Updated: Jun 5, 2020
I'm sure by now you've noticed there have been a lot of changes around here! We've not only changed our name, but have started offering new services, in addition to the new company colors, logo & overall "look." Quarantine gave me a lot of time to think about what direction I want to take the business long-term, and how I may better serve my clients.
First I would like to go over the new services I'm offering. They are as follows, and are currently only available to training clients residing in Monmouth County:
Twenty minute walk with a photo update. Poop bags and treats supplied!
Individual hike tailored to your dog's energy and fitness levels. Poop bags, water and treats supplied. Photos included, dog must be comfortable in car.
In-home pet sitting with regular photo updates.
Throughout the course of training, I am lucky enough to develop a rapport with my client dogs and their families. This, to me, is in direct contrast to some dog-walking services, such as Rover. Companies like Rover only require an application fee and background check for someone to begin entering client homes and handling dogs. I feel this is extremely inadequate in terms of security, experience and peace of mind.
Dog walking is often likened to a low-level job that doesn't require skills or knowledge. This could not be further from the truth, especially when it comes to handling dogs with known behavior challenges such as stranger danger or leash reactivity. An inexperienced dog walker can even cause your dog's problems to worsen if not handled correctly.
We all want the best for our fur babies. As someone with a special needs dog, I can only comfortably leave her with someone who knows what they are doing - someone with sound knowledge and handling skills. We all work hard and should have the ability to enjoy our day trips and vacations, having someone we can trust to care for our dogs makes all the difference.
The second catalyst behind these changes is a documentary called Project Wild Thing. Watching this documentary forced me to reflect on my own experiences in nature and how they have shaped me as a person. Hiking and backpacking are two of my most cherished activities. Ironically, the only reason I began hiking was because I had a dog whose energy I just didn't know what to do with.
Over the years, I have found a certain freedom and serenity in hiking alone with my dog. It has given me a great appreciation of nature and public lands. Overtime this has led to an interest in conservation - in passive forms such as Leave No Trace, as well as active efforts, such as those demonstrated by Conservation Canines.
I have learned that many people feel uncomfortable heading out into the woods on their own. The company of a dog can be a big help. Through Wild Thing Dog Training, I want to encourage everyone to explore the outdoors with their dogs. My hope is that this will spark a love of nature and subsequent desire to see it protected.
My love of nature and conservation has turned me onto detection training. Detection training is not just for bombs and drugs. It can be for invasive or endangered species, finding missing persons, or just for fun, such as in the sport of nosework.
Dogs have remarkable olfactory abilities and should be given the chance to exercise them, whether that's for science, law enforcement or just for fun. I have had the good fortune of taking an online nosework class with my own dog recently. My hope is that I can one day bring this kind of training to dogs and their people through fun classes, as well as search and rescue work.
The name Wild Thing is about honoring our dog's true nature, delighting in their very dogness and seeking to indulge it. This is, happily, in direct opposition from both the methods and goals of a lot of dog training. I say, enjoy your dog. Relish in who they are. Train a recall so you can enjoy seeing them run, smell and roll off leash to their heart's content. Give them stuffies* to destroy, even if it feels like a waste. You can always stitch them back up for another go. Let dogs drink in the world around them, allow them to follow their nose. And please stop asking them to hurry up already!
Let's take a cue from our dogs and slow down a little. Let's really stop and smell the roses (or the fire hydrants). If there is one thing that this world needs right now, it's to breathe. It's to practice a little mindfulness and appreciation in the moment.
We so often see cohabitation with dogs about changing them to suit our needs. But what are we robbing ourselves and our dogs of in the process? Give your dog as many opportunities to express her true nature as possible, messy as that might be. Let yourself sit back, relax and enjoy her inner wild thing. I guarantee you'll start smiling.
I absolutely cannot wait to see what the future holds. I hope you'll join me.
Please note* - For safety, only give your dog stuffies if they don't ingest the contents during deconstruction. And always give them under direct supervision just in case!