About 4 years ago I was encouraged to run for office in the Canadian Association of Professional Pet Dog Trainers. At the time, I had been rather vocal about the need to maintain some balance in training and I was opposed to limiting trainers options. I was encouraged to put my money where my mouth is and stand for office – I didn’t think I’d have a hope in hell but I agreed to run anyway. My message was simply that we should remain inclusive. I was not interested in banning methods or tools and I was opposed to a mandatory certification proposal. In the election that followed, I was elected vice-chair of the CAPPDT – no one was more surprised than me.
That same year, I was asked to present a case study at our annual conference and I decided to present a case that I was pretty sure would make some people think and would likely stir up some controversy. For that particular case, given the complexity of issues that we were working with, we used a wide range of options – but it was when I mentioned using the remote training collar that an audible gasp could be heard. The net result of that presentation was very interesting. Some hated it – in fact some left. Many were very curious and there were many questions and discussions which occurred outside the seminar hall. Some were curious how someone that would use a pinch collar and later an ecollar could end up as vice-chair of the association. I was particularly struck by the comments where some said that for the first time, they felt like they had found a group to which they could belong. The point is however, the more options you are able to offer, the more likely you are to find something that fits and works well.
This post is the first of several on the topic and is based on a talk given a year ago to the Lindsay Kennel Club. More to follow - watch for them.