Pet Care, the Force-Free Way

Report from PPG’s Four-Day Pet Care Technician Certification Program Workshop (Part One of Eight)

Niki Tudge presents on the first day of the certified pet care technician workshop
Niki Tudge presents on the first day of the certified pet care technician workshop

PPG recently held a four-day pet care technician certification workshop at its Florida headquarters. Topics covered included: How Pets Learn, Canine Behavior & Social Communication, Canine & Feline Anatomy and Physiology, Canine & Feline Health and Handling, Pet First Aid and Emergency Protocols, Pet Care Tools, Equipment, Toys & Supplies, Consent and Preference Testing, and Pet Care Policies and Protocols. As you can see, the four-day workshop in Wesley Chapel covered all the necessary skills you will need to become a Certified Pet Care Technician (CPCT) and much more.  A DVD will soon be available of all the presentations from Tawzer Dog.  That means you will be able to watch the entire workshop from the comfort of your living room and submit your application to become a Certified Pet Care Technician online!

This is the first of a series of eight blogs in which I will endeavor to share a few of the highlights from the workshop along with some of my own personal ‘take home’ points from the viewpoint of both an attendee and a presenter!

Day one began at 9 a.m. With note pads, pens, clickers and treat pouches at the ready everyone settled down to listen to PPG founder and president, Niki Tudge PCBC-A. CDBC. CDT.  give a short opening address and then begin the first presentation entitled Caring for Pets – Protocols and Procedures Part One.  Tudge is a certified trainer and behaviorist but she is also a certified people trainer, facilitator and author!  Her book People Training Skills for Pet Professionals is one I would recommend anyone involved in the pet industry to read!

Tudge’s presentation covered all of the following key points: What is Learning & How Best Can We Do It?  Quick Tips on Safety.  A look at The Pet Industry.  What is Professional Competency?  What is Force-Free?  Ethics & Competency.  Caring for Pets.  Service Types.  Intake Procedures.  Working with Employees. Key forms and much more!

Tudge began this two hour presentation by chatting about what and how the attendees would learn.  She explained that learning is a process, a journey that leads to change which occurs as a result of experiences. Through this new experience, there is an increased potential for improved performance and future learning!

Slightly later in the presentation Tudge asked a question:  “What is Force-Free Ethical Pet Care?”  She said that many people think of In-Home-Pet Care as their neighbor’s child looking after their pets or a friend staying in their home while they are away.  She explained that we have to promote the benefits of a professional, educated, insured, reliable and affordable Pet Care Technician looking after their homes and their pets.  She then gave us all a definition of force:  “Any definition can never be so expansive and explicit that every possible situation is  addressed. This is seen everywhere in life and most obviously in the US legal system where very often courts cannot agree on a single interpretation of what terms and definitions mean, including physical force.

To PPG Force–Free Means No Pain, No Force, No Fear!
To PPG, force–free means no pain, no force and no fear

Recognizing this we understand, in the context of our guiding principles and as a general framework, physical force to mean ‘any intentional physical act against a pet that causes psychological or physical pain, harm or damage to the pet.’  We choose not to use – shock, prong or choke collars. We never use equipment that the individual pet finds aversive – condition it! Not to use equipment that is painful or frightening to a pet. Continually educate yourself on new procedures, protocols, equipment to keep everyone safe and happy.”

Later in the presentation, Tudge discussed the importance of not only the initial intake procedure but also that of keeping detailed logs. The initial intake forms need to be verified with follow-up questions, careful observation and monitoring.  The logs that are kept should be sufficiently detailed so that the pet care technician recognizes any problem. Tudge discussed the importance of shared meaning:  “Does the pet care technician have the same understanding as the client? Does the owner identify a behavior or perhaps an illness in the same way the pet care technician does?  We need to make sure that the questions we ask, provide us with the information that we need.”

Niki Tudge explains the initial screening process for new pet clients
Niki Tudge explains the initial screening process for new pet clients

Tudge gave the example of an elderly dog, who may have a problem with teeth, arthritis, eyes, chronic pain…  If we ask: “Does your dog have any ongoing medical concerns?”, the owner may answer “no, he doesn’t”.  However, if we ask: “Do you have to administer any medication to your dog?”, the owner may answer “yes, I do”.   We are now able to follow up and ask what the dog is being medicated for. The questions we ask should elicit a response that includes the information we require.

Tudge had got the workshop off to an amazing start!  The end of a short break saw me, Louise Stapleton-Frappell PCT-A. DN-FSG. CTDI. CAP3., author and instructor of the  TrickMeister program, begin my presentation on the topic of How Pets Learn in which I gave an overview of operant and respondent conditioning in the context of pet care processes.  In the second post of this blog series I will share some of the key points from my presentation.

Virtual Summit Logo PNG

If you would like to know more about pet care, why not sign up for The Pet Professional Guild’s Virtual Pet Care Summit taking place on Thursday, August 11 and Friday, August 12, 2016 ? There will be more than 25 hours of educational webinars across a variety of topics geared towards the pet care professional!  More information and online registration here'

About Louise Stapleton-Frappell

Louise Stapleton-Frappell - B.A. Hons, PCBC-A, PCT- A, CAP3, CTDI, DN-FSG, DN-CPCT, CWRI BARKS Podcast Co-Presenter and Membership Manager for The Pet Professional Guild British Isles, Louise is a Partner and Faculty Member of DogNostics Career Center and Board Member of The Pet Professional Guild. Louise has constantly built on her knowledge and furthered her education in the field of force-free, rewards based, science-based pet training. A Steering Committee Member of Doggone Safe and Regional Coordinator of Doggone Safe in Spain, Louise is the proud "Mum" of Jambo - Staffy Bull Terrier Trick Dog: The first Staffordshire Bull Terrier to achieve the Title of Trick Dog Champion. The creator of the DogNostics’ Dog Trainer Certification Program, Louise has presented at conferences internationally and has gained a reputation for expertly teaching and training humans and canines at her own establishment, The DogSmith of Estepona, in Southern Spain, where she offers a wide range of both group and private classes and pet dog services.


  1. A professional pet care should have the knowledge how to handle the animals. Recently I had attending a four day pet care technician workshop. There I can be know that how the pet lives and safe handling skills. Understand how to communicate with dog and cat. Able to understand when dog and cat face some health problem then how to handle that situation and what are safety precaution should be taken. Also learn some fun games that normally dog and cat love to play. Really, this training provide a brief knowledge about pet care and the methods how you can positively engaged with pets.

  2. I was fortunate enough to attend this four-day Pet Care Technician Certification workshop. I am excited to see how the DVD turns out. It’s always important for me or any business owner for that matter to keep on top of new ideas and to refresh our skills. Even if you, like myself, have been working in the Pet Care & Training business for a long time, I think it’s always a great idea to attend this type of educational Workshop so you can take away new ideas and gather updated information. It’s also so good to bounce ideas around with like minded people, who are also in the same industry. These Workshops are always so much fun, and definitely always informative. I never leave without making new friends and taking home fresh ideas for how I can run my business more efficiently.

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