changes.


Diagnosing Diabetes in Pets

If your veterinarian suspects diabetes in your pet, she will likely need to perform a complete blood count (CBC), a serum biochemistry profile and a urinalysis to confirm diagnosis. While this may seem like a lot of tests, they are important as it allows the vet to accurately confirm the dosage levels required to help your pet.

It’s also important to remember that many pets react very strongly to being at the veterinarian’s office, and this can effect or change their actual levels. Running multiple tests will help confirm what is really going on while also ruling out other things that could affect your pet’s health.


Treating Diabetes in Pets

After your veterinarian has reached the conclusion your pet has diabetes, she will select an insulin type and dosage for your pet. The dosage needs to be closely monitored for the first few months to ensure it is accurate and effective. Every animal responds differently to the treatment and it’s up to the vet to establish how well your pet is doing with it.

In severe cases, your veterinarian might ask you to leave your pet at the hospital for a few days so she can quickly establish the best dosage through close monitoring.

Learn more about pet diabetes, its signs and risk factors with this downloadable brochure from Merck Animal Health.


Diet and Exercise

You might also need to change your pet’s diet to a prescription food or other vet-recommended food. It is very important that you monitor your pet’s diet, including treats, for the rest of his life. You need to be extra careful not to let your pet eat from the table or get into garbage as this can seriously affect his blood-sugar levels.

Currently, most vets recommend that dogs stay on high-fiber diets, since fiber seems to help increase the effect of insulin in dogs. Cats with diabetes, however, should be on a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet. Sugars, obviously, need to be avoided. This is often simple to do for cats, but dogs tend to have a harder time controlling their intake of sugar.

Exercise is also very important. You will want to make sure your dog is getting plenty of walks and playtime to keep him active—it will tremendously help him to manage this condition.  



Most pets could require injections twice a day—after each meal. You might have to modify your pet’s feeding schedule. You will also need to learn how to give these injections subcutaneously (under the skin). This might seem intimidating, but you can quickly learn this simple task. The needles are quite small and, in most cases, your pet will not even feel it—especially after you’ve had some practice.  Work closely with your veterinarian to learn how to give these injections. They are very, very important to maintaining your pet’s health.

In some cases (such as with Type 2), oral medication can be used instead of insulin injections. The treatment plan will depend on your veterinarian and how advanced your pet’s condition is (which is one more reason why you need to catch it early).


Glucose Testing

Your pet will need to have glucose tests to monitor his insulin levels. In the beginning, he might need to have a glucose curve established—blood -sugar levels are monitored every 2 to 4 hours for a 24-hour period. This test tells the veterinarian how well your pet is adjusting to the insulin.

After the initial curve is established, you should be able to monitor your pet with ongoing veterinarian appointments or by measuring the levels at home with a glucometer. You’ll want to learn more about this process because many things can affect how your pet responds daily to insulin day.

If you suspect your dog or cat has diabetes, be sure to get him into the veterinarian right away. This is a very manageable disease and the science used in preventing and treatment is improving every day.

About the Author: Stacy Mantle is the founder of and the bestselling author of “Shepherd’s Moon.” Learn more great tips for living with animals by visiting or get to know a little more about the author at

Returning to Standard Time Can Confuse Pets


Transitioning From Daylight Savings Time

How to convince your pets it really isn’t time to eat, sleep or play.

By Lisa King

Even though you now get to sleep an hour later, your cat will still walk on you and purr for attention at the usual time.

Even though you now get to sleep an hour later, your cat will still walk on you and purr for attention at the usual time.

Switching to Daylight Savings Time in the spring is hard on most people. You must get up an hour early, drive to work in the dark, take lunch before you’re hungry, try to go to sleep an hour before you’re tired. It’s like having jet lag without leaving town. The return to normal time and the gain of an hour are usually easier—unless you are making the transition with pets in the house.

