february 2023 KPA CTP of the Month
As a high-school student, Taryn Schultz’s senior project was to volunteer at a dog training organization in her hometown of Lafayette, Indiana. She loved the work so much that she transitioned to an employee role and assisted with the training. Both the owner of the business and a coworker were Karen Pryor Academy (KPA) Certified Training Partners (CTP). They encouraged Taryn to enroll in the KPA Dog Trainer Professional (DTP) program and become certified herself.
While Taryn had always wanted a career that involved animals (dogs, in particular) or teaching, she did not have a specific job in mind. She did not know exactly what dog training involved until her volunteer stint began. In considering the KPA DTP program to augment her skills, Taryn realized that she could become a teacher—to dogs and to their humans! With a growing passion for dog training, “it made perfect sense to enroll in the KPA DTP program,” says Taryn. “I am so glad and grateful that I did.” She completed the program in 2020, in Lafayette, Indiana, “under the amazing instructor, Laura VanArendonk Baugh.”
Taryn recalls that everything about the DTP program was useful to her. Lessons that were particularly memorable were those focused on “understanding and reading canine body language, setting up and building a successful business, and teaching group classes.” Taryn found that learning about the shaping process was especially fascinating. She is thankful for the lasting relationships and connections she built with fellow KPA DTP students.
The 10-part behavior chain required for certification was the biggest challenge for Taryn. “At the time, my border collie, Winter, was only a year old. We were still learning about each other and growing our relationship.” Taryn explains that she had to figure out how Winter learned best, and progress at the dog’s pace, with a lot of trial and error. “Although she and I were both really nervous on the day of our behavior chain, we did the best we could do in the moment—and we passed,” Taryn remembers with pride.
Taryn says that inspiration and confidence gained from the DTP program led her to open her own dog training business, All The Dogs Canine Training. She offers private in-home training services and is thrilled with the results she has seen with clients. “It has been so rewarding to watch owners learning to train their dogs. They are better able to understand and connect with their pets.” As the one who guides the owners and pets on their journeys, Taryn is both amazed and fulfilled.
While she feels that clicker training has been most helpful with reactive dogs, Taryn reports that everyday interactions have also improved for her clients and their dogs. “My clients with dogs that really enjoy clicker training have seen how handling and cooperative care become more tolerable, too. The clicker makes it a game to play, taking some of the pressure off.”
Taryn has seen the difference clicker training has made with her own dogs, believing that it has strengthened their special bonds. “My dogs struggle with behavioral issues that clicker training has improved, including reactivity.” Taryn and her dogs are also involved in canine sports. “We compete in Fast CAT, dock-diving, Rally, and Barn Hunt.” She says that the clicker has helped her shape trick behaviors, including putting a basketball in a hoop, placing toy toast in a toy toaster, stacking baby rings, and playing piano.
Taryn says that clicker training and positive reinforcement have come somewhat naturally to her, as her personality prioritizes gentleness and kindness. “I love that positive reinforcement works for humans, too. It makes sense to me and helps me be kind and patient with others. It feels good to make other people feel good!” Taryn says that many of her most meaningful and important relationships are with KPA peers, local trainers, and members of her kennel club. Dog training has made Taryn feel more fulfilled and supported than ever before. “I wouldn’t be where I am, or who I am, without the KPA DTP program.”
I wouldn’t be where I am, or who I am, without the KPA DTP program.
Taryn prioritizes continuing education. “Dog training is constantly changing; there are always new protocols to try.” She has enrolled in KPA webinars and has read Emma Parsons’s book, The New Click to Calm. “I attended ClickerExpo LIVE in 2021 and will attend again this year. It was a weekend full of fun and great learning!” Taryn looks forward to attending a ClickerExpo conference in person and would love to become a Fear Free certified trainer.
The plan for the future includes continuing to train her current and future dogs with positive reinforcement and growing her private training business, according to Taryn. “I would also love to teach group classes for puppies, obedience, tricks, and more!” Another possible pathway for Taryn is entering the veterinary care world, where “my clicker and positive reinforcement training would be advantageous.”
(photo by Pawz To Pose)