Meet your dog's trainer, Beth.

Before becoming a dog trainer, I had several different careers. I began my professional life as a dancer in the Boston area where I performed with two small modern dance companies. After I retired from dance in 1993, I attended graduate school in Boston, London, and California, studying English and earning a PhD. I left academia in 2006 to pursue an acting career in the San Francisco Bay Area. After six years of playing roles ranging from Hermione in A Midsummer Night’s Dream to Mae Pollitt in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, I stepped back from performing to focus on writing. At the same time, I became a Pilates instructor and worked for a studio in northern California.

 

In 2016 my husband Dave and I moved with our dog Ralphie to Portland, and I began volunteering for the Oregon Humane Society. I walked dogs, assisted the behavior modification team, and participated in outreach events in the community. For three and a half years I also worked at OHS as an adoption counselor, matching people with pets and helping adopters ease their new pets’ transitions into their homes.

 

Through my volunteering and work at the Oregon Humane Society, I developed a fascination with canine behavior and training, which led me to take courses about dog training and behavior consulting. In the summer of 2021 I left the Oregon Humane Society and launched Gentle Beth.

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"I aim to enhance the partnership between dogs and their people."

My training philosophy
starts here: do no harm

 

Training should not cause fear or pain or make any behavior problems worse. Using positive reinforcement and training games, I help my clients teach their dogs to live in a human-centered world. I aim to enhance the partnership between dogs and their people by educating people about dog behavior and dog body language, and by using the most effective, science-based training methods.

Professional Certifications & Associations

After completing over 300 hours of hands-on training, in 2021 I passed the rigorous CCPDT-KA exam to become a certified dog trainer.

I am a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers. Founded in 1993, it is the world's largest professional dog training community.

Education in Dog Training

In-Person Dog Training

The Ranch: Karen Pryor Nation Training Center: The Ranch Experience: A five-day training course with trainer Ken Ramirez.

We covered the mechanics of training (marking and reinforcing behavior, giving effective cues, setting the learner up for success), developing, implementing, and adjusting training plans, structuring training sessions, working with various species, teaching animals to participate in their medical care, and helping our human clients learn. In several hands-on sessions each day, I got to hone my training skills by working with a goat and a mini-donkey.

Oregon Humane Society: My education as a trainer started with volunteering and working at the Oregon Humane Society where I learned from shadowing OHS trainers, walking shelter dogs, answering calls to the behavior helpline, and counseling adopters. I also took every course for staff and volunteers offered by the shelter, including:

  • Safety and Handling: In this class required for new volunteers, I learned how to safely handle shelter dogs, read their body language, and adhere to shelter policies. I went on to teach the course for two years.

  • Kennel Buddies: This class focused on socializing shelter dogs in their kennels, reading canine body language, and teaching basic manners cues like sit and down.

  • Pet Pals: Over the course of several weeks, I learned how to teach more cues like recall and stay to shelter dogs as well as how to add more enrichment and exercise / training to their days.

  • Reactive Rover: This class offered strategies for working with reactive shelter dogs on the walking path and in the outdoor play spaces.

  • Canine Body Language: Taught by an OHS trainer, this course focused on ways to read dog body language by focusing on the whole dog.

Online Dog Training

Canine Behavior Consultant Certificate which included:

  • Learning Theory Applied: Learning Theory is the cornerstone for teaching any animal from dogs to chickens to humans. This course addressed how to apply the theory to hands-on training. My weekly homework required me to train my dog using the concepts of learning theory and send videos of my sessions to my instructor.

  • Understanding Canine Behavior: Reading and understanding canine body language is crucial for trainers, which is why I have taken so many courses with body language as the focus.

  • Lessons in Fear and Aggression: This three-part class covered desensitization and counter-conditioning techniques vital to any trainer working with dogs.

  • Becoming a Behavior Consultant: The Human in the Middle: The final class in my behavior consultant course was the most rigorous. We discussed applying ethics and philosophy to training, working with a wide range of people and situations, understanding the roots of behavior issues, building behavior plans, designing questionnaires, and writing case studies.

 

CPDT-KA Exam Study Course

This six-part course covered all aspects of the CPDT-KA exam, including:

  • Professional Practices and Ethics

  • Learning Theory

  • Training and Management Equipment

  • Instruction Skills

  • Animal Husbandry

  • Ethology

 

Fear-Free Shelter Program

In March 2020 I completed the core courses on recognizing and mitigating fear, anxiety, stress, and frustration in shelter animals.

 

Great Courses: Dog Training 101 with Jean Donaldson

This 24-part class taught by renowned dog trainer Jean Donaldson covered all aspects of training from the fundamentals of learning theory to the mechanics of training to techniques for desensitization and counter-conditioning.

 

Shelter Dog Behavior Mentorship with Trish McMillan

This six-month intensive course covered all aspects of shelter dog behavior including canine body language, information gathering from clients, starting playgroups, and making good matches in adoptions.

Aggresion in Dogs - Master Course

Taught by expert trainer and behavior consultant Michael Shikashio, this course covers a wide range of topics including:

  • Safety, Management, and Equipment for Aggression Cases

  • Dog Body Language Specific to Aggression

  • Defensive Leash Skills

  • Breaking up Dog Fights

  • Effective History-Taking and Empathetic Communication with Clients

  • Initial Meetings with Clients and Their Dogs

  • Elements of a Realistic Prognosis

  • Ethology and Aggression in Dogs

  • Medical Issues and Medications in Aggression Cases

  • Behavior Modification for Aggression Cases

  • Resource Guarding

  • Case Studies in Dog to Human Aggression

  • Case Studies in Dog-to-Dog Aggression

  • Case Studies in Resource Guarding

After completing the modules, I am participating in ongoing mentorship on cases with Michael Shikashio.

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