Sighthound specialist, volunteer,
2006 - 2013. Farmed animal volunteer
Columnist, Canine Corner
Cannon Beach Gazette & Seaside Signal
The Dog Who Couldn't Be Petted
Canine Stress Signals
Such Small Hands: An Anti-Aversives Primer
Hero: A Podenco's Tale
Behavior Specialist / Trainer,
Elevate Dog Training & Behavior,
Adjunct Professor, DeAnza College &
Hartnell College, 2004-2009
B. A. & M. F. A.
California State University - San Jose
Experienced with a wide variety of canine breeds, mixes, ages, and sizes ranging from tiny 3 week old pups to 150 pound adults, and special needs cases including aggression, anxiety, canine cognitive disorder/dementia, reactivity, separation and confinement distress, and various levels of timidity, trauma, and extreme fear, including fear-based self-defense behaviors. Anti-aversive specialties in fearful, feral, and traumatized dogs (including work with of 100s of rescue dogs and shelter dogs), puppy training in-home, behavior modification, and cooperative care and handling for all puppies and adult dogs.
What's a CBCC-KA?
A CBCC-KA, which means Certified Behavior Consultant, Canine - Knowledge Assessed, is a vetted professional who can help you with canine behavior and emotional difficulties such as aggression, anxiety, fear, phobias, reactivity, resource guarding, and other upsetting issues. Though a Certified Canine Behavior Consultant is usually a dog trainer as well, s/he has additional qualifications far beyond that of a dog trainer. Regular dog trainers, even Certified Professional Dog Trainers (CPDT-KAs), are not always qualified to deal with concerns such as aquired bite inhibition, aggression, anxiety, fear, phobias, and early socialization to ensure sound behavorial development. Teaching a dog skills like sitting on cue and coming when called are highly desirable abilities, but these skills alone will not resolve issues such as fear, anxiety, reactivity, and aggression because such problems originate at the level of a dog's emotions--the subconscious--whereas obedience training operates generally at the conscious level.
A CBCC-KA's qualifications and ethics have been professionally assessed by the independent, international certifying organization, The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. As of December 2018 there are only 232 CBCC-KAs worldwide, and currently there are only 7 in the entire state of Oregon. In order to be awarded the CBCC-KA certification, an applicant must first have several hundred working hours of canine behavior experience, and then must pass a rigorous, carefully and independently proctored examination. To be awarded the CBCC-KA, Certified Canine Behavior Consultants must demonstrate competence in applied behavior analysis, ethology, body language, & observational skills, consulting skills & best practices, health, development, & life stages, and anatomy & physiology. CBCCs also stay abreast of and may even participate in scientific research in animal behavior, and must keep their education and skills up to date. CBCCs also must adopt Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive (LIMA) (or better) principles to assist their clients and become a resource for the public, and some CBCCs, myself included, take extra measures to adopt anti-aversives policies. CBCCs such as myself may also seek to assist companion animals and their humans by seeking to prevent and/or interrupt interaction cycles that historically have tended to lead to euthanasia due to behavior problems.
Because there are no laws for regulating dog training, some people unfortunately claim to be animal "behaviorists" without having the knowledge, experience, oversight, or professional education and credentials needed to ensure they are qualified to help people and their pets with behavior concerns. Just as a person in need of heart surgery would start by seeking out a reputable board certified heart surgeon, those in need of behavior help for their dogs are wise to begin by seeking out an anti-aversives, certified behavior consultant with nationally recognized credentials, such as the CBCC-KA.
A Note About Professional Organizations (CCPDT versus APDT):
The CCPDT (Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers) offers independent certification to dog training and behavior professionals and is an organization of certificants. Certificants have taken and passed a rigorous examination, and must continue to recertify to retain the credential. APDT (Association of Professional Dog Trainers) is an organization of members. Members are individuals with an interest in the goals of the organization, who pay annual membership dues to participate. APDT members continue to be part of the organization as long as they continue to pay their annual dues, but there are no requirements for expertise, experience, examination, or continuing education for APDT members. CCPDT certificants must keep their knowledge updated via lifelong professional education (or retesting) and provide proof of that in order to maintain their certifications. As Susan Smith explains it, "In the dog training certification world, there is only one truly independent certifying body – the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT). "