Dr. Kapla is one of nation’s few certified animal behaviorists

Dr. Susan Kapla is shown holding her 10-week-old German Shepherd Jack. (Laura Farwell photo)

LOCALS by Laura Farwell
Despite my misguided belief that I actually understood our dogs, I felt ill-equipped to handle one of our rescue dog’s behavioral problems. Fortunately, Dr. Susan Kapla was recommended to us. She distilled the problems, the antecedents to the problems, and guided us to reinforce the behaviors we wanted from our self-protective and extremely noise-sensitive dog. Without Dr. Kapla’s help, the ending would have likely been much different and seven years premature.
In addition to teaching in NMU’s Dept. of Psychological Science, Dr. Kapla is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist, or “CAAB,” and owns Canine Consultants, LLC, which offers private consultations, group training classes, and resources to people and their dogs.
With fewer than 50 CAABs in the nation, our community is extremely fortunate to have such a rare, valuable, and practical resource. In fact, the CAAB requires certification through the exacting Animal Behavioral Society: 6-10 years of formal academic training (including a doctorate), considerable hands-on experience in applied animal behavior, and close adherence to ethical standards.
Recently, Sue spoke to me about her passion for understanding animal behavior, becoming a CAAB, and some of the challenges people and dogs face in our community.

How did you become interested in dogs and animal behavior?
As far back as I can recall, I have always wanted to spend a life with animals. I had a pony and later a horse as a kid; but my intense interest in dogs really started 30 years ago with a Springer Spaniel named Arthur, a gift from my boyfriend, Dale (who eventually became my lifelong partner!)
Unfortunately, the dog we already had did not appreciate the new addition, and bit Dale. At the time there was little behavioral help available, and we were told he should be euthanized. Since we were unwilling to euthanize him and naïve about how to handle his behavior, he was re-homed. It was an irresponsible thing to do, but we did not know what else to do. As sad as the situation was, the dog’s gift to me was that he prompted me to start a journey to find out what else could be done for dogs like him…

(For more information visit or contact Dr. Susan Kapla at or (906) 458-5817.)

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