The dog you want

The dog you want:

  • A well mannered companion
  • A confident dog
  • A dog to hike with
  • A dog to play with
  • A dog to share the couch with
  • A dog to lie at your feet by the fireplace
  • A dog to eagerly welcome the new day and greet you when you come home through the doorFrisco summer class with Abe

Training People, Teaching Dogs

How we help:

Group classes

  • Manners, Obedience and Recall (“come”)
  • “CORE” puppy classes for Confidence, Obedience, Recall and Etiquette
  • Dogs Sports classes for Agility, Skijoring, Rally, Cani- Cross and Flyball

chocolate lab in puppy class

Private Lessons for anything you and your dog need:

  • Adoption and settling in
  • Basic manners
  • Puppy training
  • House training
  • Adolescent dogs
  • Chewing
  • Barking
  • Jumping
  • Loose Leash Walking
  • Self Control
  • Anxiety, fear, reactivity and other behavior problems


Who we are, our qualifications

  • Certified Professional  Dog Trainer  CPDT-KA
  • Licensed Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Trainer
  • Member of the Pet Professionals Guild for Non Force Training
  • Professional Member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers
  • Experience with many different breeds, mixed breeds, puppies, adolescents, adult and senior dogs.
  • Use  dog training methods that are safe and pain free, building confidence instead of fear.
  • Regularly attend seminars and classes to stay abreast of the most current dog training techniques.Vic-Louisa1-sized

Positively Moving Forward, Our Training Philosophy

 Dog Training is about developing a life long, genuine relationship with your dog.

Frisco summer class Toni and SpamoniA  good relationship is what people want the most with their dogs. In helping people train their dogs, manage and modify behavior, I emphasize that at the heart of all training is this relationship.

Therefore, I use training techniques that set a dog up for success and reward a dog when they “get it right”.  I use rewards such as food, praise, games, toys and other life rewards.  Dogs that are set up for success and taught what “to do” become confident dogs and the relationship between them and their humans flourishes.

When a dog has a behavior that we do not want, we minimize the chances of the dog practicing and being rewarded for that behavior, and, instead, teach and reinforce a dog for what we would rather have him or her doing.

Often people do not realize that they are unintentionally rewarding a dog for the very behavior they do not want. In my training, I realize that it is just as important to educate dog owners about how dogs learn behaviors and what owners can do to make a  desired behavior stronger or help get rid of the undesirable habits.

I also help owners with dogs that are behaving aggressively toward other dogs or humans. Most often this aggression is coming from fear. By helping owners understand that their dog is coming from a place of fear, we can then help dogs begin to learn to have more confidence around things, people or dogs they are afraid of as well as teach dogs alternative and more appropriate ways of creating space between them and what they find scary.

Using dog training methods that are not painful, intimidating or frightening to a dog are also safe. Dogs that are in pain or frightened with often defend themselves with aggression. Dogs that feel safe, secure and understood are in turn, safe, confident dogs to be around.

  • I use flat buckle collars, walking harnesses and solid leads (no retractable).
  • I do NOT use shock collars (also known as “e collars” or “stym collars”), choke collars, prong collars or other “training” collars.
  • I also do NOT use any sort of dominance based training.
  • For more details on my training philosophy please see Training FAQs

Important things to consider when bringing a new dog home

As a dog trainer, I handle quite a few cases that could have been avoided if people had taken just a bit more time to make sure they were truly ready to bring a dog into their lives. People need to honestly evaluate their own lifestyle and pick the dog that is best suited for them, rather than the cutest puppy they happen to see one day.

This process can save you and your new dog heartbreak and pain. Returning a dog is very hard on them. Yet another bump in the rocky road to his or her forever home, making it harder to once again trust that humans will someday provide that stable loving home.

If you are considering adopting or buying a dog, please take the time to consider the following:

  1. How much time will you realistically have in the first couple of weeks to a month after adoption, to spend with your dog? Settling in and bonding takes time. Adopting a dog right before you start a new job is not a good idea.  Taking time off from your current job, or getting a dog while you are in between jobs for a month is a better situation for you and your new dog.
  2. Have you ever had a dog before? If you have not, asking the shelter or rescue to help you find a dog appropriate for a first time owner would be a good idea. Note, this is not breed specific! While breeds can have certain characteristics, individual dogs within each breed have distinct personalities. Plus dogs in shelters or rescues may be already experiencing difficulties usually caused by their previous situations. Some of these challenges are easy to help a dog with, and others will take a more experienced dog owner.
  3. Do you have children?  Are you willing to teach your children the correct way to interact with a dog? (Politely and with respect!) Do you think that a dog is a “toy” for your kids? (In which case, please do not get a live dog. Get them a stuffed one!)  Will you be able to supervise your children and their friends AT ALL TIMES when they are interacting with the dog?  Will you require that your children help take care of the dog if appropriate?  Be sure to tell the adoption or rescue organization that you have children and ask which dogs they know FROM  EXPERIENCE  would be appropriate with children.
  4. Are you looking for a specific breed of dog? Why? Do you have personal experience with the breed? Do you just think that kind of dog “looks cool”?  Again, each dog has an individual personality, but also breeds can have characteristics such as pointers need a tremendous amount of exercise daily, northern breeds can be independent and herding breeds need a lot of mental stimulation and exercise. Smaller breeds are not “toys”! They are DOGS! They tend to get over handled and start to bite and snap to try to tell people to respect them as a dog, not a toy. Learn about the breed characteristics and also, within that breed, get advice from the rescue or shelter about which individual dog would be appropriate for your situation.
  5. Do you have other dogs already? Why do you want another dog? Do you want a new dog to make your other dog behave better? (This usually does not happen. Dog behavior depends mostly on their humans, and if your dog is misbehaving, look to yourself and get your dog trained. It is not the new dog’s job to train your current dog. It is your job.). Do you think your dog wants a “friend”. (Sometimes this happens, but often your current dog may or may not want another dog in the house.)
  6. Did you have the best dog in the world that just past away?  Yes, it is great to get another canine companion. But realize that this will be a new individual and you will have a new and different relationship.
  7. Do you have roommates? Do your roommates have dogs?  This will involve making sure your roommates are ok with a new dog, and that their dog will tolerate a new dog.
  8. Do you have the appropriate living situation for your new dog? Some dogs are fine in an apartment or condo while others need a yard.  Do you have a fenced yard? How high? All of this matters when selecting a dog.

Bringing a new dog home is a wonderful experience full of hope and dreams of a life together. Set up for success. Be patient, Do your homework. Be willing to honestly search your soul and realistically look at your lifestyle. Find that right dog that is out there waiting for you.

When Less is More

This article was published in the Summit Daily News on May 13th, 2013

                                           “When Less is More”

Charlie rests on the left end of the couch.

Before he came into our lives, Charlie was in several homes, bouncing down the rocky road of a rescue dog.  His last home was well meaning. They wanted to do nose work and agility with this young Border Collie.  Sounded great. Problem was that they did not just want to enjoy agility with their new dog they wanted a champion agility dog, and they did not understand Charlie’s temperament was not suited for that. They put enormous stress and expectations on him to perform. In four months Charlie was returned to the rescue group. He was compulsively spinning, air snapping and showing other symptoms of severe stress. And when Charlie was stressed he used his teeth on whatever or whoever happened to be near him at the moment.

When Charlie came to live with us, I asked nothing of him other than basic manners, as well as not to bite me or my other dogs. Over time (years) he has learned to trust me. It is a hard earned and sweet victory. While it would seem I did not do any training at all with this dog, I did it everyday.  It required self-restraint, letting Charlie come to me on his own terms and waiting him out without loosing my patience. While I would run my other dogs through an agility course, I never asked Charlie to do so. Believe me, asking a dog trainer not to “train” the dog can be a big challenge!

There are many times in training our dogs where less is more:

  1. Remove social pressure. Like people, many dogs are introverts by nature and do not want to be social butterflies. They like their space. They need time. They like a calm, quiet routine. They do not want to have a bunch of unknown strangers grabbing their heads. They do not want to go to the dog park. They just want to be with their human, enjoy a hike or other adventure, and chill out.
  2. Keep initial greetings short and sweet.  If two unfamiliar dogs look relaxed in the presence of the other and they are not pulling towards each other, let them meet in a controlled manner and with leashes loose. Let them have a quick nose and tail sniff then move on.  If dogs remain in close proximity for too long at that first greeting, trouble can arise. Instead, let them briefly greet and then walk in parallel to one another on neutral territory. If one or both dogs are too excited and pulling toward each other, wait until both dogs are calm BEFORE letting them greet.
  3. When asking your dog to do a task, say it once. If you repeat cues too often your dog will learn to tune you out. This includes calling their name to get their attention. If they do not respond to their name at first, make a different noise or move away from them saying, “lets go over here!”
  4. Understand threshold.  This is one of the most important concepts in working with animals and worthy of its own article (coming soon!). Briefly, threshold is the point at which an animal “looses it”. They may become over excited or extremely fearful and start lunging and barking out of control.  Most owners report that their dogs are not listening to them at this stage.  Absolutely correct! Their dogs cannot listen or pay attention because they are overwhelmed and over their threshold. Attempting to train a dog when they are over threshold is futile. If a dog is over threshold, it is essential to remove them to a place where they are further away from the trigger and can calm to the point of being able to give you their attention.

Charlie’s stress threshold is still lower than most other dogs. When there is too much noise or chaos around him, he goes to his quiet spot in the house where he feels safe. But nights when all is quiet, the rain falls outside, the fire warms us and we are reading a book on the couch, Charlie comes down. He joins us on the couch and curls up on the left end. He lets me sit by him now, and as I reach to gently pet him, his tail wags, he leans into my hand and gives a contented sigh.

Louisa Morrissey is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and a member of Victoria Stilwell’s Positively Dog Training team.