I have always felt a connection to animals and was rewarded with my first rescue dog in 1999. Beau was a two year old Australian Shepherd who needed a job. I took him to what are now known as Manners classes and then started training him in agility. The real appeal to agility for him was that he got to play with me on a regular basis. He really opened my eyes to what it means to form a bond with your dog. As he got older and wasn’t able to play in agility, we began exploring other canine sports, specifically Rally Obedience and Tracking. He passed away in early 2011 and a few months later, I adopted Diesel, an 11 month old Aussie who was full of life and the polar opposite of my first dog. Diesel took my training to a whole different level because of his special needs. He is riddled by stress, fear and anxiety and I set out on a quest to give him the best quality of life he could have.
Diesel is an extremely intelligent dog who needs a lot of mental stimulation to keep his world enriched. He earned his Champion Trick Dog title which spurred me to apply and earn the Certified Trick Dog Instructor for myself. In addition, I am an AKC CGC and S.T.A.R. Puppy evaluator. And after years of experience and learning, I took that knowledge and applied for the CPDT-KA certification which I earned in 2015. That certification is granted through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers and is the leading independent certifying organization for the dog training profession.
With Diesel, I have expanded by knowledge of dog behavior, and we added a few new sports to our resume – Nosework, Canine Musical Freestyle and Rally FrEe are his favorites. We continue to learn by taking regular group classes at various training facilities, training with some of the top world trainers through online courses and attending any workshop or seminar that captures our interest. In 2013, I was privileged to attend a 5 day Chicken Workshop with the world famous Bob Bailey. We spent 5 days training chickens to do a behavior while learning all about the science behind the training. And then on day 5, I reversed what took me 4.5 days to achieve, and trained the chicken in an opposite behavior in 7.5 minutes using all of the tools and knowledge gained during the previous days. It was an incredible experience and the highlight of my dog training career. If you think training a chicken to do such a specific task is easy, I can assure you….it was not. But it did take my mechanical skills of teaching behaviors to another dimension.
It is because of Diesel that I have learned so much – not just skills for the dog but also canine behavior. I have developed a keen eye to observe a dog’s body language to help interpret what may be going on with them. I have a soft spot for fearful and shut down dogs and that has served me well in the rescue world.
In addition to working with my own dog, I volunteer with New Spirit 4 Aussie Rescue and have fostered numerous Aussie and Aussie mixes who found themselves in rescue for various reasons. Having a dog live in your home is in a whole other league from working with my own dog or working with other people’s dogs for an hour at a time. Fostering really elevates your learning experience at a rapid pace. Many of the dogs I have fostered were tough cases because of their fear issues – they weren’t good candidates for adoption in the shelters. Those gentle souls have taught me patience and the ability to let the dogs learn at their own pace. I have built up an arsenal of techniques for dealing with all kinds of scenarios which has expanded my way of viewing problems. I can think outside the box and am often very successful doing things that may seem counterintuitive.
If you are interested in learning to work with your dog whether it is for behavioral issues for the family pet, conquering canine sports specific skills or anything in between, contact me so I can help you achieve your goals.