CEU Event: Accessible Training: Making the Impossible Happen
* Courses approved for CBCC-KA CEUs may be applied to a CPDT-KA recertification. Courses approved for CPDT-KA may not be applied to a CBCC-KA recertification.
"Sarah Rodriguez was born with a disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Diagnosed at 6 months of age with this progressive neuromuscular disease, she never walked and had to use a wheelchair from an early age. Her family adopted their first family dog when Sarah was about 5 years old, and it was a transformative experience. She grew to feel a sense of belonging around animals who never judged or had expectations of what she should look like or what abilities she should have. As she grew up, she wanted to help others experience the incredible bond that can be created with animals. However, she found that it is often hindered by misunderstanding when humans don't understand their pet's behavior. It became her dream to help people be able to communicate better with their pets through training. However, with limited mobility, specifically, limited arm strength, becoming a dog trainer was going to be a challenging journey. Finding a school that would accept her as a student was the first hurdle. She found the Ethology Institute Cambridge. Along with textbook learning and exams, part of the criteria to earn a certification as a professional dog trainer was to pass a proficiency verification exam. This exam consisted of training her dog a series of precise behaviors with minimal cues. Some of these behaviors included forward and backward heeling, out of sight duration stay, heel to stand stay, as well as distance behaviors such as sit, down, stand without crossing a visual line, and many more behaviors. Sarah was only able to see the exam requirements after being accepted into this school and didn't know the challenges that awaited her. Once Sarah started the courses, reality set in that she might not be able to achieve her dream once she saw the complexity of the proficiency exam. She had been attending seminars and conferences to learn as much as she could about animal behavior. Still, it was apparent that she wouldn't be able to successfully use many common training methods such as luring or feeding in position. Her dog, Annie, was a small dog, and Sarah couldn't reach her in her chair. She began to think that perhaps this dream was beyond her reach. Just as she was ready to give up hope, she met Alexandre Rossi at one of the conferences she attended. Alexandre Rossi is a celebrity animal trainer and veterinarian from Brazil. He had his own show on NatGeo for several seasons and owns one of the largest dog training companies. He has worked with a variety of zoo animals on animal husbandry behaviors for their care and also worked on set as a trainer for movies and commercials with both domesticated and non-domesticated animals. He frequently conducts research on animal behavior and trends in animal care. With years of experience working with a variety of animals and people, he was just the person Sarah needed to help this dream become a reality. They instantly became friends and, together, they were able to brainstorm ideas on how Sarah could train her dog so she would be able to pass the proficiency exam. Not only was Alexandre able to offer unique training insights, but also much needed support and encouragement along the way. As expected, there were training dilemmas, but each was overcome with a little creativity. To make feeding in position easier, Sarah used a remote-controlled treat dispenser, which proved incredibly helpful, particularly for down stays. A bike mirror clamped to the wheelchair proved useful for Sarah to be able to see Annie better for heelwork and stay when she had to turn her back to her. These simple tools, along with creative ideas, helped Sarah be able to teach Annie all the behaviors necessary to pass the exam. When working with clients that are struggling with using traditional training methods, a trainer's first inclination is to help them. Trainers tend to go into these situations with the mindset that they will be training the animal for their client since they most likely will struggle to participate in the training process. Most of these individuals do desire to participate but are struggling to do so. As hired professionals, it is our job to get creative and invent ways for our clients to be able to help their pets learn. It's in the team's best interest to be empowered to do as much as they can on their own. It's helpful to explain to them that there's always a learning curve with every training method and every team, so they don't become discouraged when one attempted method doesn't work. By normalizing the disappointments, it will help clients stay engaged and not feel discouraged. This also enables clients to realize that trial and error is a natural part of the learning process. Through technology such as automatic treat dispensers and clicker apps, or even homemade creative solutions, along with support and encouragement, training can be made accessible so that all individuals can participate and gain the life-changing benefits that a deep bond with a pet brings."
Speaker(s):Sarah Rodriguez, CPDT & Alexander Rossi
Contact: The Lemonade Conference