Animal Behavior College Blog

Where Animal Lovers Pursue Animal Careers

Designing a Play Palace for Your Pet

Designing a Pooch Palace or Feline Fortress in a Small Space

If you’ve been thinking it’s time to give your four-legged family member his own dedicated living space, most vets will agree it’s a good idea. Not only is it fun, but it can help soothe your pet when he’s stressed or overstimulated. You don’t have to transform an entire spare room into your pooch or kitty’s favorite hangout (although that’s a trend growing in popularity, too)—you can get started with just a patch of underused space.

A Special Space is Smart

If your home has become a haven for claw marks or paw prints, a space of his own can minimize damage in the living areas. A pet room also helps confine shedding and dander, which is especially beneficial if you have guests frequently. This will minimize suffering for those with allergies and give your pet a safe place to hang out while you entertain.

Crate Training Dogs - Tips and Benefits

Things to Consider

A converted laundry room with a large sink or tub is ideal, because it makes bath time easy. Natural lighting is important, so try to choose a room or area with a window. Make sure your pet’s outdoor view can easily be controlled with window treatments—this way, you can open up the blinds or shades when you want to give him some action, and close them when it’s nap time or when the barking gets to be too much.


Dog Laying Down - Arthritis

Also consider his size. If he weighs more than 20 pounds, he may be more inclined to stay in an entire room devoted to him rather than a segmented area of the house that isn’t enclosed. And try to use a space you know he already likes.

Outfitting the Space

Include plenty of features that will attract your pet’s attention and keep him occupied. Cats love ledges that give them opportunities for climbing and cozy nooks for napping. Some pet owners even put an aquarium or television in the room, so their pets have something interesting to watch or listen to all day long. This can decrease their anxiety and make them feel less lonely.

For furniture, try placing a used piece near a window. You can find a cheap chair or couch at your local Goodwill. Or, put a comfortable pet bed on a rug, so your pet can lounge around. Just be sure whatever you choose is washable. For flooring, the perfect choice may be interlocking rubber tiles that are comfortable under all four feet. Add colorful cubbies or baskets around the space, and fill them with plenty of safe toys.


If you can go custom, consider installing counter-tops at the perfect height for brushing and grooming. Another option: food and water bowls built into the wall to reduce spills and messes.

Decorate the walls however you would like. Go with pet motifs, jungle themes or simply abstract art with lots of color, so the humans who spend time in the space can feel welcome, too.

March – Veterinary Assistant Program Student Of The Month – 2014

ABC Veterinary Assistant Program
Student of the Month
March 2014

Eduardo Ochoa


Eduardo Ochoa lives in Los Angeles and did his externship at the Pasadena Humane Society. When Eduardo first started in the program, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to pursue a career in the medical field. However, after going through the externship, he is now ready to continue his education and become a Registered Veterinary Technician.

Was veterinary assisting your first career choice? If not, what was it?

Becoming a veterinary assistant was not my first choice. I actually had all of my classes already picked out and was ready to start Community College at Pasadena City College [before attending ABC]. Before that, my dream was to move to San Francisco and become an artist. I wanted to use my creativity [to be an] eco-friendly architect. However, as I thought about it more and more, I realized having a hobby as a career would probably interfere with my creativity. Then, when I really thought about the direction I wanted to take in my life, helping and being around animals is what made me feel more comfortable and complete. Therefore, this is the path I chose and followed through with.

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

When I started my externship, I was really nervous. Reading a book is one thing, but actually doing it is another. When it comes to what was the most challenging for me, I’d say it was trying to overcome my embarrassment of asking questions. I needed to learn how to do things and had to get the courage to ask how things needed to be done. Once I overcame this, I was so relieved. This helped me grow so that I am now able to move more quickly. Also, this has brought me closer to the staff so I feel like I’m now a member of the team.

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

When I first decided to follow a career path in working with animals, I didn’t know about Animal Behavior College yet. I searched around and truthfully, this school seemed more inviting than others.

What has your experience been like in the ABC Veterinary Assistant Program?

Being in the ABC program has been great! It’s easy, quick and extremely informative, especially for how short of a time it takes to get certified.

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

If I could work with any exotic animal, it would be with penguins. I love penguins and cold weather. I find penguins to be very interesting animals. Some of the things a male does to specifically attract a female is just amazing.