Humans are diurnal, which means they are naturally most active during daylight hours. Dogs and cats are crepuscular, or most active around sunrise and sunset. Even though canines and felines in the wild are naturally attuned to daily cycles of light and dark, the pets in your house are following the schedule you set for them. You choose when to turn on the lights in the morning, when to feed them, when to walk them and when it’s time for lights out. A one-hour delay in these activities can cause confusion and stress in both dogs and cats. Extra affection and attention during this time will help them adjust more easily.

On the day after Daylight Savings Time ends, you’ll want to take advantage of an extra hour’s sleep, but your dog will still want to go outside and pee and your cat will still walk on you and purr for attention at the usual time.

The easiest way to help pets adjust is to move activities forward incrementally rather than by an hour all at once. You can transition to the new wake-up time this way. Set the alarm 10 or 15 minutes later each day until everyone is getting up at the correct time. You won’t get that extra hour of sleep, but your pets will have a smoother transition to the new schedule. Feeding time is also easily adjusted this way. These incremental adjustments will also make your own transition to the new time easier.

Since dogs are more attuned to human activities, they will probably accept these changes as soon as they realize their walks are just a little later than expected.

Since dogs are more attuned to human activities, they will probably accept these changes as soon as they realize their walks are just a little later than expected.

Since dogs are more attuned to human activities, they will probably accept these changes as soon as they realize that they will get their meals and walks, just a little later than expected. Cats, on the other hand, are notoriously oblivious to human needs and are more likely to complain loudly if a meal is late. If you free-feed your cat dry food, the transition shouldn’t be an issue, but if she’s made to wait for her breakfast and dinner, you’ll hear about it.

However, some activities must shift by an hour. If you are away from the house at work all day and your dog has to wait an extra hour to go outside and relieve himself, accidents can happen. Be patient with these incidents and don’t punish him. He’ll adjust within a few days and your household will once again run like a well-oiled machine—at least until Daylight Savings Time returns in the spring.

About the Author: Lisa King is a freelance writer living in Southern California. She is the former managing editor of Pet Product News International, Dogs USA, and Natural Dog magazines. Lisa is also the author of the well-received murder mystery novel “Death in a Wine Dark Sea” and the recently released “Vulture au Vin.”

How You Can Help Your Local Shelter


Helping Rescues and Shelters

Do what you can: adopt, volunteer, donate, spread the word.

By Audrey Pavia

The most important step you can take toward helping a shelter dog or cat  is to adopt one.

The most important step you can take toward helping a shelter dog or cat is to adopt one.

Every year, nearly 7.6 million cats and dogs end up in U.S. animal shelters; only half of those animals find homes; the other half is euthanized, according to the ASPCA. This means approximately 1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats are destroyed in shelters every year.

These shocking statistics underline the severity of the homeless pet problem, and drive home the need for pet lovers to do whatever they can to help shelter animals.

The first of November began the National Animal Shelter and Rescue Appreciation Week, but shelters need help all year round. What follows are some suggestions on how you can provide assistance to shelter pets.



The most important step you can take toward helping a shelter dog or cat  is to adopt one. Instead of buying a pet, go to and search for the kind of canine or feline companion you are seeking. Shelters and private rescues list dogs and cats of all breeds and breed mixes, ages and temperaments on this site. Private rescues can often tell you a lot about the dog or cat because the animal has been kept in foster care for a period of time before being placed up for adoption. City and county shelters might not be able to give you as much information about the pet, but many shelters provide adoption packages to people who adopt a dog or cat, and these often include free or low-cost training.


Rescues and shelters appreciated any help you can give, from a few hours a month to regular weekend visits.

Rescues and shelters appreciate any help you can give, from a few hours a month to regular weekly visits.


Most shelters and rescues are desperate for volunteers. Positions that need filling include tasks like office work, pet photography, public relations, attending adoption events, dog training and dog walking. You can spend as much time you like volunteering. Whether it’s a few hours a month or every weekend, rescues and shelters are grateful for any help they can get.



