About Our Trainers
Virginia Broitman has been involved in dog training since 1981. Over the years, she has provided group classes, private lessons, counseling for behavioral problems, and occasional assistance dog training. Virginia is head trainer for SOS-Pen Pals, a training and rehabilitation program with the Virginia Department of Corrections. In the Pen Pals program, inmates learn dog training techniques, working to make shelter dogs more adoptable.
Virginia presents clicker training workshops around the country and has co-produced the Bow Wow series of four dog training videos, all based on clicker training. The How of Bow Wow won the Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) Maxwell Award for Best New DVD in 2004. Virginia also writes for various training publications.
Virginia’s own dogs have participated in a variety of activities including pet therapy visits, agility competition, herding, and TV/advertising work. The current menagerie includes two Min pins, a Cattle dog, a papillon, a little Shepherd mix, and four adorable rats. To find out more about Virginia, read a profile of her work in Taiwan.
For the last 16 years Eva Bertilsson has shared her life and her passion for training with Misty (a phalène). Together they’ve excelled in agility, won the individual Swedish Agility National, and been part of the Swedish Agility Team. They’ve also earned titles at the highest levels in obedience and conformation, and have played around in several other dog sports.
Over time, Eva’s pack has expanded to include phalène Soya, seasoned but now retired agility competitor, and Border collie Tizla, still a newbie. Agility has become the main focus for Eva and her dogs, and it complements her strong interest in positive reinforcement training.
Eva has a degree in psychology and education, and has worked as a teacher. Eva has also worked for the Swedish Kennel Club for many years, educating agility instructors and future instructors’ teachers, as well as offering pet dog classes and campaigning for clicker training at local clubs.
Currently she is busy fulltime as an instructor and writer, running Carpe Momentum with her friend and colleague Emelie Johnson Vegh. Eva and Emelie lead agility seminars at all levels all over Sweden and Norway, and are very much appreciated for their systematic and well-planned approach that focuses on joy and success for both dog and handler. Eva and Emelie also offer TAGteach Primary Certification seminars; they are the only level 3-certified TAGteachers in Europe. The colleagues also write articles for magazines such as Canis (published by Morten Egtvedt and Cecilie Køste), and have released their first agility book, Agility Right from the Start, published by Sunshine Books.To learn more about Eva, see www.carpemomentum.nu.
Aaron Clayton is a management executive with approximately 20 years experience, much of it associated with growing service-based businesses. For the last nine years, Aaron has been involved with reinforcement-based teaching and learning as the president of Karen Pryor Clickertraining (KPCT). Prior to joining TAGteach International, LLC, and KPCT, Aaron helped found and fund a human resources company and was a partner at a consulting firm focused on improving the market position and performance of Fortune 500 companies.
Aaron holds a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a master of business administration degree from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. Aaron lives outside of Boston with his wife, Wendy, and two children, Michal and Elianna, and their black Labrador, Tucker.
Helix Fairweather has been training with operant conditioning since 1996 and is truly committed to this way of communicating with dogs. She offers group classes and private consultations, all with the goal of helping people and their dogs learn to live together and have fun. Helix’s classes include an innovative clicker training pet manners class, Control Unleashed® classes, agility classes, and beginning clicker training classes in Salem, Oregon. She also teaches online agility classes for clicker trainers who wish to homeschool their clicker trained agility dogs prior to taking a local agility class.
A contributing author for Clean Run magazine and The Clicker Journal, Helix is part of the Karen Pryor Academy faculty. Helix and her co-presenter, Megan Cruz, KPA CTP, offer their GO FOR IT! Relaxed and Ready seminar across the continent.Helix holds a bachelor of science degree in physics from Oregon State University and a master of science degree in physics and astrophysics from the University of New Mexico. She says, "I went off to grad school to be an astrophysicist and came back home hooked on dog training." To learn more about Helix, visit her website.
Tia Guest is a dog trainer and instructor, an exotic animal trainer, and a business executive. As Program Director for Karen Pryor Academy, she oversees students and faculty, and is also involved in curriculum design and the development of teaching materials and programs.
