A Day In The Life Of A Dog Trainer: Busy & Happy

A Day In The Life Of A Dog Trainer: Busy & Happy

Our next guest in this series is Claire Brown. Claire has a busy scheduled packed full of training and classes. She is booked six weeks out and typically runs lessons six to seven days a week while also doing guest training sessions for other dog trainers and starting a new business training trainers. Getting to this point was tough, but it was absolutely worth it to her and she loves her life as a professional dog trainer.

Here’s what a day in her life as a professional dog trainer typically looks like.


  • 6:45am Woken up by Mavis kicking the door in to go outside because she NEEDS a wee
  • 7:00am Tea, minimum of 2 cups to become functional, 3 the further down the week we get, the dogs eat breakfast from puzzle toys and play, they know about morning mummy and leave me alone
  • 8am Walk with my guys, quite possibly still trying to wake up
  • 9am Back home, tidy round, change into my uniform for work, I’m known for my love of purple, my wardrobe is rows of purple polo shirts and hoodies
  • 10-6pm One to one training, I have a mix of dogs every day, I train sport dogs and companion dogs, and do behavioral work so every day is different I could be teaching competitive obedience or dealing with a resource guarding cockerpoo, I love them all equally, even the ones that want to bite me
  • 6-9pm Depending on the day this will be either puppy party (8-12 wk old fuzzy bundles) classes or one to ones
  • 9:30pm Evening walk with my guys, we will of course have done several sessions of training and walking during the day between jobs, this is wind down time and also gives time for dinner to cook whilst we are out
  • 10:30-11pm Bed!

I have an admin day on Tuesday when I do all my course info and respond to non urgent inquiries, anything urgent I do daily. I’m super busy, and super happy I absolutely love what I do and wouldn’t change it for anything.

About Claire Brown

Claire North is the Lead Trainer at North K9.

She has been dog training since 2002 and holds a First Grade Honours Instructors Certificate from the British Institute of Professional Dog Trainers (BIPDT). She’s also a registered member working toward accreditation from the Kennel Club Accredited Instructor (KCAI) scheme, and is a Licensed Instructor for Wag It Games. Claire also runs the Northern Institute for Canine Professionals.

Claire is currently working with her Belgian Malinois Havoc in obedience, IPO, and agility. Lurcher puppy Mavis is still finding her feet!

(All photos were provided and authorized for use by Claire Brown.)

Learning From Dog Training Legends: Debbie Martin

Learning From Dog Training Legends: Debbie Martin

Our next guest in this “Learning from Legends” series is Debbie Martin. (You can read the previous interview with Dr. Susan Friedman here.) Debbie Martin is a Veterinary Technician Specialist in Behavior. Her and her husband, Dr. Kenneth Martin, co-authored the book “Puppy Start Right” which many dog trainers and dog owners turn to for raising their puppies.

Debbie received a Bachelor of Science degree in human ecology from The Ohio State University and an associate of applied science degree in veterinary technology from Columbus State Community College. She has been a full-time registered/licensed veterinary technician since 1996 and worked in private practice for over 14 years. Since 2005 Debbie has been the animal behavior technician for Veterinary Behavior Consultations, LLC. She assists Kenneth Martin, DVM, DACVB during behavior consultations.

Debbie is the co-owner of TEAM Education in Animal Behavior, LLC, a business focused on providing education on humane training and behavior modification and fostering collaboration between various animal behavior professions.

She is a contributing author and co-editor of the textbook, Canine and Feline Behavior for Veterinary Technicians and Nurses by Wiley-Blackwell. In 2009, Debbie and Dr. Martin wrote a book on normal development and training in dogs; Puppy Start Right: Foundation Training for the Companion Dog. In August of 2012 through Karen Pryor Academy, Debbie and Ken Martin launched the Puppy Start Right Instructors Course. The course provides not only the thorough knowledge necessary to provide puppy socialization classes, but also a complete curriculum with supplemental materials.

Her combined experience in general practice and behavior specialty has fueled her passion for preventive behavior medicine and the Fear Free℠ initiative. Debbie is honored to be representing veterinary technicians on the Fear Free executive council.

In her free time, she loves spending time with her dogs, 3 Belgian Malinois, Jazmin, Iliana, and Polo and her one-eyed Beagle-Jack Russell mix, Iris. Although her current dogs are retired, she has enjoyed competing in Rally Obedience and Agility. A few years ago, Debbie took up motorcycle and dirt bike riding, so when weather and time permits, she and her husband can be found exploring the beautiful terrain of the Hill Country in central Texas on either a street bike or dirt bike.

Let’s dive into the interview.

My first question is, how did you first get involved in the dog (animal?) training world?

