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#PPGSummit 2015: The Future Is Now

At the close of PPG’s 2015 Summit, we invited six of the presenters to engage in a brief


panel discussion on what the future holds for the field of professional animal training and behavior. Susan Nilson reports

t times, with all the cruelty and destruction in the world, it can seem disheartening for pet professionals who are trying to make a stand for animals, to be their voice and ensure they get the best care possible and are never subjected to pain and suffering along the way. While there is still great resistance from many quarters regarding the power of training via positive reinforcement - scientific study notwithstanding - as everyone in attendance at the PPG Summit already knows, the results speak for themselves. As Ken McCort said in his presentation, The Skill of Management and Training when Dogs Are Displaying Undesired Behavior, using positive punishment when dealing with an undesirable behavior means you are reacting to what the dog has already done, which is “not a good training approach.” “An aversive device excites a part of the nervous system that you do not want to excite,” said McCort. “A good trainer negotiates with an animal, i.e. will you do this for this?” Bearing this in mind, we asked McCort, along with fellow presenters Pat Miller, Janis Bradley, Angelica Steinker, Lara Joseph and Chirag Patel (with PPG president Niki Tudge moderating) what they believe the future holds for the rapidly growing area of animal behavior and training. Here is what they had to say: Q: How do you see the pet industry developing from here?

Janis Bradley: I really do think that a huge proportion of the future of dog training is in recognizing and understanding and taking advantage of the science of relationships. It wasn’t that long ago in my life with dogs that I thought that was hocus pocus, namby pamby stuff yet now we have got the solutions. It’s really real. The really great thing is that very gradually our clients actually know what we’re talking about Panelist and presenter, Chirag Patel, meets when they talk about their relationships Zoey, owned by summit with their dogs. I am a crossover trainer attendee, Alyssa Buller so I have seen a big sea change in how we (not pictured) advise people on their relationships with their dogs and I think there is a big new [change] coming.

Ken McCort: I do think this is one of the greatest collections of experts - not just people [in the panel] but people in the audience - and dog trainers that I’ve seen for a long long time. I’m really happy to see that, for a first summit, it turned out the way it did. The science is absolutely necessary.

The more I know the more I understand what’s going on with an animal, or think I understand. We can never know it all but the science is getting better. I’m so pleased with the industry and what’s going on, especially with the science. I’m really excited about a lot of the products that are coming out that we can use to help our animals and help our clients’ animals. I think that’s a very promising future. The big thing I’d like to see in the future is the different people who work in training animals, especially in the exotic animal world, networking with others. [The latter] could use our help sometimes and we could learn a lot from them. Some are just starting out and need more education, and there are others from whose wisdom we can all benefit. Pat Miller: This has been the best dog training conference ever. It is so cool to have been in the industry for long enough to see the change.

Chirag Patel: For me, the future of dog training is the science aspect of it. Science goes beyond learning theory and I hope that we’ll look at training as part of the care package for an animal, rather than thinking, “I just want to do training.” I think there will be lots of change in that respect.

Angelica Steinker: I see so many possibilities. I challenge everyone to be creative and to share their creativity. Let people know if you come up with a great idea. Put it in BARKS from the Guild, put it on the PPG Facebook page and share what you know. All of those great ideas can create something completely awesome.

Lara Joseph: This is the best seminar I have ever attended. I come from the exotic animal world and I am bringing awareness of PPG and the future of PPG to my clientele. There’s a big need for it in the wildlife rehabilitation community. A field that is huge on aversives and punishment is pigs so I am pushing PPG in that area and trying to educate how positive reinforcement and applied behavior analysis do affect behavior. Q: How do you foresee bringing the force-free movement to the horse industry? There is still so much punishment with horses and it can be a culture of cruelty.

BARKS from the Guild/January 2016


Profile for The Pet Professional Guild

BARKS from the Guild January 2016  

The bi-monthly trade publication from the Pet Professional Guild covering all things animal behavior and training, canine, feline, equine, p...

BARKS from the Guild January 2016  

The bi-monthly trade publication from the Pet Professional Guild covering all things animal behavior and training, canine, feline, equine, p...