Trick dogs, emotional support dogs, rescue dogs, dogs with behavior issues, dogs of all breeds, sizes, and ages are welcomed by Rachel Fein, KPA CTP, at her business Cloud K9 Academy. Training dogs since the age of 17, Rachel moved from basic pet manners into the dog sport and trick world. Today she offers all levels of obedience training, coaching in dog sports, trick classes, and canine behavior consultations—all conducted in a positive, force-free manner. Rachel also participates in the range of dog pastimes that she trains. “I enjoy the chance to participate in new activities and love to have fun with my dogs.” Rachel’s dogs Kali and Flash have been successful in agility and in many dog sports and dog tricks.
When Rachel searched out dog trainer certification programs, Karen Pryor Academy (KPA) earned repeated glowing reviews. Completing her own research into KPA, Rachel decided that the KPA Dog Trainer Professional (DTP) program suited her best. She says that choosing KPA “was one of the best decisions I ever made.”
Rachel found the Dog Trainer Professional program structured in a way that encouraged success. “The remote work allowed us to get the basics down, while the hands-on training really honed in on the details. I learned more from the very first workshop than I had in all the seminars and years of dog training I had done.” For Rachel, highlights from the course included workshop training on clicker mechanics, lessons on transferring cues, and a catch phrase picked up from instructor Laura Monaco Torelli: Let the clicker do the talking. “I use that line with clients on a daily basis,” says Rachel. The fast pace of the Dog Trainer Professional program was a challenge to Rachel. At the time, her dog Flash was a 6-month-old puppy, so Rachel was juggling a puppy, another dog, the course, and her work! It was a challenge but well worth it,” says Rachel.
Since her KPA DTP program graduation, Rachel has used clicker training in all of her animal interactions. When she begins work on a behavior issue with a new dog/owner team, Rachel finds it’s quite helpful to bring in success and fun as soon as possible. In many cases, the human on the team is starting out very frustrated with the dog. When Rachel has him or her train one trick per week as a part of the behavior modification plan, the joy and teamwork return to the learning pair.
Rachel works with animals destined to be companion dogs through the Pets for Vets program. Since she only has 6-12 weeks to teach the dogs all they need to know to support a veteran emotionally, Rachel relies on the speed of clicker training. “Clicker training allows me to train behaviors quickly and clearly so we can place the dogs with the veterans in a timely manner.”
The KPA positive spirit has made its way into all parts of Rachel’s life. She says, “The KPA program changed the way I view stressful and negative situations. Now I try to find the good in every circumstance. I try to use positive reinforcement with people as well as dogs. I also remember to reward myself.”
Continuing education has always been a priority for Rachel; her goal is to bring new information about positive training to her clients—and herself. Rachel has attended several courses, camps, and conferences since earning her KPA Certified Training Partner designation. Looking ahead, 2016 will be a big year for Rachel. She plans to attend ClickerExpo 2016 AND open a training facility in the spring of 2016. (Clicker training will be used in all classes, of course!)