March – Grooming Instruction Program Student Of The Month – 2014

ABC Grooming Instruction Program Student of the Month
March 2014

Brian Beechum

Brian Beechum resides in Bowling Green, Ky., and is currently working as a part-time Groomer for a local grooming shop called Dogs’ Day Out. He was hired by his mentor Yvonne immediately after completing his externship. Prior to beginning his grooming career, Brian attended Western Kentucky University, where he majored in Computer Science. While in college, he landed a part-time job at a local factory that made components for Toyota. He enjoyed this position so much that he decided to leave school in order to work fulltime. He worked his way up and eventually become a Safety and Ergonomics Specialist in the Human Resources department. When the economy was hit a few years ago, he decided to find a new field to work in: the pet industry.

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

Carrie Gump is a local dog trainer I had been taking my new puppy to and struck up a conversation about becoming a trainer myself. She asked if I had ever considered grooming since I had been grooming my own dogs for some time. She then recommended that I call Animal Behavior College and speak to an Admissions Counselor about my options.

What has been your most rewarding moment during your externship?

The most rewarding moment during my externship, occurred a couple of weeks into working with my mentor, Yvonne Gray. She told me I had a love and drive she had not seen in other students she had trained in the past. She did make a point to inform me that she was not referring to any ABC students.

What has your experience been like in the ABC Grooming Instruction Program?

I have gained an incredible amount of knowledge and had so many great experiences that it is difficult to answer this question. Animal Behavior College’s curriculum gave me an excellent foundation to build on and my mentor was simply the best in teaching me. I could not ask for this experience to have gone better.

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

The biggest challenge I faced during my externship was clipping dark-colored nails. My mentor was always kind and understanding, showing me different approaches until I was able to master this task.

What grooming skill(s) or technique(s) do you want to master during the next 12 months?

Over the next 12 months, I hope to master several breed-specific cuts. I specifically want to master the Poodle and Schnauzer cuts.

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

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

Heather Ibbitson

A Registered Nurse in Torrance, Calif., Heather Ibbitson always wanted to train dogs for a living. Upon nearing retirement, Heather thought that going through ABC’s Dog Obedience Program would help her embark on a second career. She currently has three paying clients who have been more than pleased with their dogs’ training. Following completion of her certification in a few weeks, Heather’s goal is to work with shy and fear aggressive dogs. Continue reading

March 2014 Dog Obedience Program Canadian Student Of The Month

Dog Obedience Instruction Program
Canadian Student of the Month
March 2014

Keith Andersen

ABC Student, Keith Andersen resides in Burnaby, BC, Canada, and is currently working with Vision Quest Recovery Society as its in-house dog trainer. Dog training was not Keith’s first choice of careers. He tried the accounting industry, but didn’t like being stuck behind a desk. Keith then moved on to construction work and now is making dog training a full-time job.

“My goal is to retire very soon and devote the rest of my time to dogs,” he said.

Keith found Animal Behavior College on Google. He had looked at many distant-learning programs as well as local ones. Out of all of them, ABC had the most professional look and was very reasonable.

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

I decided to become a certified dog trainer after working with my dog Mak and using that knowledge to help others. It made sense to me to be certified. Working with Mak as a guinea pig taught me a lot about myself and how humans interact with their furry friends. It showed me how much fun humans can have and how our happiness with our buddies can make them happy.

Describe one pet story that touched you the most during your volunteer hours. Do you plan on continuing your volunteer work?

I have spent most of my volunteer hours doing the Puppy Pet Rehabilitation Program at Vision Quest. The most rewarding story is with Zander, our first rescue. He was shy and lacked self confidence when we first got him. His obedience skills were not bad but needed polishing. By using the Urban Agility and Confidence Program I am working on, we got him to come out of his shell and gain much more confidence. Also, he became much more athletic, a bonus.

I plan on spending much more time with that program and expanding it with the hope of introducing it to others.

Have you started training professionally yet? If yes, are you training full- or part-time?

I have started training but only part time. I am busy winding down the waterproofing business and developing the Vision Quest program. I also am completing my Pet First Aid Instructors program.

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

I will do basic obedience training but there are many “trainers” who do that already. I want to focus on the rescue program with Vision Quest. I also want to teach the Urban Agility and Confidence program, teach first aid and to run a program I call “Doguistics,” which teaches humans how dogs communicate to themselves and to us. I also will include how dogs learn and how important “leadership” is as opposed to “alpha” and being dominant. I would also like to get involved with reactive dogs and helping them have a better life.

