I began training her tricks right away such as beg, spin and shake. My dentist Dr. Kearney in Hiram, Ohio loved animals. She owned a farm and every year held a party for her clients and their pets. At the parties, she held contests for owners to perform their pet’s tricks. I came for many years and won first prize.
I was so proud. When I was in 4th grade, my best friend, Melanie, was in 4-H and showed her horses. I imagined myself on stage training my dog. I wanted to be a famous performer with animals that I trained.
I saw the excitement of the audience clapping as they admired the tricks. I decided to join dog 4-H Club. I loved it and trained my dog often.
When we met each week to practice our training skills with the club, Heather did great and listened well to me. I loved training my dog. In fact my parents would complain that I was praising my dog too loudly in the backyard while I was training her!
My 4-H advisor used the traditional punishment based methods to train and that is what I learned. Over time, I stopped enjoying myself. Once I learned about reward-based dog training, I enjoyed training again.
I went to a show and go where I could train my dog in the ring. Heather had passed and I had another dog, a border collie, named Shadow. I had a choke collar on Shadow.
When I left the ring, the judge took me aside and said that I could train another way. He told me about reward-based training and directed me to the book Don’t Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor.
He knew a lot about training because he trained dolphins at Sea World in Aurora, Ohio. Of course I read the book. I was hooked. I began to attempt reward-based training with a clicker.
Honestly, in the beginning, I sucked with the clicker, but I kept at it. I began going to dog training seminars in Wooster, Ohio.
At this time I was getting inspired by positive dog training. I was absorbed in learning, and I realized that this was a career for me! My 4-H advisor didn’t approve of my new methods of training, but I kept at it. I had too much knowledge, to stop what I was doing.
What is my educational background?
I majored in Psychology with a strong focus on animal learning. I also minored in Zoology and Theater. My attendance was at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio.
My favorite advisor was Dale Swartzentruber and he taught me most of what I know about the science of how animals learn. I absolutely loved this guy!
I also studied about the human end of psychology.
I am constantly attending dog training seminars and increasing my dog training knowledge. I am a certified pet dog trainer and I stay up to take date with my certification by maintaining my continuing education units.
What careers did I have involving animal training?
During college, I took a seasonal position training exotic animals at the Cleveland Zoo. It was a blast to be on stage with animals that I had trained! I loved it!
I also worked at the Columbus Zoo in the reptile department. I eventually, was hired to be a seasonal, training exotic animals for the educational animal shows at the Columbus Zoo.
My desire to leave Ohio was huge, so, I moved to Utah. I lived there for about 14 years. I began with a seasonal position training exotic birds and raptors in the bird show at the Utah Hogle Zoo.
At this time, I realized, I was better with dogs. So I started my own dog training business in Utah. I moved back to Ohio in 2016 and began a dog business in Ohio as well. Four Legged Scholars is currently in Utah and Ohio. With the Zoom, I can help people privately train their dogs no matter where they live.