The State of Our Field – From Our CAAB Perspective

It’s that time of year again.  January is typically the time people make commitments or resolutions to improve their lives.  Start an exercise program, enroll in a class, lose weight, or start doing any number of things they’ve always wanted to do but never had time for.

It’s also the time for state of the union, state of the state, and state-of-whatever speeches and assessments.  We couldn’t resist following that trend and decided to focus this month’s CAAB Chat on our take on

“The State of the Pet Training and Behavior Field: 
Where we’ve been, where are we now, and where are we going.”

We’re reminded of the recent social media flap about “who is Paul McCartney?”! Those of us of a certain age were utterly astounded by the question.  Similarly, the perspective of those of us who’ve been in the field for many years is likely quite different from that of someone who’s been working with pets’ behavior for less than 10 years.  

Consider these questions:

  • Has professionalism increased?  Are we able to tolerate differences of opinion about best methods, as long as the welfare of the pets we work with is still a priority?   And when we disagree will our willingness and ability to have intelligent, respectful conversations and dialogues rather than launching personal attacks increase or decrease?
  • Are the ever increasing  number  of “certifications” an indication the field is raising the bar, or is this just adding to the confusion in our still unregulated field?  Do pet owners,  and those who need to refer to trainers, behaviorists, and non-degreed behavior consultants, know or care what the letters mean, or do they just want to know who is going to be the most effective at solving the pet’s problem?  
  • What will interactions between the veterinary community and the training and behavior communities look like 2, or 3 or five years from now?  Will cooperative relationships that benefit animals increase, or will disagreements about areas of expertise become problematic? How much instruction in the behavioral sciences will be required in the veterinary curriculum?
  • What’s the future of the “all positive” training movement?   Will it predominate, or will there be room for those who although they use positive reinforcement, don’t completely reject the selected use of positive punishment when it seems to be the best choice for the problem at hand?  Will the field be willing to refine its “no punishment” mantra and more clearly define terms and parameters? 

These are thorny, volatile, and emotional questions with no sure answers.  In this Chat we want to take them out of the mostly emotional space, and move them into the realm of more objective discussion.  While none of us have crystal balls, our Chatters represent a variety of backgrounds, and durations and type of experience that ensures a mix of diverse opinions to be expressed in this sure to intriguing Chat that you won’t want to miss!

Join us and Dr. Brenda Forsythe, Dr. Emma Grigg, and Ms. Sharon Wirant  for this “state of the field” Chat that will leave you reflecting about our ever changing field and your place in it! Click on each name to read their bios so you’ll see the depth and breadth of experience these experienced colleagues bring to the Chat.

The Chat has been completed. If you purchased a replay of the Chat you can access it below.

Here's just a few comments from those who attended live:

The discussion of "positive" and "punishment" was very enlightening, especially as I identify myself as a force-free trainer.  This helped me broaden my understanding of the issues I often hear argued so emotionally by trainers who use different methods from one another.  Daniel A.

….. will probably try to go out into the community and promote science based training methodology more actively.  Leslie S.

[What I liked best was the ] open, friendly, discussions based on current research and experience of presenters.    Deborah H.

Couldn't attend live – no worries!  Use the Add to Cart button below to purchase the replay for a mere $18. 

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