Celebrity animal trainer visits Castaic Middle School

Crawfish, center, soaks up the attention from Castaic Middle School students after his owner, Cinimon Clark, left, held a short session on interacting with animals for the school's Kids Loving Animals within Shelters (KLAWS) club on Friday, March 31, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Cinimon Clark, owner of Turnaround Training and Official Trainer of Animal Planet’s “Pit Bulls and Parolee’s,” visited Castaic Middle School to speak with the school’s Kids Loving Animals Within Shelters (KLAWS) club and educate them on animal care.

“This is for you guys for all you’ve done with the animals,” teacher and KLAWS advisor Karen Gagnon told the full room of Castaic Middle School students.

Throughout the school year, KLAWS members have visited the Castaic Animal Shelter to read to animals and decorate the cages for the holidays.

Christine Racina, a Castaic Middle School teacher and KLAWS advisor, said the club brings together all types of students who share a common passion for animals.

“We want our students to realize their actions are powerful, this group has done amazing things,” she said.  “Having Cinimon [Clark] visit kind of reaffirms to the kids our work with the dogs makes a difference.”

During her visit, Clark also brought along her 3-year-old pit bull Crawfish who she rescued from a shelter about one year ago.

Castaic Middle School students take photos of trainer Cinimon Clark and her dog Crawfish after an event for the school’s Kids Loving Animals within Shelters (KLAWS) club on Friday, March 31, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

“The reason I got him is because he was so exuberant,” she said.

At the beginning of her lesson, Clark discussed how dogs communicate with one another and with people depending on if they are shy or outgoing.

“Some of us have big personalities and some of us have shy personalities,” she said.  “Dogs are the same way.”

Clark said people can tell when a dog is nervous by observing their “calming signals” which are a list of behaviors that dogs do to say they are scared or anxious.

These behaviors include flipping their tongue, turning away and looking back, looking at the ground and then looking up, doing a whole body turn and yawning with a squeak at the end.

“The cool thing about that is you can do it back to them,” Clark said.  “Next time you’re at the shelter and see a dog who’s barking, get down and get little, look back, do a little tongue flip and maybe yawn.”

Clark noted that this makes the dog feel more comfortable and understood.

“It all goes back to body language and the calming signals,” she said.  “Dogs don’t have a verbal language, they use body language.”

Castaic Middle School students pet trainer Cinimon Clark’s pit bull Crawfish after Clark taught a session about how interact with animals for the school’s Kids Loving Animals within Shelters (KLAWS) club on Friday, March 31, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

When training a dog, Clark told the students that it is important to develop a unique language with one’s dog.  For example, Clark says “worship your mother” to make Crawfish lay down.

“What I do is teach K-9 parenting, I teach people to have a canine language with their dog,” she said.  “It doesn’t really matter what you say, as long as you develop a language you both understand.”

Clark also answered students’ questions about their own dogs, crate training animals and interacting with new pets.

“You have to be the parent they need you to be,” Clark said.  “It’s all about dignity and respect.”

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On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

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