I think it was really two things. First, prior to going back to college to become a veterinary technician, I was a certified preschool teacher. When I graduated from veterinary technology school, I was intrigued by animal behavior and development and how we may be able to influence behavior. My studies in undergrad with human development sparked this interest. Consequently, I started my venture into animal training with learning about and teaching puppy socialization classes in the late 90’s. The second factor that influenced my involvement in animal training was my dog, Snickers. Snickers was a shepherd mix I adopted from the Humane Society in my early 20’s. He was a wonderful companion but he did have his quirks, such as a fear of children and unfamiliar people and later in life, thunderstorm anxiety and separation anxiety. I learned a lot from Snickers and he sparked my interest in intervention versus preventive veterinary behavior medicine.

I noticed that you are one of only 14 veterinary technicians to have achieved the status of a Veterinary Technician Specialist in Behavior. Can you tell us more about what that is and what it entails?

Becoming a veterinary technician specialist in behavior is similar to a veterinarian becoming board certified in a specialty field but it is for veterinary technicians. There are currently 15 veterinary technician specialties (for a complete list click here). Achieving certification first involves submitting and having an application approved for examination. There are criteria for continuing education, prevention and intervention hours, case reports, case log, and the completion of a skills assessment. Once an application is approved, the candidate partakes in a full day examination which includes written and practical evaluation of the candidate’s knowledge and skills. For more information: www.avbt.net

In your experience, what do dog trainers struggle with the most when it comes to severe dog behavior cases?

As a licensed veterinary technician, I am required to work under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian or I could lose my license for practicing veterinary medicine without a license. All cases involving behavior disorders such as aggression, anxiety, extreme fears or phobias, would first be evaluated by a veterinarian and a treatment plan would be prescribed by the veterinarian which includes environmental management, behavior modification, training, and on occasion behavioral medications. I then coach pet owners on how to implement the prescribed treatment plan and assist them with questions or concerns they encounter while implementing the treatment plan. The biggest challenge as with all aspects of veterinary medicine (and animal training) is often owner compliance. I get it, they perhaps did not sign up for the challenges they are facing with their animal companion. Thus, I try to make the implementation as easy as possible in their daily routine. If they are unable to work towards more advanced training and behavior modification exercises, avoidance and management can always be an option, as long as the welfare of the pet is not compromised.

At what point should a dog trainer consider getting a Veterinary Behaviorist, such as Dr. Ken Martin, involved with a case?

I may be biased on this as I am working within the veterinary medical model and thus, anything that is considered to be behavioral intervention instead of preventive care, would warrant a veterinary referral. As defined in Canine and Feline Behavior for Veterinary Technicians and Nurses, a behavior ‘problem’ is defined as, “The animal’s behavior is a problem for the owner. The issues could be a lack of training, a conditioned unwanted behavior, a behavioral disorder or a combination of issues.” Whereas a behavior disorder refers to, “Psychological or behavioral patterns outside behavioral “norms” that usually have an affective component.” Intervention care refers to measures taken to improve or alter an existing behavioral disorder. Intervention requires a veterinarian’s diagnosis and treatment plan. Common times when an animal trainer should consider a referral to a board-certified veterinary behaviorist include:

  • Multiple behavior issues or suspected behavior disorders
  • Multiple stimuli/triggers or unidentifiable triggers
  • Anxiety-based issues
  • Risk of injury to the pet, people, or other animals
  • Bite history with a lack of bite inhibition
  • Any acute change in behavior
  • Geriatric onset
  • Explosive or out of context behavior
  • Little or no progress is being made with a training plan

How do dog aggression and dog reactivity differ? Do you treat them differently? (Meaning dogs that are aggressive to other unfamiliar dogs while on leash.)

Reactivity is a nondescript term that could have a variety of motivations from excitement to fear. Aggression is defined as any threatening gesture to increase the distance between the animal and the stimuli.  When a dog is being ‘reactive’ he might be displaying behaviors such as lunging and barking to increase space between him and the stimuli. This technically would be defined as aggression. Dr. Martin would treat them very similarly; avoid the practicing of the behavior as much as possible through environmental management, start off reinforcing any offered attention to the handler (uncued) and noticing of stimuli (ie ears perked and oriented but not reacting) and from there adding in more advanced exercises pending the response and owners interest. Depending on the size of the dog and risk of possible injury to people or other animals, he would recommend appropriate safety gear, such as basket muzzles, a two leash method, and possibly a deterrent for loose dogs should they approach the dog. If a non-stressful starting point cannot be identified, pharmaceutical intervention might be incorporated into the plan to help facilitate the learning process. If you are stressed out or extreme anxious at the first sight of another dog, it is nearly impossible to learn something.

