Reflections On The APDT 2015 Conference

Reflections On The APDT 2015 Conference

As a first time attendee of the 2015 APDT Annual Educational Conference & Trade Show, I was known as a “Conference Puppy” and I was thrilled to bits to travel all the way from Barbados to Dallas, Texas, USA to gain knowledge about dog training, behaviour and the business aspect of the dog industry.

Another important part of this conference, for me, was the networking. It was wonderful to meet my Facebook friends – Casey Lomonaco and Robin Bennett of the APDT’s Board of Trustees; guests I had on my Chat Time Interviews – Roger Abrantes, Michael Shikashio, Grisha Stewart and Josh Pitts; my Texan friends Abby Merlot, Jolynn Payne, Kevin Glowski, and my roommates Cheri Spaulding and Karen Reilly and so many others. Greater bonds of friendship have been made by spending our free time together and I truly value meeting them in real life.


Part of the gang networking at the Draft Lounge Catherine Steinke, Jolynn Payne, Carlos Betancourt in front, Cheri Spaulding, Kevin Glowski, Lisa White at the back.

The Sheraton Dallas Hotel, located in downtown Dallas, was huge, with lots of walking to get around. It was beautiful and the staff very friendly and helpful. The food was good and I ate from a variety – Peets was great to grab yummy Starbucks coffee (loved the Pumpkin Spice Latte) and a quick bite; I had the buffet breakfast at the Kitchen Table Restaurant, which had such a variety to choose. Most of the socialising was done at the Draft Media Sports Lounge.  It was the perfect atmosphere with great music but you could still have a conversation, watch sports on their large screen TV’s, or play pool.

I found the schedule of things to do and see to be completely filled each day.  The APDT even had an early meetup – AM Riser, Get to know your Neighbourhood Walk, from 7 – 7.45am. Errm I like my bed so that was too early for me and I didn’t make those meets. LOL.


Dr Stephen Ledoux and I

On Wednesday, day 1, the keynote speaker was Dr. Stephen Ledoux.  He gave a talk about, “Helping Our Canine Friends By Helping Ourselves With Science.”

Each day from 8am to 5pm, there were the Live Animal Workshops.  You could also choose the General Sessions which consisted of four Shorts to choose from, where speakers talked on a variety of topics for 45 minutes.  They ran from 8 to 8.45, 9 to 10.30, and 10.45 to 12.15.

Lunch was an hour and a half, but even during lunch there were roundtable discussions and demos of freestyle, Hollywood dog or you could browse the vendors at the trade show.

The presentations started back from 1.30 to 3pm and again at 3.15 to 4.45pm. Thankfully there were breaks of 15 minutes to get to the other presentations and stretch your legs.

Even after the speakers presentations, there was still something to see and do from 5 to 9.30pm – Toy Making, Scientific Poster Session, more doggy demos and on Friday night was the APDT Foundation Reception and Auction which was great.

There were 3 tables full of mostly doggie items to bid on, ranging from dog toys, collars, personal sessions with Roger Abrantes and Sue Steinberg to name a few, as well as trips to the Caribbean. There were hors d’oeuvres and music, to which I danced a lot and managed to get the DJ to play some good modern pop music.

On the last day, Saturday, I was very sad, knowing this was the last day I would see my friends for another year and I was all teary eyed. Roger Abrantes gave a wonderful closing talk on, “Animal Training My Way,” which touched on our relationship with animals – bonds and respect.

“All we need do is control ourselves, our thoughts, our emotions and our behavior.  If we do it correctly, we will produce the changes in others that exist, not against their will, not by force or manipulation of the truth, but because they want they want it.” – Roger Abrantes

If I had to choose who was the best speaker, it would be extremely difficult. A lot of interesting information was shared, some I already knew a bit about, so it was good to get it explained further and I also learnt new things.

However, where I think I truly benefited was in the business topics, since we dog trainers tend to want to learn everything we can about dogs, but neglect the business/marketing side of things.

Veronica Boutelle, myself and Gina Phairas of Dogtec. They are really nice folks.

Veronica Boutelle, myself and Gina Phairas of Dogtec. They are really nice folks.

My favourite speakers were the Dogtec duo – Veronica Boutelle and Gina Phairas, who had a variety of presentations – Newsletter Marketing, Start Your Business On the Right Paw, Put More $ In Your Pocket, and more. It was great to meet them and they are as nice in person as they were to deal with, when I was so fortunate to have won the APDT 2013 Business Makeover.

