It was while she was working at a doggie daycare that Charissa first heard about KPA and the Dog Trainer Professional program (DTP). A coworker encouraged her to enroll in KPA and her family was in full support. Charissa completed the KPA DTP program almost 18 months ago, learning from Lindsay Wood Brown at Boulder Valley Humane Society in Boulder, Colorado. “I was in Lindsay’s last KPA class in Boulder before she moved out East. I felt blessed to come full circle and complete the program in a humane society where I started working with animals professionally.”
While it was a challenge to complete, Charissa believes that “the KPA Dog Trainer Professional program is the best certification professionals can receive.” Charissa had only used a verbal marker, so she was a beginner clicker trainer in her KPA course. “The clicker was something I really had to get used to,” she admits. However, Charissa says that the DTP program really helped her, and others, understand why the clicker is useful, how to include mechanics in training, and how shaping, capturing, and luring all work. She says, “For me, the most difficult part of the DTP program, and any training plan, is achieving stimulus control.”
Now, Charissa finds herself asking, “What would Karen Pryor do?” on a daily basis. For example, Charissa received an e-mail recently about an adopted dog that was very excitable at home. The owner was frustrated that the puppy was “bad and mean and too dominant over everyone in the family.” At first, Charissa felt angry with the pet owner, and with the veterinarian who had given the owner advice to make the puppy submit to the family. Before sending a nasty e-mail in reply, Charissa says, “I stopped myself and asked my ‘WWKPD’ question. I e-mailed the owner, focusing on the positives that she had demonstrated, such as seeking out a veterinarian, e-mailing me, and caring so much about this new puppy.” Not only did Charissa feel that she had responded the Karen Pryor way, she was able to spread positive training information as well. She reports that she was able to sneak in some scientific information about dominance theory and ended her e-mail suggesting positive methods to help the new puppy learn impulse control.
For her work at the humane society, Charissa calls on skills she has built from shelter work since she was 16 years old.