My Thoughts About The First PPG Summit

It was an honor to be a part of the historic, first-ever Pet Professional Guild Summit in Tampa, Florida, November 11, 12, and 13, 2015. I attended as a presenter (Training and Maintaining Therapy and Crisis Response Dogs) and as an attendee. The Pet Professional Guild provided me with a one-day registration for presenting and provided a Media Pass for the other two days so that I could share information on the Modern Dog Trainer blog.

World Renowned Presenters at the PPG Summit

Pet Professional Guild assembled an impressive group of knowledgeable and skilled force-free animal trainers to share their expertise with other trainers from around the world – Niki Tudge, Dr. Karen Overall, Chirag Patel, Emily Larlham, Pat Miller, Ken McCort, Jacqueline Munera, Dr. Soraya Juarbe Diaz, Pamela Johnson, Mark Hines, Angleica Steinker, Janis Bradley, Theresa McKeon, Laurie Schlossnagle, Diane Garrod, Lisa Morrissey, Shari Sprague, Diana Pappert, Scott Baggett, Nancy Tucker, Linda Michaels, Debra Milliken, Lara Joseph, Maureen Backman, Dr. Michelle Duda, JJ Bachant Brown, and Emily Cassell.

With so many sessions to choose from, it was difficult to decide what to attend. I finally decided to attend:

  • Dr. Overall’s keynote session with the opening by Niki Tudge
  • Chirag Patel – Shaping the Perfect Patient
  • Janis Bradley – That’s the Lab in Him. Breed Bias, a Distraction from the Dog in Front of You
  • Diane Garrod – Solving the Aggression Puzzle and Multi-Dog Household Aggression,
  • Pamela Johnson – Training Snake Aversion the Force-Free Way,
  • Lara Joseph – Online Behavior and Training Consultations and How They are Successful,
  • Linda Michaels – Understanding Research: Making the Case for Force-Free Training, and
  • Theresa McKeon – TAG Don’t Nag: Techniques to be Force-Free with the Humans in Your Life.

There were also panel discussions on Wednesday and Friday, but I did not attend those (on Wednesday I needed to let my brain rest and on Friday I left to fly home).

For me, two sessions really struck a cord with me – Chirag Patel and Theresa McKeon. In both of those sessions, I learned practical information that I will be integrating into my training, both personally and professionally. They were both excellent, organized, engaging presenters. I will be adding both of them to my list of must-see speakers!

Theresa McKeon’s session was especially wonderful. She created a comfortable atmosphere and allowed personal interactions through which I learned a lot. Overall, the PPG Summit was well organized and the speakers were prepared. Scheduling is a challenge at any conference and can make it difficult to attend every speaker you want to see. The sheer variety of speakers and topics was impressive and valuable.

Most attendees were privileged to session notes before the conference. I missed out on those emails, but Niki Tudge, the Founder of PPG, went above and beyond to make sure I received the notes once I asked about them!

Tampa was a great city to hold the conference. The weather was beautiful and travel was relatively quick and easy. The conference was held in both a hotel and in a convention center which made moving in between sessions time-consuming. Distance played a factor in deciding which sessions I would attend. There were so many interesting speakers and topics to choose from!

Conference Accommodations

The Sheraton Riverwalk Hotel staff had amazing customer service which made my stay very enjoyable. I was able to easily access WiFi in my hotel room and in the conference rooms (at the hotel) which we all know can be difficult to get when traveling!

It looked like there were some very interesting meals to be had in great company, but I was not able to attend them due to a break down in communication. Hotel meals and restaurant meals added up financially, not to mention missing out on stimulating discussions on animal behavior.


In the future, I hope to see more vendors attend the PPG Summit. There are a lot of opportunities to meet reputable people in the industry. The effort and planning that goes into an event, let alone a first-ever event, is enormous! Niki Tudge and her team put together a quality educational event for force-free trainers. Trainers came from all over the world to participate and to learn. The 2016 Summit is already being discussed and trainers are looking forward to attending.

It is often said that if you have two dog trainers the only thing they will agree on is that they disagree. The great thing about a conference of dog trainers is that while we still may disagree, we enjoy learning together and being able to be in the same place at the same time with other like-minded trainers. Thank you Pet Professional Guild for offering us this opportunity!!!

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Day Three Summary At The Pet Professional Guild Summit

The final day at any conference always has a little bit of a different feel to it; people are ready to go home to their families and pets, eager to put into practice all they have learned, but they are sad to be leaving their friends and colleagues. The 2015 Pet Professional Guild Summit was no different!

