I'm Not Your Typical Dog Trainer ...
I’m not some 15th generation trainer who has been handling dogs since I was 2.
I didn’t grow up showing and training dogs.
I grew up playing handball and red rover, and inappropriately rushing up to every strange dog I saw.
And, while I love to learn and stay current, I am for sure no academic that spends her days immersed in books and finds happiness in a debate on the fundamentals of dog behavior.
I’m not your typical dog trainer.
In fact, I’m just like a lot of you.
I work. A LOT. And I’ll be honest. I spend WAY too much time behind the screen of my computer.
I’m busy. And some days it’s tough to find time to train.
I love my dogs. And I want what is best for them.
And on those rare days off, all I want to do is go hike with my dogs.
I’m passionate about my training. But given my life, training has to be realistic. And it has to fit in my schedule.
I simply don’t have hours every day to unpack and implement very complex advanced training protocols.
I wish I did...
Now, I didn’t start out my career as a trainer. In fact, I was a biochemist working long hours in an academic research lab. I was in charge of synthesizing and sequencing DNA. Pretty cool huh? I actually appeared in a few academic research papers - something I’m darn proud of.
But I didn’t love my job. I woke up every morning dreading going to work. I was stuck in a career I hated, trapped in a dead-end marriage, and living a life where my sole purpose was to make money.
To survive and to fill the void that was eating me alive, I did what every self respecting person does.
I got a puppy.
I was in the rainbows and butterflies period of my life where I firmly believed that love was all I needed to change the world. I proudly displayed a sticker on my car that said “Don’t breed or buy while shelter pets die.” and I bought hook, line and sinker the propaganda that there are “no bad dogs, only bad owners.”
I wanted a pit bull. It was my cause. I knew in my soul they were just like every other dog, that if they were loved and not abused, they would never be aggressive, and that they simply got a bad rap because they were commonly bred by thugs and beaten to the point of no return.
My puppy turned my world upside down.
I loved and spoiled him. And yet, he developed severe aggression with people. I never punished him, yet he was reactive with dogs. And I had him in training from day 1, yet he still developed such severe separation anxiety, that he tore a 9 ft hold in the carpet of my college apartment when I was off at work.
You see, it’s not that pit bulls are bad dogs. It’s simply that many of them have this pesky little thing called drive...something that many trainers and owners don’t know much about. Couple that with the fact that they are pretty darn sensitive to their handlers, and with some, it can be easy for behavioral issues to pop up when they live with inexperienced owners.
I understood none of this at the time. All I knew was that I loved him and I was hell bent on helping him.
I needed my dog and I wasn’t about to let him fall by the wayside. He was my shoulder to cry on. The only one who was happy to see me when I got home from work. He was the one I wanted to curl up on the couch with to watch my favorite shows and he was the one who slept in my bed with me.
He was my rock. But what I didn’t realize at the time was that he couldn’t handle that role. He needed me to be HIS rock. And back then, I had no clue how to do that.
As his behavior started to unravel, I did everything I knew how to do to help him. I threw money at the problem, flying in the best trainers from all across the country.
I hired a pet sitter to stay at home with him for the full 8 hours while I was at work in order to manage his separation anxiety.
And I sought help. I can’t tell you how many times I cried on the phone to my trainer, because my dog was becoming too difficult for me to walk, or because he snapped at a neighbor, or because he bit a friend.
Thing is, even though I brought in the trainers I was convinced were the best in their field, NO ONE COULD HELP ME.
While all this was going on, I went back to school, got my MBA (from SDSU) and started consulting for start up biotech companies. My job satisfaction went from bad to worse as my life became filled with networking mixers, suits, and long days away from my dog.
And then, I had an epiphany. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was laying in bed, unable to sleep, thoughts racing through my mind stemming from my giant to-do list, and my frustrations with work and my marriage. Not to mention, I was a failure as a dog owner.
And then, it hit me.
Between dog trainers and professional pet sitters, I was paying nearly $3500/month to help my dog. (Crazy I know). A huge chunk of my monthly salary was supporting him. And as no one was able to help him, that money was basically being flushed down the toilet.
So I marched into my office the next day, gave my two weeks notice and quit my job. That day, I embarked on my journey as a dog trainer.
I started my career rehabilitating aggressive dogs. I needed to learn how to help my own dog and through my learning, I was naturally drawn to helping others in my same plight.
I rehabilitated over 800 dogs since 2007.
My career evolved to training working and sport dogs in 2008.
After Cancer took my dog, and shortly after, my husband left me in 2011, I relocated to North Texas and opened a working dog kennel where I supplied private security K9s to individuals and I worked extensively with law enforcement agencies.
Business couldn’t be better.
But there was one thing I was missing.
Consistently, I could get results with dogs. But all too often, I failed at effecting change in their people. Inevitably, I’d become emotionally invested in my client’s success, and my heart would break every time they’d fall off the radar, when they were too ashamed to let me know that change wasn’t happening. Or when, as happened all too many times, they’d call me because they needed to rehome their dog.
I couldn’t take the heartache. And as I reflected, I realized that I was just like my clients all those years back. Change never happened with me and my dog. It wasn’t because my trainers weren’t any good. Most of them were fabulous at what they did. But where they failed, and where I was consistently failing, was in their ability to effect change in dog OWNERS.
I set out to change the cycle.
In 2014, I began working with human performance and behavior change experts who happen to be former Navy SEALs. These guys are the real deal, and they travel all across the country consulting for multi billion dollar per year corporations, teaching them how to inspire and motivate their employees.
I started my journey learning from them, and now I teach alongside of them.
I’m here to share with you my experience. My mission is to help others avoid the pitfalls I stumbled through when training my personal dog, and those pitfalls I stumbled through when I embarked on my journey training sport and working dogs.
My goal is to give you tools that are realistic, that fit your life, and that work with your busy schedule.
And my goal is to inspire change in you. To arm you with the tools to be the person your dog needs you to be. And to build your confidence so that you can effect real meaningful behavior change both in yourself, and in your dog, regardless of your goals.
I always tell everyone, training is about your relationship with your dog…not your dog’s relationship with his trainer. And my goal is to help you build that unbreakable bond on a strong foundation of respect, love and a whole lot of fun.
We are passionate and dedicated to arming you with the tools and knowledge you need to build confidence in your training, and to improve your relationship with your dog. We've built this platform to bring you real-world tactics that are easy to implement, and training that works with your busy schedule. And we've designed it to train YOU to be the best handler you can be, whether your goal is to have a relaxed and happy family pet, or you have aspirations to compete in high level sports.