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Making Choices

In our ongoing series of PPG member profiles, this month BARKS features Charleen Cordo


of Be SMART Dog Training in Aurora, Colorado

harleen Cordo has been involved Charleen Cordo and her training. I have been a member of various Havanese, Lucca with his professional associations for 30-plus years, with dog training for about 45 first place, all round years. Her journey to force-free freestyle competition and PPG for the past two years. I attend ribbon; he also conferences and try to absorb as much as I training began when she started teaching received an dog training at The Colorado Boys Ranch, a award for can from other professionals. being the treatment facility that helped at-risk juvedog that Q: Are you a crossover trainer or have nile boys in the community. It did not take had the most fun you always been a force-free trainer? her long to figure out these abused and mentally ill youth could not handle correcA: As previously mentioned, I am a crossover tions well, and she felt the same applied to trainer. When I had a trainer tell me to put a the dogs. This led her to search for a better pinch collar on my Samoyed and use a throw way than old school training methods, and chain to get him to walk on a leash, I decided she proceeded to become qualified in this is not my cup of tea. My puppy did not Tellington TTouch®, clicker training and reeven want to be near me, let alone walk with ward-based training. The boys benefited me. because they had to look for what the dogs were doing right and reward that; reward was not in their vocab- Q: How has PPG helped you to become a more complete trainer? ulary prior to that. She found force-free methods to be hugely beneficial, both for the shelter dogs and the youth who were A: PPG has combined the various force-free training methods training them. Nowadays, she primarily teaches private lessons, under one umbrella. That is what PPG is all about. I love the logo, helping people with anything from behavior problems to puppy No Pain No Force No Fear. start-up. Q:Tell us a little bit about your own pets.

A: I had conformation show Samoyeds for 10 years. I started out with the conventional, old school methods using corrections and choke collars, but with my last Samoyed I converted to forcefree training. I could not believe the difference between the two methods. I currently am involved with canine freestyle dance with my 6-year-old Havanese, Lucca, who has only ever been trained with force-free methods. We are an awesome team. He loves to do tricks and has many in his repertoire. Q: Who has most influenced your career and how?

A: Karen Pryor and her numerous staff for the way they promote clicker training; Michelle Pouliot and Julie Flanery for their freestyle expertise; and Linda Tellington-Jones for Tellington TTouch®.

Q: Why did you become a dog trainer or pet care provider?

A: I have always loved working with animals. I originally wanted to become a veterinarian but ended up becoming an elementary music teacher and then a substitute teacher. My job at the Boys Ranch enabled me to be around multiple animals and I loved every minute of it. I became a veterinary technician, a groomer, a dog trainer and got involved with a rescue group and a pet adoption agency. I was hooked. When the Boys Ranch closed and I got my new puppy, I knew I wanted to expand my horizons in dog 60

BARKS from the Guild/March 2017

Q: What are some of your favorite positive reinforcement techniques for the most commonly encountered client-dog problems?

A: I try to use a marker of some kind, be it a clicker, a sound, or a “yes.” I also believe in having a dog learn to make choices. Trick training is perfect for this. Counterconditioning inappropriate behaviors works well and I enjoy teaching alternative behaviors to replace them. Q:What do you consider to be your area of expertise? A: Trick training and rehabilitating shelter dogs.

Q: What reward do you get out of a day's training?

A: Seeing a client and dog happily interacting. Changing people’s outlook concerning their dog, so instead of thinking his behavior is “bad” or “spiteful,” they ask what they can do to change his responses. These are my favorite parts of the job. Q: What drives you to be a force-free professional and why is it important to you?

A: I have worked with hundreds of abandoned shelter dogs and helped rehabilitate them into wonderful, well-behaved companion animals. I also investigated why some of these dogs had been

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...