My day started with Linda Michaels presenting, “Understanding the Research – Making the Case for Force-Free Training.”  She shared what publications are reliable and respected in the field as well as the history of psychology and its importance in animal behavior research.

Linda also shared with us her newly released Hierarchy of Dog Needs™. The new hierarchy is focused on wellness and force-free behavior modification. The complete hierarchy can be found here:

“There is never a justification to use pain, fear, dominance devices

 or training methods with our pet dogs.”

For my late morning/early afternoon sessions, I attended Theresa McKeon’s lecture/lab, “TAG Don’t Nag: Techniques to Be ‘Force-Free’ with the Humans in Your Life.” This was a very interactive lecture/lab and we all had a chance to use TAGteaching to see how well it works in the animal training profession.

Teach without Nagging?
• Arrange goals to be met in steps (shaping)
• Arrange immediate feedback
• Arrange/identify immediate reinforcement

(I spent some time talking with Theresa McKeon after the lecture/lab, saying good-bye to friends, and getting checked out, so I did not attend any other sessions on Day Three.)

Overall, a good three days of continuing education in Tampa, Florida at the first-ever Pet Professional Guild Summit. Thank you to PPG for having me present about Therapy and Crisis Response Dogs and thank you for providing the Media Pass for the other two days at the Summit!!!

See the write ups from day 1 here and day 2 here!

(Coming soon – personal reflections on my experience at the Summit.)

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Day Two Summary At The Pet Professional Guild Summit

With no keynote speaker on Day #2, we were able to listen to our choice of presentations for every session. There were five different choices in every time slot.

I started my day with Janis Bradley and her presentation, “That’s the Lab in Him. Breed Bias, a Distraction from the Dog in Front of Us.” In this presentation, she talked about the part genetics plays in behavior for dogs.

During the second time slot, I presented “Training and Maintaining Therapy and Crisis Response Dogs.” It was a small group, so we were able to have a great discussion and we all shared a great deal of information about liability, what skills and training therapy and crisis response dogs should have, and what kinds of exposure.

After lunch, I attended Diane Garrod’s presentation, “Solving the Aggression Puzzle and Multi-Dog Household Fighting.” Unfortunately, the aggression portion of the presentation took up most of the time and there was not much information shared about multi-dog household fighting. The aggression puzzle information was very visual and contained a lot of information.

For my second afternoon session, I went to learn from Pamela Johnson about “Training Snake Aversion the Force-Free Way.” This session was more general in scope because the skills necessary for training a dog to avoid snakes is many of the same behaviors we train in many dogs – for example, recall, leave-it, safe place, and heeling – just with a different emphasis and a particular focus.

At the end of the day, they offered “bite-size lecture sessions.” These sessions are only 30 minutes long. I attended Lara Joseph’s session “On-line Behavior and Training Consultations and How They Are Successful.” In this virtual, online world, this is a great way for trainers to meet the needs of even more clients.

I’m looking forward to Day #3, but my brain is full and I am ready to go home and start implementing some of the new things I have learned.

See Laurie’s thoughts from day 1 of the Pet Professional Guild Summit here!

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First Annual Pet Professional Guild Convention

First Annual Pet Professional Guild Convention

The Pet Professional Guild Convention

It was recently announced that the Pet Professional Guild, founded by Niki Tudge, will be hosting their first annual convention next year. The PPG was founded to support force-free training techniques and promote education and research in the dog training industry.

A world where people and pets can live together to their mutual benefit and where pets can live and function free from physical and mental pain, stress and fear as valued family members.

It was established in 2012 and has since grown to over 900 members. The PPG abides by a few Guiding Principles that resonate with science-based training methods.

The Force Free Summit – Reaching for a Higher Standard

pet professional guild conventionIn 2015, their first annual convention will be held in Tampa, Florida during November 11, 12, and 13. They are planning a live streaming event and have come up with three concrete goals for the event:

  • Help build awareness of our organization and build a stronger collaboration of force-free pet professionals.
  • Help build communication and networking opportunities with the veterinary community and veterinary educators.
  • A very interactive and fun educational format.

The development of an organization composed of force-free training professionals who choose to base their techniques on science is truly something remarkable. We are looking forward to seeing how the pet professional guild convention will pan out and will keep you posted here as well as on Twitter.

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