Which dog breed best describes you and why?

Labrador Retrievers; they are smart, hard working, very sociable and love people and other dogs. Also, they’re well-liked by most people.

Allergies in Dogs – Providing Allergy Relief for Dogs

allergy free dogs

Allergies in dogs, what to know…

By Lisa King

Even though the eastern part of the U.S. is covered in ice and snow and California is experiencing heavy rains and mudslides at press time, spring will eventually come. When it finally arrives, people with seasonal allergies will begin sneezing and wiping runny eyes. Although their symptoms are very different, dogs can suffer from seasonal allergies, too.

Allergies are basically an overreaction of the immune system to a specific trigger. While in allergic humans, spring (and in some cases fall) brings on upper respiratory misery, in dogs who are allergic to pollen the symptoms are usually skin-related. Although allergic dogs sometimes sneeze and have runny eyes, they usually scratch, chew and lick themselves excessively, especially their feet. A dog who scratches all the time can create open sores, hair loss, hot spots and skin infections. These dogs also are more susceptible to ear inflammation and infections. Not to mention, they feel miserable from all the itching.

If you notice your dog scratching excessively, take him to your veterinarian to have him evaluated. He might have flea-bite dermatitis, an allergy to flea bites, another spring and summer phenomenon. This condition is usually relieved by effective flea control and thorough house cleaning.

However, if fleas aren’t the problem, your vet might diagnose your dog with a seasonal allergy. There are several ways you can help your allergic dog be happier and more comfortable. Clean off his feet when he comes in from outside so he doesn’t track pollen and other allergens into the house. Bathe him often; this removes allergens in his coat. Vacuum your home frequently to keep floors free of allergens. Wash your dog’s bedding and blankets often, too, to remove accumulated allergens. If it’s feasible, request that people remove their shoes before they come into the house to reduce tracking in pollen. Keep track of the pollen count in your area, and on bad days reduce the amount of time your dog spends outdoors.

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can be effective in reducing minor inflammation. Many supplements formulated for dogs are available at pet supply stores. Ask your vet if your dog should be eating an anti-inflammatory diet. These diets are formulated to contain very little grain.

Medications that suppress the immune system can help reduce allergic reactions. Some over-the-counter oral antihistamines, such as Benadryl, are safe for dogs, but check with your vet for dosage recommendations, which will vary based on the size of your dog. These medications reduce itching and inflammation, but can make your dog sleepy.

If you try all these measures to mitigate your dog’s allergies but he is still scratching, your vet might recommend oral or injectable steroids. They are effective with many allergic dogs, but they can have side effects, especially if used over the long term. Cyclosporin, sold as Atopica, is the same drug that people take to prevent organ transplants rejection. It is an oral medication, and its use in dogs is relatively new. It can be more effective than steroids and has fewer side effects, but it is also more expensive.

Your vet might also recommend an intradermal skin test, which is similar to a human allergy test. The vet will shave off a patch of hair and apply specific allergens to isolate the one causing problems. If she is able to find the source of your dog’s problems, she can give your dog a series of allergy shots or a vaccine to prevent future reactions. These solutions can be costly, however.

Some dogs grow out of allergies, but some dogs’ allergies get worse as they age. If you think your dog might have seasonal allergies, the wisest course is to take him to the vet as soon as he begins scratching to prevent his symptoms from becoming too severe so he can enjoy the spring weather outdoors with you.

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 soon-to-be-released “Vulture au Vin.”

Doggy Daycare – Keeping Fido Entertained While You’re Away

By Stacy Mantle

Doggy Daycare – Pros & Cons

There are many advantages to putting your dog in daycare during the long work week. If you live a busy life (and who doesn’t), you probably don’t get as many chances to let your dog socialize with other animals or engage with other humans. Socialization is an important part of your pet’s development and doggy daycare can help you meet that need. Dogs are social creatures, which is just one reason they make ideal companions for humans. Like us, they can become “overly attached” to a human or another animal; they can become stressed when left alone; and they can become destructive when left alone. Daycare can be an excellent way to wean your dog off an unhealthy attachment.

Doggy daycare is much like “child daycare” in that it provides an outlet for energy, offers an environment for socialization, and if you choose the right daycare, can help you in your training protocol so that you have a happier, healthier, well-adjusted pet.

Choosing a Daycare for Your Dog

Choosing a quality daycare is the most important thing you can do. You should only work with daycare facilities that employ qualified dog trainers who understand and love dogs. A good place to start is by asking your current trainer for recommendations.

