I attended my first professional dog training conference in 2003. I can still remember how excited I was and how much information crowded into my new to dog training brain. It was a wonderful experience that subsequent conferences have never quite matched. This year, I am full of eager anticipation for the first ever Pet Professional Guild Summit, taking place in Tampa, Florida on November 11-13, 2015.
There are several reasons this event is high on my agenda. First is I am fortunate to be the 12th person to achieve my PPAB accreditation, Professional Canine Trainer – Accredited (PCT-A). While I have several other certifications which I am proud to hold, there is something about being in the first group of trainers to sit for an accreditation that is invigorating. Being a force-free trainer was a choice I made years ago, but the idea of being included in a group of so many like- minded trainers is very satisfying. It makes me hope more and more trainers will follow science in training and move away from punitive training methods.
The list of speakers for the Summit is fantastic. The keynote speaker is Dr. Karen Overall whom I have heard speak many times. She is always informative and educational and her presentation alone would be worth the trip. Others such as Diane Garrod, Ken McCort and Janis Bradley are all on my list of speakers I have not heard before and I don’t want to miss. Here is a link to a full listing of presenters: http://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Your-2015-Presenters.
Another reason I’m looking forward to the event is I can bring my dog and learn from some great trainers. I don’t get many opportunities to be the student in a class situation. At the Summit, I’m attending working LABs with Pat Miller, Barbara Levenson and Chirag Patel. I chose LABs where I can learn some new training techniques from the best trainers using force-free methods. Miller’s LAB is about training through imitation. Levenson’s session is about obedience, a sport I avoided due to the punitive methods commonly used in my area. I’m looking forward to expanding my competitive repertoire to Rally and perhaps traditional obedience. Patel’s LAB concentrates on making veterinary procedures a more cooperative experience for dogs. This is an area where my dog Rio really needs help. There are other LABs too. It was really hard to narrow my choices to just there presenters.
Yet another reason, and maybe my favorite, to attend the Summit is the chance to see my trainer friends from all over the country. Over the years I have met so many wonderful people at these events. The exchange of ideas and information is so enlightening. And the chance to tell war stories to people who have been there are understand the joys and frustrations of our careers is just great.
Tampa weather in November should be lovely, highs in the 70’s and low rain probability. The hotel looks fantastic and the range of events have something for every pet lover, even cats and small pets such as guinea pigs!