Tabitha also works with The Jackson Galaxy Project Cat Pawsitive Pro Program as a trainer-mentor. The program “is dedicated to teaching shelters how to use clicker training basics and various positive-reinforcement-based training methods like capturing, targeting, luring, and shaping.” There, Tabitha helps create training plans and troubleshoot behavior challenges presented by individual cats.
On top of private client and shelter work, Tabitha is a registered veterinary technician at a veterinary practice where she teaches cooperative care and anxiety-reduction for veterinary visits and other stressful situations. Working to prevent, address, and manage fear and stress associated with veterinary visits and procedures is especially important to Tabitha. “Unfortunately, many cats and dogs are afraid and anxious at veterinary visits and this can result in animals not getting the care they need,” Tabitha says. She works with clients and the veterinarian to develop travel and handling plans to mitigate these stressful feelings for the animal. “I use training methods that include clicker training, classical counter-conditioning, and desensitization. Some behaviors I teach include are going into the crate or carrier on cue, enjoying a basket muzzle as much as the leash, and cooperative care behaviors such as a chin rest, stationing, and targeting.” These strategies help animals with everything from receiving injections to stationing on cue to happily taking their medication without restraint, according to Tabitha. Currently, she is using clicker training to help her own cat enjoy her recently prescribed inhaler treatment.
Another passionate interest of Tabitha’s is educating people. She offers lectures and hands-on workshops to the general public, and to veterinary, shelter, and training professionals. “I present on feline and canine behavior, Fear Free and Low Stress handling, and enrichment. A few of my most requested lectures and workshops are Thinking Outside the Cage: Shelter Enrichment in Cats, From Hiss to Purr: Keeping Kittens in Lifelong Loving Homes, and Cooperative Cat Care: Getting Consent at the Vet (Hands-on Workshop).”
Lessons from the KPA DTP program have helped Tabitha personally and interpersonally. “As a clicker trainer, I focus on the behaviors I want instead of the behaviors I don’t want, build respect through trust, accentuate the positive, give clear criteria, and redirect if there are mistakes. I do my best to apply this to my everyday life and every interaction I have. Complimenting others is one of my favorite things!” Tabitha is focused on continuing her education. She has completed Low Stress Handling and Elite Fear Free Certifications and is a Certified Cat Behavior Consultant through the IAABC. “Recently, I attended Dive Deep with Ken Ramirez at The Ranch and completed Dr. Susan Friedman’s Living and Learning with Animals,” Tabitha recounts.
Although her training work started with cats, Tabitha has enjoyed the addition of canine services to her business. For all species, she believes that “clicker training encourages creativity and initiative, builds confidence, strengthens the human-animal bond, provides mental stimulation, and gives animals choice!”