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Third Canine Training Technician Graduates

Susan Nilson speaks to Steph Mitchell, the second PPG Australia member - and third person overall - to successfully earn the Pet Professional Accreditation Board’s CTT-A credential


aving spent most of her working life in the hospitality industry, Steph Mitchell decided it was time for a change in direction when a rescue dog named Buddy entered her life. Buddy was energetic and excitable from the start, and it became obvious he was going to need some training. Mitchell embarked on an animal studies course and then, encouraged by her lecturer and the good results she was starting to achieve with Buddy, she decided to further her knowledge and pursue force-free dog training full-time. Her studies included work experience, which led to assisting at Canine Behavioural School, www.caninebehaviouralschool, in Trinity Gardens, South Australia, and the opportunity to attain the Canine Training Technician – Accredited (CTT-A) credential. Mitchell is also a registered dog walker and pet sitter with a well-known agency, and has successfully built up her own regular customer base. BARKS: Why did you do the CTT-A credential?

Steph Mitchell: Firstly, I saw it as a great way to keep up my training skills. I am also passionate about force-free training, so I was keen from the outset. I was also quite excited at the chance to take part in force-free training being promoted as an industryapproved method for pet dog training. I saw this as the perfect opportunity to demonstrate just how significant this type of training is to me, and to do my part in helping to bring about regulation to a non-regulated industry. BARKS: What did getting the credential entail?

SM: Firstly, I had to pass eligibility criteria which was set out by the PPAB. I then had to sit a knowledge-based examination. After that, I had to show video evidence of me teaching five different behaviors that were randomly selected for me by PPAB. I also had to create a video explaining and demonstrating how I conditioned an emotional response (CER) to something my dog found neutral or unpleasant. Lastly, I had to submit two unedited 15minute videos of me teaching group training classes. One thing I made sure to do was plan ahead and know what I was going to say before I started filming. I also wrote out little prompt notes. I filmed my training sessions for a whole month without editing, and then went over the videos and found which parts worked. I edited those together and refilmed anything I 14

BARKS from the Guild/March 2017

Steph Mitchell with Buddy, who inspired her to work towards earning her CTT-A

was not happy with. I think the most important thing is to carefully read through the Study Guide, www.credentialingboard .com/resources/Documents/CTT/Final%20 Canine%20Training%20Technician%20 Study%20Guide.pdf, and thoroughly understand what is expected in order to meet all the criteria. BARKS: What was the easiest and/or most enjoyable part about doing the credential, and what did you find challenging, if anything?

SM: The easiest and, of course, best bit was spending time with Buddy and constantly improving my training skills. By watching the video playback I learned so much about myself as a trainer in relation to my bridging and timing techniques. Watching our training sessions also made me more aware of both my and Buddy's body language, and gave me a better understanding of what early signals to look for to indicate Buddy had had enough. It was not all smooth sailing though, as I will admit that I did find the three-minute time frame for the positive CER something of a challenge. I felt that an extra minute or two would have given me time to show my progression just that bit more. BARKS: How do you believe the CTT-A will help your business, and you as a professional?

SM: It has certainly improved my training skills and will definitely be an asset to add a professionally recognized credential to my trainer’s profile. I also feel proud to be able to promote myself in a way that complies both with industry standards and my own ethics. BARKS: What does it mean personally to have earned this credential?

SM: It means a lot to me, and it feels good to be recognized for one’s efforts. I am really grateful to have been given the opportunity to go out and achieve something like this. It has given me extra confidence in my knowledge and my training abilities. As a definite bonus, I am now much more at ease in front of the video camera. n For more details on CTT-A and other credentials offered by PPAB, see

BARKS from the Guild March 2017  

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 March 2017  

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