Tia is a graduate of the Exotic Animal Training and Management Program at Moorpark College in California, where she clicker trained animals ranging from rats to big cats. As a Moorpark graduate, Tia worked in the entertainment industry, training animals for television, movies, and commercials, and also presented wildlife education shows to the general public.
Tia began teaching pet dog training classes in 1993. Starting in 1994, she served as the National Training Manager for a corporation contracted to provide dog training for a national pet supply retailer. Tia was responsible for producing curriculum, hiring and managing trainers, and increasing revenues. In 1999, Tia left her corporate position and opened her own facility in Texas, offering dog training, private consultation and coaching, group classes, daycare, and overnight boarding.Tia’s own dogs compete in agility, dabble in disc dog, and offer training demonstrations and entertainment at schools and animal events. Tia is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, an Associate Dog Behavior Consultant with the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, and a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator for the American Kennel Club.
Alexandra Kurland began her instructional career as a dressage rider and teacher and as an accredited TTouch Practitioner. In 1998 she launched the rapidly growing field of clicker training for horses with the publication of her first book, Clicker Training for Your Horse. Alexandra teaches clicker training geared to any horse need or sport—including developing a gentle and companionable riding horse, halter training foals, training advanced performance horses, and reforming difficult and unmanageable horses. She travels widely, giving clicker training seminars in the US, Canada, the UK and Europe. Several years ago, Alexandra trained a miniature horse, Panda, to serve as the guide animal for a blind owner.A graduate of Cornell University, Alexandra has written The Click That Teaches: A Step–By–Step Guide in Pictures and The Click That Teaches: Riding with the Clicker. She has also produced The Click That Teaches DVD lesson series and is presently at work on new books and videos. To learn more about Alexandra, read her Expo Faculty profile, or visit her website.
Widely recognized in the United Kingdom as a top teacher of clicker training, Kay Laurence has been teaching, writing and training from her UK-based home and farm for more than 35 years. Her wit and experience landed her a spot as “Judge Kay” in 2007 on the BBC2 Reality TV show The Underdog Show. In 2008, Kay was honored for her innovation in canine freestyle when she was asked to be a judge in the Heelwork to Music and Freestyle events at The Kennel Club’s Crufts dog show.
Kay has designed and taught college courses covering many aspects of dogs, including training, behavior, psychology, history, care, and welfare. She is the author of numerous well-regarded books on clicker training; Karen Pryor has called Kay "one of the world's top clicker trainers." Kay teaches workshops around the world, many from her newly renovated and lovely barn in the UK.
Kay also has extensive experience breeding dogs. Cavaliers, Gordon setters and Border collies have graced her household, and she has reared more than 30 litters of these breeds under the GenAbacab kennel name. The collies now span nine generations!To learn more about Kay, visit her website.
Theresa McKeon, BA, is a co-founder and senior vice president of TAGteach International, LLC. TAGteach™ began in 1998 when Theresa, a national-level gymnastics coach, combined her knowledge of sports coaching with the clicker training principles she used with her horses. The results just “clicked.” Theresa teamed with scientist Joan Orr, dance teacher Beth Wheeler, and Aaron Clayton and Karen Pryor of Karen Pryor Clickertraining to found TAGteach International, LLC. Since then, TAGteach has evolved into an entire teaching protocol benefiting an endless variety of human applications.
Theresa delights in designing new TAGteach programs for groups around the world including: gymnasts in Iceland, classroom teachers in New Zealand, military personnel in Norway, fishermen in Alaska, equestrians in Ireland, zoo keepers in Illinois, and professional dog trainers in Japan.To learn more about Theresa, visit her website here.
Joan Orr is a scientist with more than 20 years of experience in the application of scientific principles to study design and data interpretation. Joan has worked with animal behaviorists and has taught clicker training techniques to pet owners and trainers. She has trained dogs using positive reinforcement methods for more than 10 years, and has applied clicker training principles to her work with pet dogs and puppies, problem dogs, shelter dogs, and service dogs. She is a pioneer in the field of clicker training rabbits and is a co-author of the book Getting Started: Clicking with Your Rabbit.
