My life seems to be hurtling before my eyes these days. I get distracted by something for a second and suddenly three weeks have gone by. That’s my excuse for not getting more of these posts out there anyway.
So what have I been distracted by? Hang on and I’ll tell you. In a minute. I need to take some deep breaths before I say the words out loud and I’m going to distract you with some other stuff first like a written word magician.
After writing about Alison and I passing the Karen Pryor Academy Professional course I got a few questions about what the course entailed and whether I had video of Flint and I doing our final sequence of behaviours.
Firstly no – there is no video of our final assessment that can be shown publicly because those are the rules of the course. I do however intend to see if Flint and I can still remember it and record it at home as I’ve been asked about it so many times now.
I’m going to answer the questions I got in a little post (or big depending on the topic I guess) each week because as we all know I can get excited about the geekery behind behaviour change and the post may well become the longest in living history if I attempt to answer all the questions in one hit.
So this week’s question is :
Why did you do the course in the first place? Haven’t you already got a degree?
Well yes I do already have a degree in canine behaviour and training and there was a practical element to that course as well as theory – I had to train my dog and pass assessments with him (I used Khanu initially and then Breckin when we rescued him as an unruly teenager) and there was a lot of academic work too.
I graduated back in 2011 and the world of dog training and behaviour is a fast moving subject area and I do my best to keep abreast of new research and ideas. It helps that I have a life long love of learning just for it’s own sake. “All knowledge is worth having” is a mantra I live by – that phrase is totally stolen from Jacqueline Carey’s protagonist Phedre in the Kushiel series by the way. So part of my motivation for the course was just that it looked good and I wanted to do it just for something to learn.
It was the real emphasis on my own clicker training skills that really sold it though. It is so easy to fall into bad habits and up until this course I had learned my clicker mechanics from a number of different places and patched them together. While I thought I was pretty good, there’s always room for improvement, especially when there’s a chance that nonchalance has set in. I wanted to make sure my training mechanics were as clean as possible – more importantly to know what clean mechanics really meant and how to recognise when I wasn’t doing that well.
I’d been looking at the course for several years and procrastinating about doing it, it isn’t cheap so it wasn’t a no-brainer kind of decision. What shoved me over the edge was when the course became accredited by the ABTC (Animal Behaviour and Training Council), so that certified training partners are now deemed to have met the standards as accredited Animal Training Instructor. This means not only have I been accessed for my theoretical knowledge of behaviour change for problematic behaviours and planning a subsequent training regime (as a Clinical Animal Behaviourist), I’ve also been assessed for my practical training skills and importantly the dissemination of that knowledge and skill as an instructor.
So there you go, I did it to improve my skills but also to prove that my skills are good.
Distracted yet? Yes? In that case I can drop the news that I am in fact writing a book. A book on living with a teenage dog.
It shouldn’t be news that I love me a stupid teenager. Canine or human as it happens. It’s a really cool part of the development process if you ask me, and I get a real kick out of watching the shenanigans that come from it.
I know that makes me weird.
I also know that many dogs are relinquished at the teenage stage, because it can be hell to live with.
Not for me obviously, I love the lurching from genius to utter d**khead in a microsecond. I love the zest for life, the bravery – I guess technically it might not be bravery because really it’s about lack of impulse control alongside a general miscalculation of potential risk, but still. They remind me that embracing life, living on the edge, throwing caution to the wind can in fact be fun and thrilling.
It’s like that quote from Henry David Thoreau (you know the one from Dead Poet’s Society)
I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life
Teenagers remind me to live. To dig deep, find that passion even if it’s fleeting, take risks, be bold and do things that many would call crazy – like writing a book on teenage dogs.
The way I figure it, if I can pass on some of my love for teenagers then maybe owners will be able to see their dog’s ridiculousness through new more appreciative eyes. And if I can also pass on ways to squish the puppy learning back into the teenage brain it seemed to fall out of overnight, then so much the better.
My book writing mentor said I had to make the announcement so there it is.
Now I’m looking for your help. Maybe you are currently dealing with a teenage hellion (let’s keep it to the canine kind), or maybe you remember what it was like and revisit it in your nightmares. Would you be willing to speak to me about it? I’d love to know what your biggest struggles were/are, what you wish you had known before etc. If you are willing to chat, drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re local I’ll take you out for coffee and maybe cake, and if you’re not we’ll use the magic of technology for virtual coffee.