Our students are the future of dog training and the heart of our school.
That’s why we regularly take a moment to recognize one of our top aspiring trainers here.
Our Featured Student this month is Alyson Swerdloff of Charlotte, North Carolina. At the time of this posting, Alyson is in Phase 9 of the Master Class program and will soon graduate as a CATCH Certified Dog Trainer (CCDT). Congratulations on all of your hard work and accomplishments!
A Word from Alyson
My Favorite Recent Study Topics:
One of my most favorite topics to study during my time here at CATCH is dog body language and vocalizations. It has been a huge help in my day-to-day life and has completely changed the way I interact with my own 3 dogs. It has enhanced my dog walking business along with the Chapter on How Dogs learn. The Phase on Shelter work is also fascinating, and I eagerly look forward to doing more shelter work as my studies progress.
My Favorite Recent Hands-On Activity:
My favorite hands-on activity so far has been the Breed Recognition activity. When I reached this particular activity, the world was still in the early stages of the Covid crisis and my family and I were hunkered down at home. While this activity asks the student to walk through pet stores and parks and speak to strangers about their pets, this seemed all but impossible at the time. In lieu of reaching the public in a physical way with my pencil and clipboard I decided to take to the web. I used my Facebook page and sent out a request to my friends and family to post pictures of their dogs with no caption whatsoever and I would guess the breed. This quickly became a fun game that everyone wanted in on. It was a wonderful distraction from the events of the time and really managed to pull people in. I still get asked to guess a breed every now and then.
How My Studies Have Changed the Way I See Dogs:
My learning experience has deeply affected the way I look at my own dogs and the dog world in general. Before my studies I would give no thought to running up to pet a strange dog in public, silly right? Sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know. I had also never thought to reward calm behavior before. From an outside perspective it looks like rewarding the dog for doing absolutely nothing but that’s simply not true. In CATCH they love to say, “Rewarded behavior always gets repeated” and it’s true. Even something as simple as laying at your side calmly can be rewarded and reinforced. I had to quickly put this into practice when our new puppy, Zelda (German shepherd) came to live with us. Reinforcing calm behavior around my senior dogs has made a world of difference for me and for my other dogs, Caramel age 9 years (Beagle) and Foxy age 11 years (GSD, Boxer mix).
What I’m Most Excited About:
I’ve had the most wonderful experience at CATCH. I don’t know if I would have made it to this point without the support of my student advisor Arminda or my mentor Piper. Arminda has literally heard my cry on the phone when I was doubting myself deep in Phase 3 (dog psychology is no joke). She picks me up and dusts me off when I need it and is always fighting in my corner. She is so much more than a resource; she is a dear friend. Thank you Arminda! My mentor, Piper, has also been a great source of inspiration. She has accomplished so much in her career and always takes the time to break things down for me. She’s gone above and beyond allowing me to shadow her and is always so patient with me when I have questions. Thank you, Piper! I’d recommend the CATCH program to anyone looking to enhance and expand their skillset.
Way to go, Alyson, we’re so proud of you!