CPT Internal Training Seminar

CPT Internal Training Seminar, Education, Dog Training

On Friday, March 10, 2023, the CPT- Atlanta Training Staff met at the home of CPT owner Mark Spivak for a professional education seminar focusing on: 1) method selection, 2) method alternatives, and 3) politics affecting the dog training industry.  To prepare for the seminar, CPT’s Trainers were asked to view a 1-hour video podcast produced by world champion trainer Ivan Balabanov and to read a scientific paper about the potential strengths and weaknesses of positive reinforcement.

During the seminar, Mark Spivak presented the materials, along with scientific insights from the 17 canine neuroscience research studies Mark co-authored, and information from other relevant papers presented at canine science conferences.  In addition, Mark moderated open floor discussion amongst the training staff, who asked shrewd questions and opined based upon their extensive knowledge and experience.

The conversation was intelligent, provocative, clever, humorous, and entertaining.  Most importantly, the session was valuable in furthering trainer education regarding behavioral psychology, canine neuroscience, and practical applications of the preceding, whereby afterward each Trainer could better implement their quest to provide the best dog training services in the Atlanta metro area.

Subjects Covered

Subjects covered included:

• The 4 operant conditioning quadrants,

• Practical applications for each quadrant,

• Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and how the hierarchy is pertinent to method selection,

• Productively changing a dog’s perception of “positive” or “negative” when purposefully altering comparative valence that influences a dog’s behavioral choices,

• Biological, physical, temperament, aptitude, behavioral, and experiential factors pertinent to selecting the optimal training method for client dogs,

• Owner aptitude, preference, and timeline considerations when selecting the optimal training method for client dogs,

• The effects of genotype and phenotype on canine temperament and behavior,

• Maximizing the utility of owner-dog communication, including facial countenance, body language, and vocal intonation,

• Off-leash and distance positive reinforcement options,

• Applications for remote feeders, especially in certain types of scent detection tasks,

• How to minimize confusion when teaching new behaviors,

• Considerations for most effectively implementing positive reinforcement,

• How to most humanely and effectively implement punishment to reduce the frequency of an undesirable behavior,

• Factors to consider if/when implementing positive or negative punishment,

• Natural behaviors vs. conditioned behaviors,

• Selecting amongst positive reinforcers, including food, play, praise, and permission to engage in a naturally enjoyable activity,

• A dog’s cognitive perception of size and quantity and its relevance to food reward options,

• How and why a dog may perceive a positive reinforcer negatively,

• How to minimize the risk of aversively conditioning a positive reinforcer,

• Selecting the ideal reward schedule,

• Evaluating satiation vs. deprivation when selecting rewards and schedules,

• Maximizing a dog’s motivation during training sessions,

• How to most effectively communicate praise,

• Politics, factions, and schisms within the dog training industry,

• The inequitable demonization of opposing philosophies,

• How and where industry lobbyists have fomented the banning of training tools in Europe and Canada,

• Attempts by lobbyists to inappropriately influence legislators in the USA, and

• Discriminatory federal legislation that inequitably favors nonprofits and prejudices private service dog companies when military veterans wishing a service dog seek financial assistance through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Internal Training Seminar, CPT, Dog Training
From l-r, CPT Trainers Lisa Carrol, Patricia King, Judy Ricketson, Jeanne Hodson, Meghan Markham, Ellie Dunn, Robin Puryear, and Reed Santos. Not pictured- Mark Spivak.

CPT’s Mission

CPT has a mission to provide the best dog training services in the Atlanta area.  To satisfy the mission, CPT hires talented persons with outstanding scholastic backgrounds, communication skills, and interpersonal skills, and then continues their education, whereby the CPT Training staff maintains its status as incontrovertibly the most elite group of dog trainers in the Atlanta metro area.  Seminars like the one described in this email are one of multiple education opportunities afforded CPT’s nonpareil staff.  The staff meets regularly to provide collegial assistance, second opinions, and distractions for client dogs in our board train program.  Apprentices meet regularly with Mark Spivak for classroom instruction on training subjects and presentations.  In addition, CPT Trainers shadow other CPT Trainers to obtain ideas for constantly improving their technique and communication skills.

CPT welcomes client and prospective client inquiries regarding why CPT is the optimal solution for accomplishing obedience, household manners, or behavioral objectives or for training service dogs.

Likewise, CPT welcomes inquiries from persons investigating entry into the dog training industry, as we believe the CPT Apprentice Program’s education is unmatched when preparing a young college graduate or someone wishing to change careers.

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