Since graduating from the KPA DTP program, Michelle has found the impact of that program to be profound. “While I embraced reward-based training before Karen Pryor Academy, I now have the knowledge, skills, and resources to train more effectively and with the best results.” Michelle finds that her training experiences with clients now include an emphasis on the dog’s emotional experience, in addition to the behavior learned. “Nowhere is this more apparent to me than when, in one of my roles as a handler on photo and video sets, the animals require training on set for in order for us to capture the shot we want. Clicker training is not only the fastest way to get the behavior, but it allows me to keep the animal relaxed and happy. When the animal models are having fun, it shows in the pictures.”
As an employee of PetSafe (Premier Pet Products was acquired by PetSafe), a company known as more traditional, Michelle has faced every imaginable reaction—from a funny look to outright disdain—from trainers when they learn of her decision to continue working at PetSafe. She reports that her decision to stay and her continuing choice to work for PetSafe was never as hard a choice as one might think. Relationships with her colleagues and advice from mentors, including Dr. R.K. Anderson, helped Michelle work through her doubts. As the manager of the Training and Behavior Education Department at PetSafe, Michelle works primarily with the Toys and Behavior category, but she and another colleague who completed the KPA DTP program are utilized by many other departments. “I have a voice in product development and I bring training and behavior expertise to the table. I have the opportunity and resources to share positive loose-leash walking solutions, enrichment toys, and clicker training products and principles with colleagues and pet professionals all over the world,” explains Michelle.
Michelle believes that education is the best way to promote change, but that respect toward people with different perspectives is required as well. She works to bridge the gap with others with different training backgrounds and philosophies so that together they have a positive impact on animal welfare. Michelle asserts that clicker training and its principles impact all of her interactions now.