What are the keys to success when working with dog aggression? (Meaning dogs that are aggressive to other unfamiliar dogs while on leash.)

Arranging the antecedents to prevent the continued practicing of the behavior. Giving the dog a ‘stress holiday’ can be the first step. Continued activation of the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) day in and day out, primes the body to be ready to react, had deleterious effects on the body, and inhibits the ability to learn to overcome the fear and anxiety associated with the situation. The other component that’s really key is owners focusing on rewarding desired behaviors. We coach owners to mark and reinforce anytime the dog checks in with them when outside on a walk. So offered attention to the owner becomes more likely to occur. We also ask them to mark and reinforce noticing stimuli. Catch them when they first notice and reinforce the non-reactive behavior. Alice Tong, KPA CTP has a really great handout on this technique. She calls it the Engage-Disengage Game.

How can dog trainers better prepare themselves before they begin taking on clients? (With relation to their education, with their handouts or written materials for their clients, or anything else they should consider before getting started.)

There are a lot of great positive reinforcement based programs out there. I am most familiar with the Karen Pryor Academy because I was an instructor for them for 8 years. I prefer to not list others because I do not have first hand knowledge of their programs and I also don’t want to leave out any great programs that I might not be aware of. Understanding and developing the foundation skills for training are the key to being a good trainer with animals. Being able to communicate that information to clients in a non-blaming and compassionate manner is even more important. There are great books and DVD’s available on clickertraining.com, dogwise.com, and tawzerdog.com. Go to as much continuing education as you can! I joke that I feel like a part time job of mine is watching webinars and going to veterinary and animal training conferences or seminars.

Do you have any role models or people you look up to in the animal training industry? (Who and why?)

Everyone I talk to about training whether they be a professional animal trainer, veterinary behaviorist, groomer, or pet owner, I learn from them and with them. All the people out there making a positive difference in the lives of their own pets or clients pets are my role models.

How do you hope the dog training industry will evolve in the future? What do you want it to look like?

Because veterinary professionals and animal trainers have the common goal of improving the human-animal relationship and improving the welfare of animals, I would like to see these two fields start to work closer together. This is a topic I have talked about at Clicker Expo in the past and it is one of the reasons I am involved with the Fear Free movement. Fear Free recognizes the value the modern professional positive reinforcement animal trainer can bring to the veterinary community. There can be challenges in communication and role delineation when two professional fields are working closely together but have perhaps slightly different perspectives.

Where will people be able to see you speak in the coming year?

Fetch Veterinary Conference in San Diego in December 2017. In 2018- Clicker Expo in California and St. Louis. The Western Veterinary Conference, 7 of the Fear Free Symposia (Dallas, TX, Kansas City, MO, Jersey City, NJ, Minneapolis, MN, Boston, MA, Nashville, TN and Atlanta, GA), IAABC conference in April, Castlegar, BC in May, and Southwest Veterinary Symposium in San Antonio, TX in September.  You can check out our speaking schedule here. Although many of these are not yet listed because they do not have an active registration site yet. Check back for updates or sign up to receive updates by registering here.

Learning From Dog Training Legends: Susan G. Friedman, Ph. D.

Learning From Dog Training Legends: Susan G. Friedman, Ph. D.

While seminars and webinars are a fabulous way to learn from the dog training industry’s well-known experts, it is not often we’re able to pull them aside and ask off-the-cuff questions. With this series, I’m asking some questions that are a bit different to get to know these dog training legends on a deeper level.

First up is Susan G. Friedman, Ph. D. She runs an exceptional online course called “Living and Learning with Animals for Professionals.” I participated in this course back in 2011 and it was truly eye opening. I consider it a must-take for all up and coming dog trainers and list it in my article, “6 Places to Get a (Fairly) Formal Education In Dog Training.”

Susan G. Friedman, Ph.D. is a professor emeritus in the Department of Psychology at Utah State University. She has helped pioneer the cross-species application of behavior analysis to animals, using the same humane philosophy and scientifically sound teaching technology that has been so effective with human learners. Susan has co-authored chapters on behavior change in four veterinary texts, and her popular articles have been translated into 14 languages. She gives seminars on animal learning at conferences and consults with zoos around the world. Susan is a member of Karen Pryor’s Clicker Expo faculty and teaches yearly hands-on animal training workshops with Steve Martin (www.naturalencouters.com). Susan was appointed to the F&WS Condor Recovery Team from 2002 – 2010, after which time the team was retired due to the success of the birds in the wild. She is the Chairperson of the Scientific Advisory Committee of American Humane Association (AHA) Film and TV Unit, and a member in good standing of ABAI, ABMA, IAABC and IAATE. Last year she was included on the Vet Tech College’s list of “15 Animal Professors to Know.” Susan’s acclaimed online course, Living and Learning with Animals for behavior professionals, has provided even wider dissemination of effective, humane behavior change practices to students in over 35 countries (www.behaviorworks.org). And she shares fun videos with a science twist at facebook.com/behaviorworks.