A former competitive athlete at the national level, Joan is the mother of two competitive athletes. She has coached using clicker training in several sports including volleyball, soccer, Special Olympics rhythmic gymnastics, long jump, and high jump. Joan worked with experts Theresa McKeon and Karen Pryor to develop TAGteach, a method for using clicker training principles with people. Joan is active in its promotion and development.
Joan holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry from the University of Waterloo and a master’s degree in biochemistry from McMaster University. She operates a private consulting practice in the fields of human health and environmental risk assessment. In addition, she is active in dog bite prevention and has given many seminars on this topic.
Along with animal behaviorist Teresa Lewin, Joan is the co-inventor of the fun family board game Doggone Crazy!, a game that teaches children to read dogs’ body language and act safely around them. Joan and Teresa also co-founded the non-profit Doggone Safe. Together they created the Clicker Puppy clicker training DVD and the Be a Tree Teacher Kit for child dog bite prevention.
Joan lives in Campbellville, a small village in Southern Ontario, with her husband Dave, two daughters, and various pets. To learn more about Joan and the nonprofit Doggone Safe, visit her website here.
Emma Parsons, BA, former president and head instructor for the New England Obedience Club, is the Canine Behavior Training Consultant for the VCA Rotherwood Animal Hospital, and Training Director for Karen Pryor Clickertraining. She is also the author of the popular book, Click to Calm: Healing the Aggressive Dog. The book was inspired by her work with her golden retriever Ben, who became aggressive to other dogs after being severely punished by an “aggression expert.” Emma turned to clicker training and successfully eliminated Ben's dog-on-dog aggression.
Emma has been featured on numerous television shows, and gives seminars around the US on training and managing the reactive dog. She has also taught clicker training classes to graduate students at Tufts Veterinary School of Medicine and at Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue. Emma runs her own dog training business, the Creative Canine, specializing in canine aggression issues. To learn more about Emma, visit her website here.
Michele Pouliot, with her dogs Cabo, Listo, and Deja, is the winner of multiple national and international freestyle competitions, including the World Canine Freestyle Organization (WCFO) World Championship in 2009. In November 2008, Michele and Listo made WCFO history as the first team to receive perfect "10s" for both Artistic and Technical scores in the Championship division of Perfect Dance Partners. They have since repeated this incredible achievement nine more times, receiving the special "Perfect 10" award a total of ten times. Among the ten awards for perfect 10s, six different routines are represented. To date, Michele and Listo are the only WCFO team to have achieved double 10s.
WCFO again honored Michele Pouliot, naming her "Trainer of the Year" for 2011. The award paid tribute to her teaching skills working with both people and dogs. At that time, Michele and Listo also received special awards for garnering "Double 10" scores seven times in 2011.
Michele has been a professional guide dog mobility instructor for more than three decades. Before entering the guide dog field, Michele trained under Linda Tellington-Jones and worked as an instructor and trainer in the equestrian field. When Michele began training her pet Labradors for competitive obedience, she became fascinated with the similarities and the differences in training dogs and horses, which stimulated her interest in professional dog training.
In 1974, Michele joined Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB), the largest guide dog school in the US, and attained her Guide Dog Mobility Instructor license qualification in 1977. In addition to personally training more than 350 guide dog teams over 20 years, Michele contributed to the GDB organization in many different ways through several positions of increasing responsibility. She became the director of training for a new GDB campus in Oregon in 1994, launching dog and student training programs and overseeing staffing for the campus. In 2001, Michele was appointed as director of research and development for student and dog programs within all of GDB. Her position focuses on developing new techniques to improve all areas of student instruction, dog training, and puppy development. In this position, Michele has led Guide Dogs for the Blind through a gradual changeover from traditional training to clicker training in guide dog work, and has worked to instruct the organization's blind clients in the use of the clicker.
