Let's Talk About Dogs ... and People!

Behavior is fascinating. There are lots of similarities and differences in the way dogs and people behave, learn, and grow. Understanding these concepts can make your relationships better with dogs, kids, and even adults in your life.

People learn best through engaging, interactive sessions. (Dogs do too.) I offer a variety of seminars and workshops customized for your audience, whether it's made up of parents, kids, or dog professionals.

The topics listed here are typically 90-minute blocks. If there's something you want more of--or only want to touch on briefly--just let me know.  Let's work together to develop the best learning experience for your group.

Best Dogs for Families

It takes a special dog to love living with kids. Most people don't realize that choosing the right dog is far more complicated than simply picking a favorite breed. Learn the most important traits to look for--as well as those to avoid--to help create loving kid-and-dog relationships.

​Discovering Your Superpower: Advocacy

​Life with kids is an ever-changing environment that can be very challenging for the family dog. Knowing what to look for and when to intervene can make all the difference. By focusing on feelings, fairness, and friendship, you'll help kids and dogs develop strong, healthy relationships.

In this session, we'll be looking at some common situations from a whole new perspective. We'll explore the ideas of control, choice, and observation, and their effects on behavior. You'll learn the magic question to ask whenever you see your dog merely tolerating an interaction.

Demystifying Dog Bites: Keeping Kids, Clients, and Staff Safe

Dog bites are often described as "out of the blue," but that's rarely the case. Understanding the many factors that contribute to aggression and being able to spot the signals dogs use before they bite makes all the difference.

Six Things Parents Need to Know About Dogs

Come learn the six most important things that dog professionals can teach parents. You don't need to know a lot about kids; with these simple tips, you can help parents develop safe and healthy interactions between their kids and dogs.

Helping Dogs Prepare for Life with a Baby

For many young families, their "first kid" is a dog. Then several years later, they are faced with the task of helping the dog prepare for life with a baby. Discover sanity-saving tips that make this transition easier.

Colleen Pelar APDT conference

Dog Tips for Families with Big Kids

Big kids present a whole different set of challenges for the family dog. They are more mobile, rambunctious, and independent than younger kids, but with a parent's careful guidance, kids this age can truly be a dog's best friend. Learn useful tricks that will cut down on miscommunication and improve safety between kids and dogs.

Preventing Aggression: Lessons All Puppies Need to Learn

A puppy's early experiences play a big role in developing his personality. Socialization is more than just exposure to new things. Learn how to make the most of a puppy's first six months; the rewards will pay off for a lifetime.

Who You Gonna Call? Finding a Good Dog Trainer

There is a wide range of training methods available, and it can be hard for families to know which dog trainer to choose. Does it really matter what techniques are used as long as the behavior changes?

Yes, it does! We'll explore this question in depth, and you’ll determine how to identify the best trainers in your area.

Real Families/Realistic Advice

Sometimes the success or failure of a dog in a household rests less on the animal's behavior than on how well the dog trainer interacts with the family.

This is a session on people skills: recognizing and reducing stress, getting client buy-in on your suggestions, handling difficult conversations with compassion and grace, and looking for environmental changes that can prevent behavior problems without any re-training.

Dog Pros in School and at the Library

Schools and libraries love to have dog professionals do presentations. This session will give some easy ideas for ways to make these presentations fun for you and the kids. Being comfortable doing public events will help you develop a bigger presence in the community--and also play an important role in dog-bite prevention.

Don't Shoot the Dog: What Police Officers Need to Know about Dogs

In cooperation with a local humane society and service-dog advocate, Colleen developed a day-long training program designed to help Washington DC police officers understand body language basics, recognize the true level of threat posed by a dog in a variety of situations, and practice techniques that de-escalate tension between people and dogs.

In this session, I'll discuss what information we included (and what we left out) as well as the officers' responses to the training. Pointers on how to create a similar program will be shared as well. (Due to budget cuts, the DC Police no longer offer this program.)