Choosing a dog trainer is a big decision—larger than many people realize.

Dog training is an unregulated industry—dog trainers are not required to undergo any training or education and are not subject to licensing, supervision, or oversight. Anyone may call themselves a dog trainer and use any kind of training methods they choose, regardless of scientific proof of potential physical or behavioral harm.

With this context in mind, I’d like you to know my qualifications and training methods and why I’ve chosen them before you choose me to help with your dog’s training.

My training credentials at a glance

  • KPA CTP: Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner
  • Karen Pryor Academy Puppy Start Right for Instructors program graduate
  • IAABC Member: International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants
  • PRT Member: Progressive Reinforcement Training
  • SI Member: Pet Sitter’s Associates

Why I’m a KPA CTP

I am a graduate of the Karen Pryor Academy, and am a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner. I didn’t want to just be a dog trainer. I wanted to be a professional dog trainer. I wanted to be the best trainer I could be in order to make the most difference possible for dogs and their people. So I chose KPA.

KPA is widely recognized as one of the most rigorous programs for dog trainers. Many have called it downright humbling. Founded by Karen Pryor, author of the classic training book Don’t Shoot the Dog and undeniably one of the most influential animal trainers in history, the KPA program seeks to elevate the education and training of pet dog trainers.

I am proud to be a KPA graduate and I continue my relationship as a Certified Training Partner in order to maintain a constant level of professional education.

Why I train the way I do

I use only positive-based, humane training methods. My goal is to motivate dogs to actively enjoy doing the things we’d like them to do, and remove their motivation for the things we don’t like. The result is a dog who is a partner in training, instead of a subject of it. Dogs trained with positive reinforcement come to love training and “getting it right.”

This is in stark contrast to traditional forms of training that employ pain, fear, or intimidation based on unscientific alpha theories. Dogs trained this way are motivated by the desire to avoid punishment, and fear-based behaviors like aggression can and often do arise as unwanted side effects of this type of training.

You shouldn’t take just my word on this, however. Organizations like the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB), the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC), and the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) all advocate choosing trainers who employ positive reinforcement training instead of traditional punishment-based techniques like choke, prong, and shock collars.

What clicker training is and why I use it

Dog training isn’t rocket science, but it is complicated by the fact that dogs don’t speak English. That’s why many trainers, myself included, use a small hand-held noise box called a clicker. First we teach the dog that hearing a click means he’s done something right and won himself a reward. Then we use the click to communicate to the dog what we’d like to see him do—and we’re off to the training races.

Simplifying communications between species allows us to teach all sorts of things, from simple behaviors like “sit” and “down” to complex circus behaviors to undoing unwanted fear-based behavior like lunging, barking, and growling at dogs or people.


Did you know?

Clicker training was first used in marine mammal training. Ever notice the whistles trainers use at dolphin shows, for example? Same concept. Clickers have been used to train everything from killer whales to tigers to cats (yes, cats!) to—well, they’ve been used to train just about any species you can think of to do amazingly complex things.