condescending. They could not explain her behavior and only wanted to choke, poke, shock etc. I was unwilling to treat my dog that way, as she LOVES us. As I researched in books and looked for trainers, I ultimately went to ABC to learn. I quickly found out there is a difference between "training obedience" and "behavior modification for fear and aggression" and the mold was cast. I was addicted to learning and started my journey. As it turns out, the education and experience I have been afforded helped us make the adoption of our third dog, Moxie, a success. Even though Gretchen can be very dog aggressive, we were able to incorporate the new dog into our home without incident.
Q: What do you consider to be your area of expertise?
A: Family-dog relationship building and manners and behavior modification for fear and aggression.
Q: Are you a crossover trainer or have you always been a force-free trainer?
A: I have always been force-free. I have never ever believed in using pain on an animal for any reason. I have always thought the word "training" as synonymous with "teaching" and one cannot "teach" if one is causing stress and pain to the learner. I went to Catholic school in the 70â€™s when the nuns were not all that nice. It was not a set up for optimum learning for me and since then I have always taught by praising the learner. Before I became a dog trainer, I was an office manager at different construction companies and, as middle management, it was my job to train staff. I have been a trainer of sorts for a very long time.
Q: Who has most influenced your career and how?
A: I would have to say Ann Dupuis of Randolph, MA. When I took Click to Calm in 2005, she took a liking to me and saw that I wanted to really learn. She was nice and approachable and not at all judgmental. She answered all my questions and was my first inspiration. She ensured that I understood the lesson at hand, saw that I was a "show me and explain it to me" person â€“ which was exactly what she did. She continues to be an inspiration. I still say "I want to be just like Ann." I remember how she never embarrassed me, always made me feel proud of my dog and really set me up for success at every lesson.
Q: What drives you to be a force-free professional and why is it important to you?
A: I have always felt that learning should be fun, no matter what we are learning or teaching. Dog training is no different and, since we have dogs for our personal enjoyment, we should have fun and enjoy. No joy comes from causing stress or pain to any animal. As I continue to train in the family dog venue and in behavior modification, I so enjoy watching the relationship grow between the family and their dog. It still touches my heart and always will.
Q: How has the PPG helped you to become a more complete trainer?
A: The resources afforded to PPG members are wonderful. And it is inspiring to see so many force-free trainers making their mark. Recently I was invited to join an "Ask the Trainer" group on Facebook. The trainer who was in charge of the group was old-style, traditional trainer, but a couple of us took it over. We actively answer questions and have not seen activity from the old trainer since. I think that he trolls the page and learns from us. We are all PPG members who are on the page answering questions. The opportunity PPG offers to network with others who are committed 100 percent to positive training and positive problem solving is wonderful.
Q: What reward do you get out of a day's training?
A: Smiling and laughing clients always tickle me pink! But mostly, when we keep a dog in his home. That's like a million bucks a day. We are well known for our success with difficult cases, so many of our clients call us as a "last ditch effort." Our success rate really is impressive. We keep it simple, applicable and doable for the family and when it is simple and doable then they can be compliant. A compliant client usually equals success.
Q: What are some of your favorite positive reinforcement techniques for most commonly encountered client-dog problems?
A: Here are a couple of my favorite examples: Q: What do I do if my dog jumps? A: Hand targeting with a low hand. A: Spin! Spin requires four paws on the floor. Q: What do I do about begging? I like giving him BARKS from the Guild/July 2014
Your BARKS summer edition. The quarterly publication from The Pet Professional Guild