GDB and Michele actively support and assist other guide dog schools in their efforts to adopt clicker training; great strides are being made in the guide dog industry. In 2011, they held their second International Guide Dog Clicker Conference, continuing to assist schools in making the transition to clicker training. Michele is recognized internationally for her innovation and creative development in guide dog training and service to blind clients.
Michele joined the ClickerExpo faculty in 2008, and partnered with Karen Pryor Academy (KPA) to create the online canine freestyle course. The course has received rave reviews from students and is popular even with clicker enthusiasts who are not involved in the freestyle sport.
Read more about Michele here.
Karen Pryor is a scientist with an international reputation in two fields, marine mammal biology and behavioral psychology. Through her work with dolphins in the 1960s she pioneered modern, force-free animal training methods. Karen is the author of many scientific papers and monographs and seven books. She is a founder and leading proponent of clicker training, the worldwide movement involving new ways to communicate positively with pets and other animals. She is the founder and CEO of the behavioral publishing company Sunshine Books, Inc., and its online divisions. Karen has three children and seven grandchildren. She lives in Boston with two clicker trained dogs and a clicker trained cat.
Ken Ramirez, executive vice president of animal collections and training at Chicago’s world-famous Shedd Aquarium, develops and supervises animal care programs, staff training and development, and public presentation programs for the entire animal collection. He oversees animal care and training for over 32,000 animals including whales and dolphins, sharks and turtles, sea horses and jellies, and so many more. He joined Shedd Aquarium in 1989.
A 35-year veteran of animal care and training, Ken worked for nine years at Marineworld of Texas. He also coordinated training programs at Ocean Safari in South Padre Island, Texas, and has acted as a consultant for many zoos and aquariums throughout the world. He began his training career working with guide dogs for the visually impaired and has maintained a close connection to dog training throughout his career. His work with dogs has included search and rescue and scent detection. He hosted a popular television series on pet training Talk to the Animals that ran for two years in Australia.
Ken has been active in several professional organizations, including the International Marine Animal Trainer’s Association (IMATA), of which he is a past president, and the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network, where he has served on the board of directors since 1987. He also has served on the board of the American Cetacean Society and is a professional member of both the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the Animal Behavior Management Alliance (ABMA).
In addition to his other work, Ken has written for several scientific publications, including Marine Mammals: Public Display and Research, and Soundings, published quarterly by IMATA. He teaches a graduate course on animal training at Western Illinois University, and authored the book ANIMAL TRAINING: Successful Animal Management Through Positive Reinforcement, published in 1999. The book has become required reading for many animal trainers in the zoological field.
Jesús Rosales-Ruiz, Ph.D.
Jesús Rosales-Ruiz is an Associate Professor in the Department of Behavior Analysis at the University of North Texas. He obtained his PhD from the University of Kansas in 1995 under the direction of Dr. Donald M. Baer. He serves on several editorial boards, including the European Journal of Behavior Analysis and the International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy. His areas of interest include antecedent control of behavior, generalization, behavioral cusps, fluency-based teaching, treatment of autism, teaching of academic behavior, animal training, and rule- and contingency-shaped behavior.
To learn more about the Department of Behavior Analysis at the University of North Texas, visit the school’s website here.
Kathy Sdao, MA, ACAAB
Kathy Sdao, an associate certified applied animal behavioralist (ACAAB), has earned her living as a fulltime animal trainer for twenty-five years. She received a master's degree in experimental psychology from the University of Hawaii in 1990. At the University's Kewalo Basin Marine Mammal Laboratory, she was part of a research team that trained dolphins to solve complex cognitive puzzles. These dolphin "mind games" were designed to allow analysis of the animals' language-processing capabilities. When Kathy completed her graduate studies, the US Navy (Department of Defense) hired her to train dolphins to perform applied, open-ocean tasks. Training sessions took place in the waters off Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, with the trainers on a small boat and the dolphins swimming alongside unrestrained.
Later, Kathy accepted a job in Tacoma, Washington, as a marine mammal trainer at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. For five years, the zoo's beluga whales, walruses, porpoises, sea lions, polar bears, and otters taught her to be a better trainer. In 1994, as vice president of the International Marine Animal Trainers Association, she organized and chaired the organization's annual conference.
