In this, my final post of 2023, I look back at accomplishments and peek forward into plans for 2024.
Blog Post Challenge: Last December I challenged myself to write a blog post a week in 2023. I drafted each week's offering on Monday or Tuesday, worked on it over the following days, and then posted it on the Gentle Beth blog every Friday (except for one in October that was delayed by a pinched nerve). Over this year I explored a variety of topics, including learning theory, body language, enrichment, management, separation anxiety, and dog adoption. With each exploration, I learned more about the subject and about being a trainer. Drafting and editing weekly posts also honed my writing skills as I became adept at cutting unnecessary words or phrases from draft to draft until what I shared bore little resemblance to what I first wrote.
In the new year, I'm shifting my writing focus to a novel that I began in 2022, though I'll still post the occasional musing.
Clients: In 2023 I worked with nearly sixty dogs and their amazing humans, together addressing such issues as resource guarding, fear of strangers, reactivity toward other dogs, and separation anxiety. Among that group were several puppies learning to navigate their new, human-centric world. With the human member of each training team, I discussed topics like dog body language, breaking up fights, and the importance of enrichment.
This fall I launched a separation anxiety training package and, in addition to working with different behaviors and training goals, in 2024 I look forward to taking on more clients whose dogs struggle with being home alone.
Continuing education is a crucial part of being a trainer—it’s how we stay up-to-date with the most humane and scientific training techniques. For this year’s continuing education I learned more about treating separation anxiety through Julie Naismith’s Certified SA Pro Behavior Consultant course. We focused on all aspects of separation anxiety, including the signs, the myths, the complications, and the treatment. To earn my certification, I completed seven training modules, wrote several training plans, passed a written exam, and performed a virtual session with a client and her dog.
For next year’s continuing education, I’ll attend the Clicker Expo conference in April here in Portland. There, educators and trainers from around the world will share their knowledge.
Teaching: Late this summer and early in the fall I taught three free seminars at Tre Bone pet store in North Portland, covering positive reinforcement, enrichment, and choosing the right shelter dog.
In 2024 I'll expand my free seminar offerings at Tre Bone, starting in the spring and including new topics like reading dog body language and training for different life stages. In January I’ll be teaching my Choosing the Right Shelter Dog class for the Oregon Humane Society’s volunteers.
And so here we are at the end of 2023 and the end my blog post challenge. I wish everyone a happy new year, and I look forward to seeing you in 2024!