Here’s what she had to say about how she got started and where she’d like to see the dog training industry go.

Thank you again for taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences with me and the readers of The Modern Dog Trainer!

My first question is, how did you first get involved in the dog (animal?) training world?

My professional work with animal learning started with one little parrot, twenty years ago! I read all the popular literature on companion parrots at the time and could hardly believe the extent to which punishment strategies were recommended. The experts of the day were stuck in the cultural fog. Thankfully that is changing now and there are many voices singing a different, more effective tune based on positive reinforcement of desired behavior, which benefits all learners.

What made you decide to teach the Living & Learning with Animals course online?

I realized that education about the science of behavior change, called behavior analysis, was key to changing people’s understanding of how behavior works. Punishment works, but there are side effects that are not only detrimental but also unnecessary. Positive reinforcement generally produces not only fast learning but enthusiasm for learning as well. It may surprise your readers that I assert that positive reinforcement produces fast learning outcomes. I think that positive reinforcement only appears to be slower because as a generation, we are relatively new to teaching with positive reinforcement. The next generation, who will grow up with positive reinforcement as a life style, will blow our minds with their skilled, effective, and humane practices.

Who benefits the most from taking your online course?

Anyone interested in behavior and learning will find the information life changing – so my past students say! Behavior, like any other natural phenomena on the planet is lawful. Of course, we don’t know all the laws and variations … what science is ever complete? But, we certainly know enough to improve quality of life for all learners in our care. This information is empowering and applicable to all aspects of our lives. My co-instructors and I are very happy messengers and students of our students too, sometimes!

In your experience, what do dog trainers struggle with the most when it comes to Applied Behavior Analysis?

I think we all struggle a bit with our own learning histories. For example, even the most experienced positive reinforcement trainers sometimes revert to a command tone of voice or eye rolling when an animal behaves unexpectedly. We have to be open to reminding each other that the learner is never wrong. When an animal doesn’t do what we expect, it’s the program. And, the solution is to change what we, the trainers, do. To change behavior, change conditions. The animal changes himself/herself.

What are the keys to success in Applied Behavior Analysis?

Great teachers of any species meet their learners where they are, not where we wish them to be. The main key is the knowledge that all behavior is influenced, at least some degree, by conditions. The environment influences all systems including gene expression and brain function. Since we control most of the conditions in which our learners behave (or “misbehave”), there are always way to successfully change behavior.

Can you describe a particularly difficult client who used ABA process successfully?

Honestly, I don’t think of clients in terms of difficulty. But, the most difficult ABA plans to implement are those that require unavailable resources like more space, more enrichment, and more time. I guess what I’m describing is a recent insight for me that learners always bring natural flexibility and resilience to the table; but if we can’t significantly change the conditions that support the problem behavior, success remains out of reach. I’m quick to remind clients that if they can’t change either the antecedent environment and/or the consequences that follow the behavior problem, there can’t be a learning solution. That usually results in some increased openness to change.

How can dog trainers better prepare themselves before they begin taking on clients? (With relation to their education, with their handouts or written materials for their clients, or anything else they should consider before getting started.)

Trainers will be better prepared by reading a basic science of behavior and learning textbook or two (e.g., Chance), and (this may seem out in left field) a special education, applied behavior analysis text book (e.g., Miltenberger). The former will provide the fundamental science information required for understanding the big picture of behavior and learning on planet earth, and the latter will provide the best application information. Connecting the dots across species is the easy part.

Do you have any role models or people you look up to in the animal training industry? (Who and why?)

Finding role models is my special talent! I have been privileged to learn from so many teachers, trainers, and scientists that I truly believe I’m the luckiest teacher on earth! I actually drove B.F. Skinner home from the residential treatment center where I worked (he was on the Board of Directors) when I was 20 years old! Now there’s a brush with fame I’ll never forget. Talk about influence!

How do you hope the dog training industry will evolve in the future? What do you want it to look like?

I hope that the dog training profession will continue to include more from the science of behavior and learning. I know that working across professions, as we routinely do nowadays, we will continue to raise the ceiling and provide even more humane, effective help to greater numbers, sooner.

Where will people be able to see you speak in the coming year? Where can people learn more about your online course?

I invite your readers to download anything helpful from my website, www.behaviorworks.org. There are dozens of articles (including translations in 14 different languages) and fun graphics for T-shirts or print material. My speaking engagements are listed on the website too. With my wild travel schedule, I’m bound to cross paths with your readers. I hope they will introduce themselves and share a hug. Together we are changing the world!

