Training and me

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Contact Char:

I am a passionate dog trainer, sometimes instructor, and a lifetime student of evolving animal training philosophies and concepts. I am an advocate for dog centered training based in science, which emphasizes cooperation and empowerment through choice, kindness and positive emotional response. I aim to learn from the dog’s perspective, trying to improve with each and every dog I have worked with, while pursuing activities and training that mutually enriches our lives.

Experience: I have trained and competed with a wide variety of dogs, purebred and mixed, in an array of dog sports and activities starting in 1971, when I was still in high school. Titles include Obedience, Agility, Rally, Tricks, Treibball, Therapy Dog and more. I have taught classes and private lessons in treibball, tricks, and foundations for all sports with a wide variety of dogs. I am an AKC Fit Dog Level 2 Instructor, AKC Trick Dog and CGC evaluator, AKC Farm Dog judge, CTDI (Certified Trick Dog Instructor, Do More With Your Dog) and DMWYD Stunt Dog Judge, and former (ret.) NATE Treibball judge.

My Dogs: I have had a nonstop stream of wonderful dogs throughout my life, all of whom are my teachers. My current companions are both sighthounds, Flash, a Whippet, and Wilkie, a whippet x Cirneco dell etna. Both sensitive, loving and bright. They also each come with their own set of training challenges in varying degrees-extreme prey drive, environmental sensitivities, and tendency toward emotional fragility. At the same time, they both love to learn, train, interact, and are very food motivated! A joy to live and work with and teach me so much, as have all of the dogs in my life.

Training: My goals these days are no longer competition oriented. My passion is training and promoting activities for overall well-being and relationship. I my training is intentionally inclusive of three key components- Cognitive, Physical, and Emotional. This includes elements of sports (non-competitive), fitness, and cooperative care for husbandry and veterinary necessities.

So for my current dogs, our “sporty” training activities (non-competitive by choice but still “sporty” by design), includes Scent Work (in the form of Tracking and Nosework), which provides a safe, natural and satisfying outlet for their hunt drive (sighthounds:). For more fun and physical fitness we train and practice Parkour.  At other times we participate in Fitness-specific training routines- for example with Wilkie who has disc disease (IVDD) and has a prescribed exercise program. For healthcare and husbandry, we are actively engaged in Cooperative Care training (as a former vet tech this has a special appeal and place in my heart). All of these activities combined provide a nice balance of cognitive and physical enrichment. The underlayment for all of this is the emotional component.

In everything we do, my top priority is the Emotional aspect. Making up the emotional component are 2 elements-CER + CL.

CER (Conditioned Emotional Response to an activity over time) coupled with CL (Comfort Level in a given environment) are indelibly part of my training routine. This means that as a trainer I am intently aware of CER and CL, assessing and adjusting training and activities according to the dog. With my growing awareness over these aspects through the years and the desire to always be a better trainer, my training has evolved to incorporate and combine concepts and tools of many trainers with whom I continue my education on a regular basis.

In the past 20 years, I especially credit my education and growth as a trainer to Dr. Deb Jones, Leslie McDevitt, Denise Fenzi, Michele Pouliot, Pat Miller, Julie Daniels, Ken Ramirez, Karen Pryor, Shade Whitesel and Kathy Sdao. In addition, I have continually learned from the Clicker Expos that I have attended, the many classes I have taken at Fenzi Dog Sports Academy since 2013, and other classes and seminars too numerous to mention.

In addition to dog training, I owned and trained horses for over 30 years. I am a licensed Vet Tech and worked in both large and small animal practice for over 15 years. At home on our farm, my husband and I have raised livestock for over 45 years, including sheep, beef cattle, and currently dairy heifers. These days you will often see Holstein heifers in the background of my training videos:) Positive reward-based training also carries over to managing the livestock, as my husband Keith also practices humane and low stress livestock handling methods.

Education and experience: A.A.S. degree in Animal Husbandry, A.A.S. in  Veterinary Technology with a B.S. in Health Sciences (concentration in Animal Health), and C.C.S. in Biotechnology. Work experience includes owner/operator of a dog grooming business, 15+ years as a practicing licensed veterinary technician in mixed animal practice, veterinary research project manager, and college laboratory specialist.

Credentials, affiliations:

Continuing education, since 1991:

  • 2018- 2022, presentFitness and Scent Sports– Continuing education in this area has included parkour, fitness classes and webinars through FDSA and AKC (certified Level 2 Fit Dog Instructor). I have also taken a concentration of FDSA Scent Sport classes, many at the gold level. These include: Tracking (3 levels), Scent Theory and Dynamics, Building Confidence in the Nosework Dog, Nosework all 3 levels, Nosework Games. Plus many other scent sport webinars from FDSA, Scentsabilities Nosework, and Scentwork University.
  • Since 2013, I have been a student of the Fenzi Dog Sport Academy, (FDSA) continually taking online courses in relationship-based training for all dog sports and enrichment. I also serve as FDSA teaching assistant for many of Dr. Deb Jones’s FDSA classes
  • 2019-March 21-24 Clicker Expo, Washington D.C. 
  • 2018-Sept. 23- Stunt Dog Judge Certification with Kyra Sundance (Do More With Your Dog), All Dog Adventures, Richmond, VA
  • 2018- April 14-15. 2 day seminar with Michele Pouliot, Wholistic Hound, Alexandria, VA.
  • 2017: July 15-16. 2 day seminar with Michele Pouliot, at Wholistic Hound, Alexandria, VA.
  • 2016: November 13-14. 2 day Seminar and workshop in Mebane, N.C. with Shade Whitesel, Fenzi Academy faculty in Competition Obedience and IPO.
  • 2014: Clicker Expo, March 29-31, Norfolk VA. (Instructors Ken Ramirez, Kay Laurence, Michele Pouliot, Kathy Sdao, Hannah Branigan)
  • 2013: Trick Dog Instructor Certification Workshop  (Do More with Your Dog, Kyra Sundance), Richmond, VA
    Pat Miller 2 day Shaping Camp (Peaceable Paws, Fairplay, Maryland)
  • 2012-2017: World Treibball League, participant
  • 2010-11: Treibball workshops (4), by Pat Miller, Peaceable Paws
  • 2010: Clicker Expo Lexington, Ky. Instructors: Ken Ramirez, Joan Orr, Helix Fairweather, Kathy Sdao, Jesús Rosales-Ruiz, Ph.D., Jenn and Steve White, Eva Bertilsson and Emelie Johnson Vegh.
  • 2009: Guiding your Dog to Greatness, Virginia Broitman Clicker Workshop (Glen Allen, VA) 2 days- clicker, shaping and targeting.
    Michele Pouliot (Red Lion, PA) 2 days-clicker training for performance and competition.
  • 2008: Stuart Mah (2 days agility). Jane Killion (clicker/shaping for agility).
  • 2007: Canine Freestyle Festival (VA)- 3 days, clicker seminars by Kay Laurence, Julie Flanery, Diane Balkavich, and Nancy Von Koehnnen.
  • 2006: John Rogerson (Richmond, VA) (3 days-training for performance and competition obedience)
  • 2005: APDT Rally Judges and training seminar
  • 1991-2004
    Veterinary Technicians C.E. conferences -1991, 1993, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2004;
    National and Regional Veterinary C.E.: American Veterinary Medical Association Conference 1992 (Pittsburgh, PA), North American Veterinary Conference 1994; Mid Atlantic Veterinary Conference (York, PA.) 1995

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