My quest for understanding why animals behave as they do started when I was very young. My first word was "bow-wow!" Clearly, I felt it was more important to try to communicate with the neighbor's dog than try to speak to my own parents. As a young child, I lived in the country and couldn't soak up enough information about the various species I interacted with daily. That is why when I earned my bachelor's degree I varied my studies so that I could receive a well-rounded behavioral education.
I have undergraduate degrees in ecology, biology, and psychology. I studied, and even taught, advanced tropical ecology in field schools in Costa Rica where I rehabilitated and released three black-handed spider monkeys into the wild. My adventures took me to South Africa as well, where I observed Chacma baboons and dove with great white sharks!
In graduate school in New York, I earned a master’s degree in evolution, ecology, and behavior. I felt my education was missing something, though—I wanted that hands-on experience and the know-how of those amazing dog trainers I had seen on television. I researched and decided that the Dog Trainer Program at Karen Pryor Academy (KPA) was the best; I enrolled and spent six months studying and applying Karen Pryor’s methods.
What I love is that Karen's program is in sync with everything I've learned throughout my formal education in terms of how animals learn best, what motivates animals, and more. The KPA force-free methods and positive reinforcement training resonate with my own ethical compass, and I enjoy the process of training an animal from beginning to end.
Every single time I conduct a training session, I learn something new. I am someone who values education and feels that each new piece of information I gain is one more piece of the puzzle. This outlook helps me understand the bigger picture. The Karen Pryor method and philosophy simply work best for me. Positive reinforcement training benefits the trainer (me) like it benefits the trainee (dog, cat, bird, etc.), keeping us learning and growing with each other. Ultimately, it is this ever-growing, evolving relationship that helps seal our bond, creating an understanding that helps bridge the communication barrier.