Another benefit Greg points to from his KPA experience is exposure to and involvement with the culture of trainers who have chosen the KPA path. “This is by far the most supportive and selfless group of people that I ever have had the opportunity to know.” Tehya brought reactive challenges to the KPA workshops she attended with Greg. Instructor Laura Monaco Torelli, and Greg and Tehya’s entire class, supported them fully. “Even though Tehya was disruptive and challenging, every member of my class understood,” says Greg. He has found the same support post-program, connecting with other KPA trainers via KPA group list and other means. “I really had little intention of accepting clients on a professional level after my KPA certification until I discovered the level of support from the KPA community. The KPA Dog Trainer Professional program is demanding, but the skills and support gained are well worth the effort invested.”
Now that he does work with clients in addition to his work with his dogs at home, Greg relies on what he learned about targeting to help teach solid foundation skills. “I view targeting as not only a behavior that is useful to teach many other behaviors, but also as the perfect way to teach clients and dogs how to communicate in a common language,” says Greg. The introduction to the clicker during basic targeting behavior training is often special to Greg. He loves the moment when, for the first time, “the dog understands what was asked of him and has the opportunity to be an active and equal partner in the session.” Greg can share many examples where his KPA training has led to training success. Using the clicker, Greg was able to help an inattentive dog get used to a harness. “The dog stayed connected throughout our group click sessions, and he eagerly responded to what he was asked to do.” The first foster dog in his house that Greg was able to train using a clicker established a very strong response to the recall behavior. “His favorite toy was a Jolly Ball, and he would play with it in the backyard until he was exhausted. Yet, I could cue a recall at any time during with an immediate, energetic response. Now that’s a recall!” Greg states.
Tehya and Greg have worked together in agility, again using positive reinforcement techniques for success. The original fear-based aggressive dog, Tehya, now 10 years old, has been one of Greg’s “life’s greatest challenges, but also the most rewarding one.” She was storm-phobic, sound-sensitive, and over-stimulated by movement when she arrived at his home. Greg says, “Our training goals included basic obedience skills and agility skills to fill her needs as a working breed.” They found a positive reinforcement agility training environment where Greg could focus on Tehya’s behavior issues while they relied on the instructor for agility skills. Tehya has always set the pace when it comes to the amount of and seriousness of agility work. “I have always been open to continuing the agility path when she offered signals that she was ready for more.” Tehya still struggles in the agility trail environment, and Greg makes special preparations and accommodations, including selecting venues that allow more space in the start gate, crating only in the car or RV, and attempting to have two people present to bring her in and out of the trial environment to minimize the chance of an over-threshold event.