Several of the major dog training associations have addressed the issue of racism with recently crafted position statements and messages sent to members. This is encouraging! It’s my hope that we will see these statements followed up with action. Note that each one of us can have a hand in influencing that. If you are member of a dog-related group or association, let them know you are excited about and counting on the implementation of concrete plans and courses of action to increase diversity in the ranks of dog trainers, both professional and amateur.
– Laurie C. Williams
Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (ccpdt.org)
The CCPDT joins other organizations in emphatically stating that systemic racism, injustice, and discrimination permeate our society and culture. We are hopeful that profound and permanent change is coming.
We recognize that our organization – along with our industry – lacks diversity. We will review our policies, practices, and commitment to inclusion, equality, and stopping racial disparities. Every interaction we have, whether with a client, candidate, certificant, or colleague, will be considered. On behalf of the CCPDT Board of Directors, we will build a more inclusive community of trainers, embrace diversity, and create equality in our work. Specifically, this will include:
• Examining CCPDT outreach efforts in advance of board member elections.
• Ensuring fair and unbiased questions and requirements are part of our formal application and exam processes.
• Creating a pathway into the profession, so that anyone with a desire to become a dog trainer has an opportunity to do so.
We pledge to continue this work with renewed vigor and purpose. Suggestions are welcome.
International Assoc. of Animal Behavior Consultants (iaabc.org)
What can (the IAABC) do, as an organization, as a community, and as individuals to improve this situation, and to reject the normalcy of this country’s racist legacy and policies? What can we do to finally, fully wake up and demand the equality and fairness this land of opportunity is supposed to offer?
• We can learn.
• We can carefully examine our own biases and fears.
• We can do the work of understanding and seeing.
We have done all those things for the non-human animals we work with. We must now ask, have we done it for ourselves? For our neighbors? To paraphrase the historian Ibram X. Kendi, in order to stress the points he makes in his crucially important book, How to Be an Anti-Racist:
• “Racist” should be a plain, descriptive term for policies and ideas that create or justify racial inequities, and not used as a personal attack. It is simply a factual term.
• One is either racist or anti-racist. “Not racist” doesn’t exist. Either one is reaping the benefits of (or suffering under) racist policies, or one is fighting against them.
• “Not racist” and racist are therefore the same thing.
Trainers and behavior consultants are in touch with the general public every day. We can make a difference, one interaction at a time, one effort at a time, to better our little corner of the world. We know how this works. We understand learning, and we understand how successes build upon successes.
Karen Pryor Clicker Training (karenpryoracademy.com)
KPA stands with the protesters against the violence Black, Indigenous, and people of color face too often. Change is needed. As positive reinforcement trainers, we know that behavior is never static; if we stay silent, we, in effect, reinforce past behavior. By speaking out and protesting, we can alter environmental conditions and lay the groundwork for meaningful change.
We also recognize the need to identify and explore ways to take a stand and contribute to change in our own industry. Black, Indigenous, and people of color are under-represented in the dog trainer and behavior specialist professions and related occupations. We are committed to the conversations and dialogs, education, and steps that lead to greater understanding and that can make the profession more inclusive.
PetProfessional Guild (petprofessionalguild.com)
PPG’s statement affirming its commitment to stand in solidarity against racism in support of #BlackLivesMatter:
It was important to our organization not just to make this statement, but to commit to action both in the short- and long-term. We are working with our membership to develop an advisory group that can identify and develop tangible, actionable programs to help us move our industry forward in a more fully inclusive manner.
As such, we are pleased to announce that we have appointed Connecticut-based dog trainer Christina Horne and Virginia-based dog trainer Laurie C. Williams to help us formulate, establish, and oversee this advisory team to support our goals in this endeavor. Christina and Laurie will report directly to PPG president Niki Tudge. Together, they will ensure we establish enduring practices that hold us accountable to the commitment we have made and that both PPG and the pet services industry at large represent the diversity of our population.
Training organizations develop a collaborative survey
The IAABC has collaborated with the CCPDT and Karen Pryor Academy to build an online survey for members of those organizations. Leaders in the positive reinforcement training and behavior community are asking all training and behavior professionals to share information to help take important steps to ensure equity and diversity in the field in the “Training and Behavior Diversity and Equality Survey,” found at https://iaabc.typeform.com/to/cQeE6A.
The survey will be used to strengthen and improve the organizations’ policies and practices, and to inform future speakers and panelists of issues that are important to members of the participating organizations.