“The Champions” : An Inspiring Dog Rescue Success Story


As part of our 10-year anniversary celebration, the FACE Foundation is proud to be hosting a screening of the amazing documentary film The Champions on Saturday, September 24, 2016 at the Illumina Theater in here San Diego.


The Champions is an inspirational story about the pit bulls rescued from the brutal fighting ring of former Atlanta Falcon’s star quarterback Michael Vick, and those who risked it all to save them, despite pressure from PETA and The Humane Society of the United States to euthanize the dogs.  It is a story of second-chances, redemption and hope. This uplifting documentary takes us on a journey about much more than just dogs—about prejudice, being misunderstood, the power of resilience, and the significance of the relationship we as humans have with animals.

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We invite all of our friends to join us for this special event.  You can register HERE.  Don’t live in or near San Diego?  No problem!  You can watch the movie trailer by clicking HERE, and even download the full film right HERE!


The Hierarchy of Dog Needs™: A Wellness and Force-free Behavior Modification Guide

Hierarchy Dogs1

Many of us first learned about Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs model of human motivation back in Psychology 101 class. Maslow proposed that human behavior is motivated by an ascending hierarchy of needs, from basic ones like food and shelter to more complex emotional and social needs like feeling a sense of accomplishment and having a network of friends.

Linda with a little friend.

Linda with a little friend.

What if the Hierarchy of Needs model could be adapted to canine psychology and used for dog training as well as other human-dog interactions like grooming, veterinary practice, animal sheltering, and working/service dogs? Well, good news dog lovers! FACE Foundation friend and supporter Linda Michaels, M.A. of Del Mar Dog Training here in San Diego County has done just that!

Linda with a big friend.

Linda with a big friend.

Linda has been rated as one of the top 10 dog trainers in the U.S. With a background in experimental psychology, and a special focus on the psychological aspects of dog behavior, Linda has used her extensive experience to develop the Hierarchy of Dog Needs wellness and force-free behavior modification approach:


As can be seen in the pyramid infographic (click on image above to enlarge), a dog’s needs progress like this:

  • Biological (food, water, sleep)
  • Emotional (security, love)
  • Social (bonding, play)
  • Cognitive (choice, novelty)

Added to this hierarchy of needs is a dog’s force-free training needs, what Linda calls “do no harm” management and learning. Once our dogs’ foundational needs (biological, social, emotional) are met, we can then use the HDN to address force-free behavior modification.


What’s “force-free?” Linda explains that there is never a justification for using harsh training methods based on pain, fear, or dominance. She also strongly opposes harsh training devices (like shock, prong, or choke collars) on your dog. Instead, the Hierarchy of Dog Needs philosophy can be used in conjunction with a variety of established force-free training methods, including:

  • Desensitization
  • Classical and counter-conditioning
  • Differential reinforcement
  • Positive reinforcement
  • Antecedent modification
  • Management

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Interested in learning more about this unique and compassionate approach to dog training? There’s lots of great information about utilizing the Hierarchy of Dog Needs method on Linda’s website. Linda is currently working on The Hierarchy of Dog Needs Handbook, a step-by-step guide to the principles outlined in the infographic. Be sure to pick up a copy early next year!


August 22nd is Take Your Cat to the Vet Day

Cat vet1

You can probably think of more fun things to do this summer than put your cat in a carrier and listen to her meow from the backseat on the car ride to the veterinarian’s office. That’s why the annual Take Your Cat to the Vet Day is such a great reminder for people that cats need annual wellness exams just as much as any other member of your family!

Cat vet4

Veterinary Practice News notes that while there are over 74 million cats in the United States, there are only 1.6 feline veterinary visits per household/year. Make sure your vet visits are not just reserved for veterinary emergencies. Preventive care can help your cat live a longer, healthier life.

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What are some of the routine annual feline preventive care treatments your cat should be getting? According to Pet Health Network, vets generally perform physical and dental examinations, give immunizations, conduct internal and external parasite checks, and take samples of blood and stool.

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Routine exams are a great way to check for any potential problems like tooth decay, cancer, parasites, and many common feline diseases. What are the most frequent cat health diagnoses given during annual wellness exams? Here are the top ones, from Veterinary Practice News:

  • Obesity
  • Cystitis (bladder inflammation)
  • Fleas
  • Conjuntivitis (eye inflammation)
  • Dental tartar
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Upper respiratory tract infection
  • Heart murmur
  • Hyperthyroidism


Don’t forget to make that appointment today!


America’s Most Dog-Friendly Cities for 2016

Dog cities1

The personal finance company SmartAsset recently released its latest list of the most dog-friendly cities in the U.S. They analyzed data on a number of factors, including:

  • Number of dog parks
  • Number of dog-friendly shopping areas
  • Number of dog-friendly restaurants
  • Walkability
  • Weather
  • Housing costs

The first 3 factors were given the most weight in the analysis.

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What are some of the key findings before we get to the big reveal?

  • 7 of the top 10 dog-friendliest cities are in the Western U.S.
  • The Southern states scored lowest on the metrics used in the study.
  • 3 of the top 10 cities are located right here in California.

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And the winners are….

  1. San Francisco, CA
  2. Las Vegas, NV
  3. Denver, CO
  4. San Diego, CA (we’re #1 for dog-friendly restaurants—woop woop!)
  5. Albuquerque, NM
  6. Sacramento, CA
  7. Chicago, IL
  8. Minneapolis, MN
  9. Tucson, AZ
  10. New York, NY


Cat Personality Study Shows Link Between Domestic Cats and Wild Felines

Cat behavior1

Feline behavior can be a puzzling thing, even for long-time cat owners. If you’ve ever used the word “neurotic” to describe your cat, you’re not alone. What’s behind some of the quirky behaviors of our pet cats, and do they share these qualities with cats in the wild? A recent study published in the Journal of Comparative Psychology offers some interesting answers!

Cat behavior2

Researchers studied the personalities of 100 domestic cats and dozens of wild felines living in captivity in various zoos. The wild cats studied were the clouded and snow leopards, the Scottish wildcat, and the African lion. All of the cats were evaluated with a 45-question personality survey.

Cat behavior6

It turns out that both our housecats and all of the wild cats share three personality traits: neuroticism, impulsiveness, and dominance. How do these personality traits manifest themselves in feline behavior? Neuroticism includes fear of humans, suspiciousness, and insecurity. Impulsive cats were likely to be erratic, impulsive, and excitable. Dominance manifested itself as aggressiveness, jealousy, and “bullying” of members of the same species.

Cat behavior3

What does all of this mean for cat owners scratching their heads over their kitty’s “weird” behavior? The researchers note that for the wild cats living in zoos, their captive status could very well be contributing to their behaviors. They argue that if we think of our domestic cats as little house lions, we can gain a greater understanding of how they tick, too.

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Since cats in the wild live a predatory (and often solitary) way of life, we can take steps to enrich the environment and care for the emotional health of our pet cats (and also shelter cats). This includes providing cats with stimulation such as food-dispensing puzzle-feeder toys, and play sessions that involve interactive toys like fishing pole-style wands and objects like fuzzy mice and ping pong balls (placed in boxes or bags for added stimulus).

Cat behavior4

Cats also like vertical spaces, which help them feel safe and secure. Things like cat trees, shelves and kitty walkways, and even window perches (with a view of the action outside) can do the trick. Don’t forget to also provide them with safe hideouts like boxes and covered beds to help them feel cozy and secure. And of course, encourage their natural scratching behavior with scratching posts covered in rough material like sisal.