November 2015 KPA CTP of the Month: Hannah Branigan

Not only is Hannah Branigan a Karen Pryor Academy (KPA) Certified Training Partner (CTP) and the owner of her training business Wonderpups, she is a member of the KPA faculty and the Karen Pryor Clicker Training (KPCT) ClickerExpo faculty as well. She is a busy trainer and teacher, especially with ClickerExpo 2016 just around the corner!

Hannah discovered the KPA Dog Trainer Professional program from an e-mail list recommendation. Although she was working professionally as a dog trainer already, Hannah felt “stagnant and a little burned out.” The KPA course appeared at an ideal time to boost Hannah and strengthen her training skills—and to remind her of the joy she felt in her work. 

Describing her experience as a student in the KPA Dog Trainer Professional (DTP) program, Hannah confesses that “Unit 1 was mostly review for me, so I was lulled into complacency.” Unit 2 ramped up a bit, according to Hannah, and she was grateful for the emphasis on getting behavior under stimulus control, or cue. When it came to Unit 3, however, Hannah simply says, “oh my!” She found concepts such as modifier cues and compound cues mind-blowing and “totally fascinating stuff.”

With many takeaways from the KPA course, Hannah feels that “learning so much about giving constructive, specific, and positive feedback to people” was her biggest win. “KPA and TAGteach really helped me build that skill.” Her success at providing feedback to all of her learners is seen repeatedly in the results of client surveys. “It always comes up,” says Hannah. “They find my feedback encouraging.” Never differentiating between human and canine learners when it comes to positive feedback, she offers that support and cheering to all. “I think it's just as important to remember that we are shaping behaviors in the humans as much as we are in the dogs.”

Hannah has also employed what she learned from the KPA DTP course in preparation for adding a two-legged puppy to her family. “I find myself looking at her behaviors as a clicker trainer, not just as a frustrated parent. What is the behavior I want? How can I break down this task?” Hannah and her daughter both use lots of tag points while training their “differently able” puppy.

"I have always loved the energy of ClickerExpo. All those like-minded people in the same space, all getting excited about the same things I'm excited about...”

Having attended five ClickerExpo conferences (“I loved every one of them!”), Hannah is now on both sides of the conference—student and teacher. “I have always loved the energy of ClickerExpo. All those like-minded people in the same space, all getting excited about the same things I'm excited about—it’s so cool!” Still shocked to be part of the Expo faculty, Hannah describes her faculty role as only adding to the wonder of the conference experience. “I really enjoy putting together my presentations, because it gives me an excuse to totally ‘geek out’ on a topic that I obsess about. The crazy part is that I present that topic and ClickerExpo attendees all geek out with me! It's awesome!”

At ClickerExpo 2016 Hannah will be focusing on three topics. As she has in the past, Hannah will present Click Your Heels! Heeling for Performance, a Session on teaching beautiful heeling, clicker-style. She will also present High Precision, High Scores, “an intense talk about teaching high-precision behaviors for obedience, without sacrificing speed or enthusiasm.” In that Session, Hannah is excited to delve into the physiology of behaviors and look at specific muscle movements. 

Another new course for 2016 is one that Hannah will be presenting with Laurie Luck titled Triple Planning: Enhance Your Teaching.  “It is specifically for instructors,” Hannah reports. “We'll be talking about how to use lesson planning for dog training classes most efficiently and effectively. We’ll show trainers how to work less, and teach more.” Laurie and Hannah’s Session will be full of concrete, practical tips and templates for the lucky attendees. “These tools can be taken home and put to use in trainers’ own businesses right away.” 

"I have met some awesome people and witnessed some amazing transformations—both human and canine.”

Once a KPA DTP program student, Hannah is now a faculty member teaching that very same course. “I love getting to meet trainers from all over the country. I have met some awesome people and witnessed some amazing transformations—both human and canine.” The development of a dog that starts the first workshop as a novice and emerges at the fourth workshop to “totally rock out his 10-part chain” is just beautiful to Hannah. 

ClickerExpo will help Hannah achieve her goal of “learning every day.” Conferences, seminars, and workshops with other trainers are welcome opportunities to learn. Hannah can count on her family, her dogs, and her students. “They are some of my best teachers!” Asked if she had any future goals where she saw clicker training playing a part, Hannah was quick to reply. “Total world domination in the area of competitive canine sports. Is that an answer?” Hannah has titled her dogs in conformation, obedience, schutzhund, agility, and rally, and is also on the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy (FDSA) faculty.

With her clients, students, faculty peers, and personal circle, Hannah strives to use a positive-reinforcement philosophy all the time. “My daughter is especially good at making me reexamine my assumptions and become more mindful of my day-to-day interactions with her and the rest of the world.”

"Register for ClickerExpo 2016 and introduce yourself to Hannah in Reno or Cincinnati."

Register for ClickerExpo 2016 and introduce yourself to Hannah in Reno or Cincinnati. Better yet, attend one of her Expo Sessions and work with, as well as learn from, this esteemed and popular teacher.

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