I had felt an attraction to most animals in my early years but before I had the language to understand it, I knew that my interest in dogs was something different. Turtles, budgies, mice, cats, rabbits, and hamsters were all fascinating to me in their own ways, but there was something particular, and at that time, beyond words about the idea of having a dog that all my other pets were missing.
At the earliest opportunity I had to get a job, I chose to work as a dog walker, which was a brilliant first job for the young dog fanatic like myself as it came with all the joys of companionship without any of the commitment and responsibility. However, it still wasn’t quite enough. It wasn’t until much later, in deciding that I was ready to share my life with a dog that my journey began. The impulsive purchase of a book on dog training at a local pet store soon became part of a much larger and complete encyclopedia of books on the care and training of dogs. It wasn’t long after that I changed my major in university to psychology and brought home the 9-week old long-haired German Shepherd puppy who I owe all of this to.
Being armed with the information that I had accumulated in recent years, training Solea was remarkably straightforward. I admit this not to be boastful, but to make the point that someone with little experience with dogs and a part-time commitment to learning about them can succeed at this quite thoroughly. There was nothing particularly unique about my situation, though I must admit one particular difficulty I found myself facing – which was separating good information from bad information. It is this very discovery that would later become essential to the work I’ve done as an advocate for compassionate training. Prong collars? Dominance? Leadership? Hesitantly I questioned the validity of these concepts in working with what I thought (and still do) was the most innocent and beautiful animal I had shared my life with. Luckily I had had enough exposure to positive reinforcement during my pre-puppy self-study to not be so deluded as to deny its ultimate necessity, but it seemed that in my interactions with most ‘knowledgeable’ gurus, I was defending a position that was far from commonly accepted.
I knew that my approach was particularly effective in working with Solea, and to illustrate this concept I created my first YouTube video, which was mostly intended for distribution between family and friends – the thought that I would ever amass interest beyond that was an unanticipated possibility at the time.
The next several years became pivotal in refining my understanding of dog training, as I had the opportunity to work with a large number of people and their dogs. Some of my most valuable lessons about particular training techniques for dogs, and teaching concepts for humans have come from that work. I truly began to appreciate the uniqueness as well as the commonality between dogs in their abilities to learn. The premise of the training style that I developed during this time was to create very adaptable tools and solutions that would ultimately work for all dogs, no matter how big or small.
With all due respect to the many brilliant and talented professionals in this field that provide dog training services, I take the position that dog training resources need to be more available, and at little to no cost. I know that just as I once struggled to sift through the endless different approaches to dog training to find one that really works and is supported through our most current science, others have too. Positive and compassionate perspectives need more exposure, and it is this belief that has led me to put together this website. Having said that, it is by no means a substitute to dog training classes, or the services of a professional. Those that are familiar with my facebook page will quickly notice that I willingly refer people to find positive-oriented dog trainers when it is obvious to me that they need more than online instruction, such as those cases where we are dealing with extreme and dangerous behaviors. But in my experience the vast majority of people who own dogs are faced with far simpler issues and can greatly benefit from the cost-free aid that this database of resources is meant to provide.