All shelters and rescues are desperate for resources. If you cannot donate money, find out what other items they need. Many shelters and rescues will accept pet food, blankets, carriers, toys, bowls and other pet accessories. If you have gently used items your dog or cat no longer needs, consider taking them to the local shelter. You might also want to buy a gift card to a pet supply chain such as PetSmart or Petco to enable the rescue or shelter to purchase whatever they need.


Spread the Word

Get on the mailing list for your favorite rescues and your local shelter, or follow them on social media. Share postings about pets for adoption with people you know. The more exposure shelter pets receive, the more likely they are to get a home.


Help Strays

Even though shelters are inundated with homeless dogs, they are there to help animals in need. If you see a stray dog, call your local animal control agency so they can catch the dog and take him to their facility. The dog will be fed and given veterinary care, and kept for a period of time so the owner can claim him. In the event the dog is not claimed, he will go up for adoption. You can request that the shelter keep your posted on dog’s status.


Spay or Neuter

Don’t contribute to the homeless pet population by allowing your dog or cat to breed. Spay or neuter your dog, even if she is a purebred. Shelters and rescues are filled with purebred dogs that need homes.

About the Author: Audrey Pavia is an award-winning freelance writer and author of “The Labrador Retriever Handbook.” She is a former staff editor of Dog Fancy, Dog World and The AKC Gazette magazines. To learn more about her work, visit

Black Cats Need Love Too


Black is the New Cat

It’s time to celebrate
Black Cat Appreciation Day.

By Sandy Robins

Black cats should be judged by their personality and innate characteristics.

Black cats need to be judged by their personality and innate characteristics and not superstitions tied to their color.

I know, I know. Another pet related day to celebrate on the calendar. Yet, Black Cat Appreciation Day on November 16 is truly something to celebrate.

Sadly, black cats (and dogs) are far less likely to be adopted from shelters than cats of any other fur colors or combinations. That means the euthanization rate is much higher. Even if everyone knows that black cats aren’t witches’ familiars or minions of hell, there remains an underlying belief that they are unlucky. As a result, black cats tend to be overlooked no matter how beautiful they are or engaging their personalities.

As far as superstitions go, it depends on which side of the Atlantic you live. Black cats are supposed to be unlucky in the U.S; however, across the ocean, the English consider them a sign of good luck. Since anyone who understands even the rudiments of science knows a negative and a positive cancel each other out, we should just let black cats be…well…cats. The superstitious can stick to not walking under ladders or wearing their lucky shirt.

Unfortunately, many people perpetuate the myths about black cats without realizing it. After all, every October we adorn out homes with Halloween paraphernalia and witches and black cats are an integral part of the decorations. Frankly, when it comes to decorating, I think its time to stick to pumpkins. If you really want to bring cats into the picture, consider putting them in a costume. (Shark cat on a Roomba anyone?) You could also turn your pumpkins into Grumpkins, courtesy of the Grumpy Cat carving stencil that came out this year.

living with black cat is like living with a miniature black panther, especially ones with gorgeous gold eyes.

Living with a black cat is like living with a miniature black panther, especially one with gorgeous gold eyes.

Thankfully, animal shelters and rescues refuse to adopt out black cats (and dogs) in October to protect them from falling into the wrong hands. Black Cat Appreciation Day is held the following month to give pet lovers the opportunity to adopt a new friend who is black and beautiful.

There’s no question that living with a black cat is like living with a miniature black panther in your home, especially when he or she is blessed with gorgeous gold eyes.

It is time to stop judging pets by their color and look at them for their personality and innate characteristics.

It is also time to adopt a more European outlook. If a black cat crosses your path, it’is a sign of good luck. You can make that happen every day by bringing a black kitty into your home.

Please Tweet and post positive Facebook messages about black cats on November 16 and dispel the myths associated with these gorgeous creatures. It is no longer the Middle Ages people; time to move on.