Be very cautious about unlicensed facilities or ones that take place in a person’s backyard. A fun day at daycare can result in tragedy if an aggressive animal is added to the mix or if the owners are not trained in how to deal with aggression.

It’s very important that you are honest in assessing and reporting your dog’s needs to whichever facility you choose. For example, if you are working on separation anxiety with your dog, or if your dog is aggressive towards other animals, you will need to find a trainer who understands and knows how to deal with these problems. If you have a well-balanced dog who gets along with others and simply needs to burn off some energy, a communal daycare will probably be just fine.

Who Can Attend and Requirements

Requirements will vary according to the facility, but generally groups prefer dogs to be at least 4 months of age. For general daycare programs, such as those offered by pet stores, they usually require your dog to be well-socialized with other dogs. They also require your dogs to be in good health and spayed/neutered.

Every daycare worth its salt will require your dog’s vaccinations to be up-to-date. This generally includes bordetella, rabies, distemper, parainfluenza and parvovirus. They might also require your pet to have some sort of flea/tick protection (e.g., Frontline, Advantix or other topical treatments). If your dog is prone to skin conditions or has had a reaction to any topical medication, be sure you discuss this with the daycare staff and ask for an exception.

Unfortunately, most bully breeds or wolf hybrids are going to be turned away from many daycare facilities. However, there are many daycare facilities that have trainers who specialize in these breeds and you’ll want to avoid any daycare that doesn’t want your beloved dog there, anyway.

If you have a dog who does not qualify or does not do well in this environment—and there is no place qualified to take him nearby—consider hiring a dog walker to come to your home throughout the day. These are wonderful services that allow your dog the one-on-one time he needs and can be a great way to help socialize him during the day. Be just as certain that the person you hire for dog walking is well-trained and understands your dog, and is licensed and bonded. You’ll want to avoid any liability if anything happens at your home. Again, the best thing you can do is be honest with anyone who interacts with your dog.


Cost varies dramatically according to region, the quality of the facility and the education of trainers available, as well as the frequency of visits. Some places range a few dollars a day to a monthly program that includes training and range in the hundreds. However, you’ll find that many fall into the $25-per-day category—a small cost compared to the destruction an unsocialized, untrained dog can do to a home while you’re at work!

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


Cat Bath – How To Bathe a Cat

how to bathe a cat, cat bath

How To Bathe A Cat

The general perception is that cats hate water, but in fact, they are natural swimmers. Certain breeds such as Abyssinians and Turkish Vans might even willingly join you in the shower. This misconception probably persists because the average domestic feline isn’t usually exposed to water on a regular basis. For an adult cat who has never been bathed to suddenly find herself in warm water can be very stressful and could even cause her heart rate to spike. However, if you introduce your feline to water from kittenhood, she will learn to tolerate a bath—and may even enjoy it.

It’s a good idea to get everything ready before you bring your cat into the equation. Make sure you have your shampoo and conditioning products open and have at least two towels in place. Special absorbent pet towels are excellent for removing excess water before you wrap your cat in an ordinary towel. If possible, warm your towels in advance by placing them in the dryer.

Remember, you have options. You can bathe your cat in the kitchen sink, in your bathtub or even in the shower stall. It will depend on how tolerant she is. Wherever you decide, be sure to put down a rubber mat or a towel on which she can stand. This will give her traction and make bath time less stressful for her—and for you.

Often, cats don’t like the sound of handheld shower sprays more than the actual water. The best way to deal with this type of hesitant cat is to place her in position and have several buckets of warm water on hand along with a sponge and a cup. The idea is to use the first bucket of water to sponge her before and during the shampooing and conditioning ritual and then to use the second bucket of water and cup to gently pour water over her fur for the final rinse.

Start washing your cat from her neck down to her toes and tail. Massage the bath formula into her fur—she will like that part. Dab shampoo and conditioner onto a cotton ball and work gently around the eyes, nose, ears and under the chin. Some cats might prefer the use of a pet wipe on facial areas.

If you are using any kind of special skin treatment, experts suggest that you apply it twice during a bath for it to effectively treat the condition. Leave the second application on for 5 to 15 minutes (cat permitting, of course) to allow the active ingredients to be properly absorbed.