Overall, I found everyone to be friendly, even the Ph.D’s, those brainy folks, were nice and humble.  They didn’t talk down to you at all and the “famous” folks, the big names who have written books or put out DVDs, were quite welcoming. I didn’t encounter any snobs there at all, no one thought they were better than others. It truly was a great atmosphere.

Oh, here are some tips for those attending conferences that I learnt the hard way –

1. Wear warm clothes, as it seems the powers that be like to keep you cold which apparently keeps you alert. I just shiver and quake.

2. Don’t overpack.  Most people wear the same clothes from morning till night and it’s usually casual – jeans, shirt, sweater. Less clothes, means more room for dog books and toys. Oh and take a portable scale for your luggage; you don’t want to be overweight from all the goodies you buy and pay extra for your luggage.

3. Wear comfortable shoes since you will be walking all over the hotel, with warm thick socks. I made the mistake of wearing boots with heels the first day and my feet hurt from all the walking I was doing. Lesson learnt.  I then wore my fluorescent orange sneakers everywhere. A friend said, “if you cannot find Lisa, just look down at the shoes.”

4. Have extra batteries and/or chargers.  In one day my camera, cell and laptop died, grrrrrrr.

5. If allowed, take lots of pictures instead of writing notes from the Powerpoint Slides, you will always miss something. And put your camera on silent, so as to not disturb others.

6. Be organized. Know which speakers you want to see and print out the daily schedule in advance, so you are organized. Most hotel rooms don’t have free wifi, so you won’t be able to access the website.

7. If the Conference has an app, download it.  This is very useful, since it has all the info about the Conference on it.

8. If you are traveling from another country, like me, phone calls and texts will be charged at an international rate, so it will be expensive. If possible, buy a SIM card with data.  You can get one at the airport, but it would be cheaper from a local store.

9. Know where the Speakers will be located and how to get there.  You will probably still get lost (I did, many times), but you can always ask others and follow them.

10. Get out there and talk to people; no sense in being a wallflower. Conferences are a great opportunity for networking, to meet new people, to exchange ideas, to make contacts with people in the industry. And DO remember to bring business cards and exchange them with other people.

With such a great experience at the APDT 2015 Conference, will I be attending future Conferences? HECK YEAH!! I am already planning on going to next year’s conference in Las Vegas.

Hope to see you there!

Dog Training Business Tips

Receive valuable dog training business tips and resources right in your inbox! Subscribe to The Modern Dog Trainer now by submitting your name and email below. Don’t forget to let us know what you want to learn more about!


2015 APDT Conference – Day 2 Summary

2015 APDT Conference – Day 2 Summary

Before I get into today’s Speakers, I just want to report on what a great Conference this is! Everyone is so nice and friendly, I am rooming with Facebook friends, met lots of other friends as well as people I have interviewed. I am really enjoying the educational aspect of this Conference and the comradery of the Attendees.

2015 apdt conferenceDr. Stephen Ledoux

My first Speaker today, was Dr. Stephen Ledoux, his topic was – Introductory Behaviorology: A Book Discussion on his latest book – “Running Out of Time—Introducing Behaviorology to Help Solve Global Problems”.

I enjoyed Dr Ledoux easy way of talking with his interjections of humor and he was very approachable. He talked about the origins of this book, the contents, the purpose of this book and other books and how they relate to dog training and other companion animal behavior training , behavior science.   Attendees found out how the natural science of behavior was the common theme of many other behavior training books.

Newsletter Marketing: Help Dogs While Growing Your Business with Veronica Boutelle

My second Speaker was Veronica Boutelle, MA Ed., CTC of Dogtec fame, she talked about “Newsletter Marketing: Help Dogs While Growing Your Business”.

We learned about the different uses, audiences and goals of print and email newsletters. content and design,  guidelines, best practices.  Also covered was choosing an email marketing service provider, sourcing images, the structure of emails – short and sweet, whether to have a single topic or 2 to 4 topics, how often to produce your newsletter.  How to get readers by interviewing, featuring dogs and dog related businesses.

85% of content should be fun and informative while the other 15% should be info on your business – services, special discounts, upcoming events.  She also gave tips on how to maximize your chance of being read:

  • no lecturing,
  • short sentences,
  • using headers,
  • subheaders,
  • bullets and lists,
  • along with lots of photos – but watch that the dog shows the body language you want to convey.

