Watch a Structural MRI of a Service Dog- Very Cool!

Canine Structural MRI

Dog Star Technologies travels to California every 2 – 3 months to collect data for a 2-year, $1 million study of service dogs. The data acquisition includes results from interactive ball and tug sensors. DST collects the sensor data at the Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) headquarters campus in Santa Rosa, CA. Then, the team travels to the University of California, Berkeley to use the research MRI at the Li Ka Shing Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences. While at Berkeley the team obtains both structural and functional MRI images of CCI candidate dogs currently in training in their adult program.

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How to Improve Your Child’s Birthday Party!

CPT Birthday Party Performance

On June 20, 2015, CPT Trainer Karen Smalley and her Border Collie, Bodhi, performed at a Dunwoody 6-year old’s birthday party. The child told her mother that she wanted “to be a dog trainer,” which prompted the mom to contact CPT.

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Tips for Relieving Your Dog’s Stress with Dog Training

Separation Anxiety- Anxious Dog Home Alone

Choosing dog training is one way you can help your dog to cope with stress. Tackling this issue by yourself can actually just add on to the stress that both you and your dog are experiencing. Dog training can help you to better identify the cause of the stress. Then, you can not only work on treating it, but also tackle the problem that is causing the stress in the first place.

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Does Music Calm the Savage Beast?

Cellist extraordinaire Mary Horst brought her cello to CPT’s Intermediate Agility class to test the maxim whether music calms the savage beast- or at least an energetic agility dog.

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The Dog Project: Experiment 6B- Reward Preference

CPT was busy this Sunday conducting Experiment 6B- Reward Preference for The Dog Project. The experiment examines whether dogs prefer social reward (tactile contact and praise from the owner) or appetitive reward (treats). The experiment also examines whether the reward preference may vary depending upon deprivation, satiation, visual salience, or lateralization preferences, whether the optimal reward may vary randomly amongst dogs, or whether the ideal reward is correlated to the temperament profile of the dog.

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Sami Griffith and Gemini Complete Their First Scans

New additions to The Dog Project Sami Griffith and Gemini completed their first scans. To accomplish this feat, Sami and Gemini needed to first pass a rigorous tryout that evaluated Gemini’s obedience, Sami’s handling abilities, Gemini’s socialization traits, and Gemini’s composure amidst multiple environmental variables, including stairs, narrow elevated walkways, enclosures, and loud noise.

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CPT Assists Dog Star Technologies in Researching Apparel Products

Apparel- Ike wearing his weighted vest.

CPT is assisting Dog Star Technologies in researching the anxiety reduction properties of several existing canine apparel products and concepts. Concepts that Dog Star wishes to study include the benefits and/or detriments of loose garments versus compression garments and the benefits and/or detriments of thermally controlled garments and weighted garments.

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The Dog Project: Experiment 6- Reward Preference

The Dog Project uses fMRI and field behavioral experiments to study canine cognition, emotion, sensory reception, receptive communication, and inhibitory control.  The Emory-CPT team of Dr. Greg Berns and Mark Spivak co-founded the project and became the first research team worldwide to obtain quality fMRI images of any non-human animal obtained without the aid of […]

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Elizabeth Resolves Her Dogs’ On-Leash Reactivity

Elizabeth- Cooper and Lilly-Resolving On-Leash Reactivity

Elizabeth came to CPT concerned about her Goldendoodles, Cooper and Lilly. She had difficulty walking them together on-leash because of their reactivity (barking and lunging) whenever they saw another dog. In addition, Cooper frequently began guarding access to Lilly when unfamiliar dogs approached Lilly at the dog park. Consequently, Elizabeth stopped taking her dogs to the dog park and became wary when walking them on-leash.

