Deborah Lankford, CPDT-KA, ABCDT


Retired after forty years of teaching high school English students, Deborah now has time to do what she has always wanted to do: teach dog owners how to build a great relationship with their pets!  So in 2010, Playful Pups & Performance Training was established. Since then, she has guided countless owners away from the old-fashioned methods in favor of science-based force-free methods. These “choice and reward” methods, enhanced by the use of a clicker, are particularly effective with puppies, whose brains are actually enlarged by this approach to learning. Furthermore, dogs who learn this way develop a partnership with their owners, which can lead to all kinds of achievements!  The Lankfords’ dogs earned an array of AKC titles in Obedience, Tricks, Agility, Therapy Dog, and Rally.  Sadly, Bonnie (pictured), Einstein, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, and Stella, a Papillon, are no longer with us; however,  Maizie and Honey (yes, another Aussie and another Corgi…!) are working hard to follow in the pawprints of their predecessors. Maizie already is a certified Therapy Dog and is well along in her training as a Service Dog.  And Honey, still a little puppy, is busy just being sweet!

A graduate of the Animal Behavior College, Deborah is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA), a Certified Canine Good Citizen Evaluator, and a member of both the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the Pet Professional Guild.  Aware of the continuously evolving field of the study of dogs and how they learn, she attends clinics and seminars all over the country, learning from dog experts such as Patricia McConnell, Jean Donaldson, Ken Ramirez, Susan Garrett, and Kathy Sdao. She is a firm advocate of the positive reinforcement approach espoused by these experts and has had outstanding success in applying the wide variety of dog-friendly techniques she has learned.

Of all the current dog-training gurus, however, Deborah has been most influenced by Karen Pryor, Suzanne Clothier, Ian Dunbar, and Pat Miller. She attended Karen Pryor’s three-day “Clicker Expo” conferences in 2009, 2011, 2014, and 2018 and also attended Terry Ryan’s five-day Chicken Clicker Camp in 2014. (Yes, chickens!) Since attending a Pet Professional Guild conference in Florida, she’s become part of the international movement to ban shock collars, in support of the “No Pain, No Force, No Fear” commitment made by current dog trainers.  Other on-going training sessions she has attended  include multiple 2 to 4 day seminars given by Ian Dunbar,  Suzanne Clothier, Sue Sternberg, and Pat Miller.  She has attended numerous conventions hosted annually by the Association of Professional  Dog Trainers.  But she finds she learns the most from the dogs she works with, as she applies the techniques and theories she has studied. They let her know “what works”; and as her students hear her say all the time, “Dogs do what works!” And so does Deborah.

She considers education an ongoing process, and so she stays abreast of the current “revolution” in dog training techniques, a revolution which is proving that non-aversive training works best. But most of all, she wants to help owners and dogs discover all the wonderful things they can do together!

Your gentle guidance, encouragement, and practical teachings along with your light-hearted demeanor and positive approach when teaching the handler as well as when handling the dog is what has made a difference in my approach to working with Reno. Also, you have taught me how important the relationship is and team building. It has been quite a journey with this little Reddog and I have you to thank for our successes!!-“-Kelly

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