I was so pleased to meet Veronica in real life since I had worked with her and Gina Phairas, when I won the APDT Business Makeover in 2013, she is as nice in person as she was to deal with online.

Get Dog Training Business Tips!

Receive valuable dog training business tips and resources every week! Subscribe to The Modern Dog Trainer now by submitting your name and email below.


2015 APDT Conference – Day One Summary

2015 APDT Conference – Day One Summary

My eyes opened up to darkness at around 6:00am and instantly I was excited when I realised I was in the Sheraton Dallas Hotel for the 2015 APDT Annual Educational Conference & Trade Show.  This is the first year I have attended and this is known as being a “Puppy”.

I made my way down to the Dallas Conference Room for the Opening Session & Welcome given by Amber 049 Burckhalter, Chair of the Board of Trustees, she welcomed the attendees and gave some random facts about Dallas – Barney the purple dinosaur from the very popular children’s tv show originated from Dallas along with German Chocolate Cake and the Margarita machine. She talked about the APDT Foundation and their Auction on Friday.

She handed over to the Treasurer – Robin Bennett, CPDT-KA who reported that the APDT’s pre-audit figures as at June 30th, 2015 accounts were in good standing. Casey Lomonaco, KPA CTP, the Secretary advised of the two new Board Members – Nick Hof and Megan Armstrong CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA.

The 2015 Award Members are as follows –

Members of the Year – for the first time that Casey knows of there were two winners – Sandy Crosby, CPDT-KA and Dae Grodin, CPDT-KA.

APDT Scholarship Winners – Mary Fish Arango, MA, Med, Dawn Gardner, CPDT-KA, Samantha Schinder, MA.

Dogwise Shelter – Scholarship Winner – Kim Imel, LVT, CPDT-KA.

Casey & Amber were both presented with a gift for their dedication and hard work.

Amber issued a Challenge to the attendees – Make an Impact – find 3 things from the Conference and take them home to make a difference.

2015 APDT Conference – Keynote Speaker

The keynote speaker was Stephen Ledoux, PhD whose topic – Helping our Canine Friends by Helping Ourselves with Science. His talk highlighted some characteristics of behaviorology, the natural science of behaviour, that enable us to apply it in ways to benefit our canine friends.052

He talked about how to keep magical approaches to behaviour separate from scientific approaches and how to avoid a variety of unhelpful, fictional explanations of behaviour.

Scientific approaches:

Genetics – about the structural foundation of behavior

Physiology – about HOW behaviour happens or occurs

Behaviorology – about WHY behaviour happens or occurs

a. Sample – Recombination of repertoires

i. “Self-Concept”
ii. “Insight”

b. Sample – Concept formation

c. Sample – Complex behaviour

i. Multiple stimuli – affect multiple responses
ii. Coincidental reinforcers and superstitious behaviour
iii. The Law of Cumulative Complexity

The general relation of brain structures to behaviors of consciousness in humans and canine species.

Linda P Case, MS – Beware The Straw Man: Fact, Fiction & Science in the Dog Training World

1. Understand the way in which the scientific method is applied in canine science. Identify important components of a well-designed study.

2. Identify and assess various sources of information, including the “evidence pyramid” of science.

3. Appreciate and assess a research study example case – the effectiveness of “Touch then Treat” training.

Scientific Evidence Pyramid088

Systematic Review
Randomized Controlled Studies with Dogs
Case Studies & Case Reports with Dogs
In vitro studies, research in other species

Linda Case then went into an example of a recently published study which examined a technique called “Touch then Treat”, a popular training and behaviour modification technique. This study was evaluated along with the results, the relevance of the results and the how further studies were needed to help -trainers, pet professionals and dog owner make well-informed, evidence-based decisions for their dogs.

Roger Abrantes, PhD – The Evolution of Canine Social Behavior207

This very interesting talk covered the differences between aggressive, fearful, dominant and submissive behaviour, the variety of expressions in wolves, jackals, foxes and the domestic dog, the greeting, bonding, friendliness parental behaviour, mating strategies. Attendees learnt about dog body language, how to distinguish between closely related but different behaviors, and how to interpret dog behavior based on science rather than popular myths.