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Lili Learns Not to Bark at Dogs on the TV

Behavior Modification- Barking at the television

Science aside, Linda, a CPT client, had no doubts that her 5-year old Maltese, Lili, could precisely see the television. Almost every time an animal, especially a dog or horse, appeared on the screen Lili barked aggressively at the set. Lili’s barking was so tenacious and cacophonous that Linda could not comfortably watch television if a program included an animal. Therefore, Linda called in CPT behavior modification expert Mark Spivak to solve the problem.

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The Dog Project: Greg Presents to Our ONR Program Manager

The Dog Project- Greg Presents to our ONR Program Manager

The Canine Sciences Division of ONR has been gracious in funding The Dog Project. The Dog Project’s mission for ONR is to conduct basic foundation research on canine cognition, emotions, sensory reception, receptive communication, and inhibitory control, with a long-term strategic objective of employing the findings to better identify and train explosive detection and service dogs for military and civilian applications.

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CPT Beginner Agility Graduates

CPT Beginner Agility Class

The CPT Beginner Agility Class familiarizes dogs and handlers with each of the agility obstacles: bar jumps, tire jump, open tunnel, closed tunnel (chute), A-frame, dogwalk, teeter, pause table, and weave poles.  At the completion of Beginner Agility participating dogs should be competent in all the listed obstacles, except for the teeter and weave poles, […]

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Sid, Judy, and Bristol- Resolving Dog-Owner Aggression

Sid and Judi- Bristol- Resolving Dog-Owner Aggression

Bristol is a 4.5-year old, neutered, male Chow Chow. Sid and Judi owned him since he was a puppy. Historically, he has been non-aggressive with Sid and Judi, although he was at times stubborn, and he has been highly affable with guests- much more convivial than the average Chow. Therefore, Sid and Judi were surprised when Bristol recently snapped at people who tried to pet him. Sid and Judi were even more shocked when Bristol bit Sid when he asked Bristol to release a piece of pizza that Bristol took from the garbage and when he again bit Sid when Sid tried to remove him from the bed. Bristol also recently began growling at Judi when she tried prompting him to enter the car or when she approached his food bowl.

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Ilana and Jarro- Proud CGC Graduates

Ilana Katz and Jarro- Proud CGC Graduates

Ilana Katz and Jarro proudly display their AKC Canine Good Citizen Certificate. Ilana and Jarro were one of 12 human-canine teams that recently graduated from a recent CPT CGC Class.

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Katie and Jimmy Complete an In-Home Lesson on Housebreaking

Katie and Jimmy- In-Home- Housebreaking

Katie and Jimmy, her 5 year old, neutered, male Morkie (Maltese/Yorkie), completed an in-home lesson on housebreaking. Although Jimmy is mega-cute, he pees and poops in the house about 6 – 9x per week, which is not very cute, especially for a 5-year old dog.

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Is There a Correlation Between Outstanding Parenting Skills and Excellent Dog Training Aptitude?

Dog Training Aptitude

Based on this photo it appears the answer is an emphatic “Yes!” These 4 kids spent the entire Beginner Class hour in the hallway adjoining the training area happily playing games, doing homework, and getting along, without once making a peep. What a pleasure! If only all kids were like these four.

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Fairy, Andrew, and Bandit Visited CPT for a Private Behavior Modification Session on Dog Aggression

Fairy, Andrew, and Bandit visited CPT for a private behavior modification session on dog aggression.

Fairy and her husband Rusty first contacted CPT in July 2014 regarding their then 8-month old Norwegian Elkhound littermates Smokey and Bandit. They were concerned about the dogs’ unruly household behavior, which included jumping, digging, stealing food, and bolting, their lack of adherence to obedience commands, and their pulling and apparent aggression when encountering unfamiliar dogs while walking on-leash. Fairy and Rusty completed one private lesson at CPT, then elected to convert to board training.

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Success in Addressing Leash Walking Reactivity

Leash Walking Reactivity- Remi, Luckie, and Blue

Remi brought Ngoni and Luckie to the CPT Sandy Springs Training Center to address on-leash reactivity when they observed unfamiliar dogs. In one lesson, we conditioned the dogs to a reward marker, conditioned them to the Gentle Leader, taught them how to walk on a loose leash while wearing the Gentle Leader, taught them to become more attentive to Remi and less to the environment, and then separated them so that they could work individually amidst a volunteer dog.

