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APDT 2011 Conference: Get Your Learning On in Sunny San Diego

by Leslie Fisher

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This dog trainer got her learning on, at the APDT 2011 Catch The Wave Conference in sunny feel good San Diego. For this East Coast dog trainer, CA was the trip of a lifetime, a trip of many firsts, including a first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean.

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 Other firsts: meeting a gang of face book and twitter pals known previously by name only. Conference statistics: over 1,10o people from 13 countries, 48 Sates and 5 Provinces of Canada. All were defined by a single goal; all were desirous of learning.

Sunny San Diego
Town and Country Conference Grounds:Beauty Everywhere

Learn. Indeed I did. So many top notch presenters from around the world, so much to choose from. Mind boggling really, and impossible to note every single highlight. I urge you: visit the APDT site for a summary of events. I hope my summary of conference highlights will motivate you to learn, read or attend a new conference or workshop. Life long learning is vital for all involved in the care of companion animals. We can never know it all.

Thus I begin, with the Wednesday of “shorts”, quick bursts of condensed 20 minute highly relevant talks on popular topics. Always a privilege and an honor, keynote speaker was none other than the esteemed Karen Pryor. Her message of tolerance and understanding towards those with differing opinions is relevant to life in general. Why become aggressive over a differing point of view? As Karen says, focus on behavior: “The key skill is to find behavior you like, and reinforce it. We are so pleased to be providing our “shop positively” site with Karen Pryor products available.

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Old Town Trolley Tour: Time Out for Trainers

Moving on, Teoti Anderson, an inspiration to us all, is a face book pal. We spoke at the conference; I wish quality visiting time had been possible. To Pee or Not to Pee may sound fairly innocuous but it goes much deeper.(be right back) According to conference statistics some 93 % of shelter dogs are inmates due to behavior problems: house training issues fit right in there. Very real accompanying distress is felt by clients owning dogs with house training issues. Our professional support is needed. In particular, know when to refer out to Veterinaries, to rule out conditions such as Cushings Disease and Juvenile Renal Disease. Medications can also effect urinary continence.

 Thursday, Living On the Edge- Impulse Control sessions were information packed. I continued to get my learning on. An impressive line up of International speakers included Dr. Petra Mertens (fascinating) Dr. Pamela Reid ( so knowledgeable) and Dr.Ian Dunbar (there`s only one).  Of great importance to myself is understanding the neurochemical process of chronic stress and a cycle of learned and escalating behaviors. In order to break the cycle, clients need to understand the importance of management. Relaxation must be taught to increase serotonin and oxcytocin to these adrenalin and cortisol pumped up dogs. How can we effectively treat this if we, as professionals, lack understanding?

Pick a favorite? Other than Pat Miller, with whom I interned, Suzanne Clothier would be that person. Making dog training accessible and possible to clients in every day life keeps dogs out of of shelters! Suzanne spoke of  training our dogs in short bursts of repetitions, of 1- 2 minute time spans. Think: toast toasting, coffee brewing, commercials on T.V., brushing teeth and folding laundry. It can be done! As Suzanne says, we are the ones with opposable thumbs and dogs depend upon us for access to all that is doggy nirvana. Everyday life is constantly filled with trainable moments. Suzanne has a knack for instantly cutting to the core of matters.

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San Diego Jim Croce Restaurant: Pal Diane Garrod

Gobsmacked: my reaction to the C.L.A.S.S (Canine Life and Social Skills) Program. By now you are reading and I am already working on becoming a C.L.A.S.S Evaluator. My goal? To implement this three tiered real life skills (and positive) program into my own curriculum. As owners are also involved in the testing process for responsible dog ownership, there will be huge community ramifications, and a real sense of pride in accomplishments through the BA, MA and PhD levels. Too many classes teach (dare I say it) boring standard obedience, with little focus on real life skills. Reaching advanced levels of real life skills will have huge impact on the lives of dogs and owners.

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Talley: The Thinker

I continued to get my learning on with the following highly esteemed trainers. Yes, I am going to be a busy dog trainer with new curriculum’s and new skills to teach clients.

  • Grisha Stewart and BAT (Behavior Adjustment Training) for reactive fearful anxious dogs. Essentially dogs learn to make their own good choices when faced with a trigger stimulus.
  • Nicole Wilde: being able to differentiate between Separation Distress and Separation Anxiety and treat accordingly. Good management is always involved, as well as support for clients.
  • Pia Silvani: in the 2012 curriculum I plan to add my own “Feisty Fido” class so stay tuned. As I see many of these dogs privately it makes perfect sense to develop my own class. I have also worked at a Pat Miller “Reactive Rover” camp.
  • Also perfectly sensible is a dogwise affiliation link to my dog training page, with recommended books. This project is “under construction.”

My head is bursting fit to explode with new ideas to implement in my training programs, so much information to be conveyed to clients, all to the betterment of our furry friends lives`. Isn’t that what it`s all about, doing our utmost for the companion dogs in our lives? And so I shall sally forth, bringing you all the best from the 2011 APDT San Diego Conference. Enjoy the pics from San Diego, a trolley tour trio comprised of myself, conference roomie and great pal Diane Garrod and Maryland West of the bridge pal Jules Nye. It was the best of times, getting my learning on.

Leslie Fisher PMCT CPDT-KA  and the labbies Doobie Talley and Bridget

“your pet positively trained” Elkton MD