I adopted an Australian Cattle Dog mix from the Anti Cruelty Society Of Chicago in 1994. I was attending school and working. He was an extremely lovable, challenging, and potentially dangerous dog - with a host of behavior problems, including separation anxiety, reactivity to people and dogs, Resource guarding and destructiveness. He bit me and others many times.
I saved my money and went to see the dog trainer the shelter recommended to me and, against my better judgement, embarked on a training program to dominate my dog and punish out all his "bad" behaviors.
I was very good at administering leash pops, using the shock collar, the alpha roll and the scruff shake. My timing was perfect and I was very consistent. My dog passed the Canine Good Citizenship Test with flying colors and lunged and snapped at passersby as we walked home. I could see this method was not helping to change my dog's problem behaviors, And I was not comfortable with this escalation of physical violence against my dog.
So, obviously, as financially unstable 20 something, with several degrees in The fine arts, I quit school and my job. My dog and I moved to San Francisco. I with a vague and secret ambition to become a dog trainer- and a few hundred dollars, he with a secret rage in his heart. I do not recommend doing this.
I was ridiculously lucky to stumble upon the Dog Training Department of the San Francisco SPCA and to volunteer and later work there. I was able to graduate from the first iteration of the SF SPCA Academy for Dog Trainers, and to attend so many educational workshops and seminars. I learned how to change my dog's emotional response to things that he reacted to and was able to enrich his life and help him to relax.
I went on to work in the dog training departments of several major animal shelters and to found my own business. Decades later I continue to study learning theory, Canine behavior, and ethology and more. I feel a lot of empathy for people who adopt or purchase dogs who turn out to have challenging behavior problems. I am passionate about helping people and dogs in this situation without using punishment, pain, or threats.
I specialize in helping people manage and treat their dogs' reactivity, fearfulness and separation anxiety. I live in Brooklyn, New York with one anxious small dog and another relaxed one.
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