July 2014 KPA CTP of the Month
Karen Pryor Academy (KPA) Certified Training Partner (CTP) Lisa Paul always tries to be “clickerly,” but acknowledges that it takes attention and effort. She says that the more she immerses herself in KPA philosophy and the more she keeps company with KPA faculty and course graduates, the more zeal she has for making positive changes. Committed to working with families and their animals in a relaxed and positive environment through her business Kudos for Canines, Lisa’s goal is to “train people to have appropriate expectations of their pets and then help the dogs and humans understand each other.”
It was a young, unruly Malinois with a barking behavior issue that led Lisa to search the internet for alternative solutions. At that point, Lisa felt that many people had already led her astray; the problems were getting worse and Lisa’s dog was frightened of Lisa and her husband. Lisa knew there had to be a humane way of communicating to her dog that there was no reason to be frightened, that people were actually “treat-bearing friends that the dog just hadn’t met yet!” She was clear about wanting to move away from yanking a dog around by the choke collar or, worse, making corrections via a prong collar.
Lisa found a connection to Laura VanArendonk Baugh (and through Laura a connection to KPA) online. A competition Obedience and Rally Judge herself, Lisa was able to meet Laura when Laura attended a local Rally trial. Lisa says, “From then on, I wanted to enroll [in KPA], but the money, oh, the money.” When several years later Lisa received a small family windfall, the time was right to enroll in the Dog Trainer Professional program and then open her training business. “I didn’t know if I’d ever make a penny back from it, but I wanted to do it.”
Lisa found many parts of the Dog Trainer program challenging and illuminating. She says, “I learned patience.” She did not go through the Dog Trainer program with her crossover dog, but instead completed the course with her show dog, Penny. Lisa discovered that Penny had not really been trained well at all, except to “stand and look pretty.” The KPA course forced Lisa and her dog to learn how to troubleshoot; Lisa learned that “there were 100 different routes to any given behavior.” KPA showed Lisa how to chart a new course. “Penny was patient enough to hang out with me while I figured it out.”
Throughout the Dog Trainer course, KPA faculty member Laura Monaco Torelli was Lisa’s impressive mentor.
She was so incredibly uplifting. Each time we would struggle, she would immediately turn it around into something good. I can’t imagine a person with a more true and loving soul. I’m sure her ears burn often; anytime I hit a roadblock, my husband inquires, ‘Honey, what would Laura do?
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.
I am really hoping that I can find the pennies for ClickerExpo 2015 in Michigan!
And recently completed the KPA Shelter Training & Enrichment course. “I needed a KPA fix in the worst way. I can’t explain the feeling that washed over me when I logged in to the website and saw the familiar images.”
Lisa and a friend who volunteers with the local Humane Society agreed to take the Shelter Training & Enrichment course at the same time. Lisa has been spending as much time as she can at the shelter since, making appointments with her friend to go in together and train. She and her friend were especially interested in working with the cats. “How do you teach a cat to target? We knew the theory, but the Shelter course helped us learn how to engage and train cats.”
Lisa’s education continues via videos, and via seminars/courses. “I really enjoyed Jesús Rosales-Ruiz at HALO St. Louis last year, and made a point to see him again just recently, at the end of June.”
All of these experiences and goals reinforce Lisa’s mission: to cross over as many trainers over as possible!