Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Part Two: Understanding Concepts and Putting Ideas Into Action

The high of a conference can be likened to traveling at 30,000 feet in an airplane. You have no control over incoming ideas, what people say and sitting in an upright position for hours on end can be very tiring.  Once you've landed, however, it is time to understand the concepts you just learned, pull out that suitcase filled with ideas and put those ideas into action.

Understanding concepts means reviewing notes, re-reading the wealth of information provided in the APDT conference workbook and if purchased, re-watching some of the conference presenters in the conference DVD series.

A few concepts presented this year, 2011, with the theme "Catch the Next Wave" were:
  • Punishment. "People confuse punishment and management."And,"Reinforcers are defined by their outcomes." Karen Pryor, Keynote speaker. A reference was made to "Punishment and Fallout" by Jackie Parkin and another not mentioned piece "Coersion and its Fallout" by Murray Sidman. Both help in understanding the concept of punishment.
  • House soiling. Did you realize that this is the most frequently listed behavioral reason for relinquishment of both dogs and cats. 2000 study by Colorado State University on behavioral Reasons for Relinquishment of Dogs and Cats to Shelters presented by Teoti Anderson, CPDT-KA "To Pee, or Not to Pee? 
  • Doorway Class? Oh yes, what a great idea by Trish King, CPDT-KA, CDBC  in "Better than a Fence - The Wait".
  • Vibration equals periodic movement. Joshua Leeds "Through a Dog's Ear" talked about sensory awareness, integration and enrichment.  Recently, Through a Dog's Ear combined sound desensitization and placed both into a four series CD in conjunction with Victoria Stillwell. These were available at the conference and friend Leslie Fisher of Look At What I Can Do Dog Training, Maryland, graciously bought me a set as a gesture of friendship!!! The concept will be incorporated into a sound desensitization class structure.
  • Training. In an "Introduction to Impulse Control" Pamela Reid, PhD, CDBC gave seven tips. Coach daily; micro-manage; train whenever dog is present; low-environment stimulation and distraction; high ratio of reinforcement; quick succession and repetition; and limit self-control exercises with burning off steam. The last concept was ultimately vital to me in the compilation of and the theory behind my emotional de-stress/detox in that it requires high intensity relaxation interspersed with high level activity. AND "The response you get is the communication you give." Trish King.
  • Neuroscience. Regions of the brain are linked to emotion, the reactive system or amygdala and the reflexive or ventro-medial prefrontal cortex. Presenting "Impulsivity - A Veterinary Behaviorist's Perspective" mentioned in Part One of this series, Dr. Petra Mertens, MED, VET, MSW, FTAV, DECVBN-CA, CAA, DACVB, LGSW challenged the thought process of those present. AND "The neurons that connect or are wired together, fire together" Suzanne Clothier. Important to know when teaching self-control in puppies.
  • One minute. "Using household activities to improve self-control and increase responsiveness" presented by Suzanne Clothier. Suzanne stated that short bursts of training were most effective and for busy people, vital. Fitting one minute bursts of training and recognizing teachable moments were the key to getting the job done. 
  • Stress. "Cortisol in blood does not decrease with shock training or electronic spray, which means the dog is still stressed," Grisha Stewart, MA, CPDT, CTC in "Bat 1101 for Reactivity: Coping and thriving in the real world." A compelling conceptual statement further showing dogs who are relaxed and calm can and will learn better as stress is relieved.
  • Nutrition and Behavior. Dr. Valli Parthasarathy, PhD, DVM attempted to broach this topic, but the bottom line is that very little is known on this topic and peer-reviewed studies are contradictory. Commonly heard is carbs cause hyperactivity; raw/grain-free diets decrease aggression, but these are all anecdotal and stories need more research, more data compilation. There are controversial and even opposite findings on studies where tryptophan supplementation was used. Studies done with food delivery and behavior found that food delivered through interactive toys decreased barking. This may well have been one of the most compelling concepts. It was also noted there are no studies on obesity and if losing weight changes behavior to less irritibility. References are www.acvn.org/about-us/nutrition-resources; petdiets.com; vetmeds.ucdavis.edu/vmth/small-animal/nutrition/index.com.
  • Client understanding. "Know your learner," Hannah Brannigan MS, CPDT-KA, KPA -CTP in "From clumsy to competent: Teaching mechanical skills" and Rise VanFleet, PhD, CDBC on "Strategies for working with punishment-oriented dog owners" stating in human change process there are three main things that predict success: a - basic competence in the approach you are teaching; b - your enthusiasm for what you are teaching; and c - the quality of your relationship with the client. All good advice because as behavior trainers we are not only working with the dogs, 90% is teaching clients.
These concepts are a few of many, but show how much professional trainers have to absorb, understand, learn and implement. Understanding concepts, applying them to daily interactions with clients and being creative with these concepts means being better tomorrow than you are today in your education as a trainer. 

Putting ideas into action is self-explanatory. For me and my business, Canine Transformations Learning Center (cTLC) it means being a better resource to my clients, understanding the dog from the inside out, knowing there are no recipes only individuals, and adding ideas like BAT, like platform training, relaying the one-minute concept to busy clients and starting a "Doorway Class" and/or a "Sound Desensitization Class" just before the Fourth of July and add how to use Thundershirts in that particular class situation.

Now, come into the runway for the landing. Prioritize or everything learned will become overwhelming. Put it into order for what is doable in 2012, whether that is adding a class or two, getting a certification, embracing a concept with clients or focusing on a theme.  It's all in a day's work, a day in the life of a behavior trainer.

Next Part Three: APDT Practicum. What did it mean to me?

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