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Kathy Sdao, Nicole Wilde and Trish King to Speak on Fear and Anxiety Behaviors

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Date: September 06, 2009

Author: Barbara Davis

September 6, 2009 - Some of the most frustrating cases a pet dog trainer can face involve working with clients of fearful and anxious dogs. Frequently, it can be difficult to gauge the extent of the problem at an initial evaluation, and determining what approach will produce the best results for the dog can be even more of a poser. And even if you can get a handle on all that, it can be even more challenging to find a program that your client will accept and implement!

Dogs trainers, fear not!

This year's APDT Educational Conference includes a Symposium on Fear, a series of presentations by some of the best in the field, including three of my personal favorites!

Kathy Sdao's seminars never fail to attract large numbers of eager participants, and it's no wonder. Her energy and enthusiasm for her work is clearly evident, even from the back of a double banquet-room-sized hall! Kathy's unique blend of of insight into animal and human behavior, her ability to translate big science into easily digestible bites for learners at just about any level, and the fact that her love of it all is just infectious makes any of her assemblies memorable occasions. This year, her presentation "What's This I Fear? Identifying Triggers and Resolving the Problems" promises to take some of the most elusive aspects of desensitization, counter-conditioning and differential reinforcement, and bring them down to earth in a form we can all embrace and understand. Better plan on carbo-loading before this one, as Kathy’s rock-star-like performance has been known to leave her audience exhausted, but completely satisfied!

Once you’ve mastered the science of treating fear and anxiety, it’s time to move on to the practical applications for managing and modifying the behavior. Enter Nicole Wilde, an internationally recognized authority on the subject of canine fear and anxiety problems, whose discussion “Working With Fearful Dogs in Private Lessons and Group Classes” promises to provide the audience with workable and practical guidance in developing behavior modification programs for dogs suffering from fear-based issues. This session is a must for all trainers who do currently or plan to work with fearful dogs and their families. Nicole’s command of the material is only eclipsed by her well-organized and methodical approach to analyzing and dealing with behavior problems, and after only a short while in her presence, you’ll quickly come to understand the reasons for her success transcend knowledge and skill. Nicole’s calm, steady and relaxed approach, sprinkled liberally with light-hearted humor, but most importantly, empathy, will help trainers in all walks of their careers fill out their toolboxes with assets you’ll be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.

Now on to the truly frightening part! Once you’ve devised your plan to address your canine client’s fearful behavior, it’s time to turn your attention to the human half of the equation and sell the client on the program. Trish King has been working with fearful dogs and their families for many years, and as skillful as she is in interpreting the behavior of dogs, she is equally gifted in the area of understanding their human partners and knowing what it takes to get the people to work the plan. In her talk “Client Buy In”, Trish promises to help us understand how to “sell” a behavior modification program in terms the client can accept, to tell us how to tell clients what they don’t want to hear, and then get them to do what needs to be done anyhow! Trish’s straightforward and pragmatic approach to people and their dogs is always simply presented and her “bottom line” approach will strike a chord with everyone in the room. Trish speaks from the perspective of a trainer and behavior specialist with a deep well of experience, but who is also closely connected to her clients, their attitudes and their feelings. Being able to tune into those dimensions and help cement the connection between the mental and emotional state of both the dog and the human, present the realities of the situation objectively and help them arrive at the best solution for that family is the hallmark of a great behavior consultant.

Barbara Davis, CDBC, CPDT


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