Rinse the fur well to remove all traces of shampoo and conditioner, especially if you are using the “buckets-of-water” routine. If you are showering the products off, allow the water to run over your cat for at least 5 minutes to enable her skin to be properly hydrated. It’s very important to rinse well because products not designed to be left on the skin and fur can cause irritation. They might also be ingested when your cat takes over her own grooming and starts licking herself after you’ve completed the bath.

Also, never allow water to enter your cat’s ears—fold them over when rinsing. It’s not a good idea to place cotton balls in the ears because you may forget to remove them.

When your cat has been thoroughly rinsed and while she is still in the tub, use an absorbent pet towel to remove excess water. Then scoop her up in a warm, dry, fluffy one for the final toweling.

Longhaired cats should be gently brushed or combed after a bath so that their fur doesn’t mat during the drying process. If you are going to use a hair dryer, make sure that it’s made specifically for pets because those designed for humans are far too hot—and noisy.

No matter how efficient you are and how wonderful the experience is, you will probably still get a look from your cat that implies you didn’t do a proper job, so she is now forced to “clean up” after you.

But that’s just her natural grooming instincts kicking in. It’s what cats do.

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


Adopt a Shelter Dog – Training Shelter Dogs – Students Saving Lives

Take a step to further your credentials in Dog training by applying for the ABC Dog Training, Level 2 Certification.

Become an ABC Certified Dog Trainer

Students Saving Lives
 was started by Debbie Kendrick, Vice President of Animal Behavior College, in 2004. Our mission is to train dogs in shelters in hopes of helping them become more adoptable and less likely to be returned to a shelter in their life. Obedience training for dogs is a key component to a happy and fruitful life.

At ABC we ask each student in the dog training certification program to volunteer ten hours at a local animal shelter or rescue to train shelter dogs. Since its inception in 2004, the Students Saving Lives program has collectively donated over 100,000 hours of time to training dogs in shelters.

We are passionate about helping dogs and cats find their forever homes. Please adopt a pet don’t buy one. Find out more about Animal Behavior College’s Dog Training program at

February – Grooming Instruction Program Student Of The Month – 2014

ABC Grooming Instruction Program Student of the Month
February 2014

Jennifer Hawkins

Grooming School Student of the Month February 2014 - Jennifer Hawkins

Jennifer Hawkins began grooming in October 2013 after making a career-changing decision to enroll in Animal Behavior College’s Grooming Instruction Program. She was inspired by her desire to find a career path she really loved. Jennifer is currently working on perfecting her grooming skills at her Externship location, Trulie Dogs Boutique in Wilmington, N.C. She impressed her mentor, Judianne, from the very beginning.

“Jennifer has a natural talent for working with animals and is on her way to becoming a very talented groomer,” Judianne said.

Was pet grooming your first career choice? If not, what was it?

My first career choice was actually to work with kids. I got my Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. I am currently working at Brigade Boys and Girls Club while I finish up my Externship and earn my Grooming Certification. After getting into the elementary education field, I decided it was just not for me. I always loved animals, so I started searching online for veterinary technician and groomer schools and came upon ABC’s website. After thinking on it for a bit, I decided to give it a try. I have never looked back. I am so happy I made the decision to pursue becoming a certified Groomer. I love it. No kids talking back either.

What has been your most rewarding moment during your externship?

My most rewarding moment is when I first scissored. It was fun, even if it was maybe a little intimidating. When I realized that I did it and did it well, it felt so good. My mentor was so excited for me because I did a great job and she was really surprised and impressed with my work. That first scissoring experience really helped boost my confidence and made me really feel like I had made the right decision.

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

The most humorous moment was when the hose started spraying everywhere. I had been giving a bath and I had set the hose down in the tub for a second. The hose came alive like a snake and started spraying everyone, everywhere. Not only did I give the dog a bath, but I gave myself one as well.

What has your experience been like in the ABC Grooming Instruction Program?

My experience with the ABC Grooming program has been wonderful. All of the people from ABC who I have dealt with—from my program managers to my coordinator—have been so helpful and supportive. I was nervous about the course being online, but I made it through all my stages. If ever had a problem they were more than helpful and accommodating.

What are your future career plans?

I am still in my Externship, however, I have already been asked to stay by Trulie Dogs as a full-time professional groomer. I am thrilled to say I plan on accepting that offer after I complete my course. Some time in the future, I would like to open my own business. I am currently enrolled in different Continuing Education Programs, so I would like to include, dog walking, pet massage and pet nutrition expertise at my business.