What makes a great class?
When you are comparing training classes, consider the following.
1. Is the trainer certified?
Most classes offered at veterinary clinics are taught by CVTs (Certified Veterinary Technicians). While CVTs are skilled in many aspects of animal health and well-being, they are not generally qualified in training, unless they have completed additional education or certification in behavior.
A variety of organizations offer trainer certification. Only a few require trainers to demonstrate measurable knowledge and skills.
CPDT-KA (Certified Professional Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed) is a certification offered by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. This council "establishes and maintains humane standards of competence for animal training and behavior professionals through criteria based on experience, standardized testing, skills and continuing education."
Our trainer: Mittsy Voiles, our lead trainer, is CPDT-KA certified, and accumulates a minimum of 20 continuing education credits each year to stay current in animal behavior and training. She is currently working on additional certifications in animal behavior.
2. Is the trainer experienced?
According to Dr. Melissa Bain, Dr. Patricia McConnell, Dr. Ian Dunbar and many other internationally recognized behavior and training professionals, classes should be taught by experienced behavior professionals. Puppy classes in particular should only be taught by trainers with the highest levels of skill and experience. Mistakes by trainers in puppy classes can result in permanent behavioral damage to puppies.
Our trainers: Mittsy Voiles has over two decades of experience in animal behavior and training. She has been teaching puppy classes since 2004, and is our lead trainer for all classes, including Puppy Preschool. Our training team has more than 50 combined years of experience in dog training.
3. Are the classes focused on reward-based methods?
The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior has released a position statement on the effects of punishment in animal training. Worldwide, reward-based methods are universally recognized as the best methods for training.
Reward-based methods do not include the use of choke chains, prong or pinch collars, shock collars, hitting, yelling, leash jerking, throwing things at the animal, or any other technique that would produce pain, fear or intimidation.
Our classes: All of our classes and behavioral services are committed to reward-based methods.
4. Does the trainer know how to teach?
Just because someone has skill and experience doesn't mean s/he knows how to teach you to do something. Good trainers are good teachers.
Our trainers: Mittsy Voiles worked in science education and communications for 16 years, teaching classes, workshops and seminars, and developing written support materials for lessons. She uses these skills extensively in developing and teaching classes here at Lake Mills Veterinary Clinic. Alli Jerger has advanced degrees in education and decades of experience in teaching college students and developing and teaching dog training classes. Dani Sherman has been developing education and training materials for several years now.
The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior has a list of guidelines for choosing a good trainer and class. You can read that document by clicking here.
Questions about our classes? Would you like to watch a lesson? Please call 920-648-2421 or email us to set something up. We'd love to show you what we do!