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CPT Agility Video

CPT Agility

Becca and Inny demonstrating the Double Jump and the Tire Jump during a CPT Advanced Agility Class. Inny is a fast, agile dog and Becca, a former Sprayberry High School soccer star, still remains fleet of foot, which is helpful when handling a dog as quick as Inny.

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Young Charlie Learns to Walk Shadow- CPT In-Home Instruction

In-Home Instruction- Larren, Charlie, and Shadow

Larren and Charlie, age 9, participated in an in-home lesson with their Black Lab Mix, Shadow. Shadow learned how to sit, come, greet people at the door without jumping, and walk properly on a loose leash. The highlight of the session was when young Charlie walked Shadow about the neighborhood with a big smile on his face- and a nice loose leash.

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CPT, Dog Star Technologies, and Georgia Tech Collaborate for Research

CPT, Dog Star Technologies, and Georgia Tech Research

Kady Interacts with the Tug Sensor The video shows Kady, a CCI release dog owned by CPT Trainer Patricia King, interacting with the Georgia Tech FIDO Project Tug Sensor. The tug apparatus contains a pneumatic sensor and accompanying microelectronics encapsulated by a nontoxic soft silicone exterior shell and a pseudo-fur cover. The sensor determines the […]

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Who Says America Isn’t Training Scientists?

Scientists- Celeste Mason, Piper Vornholt, Ceara Byrne, and Larry Freil of the Georgia Tech Human/Animal Computer Interaction Laboratory

Who Says America Isn’t Training Scientists? The accompanying photo shows (l-r) Celeste Mason, Piper Vornholt, Ceara Byrne, and Larry Freil of the Georgia Tech Human/Animal Computer Interaction Laboratory.

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Another CGC Graduate- With a Nice Story!

CGC Graduate- Shamu- Great Dane

When Steve and Brittany first contacted CPT about Shamu, their 6.5-year old Great Dane, they were worried about Shamu’s reactivity and apparent object guarding when Brittany walked Shamu in the neighborhood. They also were concerned about destructive chewing that originated from Shamu’s separation distress.

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Congrats Rio on Becoming A Certified American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen!

Certified Amerian Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen- Rio- Doberman Pinscher

Although Rio was always a good dog, now she is a certified American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Good Citizen. Sandra and Rio were one of 12 human-canine teams that graduated from a recent CPT CGC Class. And even with all of Sandra’s accolades as a track star for Darlington High School and Auburn University, she considers receiving Rio’s CGC certificate as one of her greatest honors.

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Novel Canine Neuroscience at CPT- GA Tech Visits CPT to Test Sensor Products

Zen Testing the Ball Sensor- Canine Neuroscience Research at CPT

The Georgia Tech Brain Lab’s FIDO Project team visited CPT on SU Feb 8 to work with The Dog Project dogs. The FIDO Project is participating in a 2-year canine neuroscience study coordinated by Dog Star Technologies ( As part of the study, the FIDO team is developing sensors that will aid in determining the temperament of a dog by how the dog interacts with each sensor product. Presently, there are two sensor products in the prototype stage, a ball sensor and a tug sensor.

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In-Home Training Helped Maya to Relate Better to Her Human and Canine Pack Members

In-Home Training- Maya

Maya is a 6-year old Australian Shepherd Mix that Carolyn has owned since Dec 2014. We worked on helping Maya to better enjoy time with Betty in the backyard, extinguishing pawing as an attention seeking behavior, Come, Sit, and Leash Walking. Carolyn and Maya both learned a lot and built a better relationship in the process.

