"Gentle Methods Produce Positive Results"
Jane Wittstock, D.V.M.
Jane Wittstock, D.V.M., a licensed veterinarian and member of The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, has been training people to train their dogs for over 30 years.
Jane has raised, trained, and shown Shelties for over forty years. In addition to her Shelties, she has Belgian Tervurens (Tervs), and a Bernese Mountain dog. With her dogs, Jane has earned numerous obedience, tracking, agility, Canine Musical Freestyle, and herding titles.
Jane started her training career with a Sheltie, Muffy, because Muffy wouldn’t come when called. A few classes and titles later, dog training became a way of life. This early training was “traditional” training – using a choke chain to correct the dog when it strayed from the desired behavior.
When Jane went to a seminar presented by Dr. Ian Dunbar on puppy training using food rewards, she incorporated that into her training and teaching. At an early Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) conference, she saw a demo by Karen Pryor and Gary Wilkes on clicker training a puppy, and it was obvious to her that this was the way to go. It was a struggle at first since there was no one locally who had experience in clicker training. Perseverance and additional seminars led to more comfort with the use of the clicker.
A major moment for Jane was the time she heard Bob and Marian Bailey speak. Their lecture answered some nagging questions that Jane had about information she was getting that didn’t quite fit what she was seeing in training. Fortunately, the Baileys were coming out of retirement – holding “chicken camps”! These were 7-10 days of intensive learning from lectures and training chickens. The science underlying all training and learning was explained and practiced. “I learned more in that first week than I had in twenty years of training,” Jane says. She continues, “The first twenty years were valuable, and understanding traditional training is necessary to help students move from traditional to clicker; but learning from the Baileys made a world of difference. It gave me the tools to train any behavior (that the animal can mentally and physically handle) and solve any problem. It’s quite simple, maybe not easy, but it is simple.”
Jane went to the Bailey camps each summer – completing all levels. And she’s answered all the questions on why she would spend so much time and money to train chickens with this: “If you can train a chicken, you can train anything!”
Jane, who has now been teaching people to train their dogs for over thirty years, concludes: "My current personal challenge is to train as many different species as possible. I find that I learn a lot from training other animals that I can then apply to training dogs. So far I have worked with chickens, guinea fowl, miniature pig, pygmy goat, rabbits, horse, donkey, cats, parrotlets -- even some kind of wild turkey-like fowl when I was down in the Amazon!"
Jane can be reached at (918) 371-MYK9 or at email@example.com.