About

who we are

Trying to establish the underlying reasons of the behaviour

Passionate about animals since my childhood. Especially intrigued by canines’ intelligence, devotion and their capacity of emotional responses.
At the age of 20, i indulged my interest in the world of Canidae. I have started by educating my own dogs and the ones of my closest friends and family.
Foremost out of curiosity, in order to explore their potential of learning. Secondarily to offer a more “know-to-do-tricks” or “educated” companion, to those who wished it.
Today, based in Antony-France, i propose my services in Canine Behaviourism & Coaching.
Ethology, Canine Learning Theory & Animal Cognition, taught me to observe and interpret the signs, therefore better understand my dogs.

I consider my self more of a coach, than “trainer”.
The latter term, became very meaningless over the years, since everyone claims to be one, no matter how and what he uses as a training tool-kit.

Cruelty, punitive methods, physical force and intimidation, induced by “dominance-obsessed” people, turned the dog-training to a vulgar-macho term.

As a passionate advocate of Positive Reinforcement and Operant Conditioning, i recommend to all animal lovers, to interact with their dogs with a lot of kindness, empathy & patience!!!

Coaching

A Coach should always know and respect the dog's emotions, during the instruction session.
He shows him the possible choices and which one will be the best to make, according to his personality.
He creates scenarios that build the dog's self-confidence, helps him to discover his strengths and abilities, in order to use them in everyday life.

I have two primitive-type dogs, of Spitz ancestry, a female Samoyed and a male Japanese Spitz.
Both over-reactive, thankfully one less than the other and not about the same stimuli.
They are, introvert, suspicious of strangers, hyper-vigilant, at times totally disconnected from their environment, moody, competitive, briefly a bit of everything.
Thanks to them and their reactivity, i got seriously involved in Canine Behaviour and i decided to further study about canine cognition.
After having read more than 20 books about behavioural problems, i took courses at the Ethology Institute Cambridge, Canine Principles Academy, Karen Pryor Academy and Center of Excellence.

My female Sammy, originally from a Bulgarian puppy farm/mill, later repatriated to a French pet shop – from where I recovered her – was already predisposed to a stressful life, deprived from her conspecifics and the imprinting period, until the final destination to France.
During her doubtful journey, there is a lot of space for errors and a PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) from the environmental stimuli, she had to cope with.
When i got her she was 4 and 1/2 months old, which is already a long time for an animal to live in a “glass box” (80 by 80cm).
No dog can thrive in such environment, without human or conspecific company, nor the best of nutrition.

Sammies are known to be difficult to train – like most working dogs – because of their “stubbornness”, a completely normal breed characteristic, which they need during the sled or hunting work.
Hence the risk of getting bored and easily distracted is increased. All working dogs need to deplete their excessive energy.
Her play-mode is different from others, primarily due to her nature and secondarily, to her reactivity, that adds significantly to the equation.
Running small animals are transforming into prey. My other dog, the Spitz, becomes her “toy-prey” during play-time, because of her strong predator instinct.
Behaviour modification against her natural hunting instincts, it is not easy to achieve, it takes time, patience and consistency, furthermore proactively remove her from the triggers.
My other dog the Spitz, is originated from a “reputable” breeder, but with inadequate human contact and everything that come with a household environment.
Therefore i had to desensitise him to the hair dryer, refrigerator, vacuum cleaner, coffee machine, washing machine, door bell, the cellphone ringtone etc.
His reactivity completes a long list, he is introvert, suffers from neophobia, anxious to human presence, with ADR (active defence reflex) and a lot of stress.
Both my dogs are negative bias and to live and work with them it is an actual challenge.
To guide them in their life full of stimuli and stressful triggers, i use a reinforcement program, impulse control, desensitisation and counter-conditioning.
These methods are designed to relieve anxiety, therefore canalise hyperactivity, towards the right direction.
with reactive, “difficult” dogs, Living and working with reactive, “difficult” dogs, can be challenging, but it worth every minute you spend with them!
The three of us cooperate to increase self-confidence and make this hypersensitivity and alertness, less obstructive, in everyday life.

Dogs give us unconditional love

patience & empathy is the least we can offer them in return

To teach the dogs more complicated behaviours, i use a clicker, operant and classical conditioning and of course all type of rewards – verbal, physical & edible – for a pleasant educational experience.
The “law of effect” by Psychologist Edward Thorndike states that motivation will encourage a better reaction, as well as “Premack’s principle” (by Psychologist David Premack), who also states that the individual will be more motivated to perform an activity, knowing that pleasant consequences are following!
Keep in mind that the motivation with treats, is for rewarding – not bribing the dog, after he has offered the desired behaviour!!!

After my studies, personal inquiries and reading about scientists – with sometimes controversial theories & methods – i decided to follow the one that seems to me the most logical, ethical and scientifically established.
Today, you can find many theories and studies, concerning the ethical and kind way of educating and living with the dog.
Ethology science attempts to recognise animals’ innate and learned behaviours, their ability to adapt to different environments and successfully respond to changes.

Thanks to Anders Hallgren, Sally Gutteridge, Ian Dunbar, John Bradshaw, Karen Pryor, Emma Parsons, Turid Rugaas and other specialists, Psychologists, Biologists, Canine Behaviourists and Instructors, i have finally found the right approach to understand my dogs.
The good news is that scientific researches from all of the above and others, specialised in animal behaviour, have proved that the theory of the “pack leader” or the “alpha” of the house, are obsolete and wrong!

Physical force, violence, reprimands and negativity are undeniably unnecessary, same as the absolute control over these intelligent and emotional beings, who just want to be part of our family!

“Leadership is not about being in charge, is about taking care of those in your charge”.

Simon Sinek – Author

Quallifications

We must consider our relationship with the dog as parental, rather than this of the master and subordinate.
Dogs, similarly to children, see us as their "role model" for guiding them to their new life with us.
Our role is not to dominate them, but to establish a symbiotic relationship with them. Let us be worthy of this role!

Katerina Giannikosta-Barny

Canine Behaviorist & Coach
Canine-Principles

Canine Principles

Certified - Canine Reactive Behaviour

UK-Rural-Skills-Certified

UK Rural Skills

Accredited - Canine Reactive Behaviour