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


Exciting New Products for Dogs and Cats


Fun, Practical and Just Plain Cool Pet Products

LovingBowl-foodThe Loving Bowl, with its over-sized feeding area, provides an always- exposed slope or ridge that pets will quickly learn to use. Flat-faced breeds will no longer have to chase their food around a dish, but will instinctively use the sides of the bowl to help them grasp morsels of food. It makes a great water bowl, too; the interior slope allows your pet to get more water with less effort.




BabyBionicBionic Pet Products Baby Bionic toy line is designed for teething puppies and small chewers. The toys are made with a unique rubber material that is soft and chewy but durable enough to last a very long time. The line includes the Baby Toss N Tug, Baby Ball and Baby Bone, which are available in purple or yellow. The company chose easy-to-see colors that are attractive to puppies’ developing eyes.




Twigo Pet ID Tags require no engraving and are instantly personalize-able with a ballpoint pen—simply write on the back of the tag, boil it and then use it. The tag’s slip-loop makes it simple to attach securely to your pet’s collar. In addition, Twigo tags are completely silent—ideal for those who dislike a metal tag’s jingling noise. Designed for both dogs and cats, the lightweight and easy-to-clean tags are available in four fun styles that come in three colors each.





Pet-ZoneCatTunnelThe new Pet Zone Pounce House Cat Tunnel combines a feline’s favorite pastimes of curling up to take a snooze or being active in running, pouncing and chasing.  It is also portable and collapsible for easy storage. Measuring 60-in. long and 10-in. wide, the cat tunnel provides a snuggly space for hiding and a peephole for quick getaways. The vinyl tunnel has bright colors and great durability for cats who play enthusiastically.




The Soggy Doggy Doormat® sucks water and dirt off paws as the dog walks over it. Made with a super-absorbent, durable microfiber material, it absorbs up to five-times more water and dirt than a typical doormat or cotton towel. The fabric is velvety-soft, remains odor and bacteria-free, and is machine-washable. And, new for the holiday season, the doormats are available in two festive colors: cranberry and evergreen.





Cat Dice™ from the Jackson Galaxy Collection by Petmate®  feature  are a fun, interactive cat toys that feature Irregular shapes, causing unpredictable bounces that keep cats engaged. Just toss and bounce, or fill them with treats to create a puzzle treat toy. You can also pair the dice with additional toys for enhanced play. Made of nylon and catnip, the toys come in variety of shapes and colors in packs of two or three.






The new flexi Vario leash system offers flexibility, security and comfort for your dog and you. The system’s accessories attach conveniently to the leash and include LED lighting and a MultiBox to hold treats and waste bags. Available options include an LED Flash Belt, a Duo Belt for walking two dogs from one leash and a Soft Stop Belt to stop gently and quickly a dog without jolting. The leash system comes in four different sizes—XS, SM, M, L—and six colors.



PawPodsThe new Heart Pod urn from Paw Pods expands on the company’s line of products that give owners meaningful ways to say goodbye to a beloved pet. Constructed of 100 percent biodegradable, all-natural materials such as bamboo and rice husk, the Heart Pod includes a sympathy card and seeded leaf that can be planted with the beloved pet and will bloom beautiful wildflowers year-after-year as a living memorial.

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


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

Claudia Brooks

Dog Obedience Program Student of the Month

Claudia Brooks knew a long time before enrolling at Animal Behavior College that she wanted to work with animals. She grew up in a household that raised all sorts of animals, including dogs, cats, chickens, rabbits, birds, cattle and fish. Growing up in such a manner provided her with some unique experiences. Claudia helped her father maintain 35 tropical aquariums, in which they raised fish for the local shop. She raised countless kittens and puppies, and even helped birth a breached calf. While Claudia loves working with animals of all kinds, dogs are her favorite. As she explained, “They have been the best teachers I have ever had. They have taught me patience, kindness, forgiveness, perseverance, tolerance, how to handle stress, and unconditional love. Though I have had a number of jobs in my life, working with dogs is my passion.” Claudia’s passion for working with dogs eventually led her to enroll with Animal Behavior College where she graduated with honors and was hired by her Mentor Trainer, Kelly Legaretta of Healing Pawsabilities.