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Board Training with CPT: The Down-Stay Exercise

Dog Board Training with CPT: The Down-Stay Exercise

Shelby the Golden and Bubba the Boxer completing down-stays while board training with CPT Trainer Megan Sinteff Jefferson. Megan provides a wonderful, bucolic multi-acre experience for the dogs to learn and play. Next time you go on vacation, don’t let your dog veg at a kennel. Board train your dog with CPT!

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Dog Star Technologies Visits Berkeley, CA

Dog Star Technologies Visits Berkeley, CA

This past week Mark Spivak, Greg Berns, and Andrew Brooks of Dog Star Technologies visited the University of California, Berkeley to conduct fMRI scans of 7 dogs that recently entered the Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) adult training program. The 7 scans that occurred over the weekend of Jan 31- Feb 1 were the first of 50 total scans the group will analyze over a 2-year period.

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Reducing Gracie’s Territorial Aggression

Gracie- Cane Corso- Territorial Aggression

Gracie, a 10-month Cane Corso, is very friendly. But, she can be an excitable territorial handful when she is behind a gate or fence or when she is on-leash in the neighborhood and sees unfamiliar people or dogs. Therefore, we worked on leadership communication, impulse control training, acclimation to the Gentle Leader, leash walking mechanics, and establishing a calm greeting protocol. There is still work to do. However, we made tangible impact after just one session.

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CPT Beginner Obedience Graduates

CPT Beginner Obedience Graduates

CPT Beginner Obedience graduates: Caleb and Chip, BJ and Sophie, Catherine and Henry, Glenn and Jessie, and Debbie and Aries. They all learned a lot- and they had a lot of fun!

Now, on to an Intermediate Class, where they will transition on-leash skills to off-leash proficiency.

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Whatever You Can Do I Can Do Better!

Whatever you can do I can do better

Whatever you can do I can do better!” Emory University neuroscience professor Danny Dilks poses with Stella the Bouvier before she enters the MRI for the “Danny-Faces” experiment. Stella wears ear plugs covered by vet wrap to provide hearing protection once within the MRI. Danny wears vet wrap simply because he is well coiffed.

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CPT- A Leader in Canine Neuroscience Research: The Danny Faces Experiment

Canine Neuroscience- Danny Faces Experiment

The Danny Faces experiment is designed to identify the canine FFA (fusiform face area) and to better understand the operation of the canine FFA. The FFA is responsible for facial identification and processing. The first photo shows Kady observing non-facial stimuli. The second photo shows Kady observing facial stimuli. By analyzing brain activity that occurs exclusively upon exposure to the still photos and video of faces, as compared to the non-facial images, we can locate the FFA!

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A Successful Private Behavior Modification Lesson with CPT Training

German Shepherd- Behavior Modification

Why is Amy smiling? Because she just completed a successful private lesson with Comprehensive Pet Therapy!

Prior to the appointment, her German Shepherd Bailey pulled constantly on-leash and became reactive whenever she saw an unfamiliar dog. The behavior became worse after a friend’s dog started a fight with Bailey. One time during a walk Bailey literally pulled Amy over and dragged her on the ground.

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Storm Learns Impulse Control and Reduces His Compulsive Behavior

Australian Cattle Dog- Impulse Control

Storm is a 2.25 year old Australian Cattle Dog. Prior to our in-home appointment, Storm would obstreperously and compulsively pace, circle, jump, bark, and nip whenever his owners poured juice, took plates/bowls/pots from the cabinet, or talked on the phone.

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A Successful Service Dog Turnover

CPT Trained Service Dog

Kali the Rottweiler posing with her smiling owner during her turnover lesson in Charleston, SC. CPT trains serivce dogs for clients throughout the United States. Moreover, CPT has a very flexible program. Although most service dogs that we train are either Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Labradoodles, or Goldendoodles, we have trained dogs from a diverse array of breeds, including a Great Pyrenees, a Weimeraner, a Dachshund Mix, and of course, a Rottweiler.

For more information about CPT’s service dog program, please contact CPT by email ( or by phone (404-236-2150).

(Charleston, SC)

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