Updated: Dec 5, 2018
First of all, I would like to say welcome and thank you for checking out our brand new blog! I hope to cover a variety of dog training topics in the future. Some of those topics will include training tips, resource recommendations, personal stories, and much more.
To begin, I thought I would give our readers the chance to get to know Portia and myself. We've been in each other's lives for going on 9 years now, but we haven't always been a team like we are today. Portia came to me at a mere 6 weeks old, and I had no clue how to raise a puppy! I had never heard the terms “socialization” or “puppy class.” I thought all dogs just liked people, and other dogs. To me, the ones that didn't were just your proverbial bad apples, and they were few and far between.
The night we brought Portia home, she almost immediately managed to wedge herself under a piece of furniture. As I tried to extract her, she promptly began growling and snarling at me. I had never seen such behavior from a little puppy! We would then discover that she was covered with fleas and full of worms. This little girl had not gotten the best start in life. Nonetheless, she howled for her mom and litter mates the entirety of that first night. To be honest, our first 24 hours together were not the happiest!
For the majority of her socialization period (up until about 16 weeks of age), Portia only interacted with our nuclear family. I found out later, to my surprise, that she was quite intolerant of having unfamiliar people in her space! The walks we would take together down our country road were often interrupted by loose neighborhood dogs. I am sure she found this to be terribly frustrating, as she was confined to a leash and unable to greet the other dogs in a species appropriate manner, or get away from them if she wanted to! Thus the foundation was laid for Portia's stranger danger and dislike of other dogs.
The first dog trainer we worked with was quick to push Portia out of her comfort zone. She took us to Lowe's to walk around unfamiliar people. She also wanted to wait out Portia's panic attacks that were triggered by the saturated smell of other dogs in her training area. Part of our training would include my keeping a journal and writing down all of the times Portia didn't do what I asked of her. Needless to say, we did not get very far with this trainer!
Our next dog trainer would be leaps and bound ahead of the first. She taught us how to safely manage Portia's fear of strangers, as well as how to counteract it with delicious chicken. We practiced doing this in our own home, as well as out on our regular hiking trail, where we often encountered hikers with dogs.
Not long after, I enrolled in Karen Pryor's Foundations course. I was beginning to take an interest in dog training, and thought it may be something I would like to pursue as a career. The Foundations course is a 6 month online class geared toward owner's who are hoping to do more training with their dogs.
After completing the course, I emailed our beloved trainer and asked her what path she would recommend for someone who was hoping to get into dog training full time. She suggested either Jean Donaldson's Academy for Dog Trainers or Karen Pryor's Dog Trainer Professional course. I chose the former! Some months later, I applied and was accepted. The rest, as they say, is history.
The education I received from the Academy for Dog Trainers was second to none. It completely changed the trajectory of my life and forever altered how I interact with dogs and their people. I cannot thank that trainer enough for recommending it to me.
Thanks for reading!