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Interview With International Dog Parkour Association

The International Dog Parkour Association Is A New Titling Dog Sport

The International Dog Parkour Association (IDPA) is dedicated to making the dog sport of parkour accessible to dogs in many different environments. Whether your dogs are reactive, shy, outgoing, or confident, every dog can excel in parkour.

We took a few minutes to interview the founders of IDPA to find out exactly what parkour consists of, and why it is such a good sport.

To find out more information about the International Dog Parkour Association, please visit their website or Facebook.

Website: http://www.dogparkour.org

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dogparkour?fref=ts

Have you played with dog parkour before? What sport is popular with your training students?

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Chat Time Interview With Karen Deeds, CDBC Of Canine Connection

Chat Time Interview With Karen Deeds, CDBC Of Canine Connection

Karen with Cassidy (Golden Retriever) and Rock (Labrador Retriever)

Karen with Cassidy (Golden Retriever) and Rock (Labrador Retriever); image via Karen Deeds, www.deedscanineconnection.com

Who Is Karen Deeds?

I do Facebook interviews with animal trainers, behaviourists and other professionals. I met up with Karen Deeds CDBC to chat about how she approaches aggression in dogs.

Karen Deeds became a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, with the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, in October of 2013 and has taught at seminars and conferences in Texas, as well as other parts of the U.S. She is sought after for her expertise in training and behavior modification. In 2010, Karen received the Association of Pet Dog Trainers award for “Community Educator of the Year.” In 2013 she received the Dog Scouts of America “Good Scout Award,” recognizing her for her service to Dog Scouts.

You can find her –

Website – http://www.deedscanineconnection.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/CanineConnection/479935655150?pnref=lhc

My Interview With Karen About Dog Aggression

Lisa White: Thank you so much for joining us, Karen.

Karen with Cassidy competing early this year. Image from Karen Deeds

Karen with Cassidy competing early this year. Image via Karen Deeds, www.deedscanineconnection.com

Karen Deeds: Thank you for the invite!

LW: How did you get into training and behavior?

KD: It was in the early 90s when I was working with my dog on an out of sight down stay when I went behind the building and was met with an assailant. My dog came to my rescue after hearing me scream.

The next time he saw a person that was similar to the person who had assaulted me, he was aggressive. That was before I really knew what I was doing, but I brought the guy (who was a bather at the groom shop where I had taken him to be groomed), some hotdogs, and I started tossing my dog, Shoney, some hotdogs every time the kid came outside and he saw him.

Simple classical conditioning! I had taken Psych classes in junior college so I was familiar with some things!

I then started asking Shoney to perform various obedience tasks like Sit and Down in the presence of the trigger. Luckily I had a lot of good things going on with my dog in that he was a very stable boy and this was a single traumatic incident.

That is when I first realized there was a difference between training and behavior! At that time, most trainers were teaching more traditional methods that they used in competition even though that is not really what most pet dog owners needed.

LW:  Indeed. So what methods do you use?

KD: I use positive reinforcement and utilize a variety of different protocols. I love to get a dog thinking so I love to free shape. It builds confidence by giving the dog the ability to make choices. I will use some luring, targeting, and of course shaping for basic skills with pet dog owners.

LW: Word is that you are well known for dealing with aggression.  Can you tell us more about that?

KD: Yes, I do deal with a lot of aggression and reactivity. I guess it all started with Shoney. There was just such a need around here and I started to attend seminars, read books, and do ANYTHING I could to get more educated.

I also work with a lot of rescue organizations to help them assess dogs and that has led me to be pretty black and white about some of these cases.

LW: What do you mean by “black and white about some cases?”

KD: I think it is extremely important to understand the limitations of each case. I use a 15 point variable system to help determine what option is best for a client and the dog as well as how those variables influence the outcome.

It isn’t always about the dog – the owners and their environment play vital roles in the decision and my recommendations.

LW: What is that 15 point variable system?

KD: I’ll briefly outline them:

  1. Severity – I typically use the Ian Dunbar scale because it is simple for the owners to understand. The higher the number the worse the prognosis. There is also the location of the bite that I consider.
  2. Predictability – if the trigger is easy to predict it does make things easier to set up for behavior modification. Unpredictability is difficult, but a lot of times that unpredictability is only in the eye of the owner!
  3. Controllability – Being able to contain the dog for management purposes is vital as well. You can’t ALWAYS be working the program so the dog needs to be able to be contained safely. Whether it be in a crate, on a tether, in a muzzle, behind a baby gate or whatever.
  4. Previous training is a HUGE factor and it has become even more of a variable now that I see more dogs that have previously been trained with electronic collars or traditional ‘dominance’ methods. It diminishes trust and can often create a dog that can’t think for itself or has had the communication skills punished out of them.
  5. Trainability – A dog that is easy to motivate is easier to train. The lack of motivation can equal lack of desire to change behavior. Food is usually fastest, but play can be as strong or stronger for some dogs.
  6. Socialness – There are simply some dogs that do not have a desire to be social; either with strangers or other dogs. Unfortunately so many pet owner think their dog ‘needs’ to be social and all they really want is to be that little hermit dog that sleeps all day safely in the living room!

