April’s introduction to Karen Pryor and clicker training came via Karen’s book Don’t Shoot the Dog. Her discovery of the KPA website and KPA course offerings came next. At the time, April lived in Melbourne, Australia, and travel to the United States was unrealistic for her at that time. On a subsequent visit to the KPA site, April learned that the DTP program was going to be offered near her. “You can imagine my delight when I discovered the course was to be offered in Australia—in Melbourne, no less, my city of residence.” April applied for the course (the first to be held in Australia) and was accepted.
Before the KPA DTP course, April knew about and practiced positive reinforcement training. She had been using the clicker to train with Archie, and credits Archie with their early success. They were determined to learn more. April admits, “I thought I had a pretty good handle on it until I started the course” but she was amazed at how much new knowledge and experience she acquired. “I love how effective clicker training is, and I saw significant change in the relationship between me and my dog,” April shares. Now April sees the same results with the clients she helps, people who thought their dogs were “dumb mutts.” April explains that clicker trainings is “so rewarding, especially for those who are invested in making changes in order to see changes in their dogs.”
Along with nine other students, April completed the very first KPA DTP program In Australia, finding it “challenging and enlightening.” The program followed the established model and included online modules, written assignments, online exams, and workshops. The final assessment of 10 chained behaviors was the culmination of the course. “I loved every minute of it,” April remembers.
April chose a mouse as the second species she was required to train during the program. The mouse provided more of a challenge than her canine friend, Archie, did! “Archie is pretty quick. I sometimes found it difficult to keep up with him, as he is a busy little fellow. The mouse, however, was a lesson in patience.” April admits that discovering what motivated her mouse was the hardest part of the second-species challenge, and of the program! “It took me quite some time. We finally settled on sesame seeds, but it was a slow slog. She was adorable, though, and I had a new-found admiration for mice.”
All About the Hound, April’s business, offers puppy and dog training classes and private lessons, daycare for dogs, and dog-grooming services. In all of these areas, April has found clicker training to be helpful. Her “groomabilities” program introduces puppies to the grooming process and helps dogs that already have a dislike of grooming “change their view of their experience.”
A recent client challenge, and its successful ending, emphasize the value of April’s work. Teddy was a 12-month-old dog that had vehemently resisted previous grooming experiences. He had been rejected by many groomers in the past who claimed that he was “too feral” for grooming. In several cases, almost as soon as the appointment began, Teddy’s owner was called back to retrieve her dog. April was approached for help by the desperate pet owner. “Using clicker training, Teddy was putting his head through the grooming noose in three sessions. Five weeks on, he is tolerating being touched, handled, and brushed. He walks in with enthusiasm and confidence,” April reports. “When he came to me, I thought that his progress would be extremely slow, but his progress has been remarkable. There is a long way to go, and I think he will always be a difficult dog (sensitive and suspicious), but it is encouraging to me that he is doing so well.” April acknowledges that if it were not for the training and the dedication of Teddy’s owner, “inevitably, he would have needed sedating each time he was groomed.”
Positive training allows April to help dogs like Teddy and their owners, and her successes raise her business profile and reputation. “Since KPA my business has grown exponentially,” reports April.