Dawn’s challenge in the program was working with another species. “I found that training a species other than canine was a very challenging, but it was also a valuable experience.” Dawn actually trained a goat! “The goat presented entirely novel challenges for me, compared to my experience training my dog,” recalls Dawn.
Since graduation from KPA, Dawn has used the curriculum provided in her DTP program as a foundation for her dog training classes and students. “All of my students use a marker in training their dogs. Almost all of the students use a clicker, and a few have used a verbal marker.” Dawn also commends the “ABC” approach to problem-solving she learned through KPA. “I emphasize the importance of breaking down new skills into smaller steps when I work with clients.”
Asked about special requirements and training for canine-performance training, Dawn says, “The same foundation skills that any dog and handler team needs are also needed for performance training.” These skills include giving attention to the handler, offering behavior, understanding how to respond to cues, and learning how to settle. “These are essential skills for any higher-level training.”
Dawn discovered platform training through Michele Pouliot at ClickerExpo, finding it a source of useful applications for gundog training—as well as for other areas of performance training. “The platform is very helpful when I am training dogs to remain in place when other stuff is going on around them – flushing and flying birds, shooting and movement of hunters, and more.” When Dawn once presented a weekend seminar to a dog-training club, she demonstrated shaping a dog to get on to a platform. “I used one of the attendees’ dogs (an adult male Vizsla), and was able to shape going to and standing on the platform after a few minutes work with clicker and treats.” Later, Dawn found out that previously the dog had developed an aversion to platforms after training with a shock collar!
Keeping her hand in science education, Dawn teaches biology part-time at a local community college.