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I just found out I graduated and certified as a professional dog trainer from Karen Pryor Academy. Become A Professional Dog Trainer Courses - Certification Program

I started taking Karen Pryor classes in May of 2019, and it's been an incredible, life changing, experience. The professional course is rigorous, break down bawling stressful, intense and challenging. Preparing for certification is why I haven't been on Poodle Forum as much. Certifying means a lot to me.

I learned about animal behavior, had to train my dog, train a cat, write papers, pass written exams, oral exams, vocabulary exams, pass a training assessment, and a teaching assessment. I can honestly say, if you choose a trainer and it says, KPA-CTP after their name, this trainer was stressed to the breaking point, pounded in a forge, and came out a treasure. Hire that person. There is a lot more to clicker training than snapping a button and giving a dog treats. KPA-CTP means this trainer worked hard and came out certified.

So, I'm now Certified Professional Click-N-Treat. And I'm smiling ear to ear. This is the best thing that has happened to me in 2020. I just wanted to let you know.

Marie, KPA-CTP
 

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Congratulations, that’s wonderful! I am sure you will be wonderful, wish you lived closer 😀
 
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I am so happy for you!!!!!! Congtatulations!!!!!!!!
You and your suggestions for games have been so helpful for me and Annie, I am sure that you will be incredibly successful as a trainer in person.
 

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Congratulations!!!!!🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎊🎊🎊🎊🎊 I'm so happy for you. Are you going to celebrate? You have helped me and Sisko out so much, and I really appreciate your help and advice. We have both been a lot more happier, and he is understanding what is being asked of him more.
 

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Congratulations! It sounds like a very difficult and rigorous certification. That said, the way you have clearly broken down the steps either you took with Noelle or suggested for those of us with training challenges were Master Class, already:)
 

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Huge congratulations! I would love to hear more about the cat!
 
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I'm so proud to say I know you - you have always been a fabulous trainer and now you have the certification to back that up. Congratulations on a job well done.
 
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Thanks for celebrating with me. Training a second species is a required part of the course. I have AKC titles in three sports, but all of my past skills added up to exactly bupkis when I started training a cat. I think that's the point. It was humbling. I had to train my cat to paw a target on cue, touch a target with his nose on cue, and I can't remember what else. I do remember it was a challenge to be patient enough to train him.

I had to video my training sessions for my teacher. As soon as I turned on the camera, St. Nicholas would stop working. The cat wants to work for 15 seconds, and then groom for two minutes. Work for 10 seconds, leave for an hour. I reinforced St. Nicholas with a variety of treats. But being a cat, he would eat a treat once and then decide he didn't like those anymore, and leave. Still, he really enjoyed touching a spatula with his nose on cue. I could move him around the kitchen with the spatula just by holding it in different places and calling, "Boop." Run over, boop the spatula, click, treat.

That's how zoo keepers move crocodiles and alligators, by the way. They used to jump on top of the animals, duct tape their faces, and haul them around. But now they click and reinforce targeting. It was amazing watching a video of a huge crocodile walk toward a Frisbee on a stick. He touched the Frisbee with his snout, and the trainer clicked and tossed a piece of chicken. Move the Frisbee farther away, and here comes the crocodile to touch it again. The keeper lead a croc all the way across the zoo to a new home. No manhandling required. Just a target, a well timed click, and chicken.

Zoo keepers all over the world use targeting with bears, lions, all kinds of animals. Touch the target, get a treat. It's much easier to convince a skittish wild animal to go into a different cage if they learn to follow a target. Once the animal learns the target is a safe thing to touch, moving the target to a new place helps make the new place seem safe. I watched a video of a llama who was scared to walk across a tarp learn not to be afraid. Touch the target, get grain. Move the target near the tarp. Move the target one hoof step closer to the tarp. Move the target so one hoof touches the tarp. It took about 5 minutes for the llama to confidently walk across the tarp. Next day, the llama walked across the tarp no problem.

Like I said, clicker training is a whole lot more than just snapping a button and tossing food willy-nilly. There is timing involved, and observation. Learn what to click, when to click, why you're clicking, terminology like successive approximation, differential reinforcement, respondent conditioning... I honed my observational skills training a cat. If you want to train your cat, watch what your cat does naturally for about 20 minutes. Make note of any behavior you'd like to see repeated. Be ready with your clicker and your treat. When that behavior happens, click the instant you see it and reinforce that behavior. Wait for it to happen again, capture it, reinforce and repeat. It may take a long time for the lightbulb to go on in the cat's noggin that their actions are causing the click. Dogs figure out the connection -- do this, get reinforced, do it again -- a whole lot faster than cats. But, you can train a cat if you are incredibly patient and willing to put in the time. Or, if you're being graded for a stressful class!

I am convinced breakdown bawling is part of KPA. Out of my four classmates, three of us passed, and all three of us had sobbing breakdowns from the stress. I had multiple breakdowns over the past year, crying during workshops, crying during exams, stressed and overwhelmed, wondering why I ever started. We had our final workshop via Zoom. We were supposed to graduate in March and ended up graduating in June, which made this class even more stressful because it lasted an additional three months.

One of the unique parts of KPA is the 10 part behavior chain that all students have to pass for their certification. Noelle and I had to learn a sequence of behaviors using four different types of cues and an obstacle. It had to be fluid with no pauses between behaviors. We've been practicing these same 10 behaviors since January and boy was she sick of doing them. During our final exam, I asked Noelle...

Touch left hand-->finish left-->sit-->over a jump-->come-->sit in front-->stand-->paw touch left leg with right paw-->paw touch right left with left paw-->lie down when I ring a jingle bell, click/treat.

She did that chain faster than you can read it. We were being graded on precision, latency, and speed. And I am proud to say her chain was flawless. My teacher was cheering, so was I. The best Noelle had ever done was the one time it mattered. Noelle made me so proud. What a trooper she is. I promise, I promise, we will never do that chain again.

Right now, I'm relaxing for the first time in over a year. No more exams. No more grades. No more stress. I made it. Whew!
 

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How old is St. Nicholas? I found with my parents cat, training was very easy until she hit 2 or 3. She used to know come, sit, down, and shake pretty effortlessly on my part, but now, at age 14? Hah! Stupid human, not happening. I wonder if it has to do with neuroplasticity?
 

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Fascinating. I have found my cats learn very quickly by observation. I taught the two dogs to sit and wait for their name to be called for a treat. Tilly-cat watched a couple of sessions, then I turned round to find her sitting next to the dogs. If bum-on-floor=chicken she was more than capable of copying them. Pippin took a little longer, but soon joined the line. I wonder if there is something in their mentality that makes them slower to grasp the significance of a bridging signal - perhaps the difference between a naturally social animal and a naturally solitary one?
 

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Discussion Starter #20
It could be that cats aren't genetically hardwired to want to please people the way dogs are. It's neat watching how cats learn. Dogs are sitting and getting a treat, I wonder what would happen if I sat and... ooooh, that worked. I bet that gave you a giggle when you saw it.
 
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