Day 1 is now over and my brain is already fried. I wonder what tomorrow will bring.

Get Dog Training Business Tips!

Receive valuable dog training business tips and resources every week! Subscribe to The Modern Dog Trainer now by submitting your name and email below.


Countdown To The APDT 2015 Conference

Countdown To The APDT 2015 Conference


In less than one week, I will be traveling all the way from Barbados (a tiny island in the APDT Dallas TexasCaribbean) to attend the Association of Professional Dog Trainers’ Annual Educational Conference and Trade Show, which will be held from Wednesday, October 14 to Saturday, October 17, 2015, in Dallas, Texas, USA.

The Association of Professional Dog Trainers goal is to promote better trainers through education, and they welcome all trainers in their pursuit of learning modern, scientifically-based training methods.

It was through the APDT that I met positive reinforcement trainers, which started me on my journey to crossing over and I am most grateful to them for this.

Can I say how excited I am??? It will be my first APDT Conference and I have the honor of blogging for The Modern Dog Trainers Website. I get to attend some fantastic presentations by well known and reputable Speakers  –

  • Dr. Stephen Ledoux
  • Dr. Roger Abrantes
  • Dr. Cynthia Otto
  • Veronica Boutelle
  • Gina Phairas
  • Linda Case
  • Charlene Woodward
  • Sue Sternberg
  • Sarah Fulcher

Check out this link for a complete list of Speakers –

There will be live animal workshops where people get to actually work with guinea pigs in Dr. Roger Abrantes’ Scent Detection Workshop; Dr. Lore Haug’s IAABC Workshop – Advanced Behavior Techniques & Practices; working with dogs at the Dallas SPCA to learn new skills or hone their current skills in Teoti Anderson’s Desensitization & Counter Conditioning; Lisa McCluskey’s Troubleshooting Aggression/Anxiety; Sue Sternberg’s On Leash Dog-Dog Encounters.  These Live Animal Workshops have a separate registration fee.

There are also short presentations throughout the day called APDT Shorts. Speakers will be talking about a wide variety of subjects from Aggression, Behaviorology, Business & Marketing, Dog Body Language, Euthanasia, Food, Stress, Science and so much more.APDT TEXAS

I’m suffering from “too much choice dilemma” since I don’t know who I want to see as yet. So I have to sit down, take a look at all the presentations and see which ones to attend that I can learn and benefit from the most. I really wish I could see ALL the speakers live.

But the good news is that if you want to get all the latest information and earn CEUs, you can buy their DVDs at or receive access to the Online Library at

When you arrive at the conference hotel, the Sheraton Dallas Hotel, you need to check in at the Registration Desk to pick up your packet and you can ask them any questions.

Not only are the educational benefits diverse, but there are lots of opportunities to network, too:

  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Puppy Bingo
  • Click-it With a Ticket
  • Brochure and Business Card Contests

There is also the Trade Show and Exhibit Hall and I am going to enjoy browsing through and buying the books, DVDs, dog toys and other products which will be on show. Hope I don’t go over my 50 lb limit for my suitcase.

I know I am certainly looking forward to learning new things and meeting Facebook friends and people I have interviewed. Have I mentioned before that I am soooooooooo excited? LOL.

Get Dog Training Business Tips!

Receive valuable dog training business tips and resources every week! Subscribe to The Modern Dog Trainer now by submitting your name and email below.


5 Must-Haves For A Seminar

5 Must-Haves For A Seminar

As a modern dog trainer, you most likely enjoy furthering your education via seminars.  They are even better when you can score a working spot with your dog.  But it is important to remember some essential supplies for both you and your dog to ensure you both have a fun, safe experience.


Image taken by Liz Wyant

Image taken by Liz Wyant

All seminars have down time between working sessions.  During this time, you want to make sure your dog has a safe, comfortable place to relax and recharge.  A crate is preferable to a mat because the leash can come off and they can easily curl up and take a snooze without worrying about other dogs getting in their space.  Obviously it’s important to make sure your dog is comfortable being crated with other dogs around.

Water And Treats

This one is for both you and your dog.  Though some seminars provide snacks and beverages for the human half of the equation, it is still a good idea to bring your own just in case.  Also, you will obviously want to make sure you have plenty of water and treats for your dog.  Your dog will be working hard and will appreciate fresh, cool water and plenty of treat rewards.

