Carol was introduced to clicker training through the all-volunteer Greater St. Louis Training Club. After enrolling in classes there, she ultimately became a trainer herself! It was at the club where Carol met Lucy Bailey, one of the first trainers in St. Louis to be certified by Karen Pryor Academy (KPA). Lucy was the co-coordinator of the assistant trainer program Carol completed at GSLTC; she “was and is instrumental in converting the club’s practice from compulsive/aversive methods to clicker training.” Lucy also maintains the club's training style, through her role as training director and through her involvement with the assistant trainer program, according to Carol.
It was from Lucy Bailey that Carol learned about KPA. There were other KPA graduates at the GSLTC as well. With encouragement from these veterans, and a dog at home with a history of reactivity, Carol enrolled in the Dog Trainer Professional (DTP) program. With the challenging Keely as her canine partner, Carol says she was “very lucky” with the location and instructor for her KPA program. “Laurie Luck provided workshops in St. Louis at the Humane Society. It was close to home!”
The KPA program presented many challenges and rewards, Carol reports. For her, some of the most valuable takeaways from the DTP program came through videos shown during the training modules. “They were illuminating. I especially loved the videos of trainers training their animals. To this day, I recommend KPA trainers I saw in the videos and on YouTube: Helix Fairweather, Alexandra Kurland, and Hannah Branigan, to name just a few.” Carol recalls spending a lot of time taking detailed notes about all of the training modules “because I didn’t want to miss anything.”
Carol’s biggest challenge of the DTP was cueing, specifically recognizing what the learner sees as the cue. “During the program, when I was training Keely to do a figure 8 between my legs, I used targeting. Sometimes she would perform, sometimes not.” Again, videos were helpful. This time, Carol used tapes of her own training sessions. In reviewing them, “I realized what Keely saw, what Keely was looking at for the cue, was whether my knee was bent. For her, the bent knee was the cue.”
“The lessons from the KPA course have enhanced my training, both in classes as the instructor/trainer and at home, practicing basic behaviors and tricks and dabbling in Canine Parkour with my own dogs,” Carol says with confidence. She is most happy when she can pass on the lessons and success from positive reinforcement training, and shares this story: