Local dog trainer completes certification to help identify underlying reasons for unexpected aggression
Tori Ganino isn’t afraid to admit that self-assertion is her thing.
At least when it comes to dogs. That canine characteristic of extreme self-assertion — and unwanted aggressiveness — has fueled her career and prompted the 35-year-old to continue her education.
She has recently obtained certification as a Dynamic Dog Practitioner.
“My passion is aggression. We need to know what’s going on internally,” she said during an interview Friday.“ This certification is more helping out and spotting behavior in dogs. I can see myself applying this to the dogs I work with and to my own dog. I just want to keep learning.”
Ganino is not new to embracing knowledge when it comes to working with dogs, and the canine behavior specialist eagerly added dynamic dog practitioner to her resume. Never heard of such a thing? That’s because the rigorous four-month course is only available in the United Kingdom. Other people have enrolled in the course but Ganino said that she is the only one in the U.S. to successfully complete it.
While dynamic dog practitioner may seem like an embellished title, it makes sense as Ganino explains it. Say your dog Rufus is a bit more surly than usual, and he has been barking at visitors, and — especially uncharacteristic of Rufus — nipped at one of them. You might think he is just being a bad boy, however, there very well might be underlying issues at play.
“Dogs are so extremely stoic; they hide things so very well,” Ganino said at her Elba residence.
Beneath that quiet strength might be hip pain, an achy spine or pulled muscle, she said. By thoroughly assessing the dog, she will be able to pinpoint likely sources of the pain that are causing and coming out as aggressive behavior. Contrary to popular belief that older dogs would be more prone to this occurrence, Ganino said that she has seen it in younger dogs more often. They may be working dogs that herd animals or train for agility courses, or simply playful dogs that throw their little bodies out of whack scampering on slippery floors, she said.
An online dictionary defines dynamic as “a process or system characterized by constant change, activity, or progress; relating to forces producing motion.” Just like humans often do, dogs may overcompensate an injury in one area by overusing the other, Ganino said. That can in turn create a lot of pain and/or discomfort within the dog's body, she said.
The course taught her to understand what normal movement is for the dog so that she can determine what is abnormal movement. That involves taking a history of how the dog moves, what it was like before becoming more aggressive and how it behaves now, such as biting, barking or lunging at people.
Ganino had owned and operated Calling All Dogs daycare until the dreadful Covid-19 struck. She made the difficult decision to close in March 2020, which ended up opening up a window.
“It has given me the opportunity to do this intense four-month course,” she said. “I had to present six case studies. There’s not a similar program in the world.”
The programme (spelled properly in England) teaches how to spot potential pain and discomfort in dogs “using specific, measurable and professional techniques from the ground up, whilst giving you an in-depth knowledge of the canine body,” the course website, allaboutthedogtherapy.co.uk, states.
“There are so many excellent dog training and behaviour courses out there that give you the latest up to date science based techniques to make you become an expert in your chosen field,” it states. “Despite all of them teaching you about A, B, C's they are ALL missing one vital component that is key to understanding most problem dog behaviours.”
Only 14 students are admitted at a time, and they are forewarned that the course is intensive with a blueprint for how to use the material, conduct an assessment and present the findings to the client’s veterinarian. This last piece is key to a fully implemented plan, Ganino said. She will perform a two-hour assessment of the troubled canine to evaluate its activities, movement, walking, running, standing and sitting, and the overall behavior of the dog, she said.
The finished product includes a report, video and recommended plan of action that may include prescription meds, X-rays, physical therapy and exercises. That will go to the client, behavior consultant and vet. The vet will be the one to recommend a more specific route, such as the type of medical tests or prescriptions to implement for the dog's treatment.
“There’s a lot going on when it comes to behavior and aggression; it’s not just on the outside, but a lot going on inside. Unless you’re trained, you don’t see it,” Ganino said. “We can be that team to work through these problems.”
For more information, or to find out if your dog could benefit from Ganino’s expertise, go to callingalldogsny.com, and click on Schedule a Free Consultation.
Photo by Gina Sierra, ginasierra.com