In 1996, Kathy made the big leap from wet mammals to dry ones. In partnership with a fellow zookeeper, she created and managed Puget Hound Daycare, Tacoma’s first dog daycare. There she had the opportunity to spend 10 hours a day observing a wide range of canine behavior. In the evenings, Kathy taught pet owners how to "dolphin-train" their dogs.
Kathy now owns Bright Spot Dog Training and provides behavior consultation services and private training lessons to dog owners. She also teaches educational seminars and workshops to trainers and pet owners around the world. She is an enthusiastic clicker training advocate, having experienced its awesome power to communicate clearly with so many species.
To learn more, read a profile of Kathy, or visit her website here.
Julie Shaw obtained an Associate of Science degree in veterinary technology in 1983 from a a leading midwest veterinary university and is currently working toward her Bachelor of Science degree in veterinary technology. She passed the first certified pet dog trainer’s examination in 2001. Julie worked in private practice for 16 years. She began training dogs in 1984 and began teaching organized classes in 1992. She owned and was the head trainer for the Academy for Obedient Paws, a dog training company utilizing clicker training methods. She has trained two service dogs for her physically challenged son.
Julie became the animal behavior technologist at a leading midwest veterinary university's Animal Behavior Clinic in 1999. Her current responsibilities include organizing and assisting in teaching the five-day DOGS Behavior Modification course, teaching courses in behavior modification to veterinary and veterinary technician students, and leading continuing education seminars for veterinary technicians, veterinarians, and trainers. She also assists Dr. Luescher during referral behavior consultations, teaches puppy classes and clicker training classes, and does pet-selection counseling.
Julie is a charter member, past-president, co-newsletter editor, and website editor for the Society of Veterinary Behavior Technicians. She also chairs the organizing committee for the Academy of Veterinary Behavior Technicians. Julie Shaw is a popular national and international speaker on problem prevention, practical application of behavior modification techniques, and other companion animal behavior related topics. She was the recipient of the North American Veterinary Conference 2006 Veterinary Technician Speaker of the Year Award and was named the 2007 NAVC Mara Memorial Lecturer of the year for her accomplishments and leadership in the veterinary technician profession. Julie lives in Lafayette, Indiana with her three untrainable teenage children: Taylor (16), Dylan (14), and Skylar (13). She currently lives with two cats, a JRT, and “Hero,” her son’s 3 year old service dog. She spends her spare time riding her new motorcycle and daydreaming of skiing in the mountains.
To learn more about Julie read a profile.
Emelie Johnson Vegh
Emelie Johnson Vegh began training dogs as a teenager, after many years of involvement with horses. Her first dog was a mixed breed that competed successfully in both agility and obedience. Emelie’s first Border terrier came into her life in 1994; all in all she’s had three terriers, with “My” still sharing her life. The Border terriers have mostly been involved in agility, but also in some freestyle and ground work.
In 2009, a Kelpie made an entrance into the family. With her, Emelie is working in agility, obedience, and freestyle, with the hope of adding some search work. Emelie and her dogs have won medals at the Swedish Nationals, both as youths and as adults, with a silver team medal as the best placement.
Although trained as a high school teacher (degrees from Lund University and Malmö University), Emelie works solely within Carpe Momentum, which she runs with Eva Bertilsson. Together Emelie and Eva give seminars, private lessons, and lectures; they also write articles for magazines such as Canis (published by Morten Egtvedt and Cecilie Køste), and have released their first agility book, Agility Right from the Start, published by Sunshine Books.
Emelie and Eva also offer TAGteach Primary Certification seminars; they are the only level 3-certified TAGteachers in Europe. The Carpe Momentum colleagues work in both Sweden and Norway, and are very popular. Their approach is systematic and well-planned, and focuses on joy and success for both dog and handler.Emelie lives in the very south of Sweden, in the country’s third largest city, Malmö. She shares her life with her husband, two sons, and two dogs. To learn more about Emelie, visit www.carpemomentum.nu.