Pen And Notepad

If there are going to be lecture portions of the seminar, which most do have, you’ll want to make sure you have writing materials so you can take notes.  Nothing worse than having the presenter say something brilliant and then not being able to remember it later.

Business Cards

Seminars are fantastic for networking!  Make sure you have a stack of business cards you can share as you meet new people.  And make sure to get their cards, too.  It’s always fantastic to have plenty of options for referring/consulting.

Sense Of Humor/Open Mind

Murphy’s Law is right – if something can go wrong, it will.  Being able to maintain a sense of humor will keep you relaxed, thereby keeping your dog relaxed.  It is so important to remember that yes, you are there to learn and improve your skills, but your dog’s happiness needs to come first.  You’re there to bond with your dog and improve your teamwork.  If you are getting stressed out, your dog will shut down and tune you out and have a miserable time.

What do you find imperative to bring with you to a seminar?

Get Dog Training Business Tips!

Receive valuable dog training business tips and resources every week! Subscribe to The Modern Dog Trainer now by submitting your name and email below.


The First Ever Force-Free Dog Training Summit

The First Ever Force-Free Dog Training Summit

PPG Summit logo

The Pet Professional Guild’s (PPG) inaugural educational convention is taking place in Tampa, Florida on November 11-13, 2015. Professional dog trainers with a strong conviction in their belief in force-free dog training will gather to learn about science-based training.

The PPG hopes to build greater awareness about the organization and increase collaboration between colleagues. Savvy pet owners are also encouraged to attend to learn about animal training methods that build communication between owner and animal. Veterinarians who attend will have networking opportunities and learn about force-free animal handling techniques.

The PPG has stood as one of the only organizations that strongly reject the notion of using force in any way to control and train animals. They widely advertise the fall out that shock, choke, fear-inducing, and force-full methods can create. As advocates for training methods, they encourage the use of techniques that motivate animals using positive reinforcement without any use of intimidation.

The Worlds Very First Force-Free Summit

The PPG’s Force-Free Summit is the very first of its kind.  Aside from the fact that all content will cover force-free and science-based animal training methods, the Summit will include a variety of educational and entertaining events for all members of the dog and pet industry.

“We can guarantee that our first-ever Force-Free Summit will be a milestone as far as advocating for force-free, positive training techniques is concerned,” said Niki Tudge, PPG president. “We can also guarantee a highly interactive and fun format for all who attend. We have placed a huge emphasis on formulating an educational event that offers a combination of lectures and working LABS, where industry professionals will have the opportunity to work with their pets under the guidance of a highly skilled mentor.”

The PPG Summit will feature more than 26 presenters over its three-day duration, and promises an enticing line-up of speakers and subject matter. World-renowned vet, applied animal behaviorist and author, Dr. Karen Overall, will deliver the keynote address, an unmissable presentation that will cover topics such as the canine brain, the neurobiology of reactivity and stress, assessing behavior and redefining humane behavioral care.

PPG Conference

Other speakers at Summit 2015 include a who’s who of behavior and training professionals:

  • Dr. Michelle Duda,
  • Dr. Soraya Juarbe-Diaz,
  • Chirag Patel,
  • Ken McCort,
  • Jacqueline Munera,
  • Pamela Johnson,
  • Theresa McKeon,
  • Emily Larlham,
  • Pat Miller,
  • Nancy Tucker
  • Laurie Schlossnagle (Our very own Modern Dog Trainer Blog contributor!!!)
  • and many more, all of whom will contribute with lectures, working LABS, or smaller, more intimate, interactive sessions

This conference is sure to make some waves throughout the dog training industry. We look forward to hearing from Laurie about her experience as a presenter and attendee. She’ll be posting updates on The Modern Dog Trainer blog about the lectures, networking events, and accommodations so stay tuned!

Registrations for Summit 2015 are still open, with just a few spots left. Various packages are available to ensure delegates have a range of convention experiences and payment options to choose from. Continuing education units are available for PPAB, IAABC, CCPDT, KPA and PPG. For more information, see Force-free-Summit.

PPG Summit Updates

Laurie attended the PPG Summit as a speaker and as an attendee. Read about her experiences in these posts:

Get Dog Training Business Tips!

Receive valuable dog training business tips and resources every week! Subscribe to The Modern Dog Trainer now by submitting your name and email below.


Pin It on Pinterest