About Alexis Davison
Alexis is a faculty member of the Karen Pryor Academy and teaches the Dog Trainer Professional Program in Australia & New Zealand. She also teaches dog*biz’s Dog Walking Academy in Australia and is a business consultant for dog*biz.
Alexis Davison is a nationally accredited Dog Behavioural Trainer and holds a Certificate IV in Dog Behavioural Training. She is an internationally Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) and a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner (KPA CTP). Additionally, she holds a current Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and is a Pet Tech Instructor (Pet CPR and First Aid).
Alexis is a professional member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) in the USA, and the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) in Australia, and a member of the Pet Professional Guild & Delta Institute. She was awarded APDT Australia’s Trainer of the Year in 2014. Alexis is a regular conference speaker. Recent engagements have included the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (USA), APDT Australia, Pet Professional Guild and Veterinary Nurses Council of Australia.
Alexis established her dog training business, Scholars in Collars, in 2002. She teaches group classes in the Adelaide Hills. These include her innovative Puppy Playgroup and Puppy Promenade, a series of Life Skills classes, as well as single topic workshops and short courses including Meeting Manners, Walk This Way, Really Reliable Recall, Calm. Controlled. Centred, Un-Chase!® & Un-Chase® Snakes! Alexis also conducts in home training and behavioural consultations throughout the Hills and metropolitan Adelaide.
About Peta Clarke
Peta Clarke lives and breaths the animals she works with. With over twenty years experience working as a professional animal trainer in a variety of settings both in Australia and America, she has engulfed herself during that time in the practical and theoretical application of reinforcement training in the training and care of literally thousands of animals. While Peta’s first love is working with dogs, her experiences in the field of animal training range from elephants to goldfish. As a trainer and presenter of animal shows in zoos on several continents, she has had the opportunity to work with many exotic animals, but has focused her work in this area on working with free-flighted birds and marine mammals.
Whether it is a seal or a seagull, Peta has found that every interaction with different species taught her more about being a good dog trainer. She believes working with free-flighted birds was a real turning point in her understanding of the power of reinforcement training. “I thought I was using positive reinforcement well when I would work with dogs, but after I started training birds – animals that can just fly away if they are not interested in you, and later seals – animals that could kill you if they wanted to, I realised that being a good animal trainer isn’t just about results, but treating animals with respect and empathy. Thing is when you treat animals in this way your training results improve dramatically. “I have learned that if an animal does not feel safe and secure with you they can never give you their best”.
As well as a career as an exotic animal trainer, Peta also works extensively in the Film and Theatre Industry. Her credits include “Babe II”, “Superman Returns”, “Wolverine”, “Hacksaw Ridge”, “The Square”, “Top End Wedding” (2019) and many other local films and literally hundreds of television commercials. Some of her favourite memories working animals on set have come from working the Kleenex Labrador puppies for ad campaigns from around the world. Hard work, she says, but always amazing how quickly an 8-week old puppy can learn when there is no threat or fear.
One of the biggest challenges of her career has been training and working the dogs for the Australian production of Legally Blonde the Musical. “Training and working Chihuahuas and bulldogs for live theatre, performing in eight shows a week in front of two thousand people is a sure way to humble yourself as a trainer,” she says.
The job of raising and training the two chihuahua brothers Quinn and Sparrow for the role of Bruiser Woods in the musical is another step away from her comfort zone of her beloved breed, the boxer. She has found two kilogram dogs a little different to work and handle than the thirty plus kilogram dogs she is used to. They are warier and less trusting naturally – “Much more like training a wild bird than the dogs I am used to”, she says. While we all have our favourite breeds, she urges other trainers to step outside their comfort zone and push themselves into working other breeds and indeed other species. Only when you train animals that push you past your boundaries will you really continue to learn and grow as a trainer.
Peta also runs her own animal training and consultancy business, Animal Training Solutions based out of Sydney, Australia. Peta consults on both pet dog and parrot behaviour and training issues for companion owners and consults extensively with wildlife parks and zoos worldwide on improved training practices and show development.
Peta Clarke is a Nationally Accredited Trainer, holding her Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and is a sought-after lecturer in Australia, teaching Certificate level animal training and behaviour courses for aspiring animal trainers and an invited lecturer for many dog training clubs, zoos, and other private organisations.
About Erin Jones
Erin Jones CPDT-KA, CDBC, PhD Candidate
Erin is completing her PhD in Human-Animal Studies at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies. Her research focuses on the dog-human relationship, the social construction of dogs, and how this affects the adoption of humane training and consensual human-mediated interactions with our companion dogs.
Erin is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC) with the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) with the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT). She runs Merit Dog Project and Behaviour Consulting both in Christchurch and remotely. Through Merit Dog, she continues to do in-home behaviour consultations while completing her research. Erin is also a full member and committee member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers – New Zealand (APDTNZ) and a committee member of the Australasian Animal Studies Association (AASA).
Prior to moving to New Zealand, Erin worked at Companion Veterinary Clinic in Alberta, Canada as their in-clinic behaviour consultant before starting Merit Dog in 2016 in Nova Scotia. Erin Also worked at Dalhousie University tutoring Advanced Animal Behaviour and Animal Physiology while completing her master’s thesis at Canisius College in Anthrozoology. Additionally, she works remotely for the IAABC as their Education Initiative Lead and as a freelance writer for several online media sources, including a regular weekly spot on K9 of Mine and Journey Dog Training.