I've done stress management and resilience programs for high-pressure workplaces like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); the Air Line Pilots Association; the Veteran Benefits Administration; the Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General; and even, gulp, the Executive Office of the President, Office of Administration. I've taught at large companies like Marriott, Verizon, and AT&T and in college and university settings including George Washington University.
These days I'm returning to the industry of my main love, dogs. Why? Well, a better question is, why did I leave?
Unfortunately, I was hit with compassion fatigue. That happens to a lot of people who work with animals, doesn't it?
After more than 20 years of working with serious kid-and-dog behavior issues, I hit a point where I just felt empty. I had a hard time psyching myself up to go have another tough conversation with a family about their dog's aggression toward children. It was just too draining. Something needed to change.
Luckily I learned new skills that rekindled my enthusiasm, and I'd love to share them with you.
My programs are tailored exclusively for vet practices and other pet professionals, the people on the front lines caring for our animals in their most difficult moments.
I'm a graduate of Penn State, where I studied PR as part of a General Arts & Sciences degree. My interest in behavior and resilience led me to complete a six-month intensive certificate program in applied positive psychology based on the model of flourishing developed by Dr. Martin Seligman, which focuses on positivity, engagement, relationships, meaning, achievement, and vitality. Each of these factors plays a big role in helping veterinarians, vet techs, and other pet professionals thrive. In addition, I'm a RACE-approved program provider, a PESI-certified compassion fatigue professional, a certified Bounce Back Better resilience trainer, and an applied positive psychology coach.
I started training dogs professionally over 25 years ago while pregnant with my oldest child. I spent that nine months concurrently reading everything I could about dog training and child rearing and was struck by the similarities between the best of both.
During my dog training career I was a sought-after conference speaker and published three books about building safe, happy relationships between kids and dogs. I continue to share advice for multi-species families through my website LivingWithKidsAndDogs.com and do some dog training on a part-time basis.
These days, though, I'm primarily occupied with helping veterinarians, vet techs, and other pet professionals stay happy, healthy, and energized so they can do their best work.
Sr. National Director, Program Development, Pet Partners
If you haven’t heard Colleen Pelar present, you’re missing out! Banish the days of monotone speakers in a darkened room boring everyone to tears. Colleen is a passionate educator with a great presentation style that’s engaging, relatable, and fun. You’ll learn and almost certainly laugh out loud. I’ve heard her speak in multiple venues from a horse barn to a state-of-the-art conference center and regardless of whether she’s talking to 10 people or 200, she is a master at connecting with her audience and energizing the room. I recommend her wholeheartedly!
Dogs and dog training provide endless analogies for exploring human behavior and how to change it for the best. And sometimes looking at an analogy is a safe first step to looking directly at ourselves.
Many of my dog-training colleagues and clients over the years have remarked to me how the principles of positive dog training seem to apply to people and life in general. It's really true. Good trainers know, for example, to:
And on and on. So between the compelling analogies and the ooh's and aah's or laughter that a well-chosen dog pic can add to a presentation, I find building dog-related themes into my talks hard to resist.