chou-chou, NOvember 1961

chou-chou, NOvember 1961

From my earliest childhood memories, dogs have been a huge part of my life.

When I was 8, we got my first heart dog. She was a poodle mix named Chou-Chou (pronounced Shoe-Shoe). And she was the first dog I ever trained. Chou-Chou did tricks: she could count to 5, add and subtract (one-digit numbers only), dance, pray and jump through hoops (literally). Traditional roll over, shake hands, speak, sit and down were also part of her repertoire. If I could think up a trick, I taught Chou-Chou how to do it. She was a willing student, a quick learner and loved the chest scratch and yummie that always accompanied "Good girl!" At the tender age of 8, I was attached at the heart to this wonderful dog and fascinated by dog training.

As I grew, I had dogs of different breeds in my life including Poodles, Kerry Blue Terrier, Afghans, Borzoi, Great Pyrenees, Cocker Spaniels, Golden Retriever, Newfoundland, Rough Coat Collie. I've had a number of mixes as well. As I learned more about the breeds,  I learned more about the different methods of teaching. There is no one size fits all. Although the goal may be teaching the dog to sit, there is more than one road to that goal. Research, practical experience and working with some wonderful (and not-so-wonderful) trainers over the years, led me to my own positive, reward-based training style.

After working in the pet supply industry for 6.5 years while getting my training business established, I realized how much more I wanted to learn. With a surge of research into dog thinking, emotion and best practices in training in the past decade, I have worked on honing my skills as a trainer so I can assist humans to better understand and communicate with their dog. Science and Kindness are my guides. A happier, less stressful life for people and their dogs is always my goal.

Today, my own dogs – Connor and Simon – are poodle mixes. Connor came from a puppy mill raid when he was 13 weeks old. When he came to live with my family at 5 months, being able to see past his lack of manners and impulse control and appreciate his dear, wonderful, fun-loving temperament led to a heart-to-heart relationship that has given us 8 wonderful years and counting. Connor and Simon both have their Canine Good Citizen certifications and spread 4-legged, furry love as nationally registered therapy dogs through The Alliance of Therapy Dogs.

I am a proud member of The Pet Professional Guild, an international association for force-free trainers, as well as a member in good standing with The Association of Professional Dog Trainers. I'm a certified evaluator with The American Kennel Club (AKC) for Canine Good Citizen (CGC), Community Canine (CGC-Advanced) and Urban Canine (CGC-U) as well as a Tester/Observer for The Alliance of Therapy Dogs, Cheyenne, WY. And I'm currently working on my behavior consultant certification.