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. But also to offer a more “know-to-do-tricks” or “educated” companion, to those who wished it.
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 a “trainer”.
The latter term, lost his original sense 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 in to a vulgar-macho term.
I have two primitive-type dogs, of Spitz ancestry, a female Samoyed and a male Japanese Spitz.
Both my dogs are negative bias and to live and work with them, it is a real challenge.They are over-reactive, thankfully one less than the other and not about the same stimuli.
Hence, introvert, suspicious of strangers, 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-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.
Although i am opposed to pet-shops existence, i consider my Iris, as “rescued” from this unsuitable-inhumane way of life.
It is obvious that as long as demand exists – so does the production.
Hence the pet-shops will perpetuate buying pets from breeders & puppy-mills, leading to more animal commercialisation…But then again, someone has to save them from their boxes…a vicious circle indeed…
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.
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 to canalise hyperactivity towards the right direction.
“We must consider the relationship with our 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 – Canine Behaviourist & Coach
Certified - Canine Reactive Behaviour
UK Rural Skills
Accredited - Canine Reactive Behaviour