    Canine Connection for the Real World Canine

    Canine Connection for the Real World Canine

  7. Children – This starts to get into the ‘people’ and environment factors which are, IMO, some of the most important. If there are children in the environment and they are a trigger then there needs to be huge consideration for what option is appropriate. There are only four options: Management (which usually fails at some point); Management and training and b-mod; Rehome; or Euthanize.
  8. Size of dog must be considered not only because a dog over 40 pounds can be harder to manage and contain, but perception from the public is also different. Not many people care if they get nipped by a Maltese (no offense to Maltese people!) but if it is a bigger dog then they do!
  9. Breed of dog – unfortunately it can matter! Because I do a lot of aggression people think I see Pit Bulls, Rottweilers and Dobermans, but my highest case loads are herding dogs, dogs under 25 pounds, and sporting breeds. Sometimes they appear to come in waves!
  10. Finances play a part too. An owner needs to be able to afford the medical work ups, the management systems, the training tools, and the help from a qualified trainer or behavior consultant or behaviorist. There is also the real possibility of litigation as well as medical costs if damage is done to a victim.
  11. Time – It is a valuable commodity and many people simply don’t have enough time to put into managing the dog let alone modifying its behavior and training them.
  12. Commitment – This can often be a lifelong commitment. There isn’t a quick fix and they must be prepared to go the distance.
  13. Compliance – Sometimes I know many of us in the field feel like marriage counselors! It is vital that everyone be on the same page in the household so that no one is undermining their success. Much like a kid that learns to go to mom when dad says no, it is confusing for the dog and creates unpredictability.
  14. Cognitive Dissonance – this has been something I really didn’t think would be an issue, but I have had several cases lately that one partner simply didn’t want to believe that their dog was afraid and not dominant! If they don’t buy into the science, I can’t help them!
  15. Duration – If the problem has been going on for a long time then the likelihood of changing it is diminished. The Matching Law is in play at that point.  And some variables will outweigh the others. I have worked with clients with children in the home with a dog with a level 4 bite that I would never have worked with in a different home.

I find that the ‘people factors’ are the most vital. That is why I have had good luck with dog/dog issues doing board & trains. I can lay the foundation and then follow up with the clients.

LW: So if the owner doesn’t comply with your recommendations, then failure is the result.

KD: To a certain extent. It does depend on the severity at that point. In most cases enough improvement can be made that the owner can manage.

LW: At what point would/should one give up on an aggressive dog?

KD: I usually recommend that clients set a specific time before they reassess. 30-45-90 days, if at that point they simply can’t continue with the program, or there isn’t sufficient change, or there is another incident them we may have to come to another conclusion and different option.

LW: I find a lot of people/trainers seem to judge owners for their inability not to commit time to working with their aggressive dog. What are your feelings on this?

KD: I am not in their shoes. I will never judge them (at least not in front of them!), but seriously, I HAVE been there myself. I remember having to euthanize a dog I was fostering way back in the 80s because she had almost killed another one of my dogs and had then turned on my 3 year old son. I have been in the vet office holding many hands when they said goodbye to their family pet. I also have emails and get phone calls thanking me for allowing them to make such a decision that has freed up their lives and reduced stress in the household.

LW: It is a very stressful situation; you are on pins and needles all the time.

KD: Yes it is stressful for EVERYONE. Especially inter-housemate aggression or households with children.

LW: Unfortunately, time is up and we have to end this interview.  Thank you so very much, Karen, for taking the time to chat with us.

KD: A very special thank you for considering me worthy of an interview!

Thank You
We’d like to extend a big thank you to Karen for letting us share this interview on The Modern Dog Trainer blog.

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Chat Time Interview with Kevin Duggan of All Dogs Go To Kevin LLC

Chat Time Interview with Kevin Duggan of All Dogs Go To Kevin LLC


Chat Time Interview with Kevin Duggan CPDT

Chat Time Interviews are held on Facebook. During these interviews, I talk to experts about their areas of expertise. For this interview Kevin Duggan of All Dogs Go To Kevin LLC joined me to discuss blogging, the dog trainer certification process, and the ins and outs of running a successful dog training business.

