I grew up with pets: cats, a dog and horses. I was truly an animal person from the beginning. Somewhere along the way I got interested in competition with my horse. I learned about training in different disciplines to compete. I learned from other people, I learned from reading and probably most of all, I learned from the horses. I paid my dues in the show ring and eventually it paid off with success. I did some judging and moved on with my life in my career as a veterinarian.

Then, I got interested in dogs. I got my first show dog and seriously pursued training as a possessed person. I read hundreds of books on different methods and styles, went to far too many seminars to count and gradually developed a feel for what it takes to be a successful, humane trainer of animals. It’s simple but not easy. It takes patience and persistence. There is no magic wand. It requires an acceptance of the innate personality of the individual animal and the ability to figure what it needs to perform well.

I have trained my dogs for conformation competition as well as rally, obedience and hunt tests. I have also done tracking as well as agility work with them. I learn from every dog. I wish I could do some things over with what I know now. With all this, are my dogs perfect? No way! But, I am not either.

More recently I have tried my hand at training the cats I adore. After all, they have always been successful in training me! My efforts worked. My kitty learned to sit up, touch an object with his nose and lay down. It was a different experience from training the dogs and horses, but certainly rewarding.

I now utilize many of these skills I have learned to help Schuylkill County pet lovers with the challenges they have with their own pets. I have learned even more in doing this. I have learned to break things down into small steps so both owners and pets can be successful. I have learned to be flexible and inventive due to constraints owners may have. It has been a challenge, but truly worthwhile when a pet loving client develops a greater bond with their dog or cat when a behavior problem is solved or successfully managed.


Dog image Sam Cockman via flickr.