Kate Perry and Yvonne Conza have created a new style to dog training in their“releashed” book titled; Training for Both Ends of the Leash! The training angle of the book focuses on empowering the pet parent through specialized hands-on training, using positive reinforcement (where are the treats?), and incorporating the lifestyles of both pet and parent – the short and long leash of it!
Kate Perry has been named “Best Dog Trainer” by New York Magazine, and Yvonne Conza is a leading pet advocate and co-founder of Woof Patrol, a pawsitive animal organization. Together, their combined efforts have established a fresh way to “teach an old dog new trick.”
Animal Fair Media chased down Kate Perry and had her “Sit” for a one-to-one interview.
AF: What inspired you to become a dog trainer?
KP: Since I was a child I always knew I wanted to work with animals. Our family always had rescue animals, everything from cats and dogs, to goats, ducks, chickens and even a donkey at one point. I had visions of becoming a vet or even working with dolphins in some capacity. I also daydreamed about becoming an actor.
When I moved from South London to New York City, I started off my career with canines by setting up a dog walking business, which led me to two major opportunities in my life. The first, was working with, famous fashion photographer and now client of mine for nearly a decade, Bruce Weber and his six incredible dogs. I began by walking the pack of pooches, and since have worked with them on everything from photo and video shoots to behavioral training.
The second and most significant event in my career was meeting Breon O’Farrel, a renowned trainer that became my friend and mentor. The first day we met, I watched how he was working with the dogs as a pack and using positive reinforcement methods. At that moment, it clicked! I knew I wanted to help animals in that way and to learn more about the psychology between humans and dogs. He took me on as his apprentice for two years, then I worked alongside his company for two more, four altogether. My learning progressed from there.
AF: What is your training technique?
KP: I use positive reinforcement, with toys and treats and a marker signal coupled with a word like ‘yes’ or by using the clicker. I like to add a fun twist to the process for owners by helping them understand their dogs character trait, or canine-ality. I’ve broken it down to four: the workaholic, the party animal, the sensitive artist and the methodical thinker.
AF: What are your Top 5 Training Tips for pet parents?
1. Always have a safe comfortable place for your pooch, he/she should have its own spot; a comfy bed, crate, or for a puppy, a gated off area.
2. Exercise, exercise, exercise and socialize! In other words, make sure you socialize and walk your dog daily. Expose your dog to people, places and things every day, make sure to include positivity and rewards.
3. No free food. The idea is to have your dog work for his/her food at meal times. My favorites are either in a hollow sterilized bone, or Kong, or a ‘twist and treat’ busy buddy. Or simply place food bowls in different areas around the home, and have them go find it. (If you go to work to earn your food, so can your dog)!
4. In keeping with the idea of your pooch earning their food, teach a couple of commands to reinforce, ‘the learn to earn’ technique. My two easy favorites are the LOOK command and the TOUCH hand target commands. The LOOK teaches attention and patience. The TOUCH hand command, is a step towards the command of COME and HEEL, which is very user friendly. Plus this teaches a dog to accept and become acclimated to hands reaching for him/her.
5. Have the right equipment for your dog. My suggestion is a four foot leash with a leash knot for extra grip and either the no pull harness or head halter, along with a collar for tags.
AF: What pets do you have at home?
KP: I own an adopted black pug named Sophie and a rescue cat named Jonny Pepper.
Sophie was a client of mine when she was a puppy and very sadly her owner was dying of cancer. It just so happened I was looking to adopt a dog at the time, initially I was in search of a Great Dane rescue. With no hesitation, I fell in love with the ‘little piggy’ her other name, so that was that, she entered my life.
I adopted my cat from a cat shelter run by a woman in Queens. I had her many years before adopting Sophie, (because at the time I did not have the lifestyle for a dog.) I named her after my grandmother’s nickname, “Jonny” and because she was grey, I added ‘Pepper’, so she became ‘Jonny Pepper.’
AF: What is the funniest trick you ever taught a dog?
KP: I once taught a dog to pull the socks off their owners feet and then to toss them into their laundry basket. This trick was learned so the pooch could assist her owner.
AF: What animal charities do you support?
KP: I am on the board of directors for the Rock & Rawhide Charity. This organization helps support the less funded shelters and rescue organizations. Rock & Rawhide aims to increase adoptions and quality of life for dogs and cats in shelters, by providing distraction therapy and noise/stress reduction through the donations of toys, tough chew items, Kongs, Nylabones, bones, rawhides, blankets and more.
If a dog is chewing, it’s not barking! If a cat is playing, it’s not meowing! Less noise = less stress. In turn, dogs and cats can pass their evaluations at shelters, and show more of their personality, making them more likely to be adopted.
We collect items through regular donations, music gigs, visual art shows, culinary events, DJ events, drop box programs, and more – www.rockandrawhide.org
I also support Mighty Mutts rescues based in Petco, Union Square. My ABC students that apprentice with me, are required to volunteer at a rescue organization to complete their course, so I always send them to Mighty Mutts.
AF: Do you train cats?
KP: I trained my cat to give paw and sit on cue using the clicker.
Training for Both Ends of the Leash is a must read for all pet parents searching for a unique pet lifestyle training method to have your pet rollover and take notice!
For more information visit: www.