His wife Barb’s company, founded on her interest in canines and on both of their devotion to dogs (particularly golden retrievers), needed a trainer just about the time Pat retired. “She was familiar with Karen Pryor Academy and insisted that I enroll there when I volunteered,” remembers Pat. Pat completed the KPA Dog Trainer Professional (DTP) program in August 2014—in Endicott, New York, under the instruction of Steve Benjamin.
Pat found that learning everything he could about positive reinforcement and the use of the clicker during his KPA program was enlightening. Teaching itself was a challenge for Pat. “After years of being in business, it was definitely outside the box for me.” Pat recalls that “Steve and my classmates made it very easy to make the transition” to his new work.
When he trains new clients and their animals, Pat finds that “the clicker gets my clients involved in the training process immediately because they see how powerful it can be.” Pat introduces the clicker as a tool during orientation sessions so that his students are “ready to work as soon as class starts.” The animals realize how powerful the clicker is, also. “It becomes a great tool working with reactive dogs, helping to get their attention away from distractions.” Some of Pat’s clients with excitable dogs that jump have been able to “eliminate that unwanted behavior in as little as one session using proper clicker techniques,” he reports.
Pat prefers to train dogs off leash (except during loose-leash walking lessons, of course). Why? “It lets the dog make the proper decision without any input from the leash,” Pat reports.
Inside and outside training venues, Pat has found that he is “much more relaxed speaking to an audience.” He says, “Understanding operant behavior, I tend to use those principals in everyday life.”
Since completing the KPA DTP program, Pat has passed the CPDT-KA exam. “I am very interested in helping people with their specific dog-behavior issues, so I'm constantly absorbing any knowledge that may help me help them.” Pat has amassed more than 2300 logged hours of training since August 2014. “I'm still learning from every dog I meet.” Pat’s “teachers” include three deaf dogs and one “light-blindness” dog that he trained in the dark!