My history with dogs goes back to childhood days when my dad taught me to respect all animals. He was knowledgeable mostly about the nature of dogs and horses, which he learned through his experiences as a country boy in Indiana. Most of what I used to train our family’s dogs in those early years, I learned from him. The family dogs were Collies, German Shepherds, and mixes of those larger breeds. My training experiences with a variety of breeds and sizes came from helping friends and family to train their dogs.
Throughout the 70’s to 80’s I added several dogs to my own family. Those dogs included Belgian and German Shepherds, Collies, Rottweilers and mixes, including two shelter pups. They all had various temperaments and different levels of learning abilities, but all fit well into the family.
It is my feeling that in the home animals and children should have guidance and structure with the adults making the decisions. Dogs as well as children can make bad choices if left to their own devise. Dogs prefer to be led. It makes their life much easier. Insecurities can develop in dogs that lack proper human leadership and guidance. Children that are taught age appropriate responsibility and respect for dogs form great and lasting bonds with their dogs. When children understand dogs postures and the proper ways to communicate with a dog it develops confidence and trust in both the dog and the child. If structure and communication skills are lacking in the family the relationship will break down or never form at all. I am experienced in repairing or forming the relationship and developing a plan that will work with your family.
In the early 90’s I attended Tri-C for courses that included psychology, social sciences and childhood development. I completed these courses with the intention of entering a career in social work. These courses enhanced my understanding of human behavior and how we adapted to our environment as we evolved. This ties into my career with dogs as I have learned that the early dogs were domesticated through the combined efforts of dogs and humans to survive.
In 2005 I began working with and studying dog behaviors by volunteering at a local animal shelter. I trained some of the shelter dogs and assisted with shaping new behaviors. I provided the services to new guardians to help the dog make the adjustment to its new environment and thereby helping it keep a forever home. Besides training the basics, I designed training schedules to assist volunteers in correcting problem areas for some of the more difficult to handle dogs and focusing on mouthing and jumping problems. The shelter provided experience with a variety of dog breeds, mixed and pure bred, and some with behavioral issues.
In 2005-2006 I completed the Vet Assistant Program through Thompson Education Direct of Pennsylvania. The course covered many domestic animals, their bodies and functions, surgical procedures and instruments, and the proper handling of animals when assisting the vet. Part of this program dealt with learning how to run a veterinarian office/business and stressful situations with animals and their guardians, with special emphasis on Dogs and Cats. This program helped me to recognize that some problems are created by illness rather than willful misbehavior.
In 2007 I completed the Dog Obedience Trainer/Instructor Program at Penn Foster Career School of Pennsylvania. I completed the required hours of practical experience at the Parma Animal Shelter, where I instructed volunteers in shelter safety and demonstrated correct methods for training basics such as those required to pass the AKC Canine Good Citizen test.
My history with dogs helped me get through the program at Penn Foster with ease and I was able to pick up several new training techniques as well as learn some additional corrections for bad behaviors. Some of the courses included training for Obedience, Agility, Therapy, Assistance dogs, Search and Rescue, as well as Hunting and Recreational Activities with dogs. I learned more about canine social behavior and communication, and how to identify postures. It is in these last three areas where I have gained the most insight through over 50 years of experience with my own dogs, as well as working with shelter dogs.
In 2018 I began a program at Parma Animal Shelter at no charge, to teach select volunteers HOW to train the dogs for the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen Program. I shared my endeavor with the director at the AKC and this helped to create the latest program offered by the AKC for shelters across America that want to help their dogs to be success stories with skills to improve their finding and keeping homes. Unfortunately I am no longer at PAS, and they no longer participate in this kind of training, so I can’t vouch for the dogs that are adopted past early 2018, but it is a program that is taking on across the US and I am happy for my part in that. You can read about that program on PAS VTP page. Any rescues or shelters that would like some classes for their volunteers can contact me.
I currently have three adopted dogs from area shelters and rescues. Two are Rottweilers and one is a Lab. Argos my senior guy, retired from helping me with aggressive dog issues as well as other basic client issues in 2012. Argos passed away August 2017. Leo is now the senior dog that helps with interactions as well as the two younger dogs Maudie and Doogan. Doogan continues his work with me with all clients and is CGC certified. He has retired from Therapy Dog work.
As in human cases, the dog/human breakdown in a relationship is a result of lack of understanding and communication. As long as there is this breakdown, dogs will continue to end up at shelter doors. Shelter dogs have offered me such challenging work. It is rewarding for me to help mend the broken dog/human bond, especially for shelter dogs, who have given me so much in experience and understanding of their specific problems. It is equally rewarding for me to help humans understand dog language. I understand that language and would like to help dogs and guardians mend their relationships. I am only “A BARK AWAY”.
I am happy to provide references!