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

There are several. Working with the shelter dogs at Gulf Coast Humane Society, and seeing them adopted is definitely near the top. Watching shy and fearful dogs become much more confident would be another. However, the most rewarding moments are when you see the relationship between the owner and her dog change from one of frustration to one of mutual respect.

  • Describe one pet story that touched you the most during your volunteer hours. Do you plan on continuing your volunteer work? If yes, how/where?

The one pet story that touched me the most would be Rosie. She was a purebred Rottweiler who came in with some other dogs, and was afraid of everyone. She was difficult to get close to and almost impossible to touch. One day when I got to the shelter, I went into her kennel, which was divided down the middle with partial concrete wall and cutout door. When I opened the door, she dashed to the other side and wouldn’t come out. It took me nearly 20 minutes of just sitting on the floor, tossing her treats and kibble, letting her get closer and closer, until she finally came up to me. She was still scared, but every time I went back I did the same thing and she gradually got better. I found out one of the other volunteers was also working with her and she was adopted in just a couple of months.

I plan to start back with my volunteer work at the shelter in January once I am no longer working at my current job. I found out recently that Gulf Coast Humane Society is building a new shelter very close to my house and I plan to volunteer again with them. At one of the GCHS fundraisers, I met two members of the Lee County Sheriff’s Department who work at the Cell Dogs program, a joint program with their department and GCHS. I have been asked to work with the Cell Dog program starting in January and I can’t wait for that.

  • How did you hear about the ABC program and what convinced you to become certified?

Once when I was taking classes with Kelly Legaretta, she had three ABC students doing their externship. I spoke with them and really liked what they told me about the program. Kelly was (and still is) a great mentor/teacher so I couldn’t have asked for a better program.

  • Which dog breed best describes you and why?

I am a cross between a Labrador and a Border Collie. I have the energy of a Border Collie but the temperament of a Lab.

November – Veterinary Assistant Program Student Of The Month – 2014


ABC Veterinary Assistant Program
Student of the Month
November 2014

Jessica Boychuck

Veterinary Assistant Program Student of the Month

Jessica Boychuck lives in South River, New Jersey, and has three dogs, a cat and a fish. At first, she wanted to major in criminal justice. However, after rescuing a couple of stray kittens from the street, Jessica realized her true calling was to work with and help animals. Caring for the stray kittens is what helped her decide to enroll at Animal Behavior College.

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

The biggest challenge was when I was working in the treatment area. It was a normal morning, prepping up everything for the day, which included a mass removal surgery. The dog was a 9-year-old golden retriever-lab mix. When she came in, we saw that her mass was bigger than we thought. We had to bandage it because it was hitting the floor and it was bleeding a little bit. We gave her pre-surgery meds and put her in a big cage in a room to calm her down and for her to sleep. [A bit later,] we walked passed by the room to check on the dog and there was blood everywhere. We rushed her to the table, put her under anesthesia and cleaned up the mass (she had bitten the mass while she was in her cage). The dog kept waking up because she was holding her breath so the anesthesia wasn’t going through. They told me to squeeze the bag every 10 to 15 seconds while the tech was monitoring her vital signs. Finally, after half an hour later, she was breathing on her own. She pulled through the surgery and was good to go home. I overcame it by staying calm and listening to [the veterinarian and vet tech’s] directions.

  • Describe a humorous moment you witnessed or took part in while working at your externship location.

A funny moment was when I was in boarding. When we take the dogs out for a walk to go to the bathroom, we take families out at the same time. There were these two dogs, one dog was doing its business and the other one came and peed on his head. When I saw that, I started to laugh and it made my day.

I heard about the ABC program on television.

  • If you could work with any exotic animal, what would it be and why?

I don’t have a favorite exotic animal. I would like to work with every type of animal.