Kevin Duggan is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer certified by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. He has been training professionally for 5 years. Kevin loves working with dogs and helping them mesh better into their homes. He does this by teaching the dog what we would like it to do, and reinforcing the behavior. This is also known as Positive Reinforcement. Kevin specializes in helping to build positive relationships between humans and their canine companions. He can help you with basic to advanced obedience as well as behavior modification. Along with helping people locally with his business, Kevin also writes for a variety of different websites. The most notable sites being Victoria Stilwell’s Positively.com as a Positively Contributor and the Dogington Post where he does an “ask the trainer” and writes articles.

Kevin has a popular blog of his own and creates educational viral videos to help spread the word about positive training. Don’t forget to subscribe to his YouTube Channel!

My Interview With Kevin

Kevin dugganLisa G White: Welcome Kevin!

Kevin Duggan: Thank you for having me!

Lisa G White: You are most welcome. I see you are a fellow CPDT-KA trainer. Why did you decide to take the CCPDT exam?

Kevin Duggan: Hi Lisa, when I first got into dog training I knew I wanted to do it for a living and researched where to go. I came across the CCPDT and saw how it is a nationally recognized certification council. I figured it was a great place to start.

Lisa G White: What areas of knowledge does the CPDT-KA exam cover and what can you expect from a trainer with this certification?

Kevin Duggan: Great question. What I really like about the exam is that it covered so many different things. In order to pass it you need to be knowledgeable in animal husbandry, ethology, instructional skills, and learning science techniques and application. It really covers a ton. It is a great place to get started for anyone that wants to become certified.  Someone with a certification like me, in theory knows how dogs learn, why they do what they do (the dogs), and how and why they are doing what they are doing, (the trainer).

This certification says all that and much more, but doesn’t guarantee the methods used by the trainer. The majority of us are using up-to-date scientific methods that do not include pain or fear. With that being said there are some that are opting to use shock collars and other devices that cause pain and fear.

Lisa G White: Here is the link to the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, Inc. with regards to info to this exam. What advice do you have for trainers preparing to take the CPDT-KA exam?

Kevin Duggan: My advice would be to find a certified trainer to mentor with. (*Remember to do your research about the trainer.) I mentored for about 2 years with 2 certified trainers. This is where I learned everything I needed to pass the test. I recommend sitting in on as many private consults and group classes as possible. Additionally, I recommend reading different books like Don’t Shoot the Dog, Excel-Erated Learning, Culture Clash to name a few. When it comes to being a dog trainer, knowledge is power. (not force.)

Lisa G White: How long have you been blogging for and why did you decide to do a blog?

Kevin Duggan: When I started my website I included a blog with it. I didn’t update it much. That was about 3 years ago. Within the past 2 years I’ve used it to spread the word about reward based training. I use it to give people free advice in the form of tips, articles, and videos. I do it for a couple other reasons as well. One, I enjoy writing things. I try to deliver information to people in a way that is easy to understand. I also recommend having a blog and keeping it updated for SEO in regards to bringing traffic to your site.

Lisa G White: What is your favourite article/video for your blog that you did?

Kevin Duggan: I don’t know if I could pick a favorite. Here is one that I like though. It puts emphasis on the fact that a lot of people are comfortable giving advice to people about their dogs when they have no business doing so. Here’s the article: Dog Training: Everyone is an Expert.

In regards to favorite videos: I don’t know if I can choose one. Here is my channel. I really enjoy everything about making videos, from coming up with the content, to shooting and editing. It’s all fun for me. And it works out great because it gives people help that otherwise couldn’t afford it.

Lisa G White: What challenges do you have with blogging?

Kevin Duggan: That’s a good question. I don’t have any issues with coming up with stuff to blog about. I just write what comes to me. One challenge is dealing with trolls. Those are the people who are looking to nitpick or just read the title of an article and comment without actually reading it. With that being said, I do not read the comments of any of my blogs. My advice to anyone that writes blogs is to not feed the trolls, they thrive on that.

Lisa G White: I take my hat off to you to do this, I’m a bit of a wuss. So many people always have something to say, to criticise. You cannot cover every single thing in a blog, only your own point of view. If you tried to do so, then it would become a bloody novel.

I see you are a guest blogger for Victoria Stillwell, how did that come about and how long have you been a guest blogger for her?

Kevin Duggan: Yes, I’ve recently started writing for the world-renowned Victoria Stilwell. They actually contacted me after reading my blog on my website. They liked what they saw and asked if I would like to be a Positively Expert. I have currently written 3 articles for her site over the past month. It has been an awesome opportunity/ experience to be able to reach even more people.

Lisa G White: WOW, what an honour, you must feel so pleased!

