June 2019 KPA CTP of the Month
Kimmie Harlow, KPA CTP, provides private dog training in Rockville, Maryland. She has a special interest in helping families where canine behavior issues are obstacles to a serene home life. Kimmie heard about the Karen Pryor Academy (KPA) Dog Trainer Professional (DTP) program from Beth Mullen, KPA CTP, when they worked together at a local animal shelter. “As an open-admission shelter, we saw quite a range of behaviors and animals daily. Almost immediately, I was interested in learning more about behavior,” remembers Kimmie.
It was at the shelter that Kimmie first experienced clicker training. Soon “hooked” on the clicker, Kimmie was anxious to know more. “Beth encouraged me to look into the KPA Dog Trainer Professional program, and I’ve never looked back,” she says.
Under the direction of Laurie Luck, Kimmie completed the DTP program in Richmond, Virginia, in 2014. She describes the course as “one of the most useful and challenging experiences I’ve ever had.” The challenges, and ultimate success, Kimmie had were all tied to her program partner, her fearful dog Nicky. The workshops were particularly difficult for Kimmie and Nicky, improving little by little only after Kimmie had a realization after day one of the first workshop. “I was embarrassed and disappointed that Nicky offered none of her known behaviors and became aggressive with others. Then I realized that I hadn’t even considered how Nicky might be feeling about the situation.” Kimmie started to prioritize the impact of the environment on Nicky. “I learned to interpret her body language and check in with her in all situations, especially ones that are scary for her. Now I advocate for Nicky if we find ourselves in one of those scary situations. Nicky has learned that she can count on me to have her back 100%.” In return, Nicky grew more comfortable and confident, and her workshop efforts improved tremendously. Kimmie and Nicky passed the KPA DTP program with distinction. “This six-month course taught me more about the importance of trust and relationship-building than anything I’d previously experienced,” says Kimmie.
As a KPA DTP program graduate, Kimmie feels set up for success in the dog-training world. The KPA community offers a “network of experienced and helpful trainers to learn from, brainstorm with, and bounce ideas off of.” The deep and far-ranging training Kimmie received through KPA built confidence, too. “I feel comfortable offering clients assistance with a wide range of behavior issues and training topics—from puppy training to reactivity and aggression. At the same time, I can focus on improving the bond between humans and their pets,” she explains.
The KPA community offers a “network of experienced and helpful trainers to learn from, brainstorm with, and bounce ideas off of
Taking all she has gained just a step further, Kimmie says that being a KPA CTP has impacted pretty much every area of her life in a positive way. “Understanding learning and behavior makes me a better empathizer, observer, and listener. Because I’m often looking for behaviors to reward and reinforce with pups, I find that this attitude spills into my daily life as well. I’ve begun to focus more on the positive things in life than the negatives.”
Since completing the KPA DTP program, Kimmie continues to learn more about animal behavior and training. “I think it’s my responsibility to keep learning in order to have the most relevant information to share with my clients,” she says. Kimmie hope to complete Dr. Susan Friedman’s Living & Learning with Animals (LLA) course this year. “And I’ll be signing up for a course at The Ranch ASAP!”
As she moves ahead with both her business goals and her learning goals, Kimmie knows that “clicker training and the KPA approach will play a part in reaching nearly every goal I have, whether there is a clicker in my hand or not.” KPA has become a lifestyle for Kimmie and she “couldn’t be more thankful!”