PRIME Your Dog!
About Terri Bright
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Why PRIME Your Dog!?

I am the first Applied Behaviorist to earn a Master’s of Science and Ph.D. at Simmons College in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) with an animal specialty, and I am a BCBA (Board-Certified Behavior Analyst). My undergraduate degree is from Lesley University, where my major was Intercultural Communication. I like to think my degrees give me a special ability to communicate the science of behavior analysis to humans; this is my passion, and I love to teach it.

I have been training dogs as a hobby and professionally for 9 years, gaining insight by starting with a recalcitrant-appearing bull terrier named Fanny with whom I wanted to do Agility. (Her behavior was not unlike a country star at a Nashville “meet and greet,” running out of the Agility ring to greet every canine and human within 5 feet of the ring... not a good way to score points towards Agility titles.) Traditional correction-based methods did not have the wanted effect, nor did feeding her massive amounts of treats. It wasn’t until I met Brenda Buja, behavior maven and nationally-ranked Agility competitor (with her Staffy bull, Stella), who reintroduced me to the science of behavior and how it could be applied for desired results. The results? Fanny was the top AKC Agility bull terrier 2005 and 2006, and was invited to the AKC Agility Invitationals, in Long Beach, California, where she made a respectable showing, garnering a clean run and a LOT of applause at the Awards Banquet. Fanny also earned a Rally Obedience title, two legs towards an Obedience CD, and was only the second bull terrier to earn a Versatility Award from the Bull Terrier Club of America without a breed championship. I owe her a lot, and miss her every day.

In the you-learn-most-from-your-own-dogs department, my husband and I also own rescue bull terrier, Pepper, a dog we fostered for our breed Club, and kept when my husband and Pepper became close, apparently inseparable, pals. From a combination of bad breeding and under-socialization, previous harsh training methods, and being badly bitten by other dogs, Pepper became aggressive towards other humans and other dogs. Before grad school, Pepper and I spent time with trainers such as Pamela Dennison and Emma Parsons, and that was a valuable start. My doctoral research included functional assessment and analysis (and treatment) of dog aggression.

My youngest bull terrier, Radio, earned his Canine Good Citizen Award at age 8 months, and is a breed champion. He is the second bull terrier to be certified by the National Association of Canine Nosework, and has been a great experimental subject for stimulus equivalence research in dogs.

I am the Director of the Behavior Department at the Massachusetts Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA), in Boston, MA, where I teach, supervise a very successful training program for pet dogs, provide staff enrichment, train Shelter dogs and their new owners, and help to assess surrendered dogs for the best placement. Outside of the MSPCA, I have a private behavioral practice and work with pet owners and their animals in their homes. I also am an adjunct professor in Behavior Analysis at Simmons College, a Mentor for those studying to become BCBA's, and a Faculty Fellow at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.

My academic interests have focused on functional assessment and analysis of dog behavior, stimulus equivalence in dogs, using prompt delays to transfer stimulus control, and curricular design.