Kevin Duggan: If you would have told me a year ago that I would be writing for her I would have laughed at you. But hard work pays off.

Lisa G White: Indeed it does!

Kevin Duggan: Here is a link to my articles for Victoria.

Lisa G White: How did you come up with your business name? It is brilliant!

Kevin Duggan: My friend’s Mom actually came up with it. When I was searching for a business name she came up with All Dogs Go To Kevin LLC and I couldn’t pass it up.

Thank you. I was lucky to be named Kevin. All Dogs Go To Eric doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

Lisa G White: LOL, so true. Today you posted on your FB page that in the past 3 months your website has moved up 4.5 million spots in the global rank. WOW, congratulations. Can you give us some advice / tips on what you have done to achieve this?

Kevin Duggan: My website has been something I’ve been working on for quite some time. When I started it I had it set up for information about me and my local business. Since then I’ve been turning it into a site that people can visit to get free advice in the form of blog posts and videos. That has helped. Additionally, writing for other popular sites like positively.com and dogingtonpost.com allows for more reach to people. It works out well.  My advice to anyone that wants to do a site, keep updating it regularly with good info. Blogs are a great way to keep people coming back to your site. Videos are another great way. Keep your site easy to navigate. I see too many sites that are hard to navigate and unappealing to the eye. That will drive people away quickly.

Lisa G White: 4.5 million is a HUGE improvement though.

Kevin Duggan: It also comes down to page views on your site. Which is another reason to write blog posts. My blog posts reach on average between 500-1000 people. That equates to page views.

Lisa G White: That is fantastic Kevin! Last question from me – What is the biggest mistake you see trainers make when communicating with clients?

Kevin Duggan: I would say, there are a lot of “trainers” out there that have no business working with dogs. It is my job as a trainer to be as up-to-date as possible when it comes to scientifically sound training. There are lots of trainers out there today that are still giving people advice based off of outdated research that has been proven to be false. The biggest mistake those trainers make are giving outdated advice because they’re too stubborn to change their ways.

That being said, a mistake that scientifically sound trainers make is talking to science-e to everyday people. It is important to be able to communicate in a way that your clients will understand.

Lisa G White: That is so true Kevin. Ok the floor is now open for members to ask questions.

Facebook Group Member: I have a dog Babs she is adopted and can tell abused in her pass! Have been handling her and socializing her for over a year she just does not want to be social. She has tendency of being very aggressive. The same group of people have come and gone all of this time and she still attacks at times and other times she is OK – very unpredictable any advice? Babs is approx two years of age! At this point she is kennelled when company comes for she has bitten well quite a few so far.

Kevin Duggan: It really comes down to pairing the scary things with good stuff. The process is referred to as Counter Conditioning and Desensitization. My advice would be to do lots of research on CC/DS and start to implement it. That is the shortest answer I can give for your question. smile emoticon Sorry to hear about your situation.

Facebook Group Member: In your experience, how much floor space do you think is an adequate amount for a dog training/day care facility?

Kevin Duggan: I just opened my training center and it is just short of 1,000 square feet. It isn’t huge but gets the job done. I am able to do about 6 full size dogs in a basics class, 8 puppies, and for my reactive dogs I do 3 max in there. This gets the job done for me. If you go much smaller things can get chaotic and there just isn’t enough space in between dogs to get things accomplished.

Facebook Group Member: So nice to meet you Kevin. I am a CPDT-KA trainer as well. I have my own Facebook page which is growing. I write tips, information, education etc for dog owners and also cross post great articles from other trainers. Would you suggest a blog for someone like me? I haven’t jumped into that arena yet. I write new posts 3-5 days a week.

Kevin Duggan: I was doing most of my stuff on FB and decided to start sending people to my site. Overall, yes I would recommend starting off with even doing tips on your site and drawing people from FB to your site. Sometimes I do little tips on my Facebook page, but most often I am just doing teasers to get people to click a link and go to my site. I have started doing graphics recently as well. But the more traffic you can bring to your site, in theory the more business you can gain in clients.

Facebook Group Member: So is it your website or a blog?

Kevin Duggan: Both. My blog is a part of my website.

Facebook Group Member: Thanks so much. I’m going to go snoop now.

Lisa G White: Unfortunately, we have to end now, Kevin has to go watch football, and he is rooting for Green Bay to beat Seattle. Thank you so much Kevin for taking the time to chat with us!

Kevin Duggan: Thank you for having me. Thanks all for the questions.

Thank You

We’d like to extend a big thank you to Kevin for letting us share this interview on The Modern Dog Trainer blog. We look forward to reading and learning more from you! Also, thank you to Lisa for organizing and hosting the interviews.

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