Since the completion of the Dog Trainer Professional program, Lisa is more aware of criteria, far more aware than she had been before. She focuses on the criteria in her own behavior, and in the behavior of the dogs and the people around her. These days Lisa can adjust on the fly, recognizing when she has set expectations too high for the environment. “Dog training has helped me lose weight and become more fit, because I use appropriate criteria and set myself up for success.”
Lisa has competed with her dogs in Rally, Obedience, Agility, and Conformation, and has also dabbled in Tracking, Nosework, Treibball, and Freestyle. In her work as a competition Obedience and Rally Judge, Lisa has seen improvement and believes that KPA has made her a better judge. “Now I want every exhibitor to come out of my ring with a smile, whether they have won a ribbon or not. I work hard to lift up my exhibitors so that they can see the good in the performance and not focus on the bad.” Since Lisa enjoys dog sports and the community so much herself, she jokes that if she and her peers call Rally a “gateway drug,” she wants new people who become “addicted” to leave the ring flying high.
As she trains and competes, Lisa has become a lot more aware of stress and worry in her dogs and others, and works to alleviate that stress with simple adjustments. For example, the “stay” command can be especially frightening. Instead of glaring at her dog after the stay command in a competition, crossing her arms and leaving the room, Lisa has started smiling when she leaves. She also keeps her arms by her sides, naturally and relaxed. This change has been quite successful. As a result, Lisa finds herself more sensitive to other peoples’ confusing cues to their dogs. When she is training a dog and owner, Lisa tries hard to clarify what the desired cues should be. She is gentle with owners, frequently settling the dog in a crate to break out some TAGteach strategies to work directly with the human element. Lisa is not TAGteach-certified yet, but it’s something she would like to do. “I see applications for it every day.”
Reactive dogs pose special professional challenges, yet Lisa credits clicker training and all she has learned from the Karen Pryor community with her ability to work with these dogs. She says, “Click to Calm and Control Unleashed saved me. They helped me fix problem behaviors as well as train in a way that prevented certain behaviors from occurring.” Even before she became a KPA graduate, the books helped her learn to have appropriate expectations. And learning about concepts such as “threshold” and how to use “space” to her advantage has helped Lisa, first with her own dogs and then with clients. She looks for subtle cues that reveal that a dog might be reaching threshold, reads different sets of body cues from different dogs, and knows that two dogs of the same breed can be incredibly different.
Lisa attended ClickerExpo in 2012 as well as 2014.