Back in January, I got a new puppy. I had been wanting one for a long time, and finally my schedule allowed me to devote the time that a puppy would need. And I found Reg. Of course, we’re often mesmerized by the puppy sweetness at first, but the realities of raising a dog hit you pretty quickly. Most dogs require a lot of training to really get to be a part of the family – getting to run loose in your house or backyard, getting to come on trips with you to the beach or out to lunch.
That training can be really time-consuming for anyone, so for this edition of “We Tried It,” we thought we’d call on a woman who makes that process just a little easier. Julie Parker, the owner of Let’s Start Behavin’ Dog Training, takes her training right to your doorstep – literally. Instead of heading to a facility or even to a trainer’s home, Julie comes right to your house for private lessons.
This was perfect for Reg. Since he’s still a young puppy (at the time of the class, around seven months old), he has a tendency to get overstimulated when in a new environment. Being in a place he was comfortable meant that we could focus on the training at hand without a lot of new distractions.
Julie’s private basic obedience classes typically last four weeks, with one class each week. She works on new commands and behaviors each week and gives you and your dog homework to complete in-between sessions. While there is a specific schedule she follows of what is learned each week, that can be tailored depending on what the dog already knows or problem areas she identifies. Reg’s session was the perfect example, because Reg has one big problem – he jumps. So when Reg jumped on Julie as she came into our home, she immediately switched gears and began to talk me through his behavior. She took command of Reg, demonstrating a number of remedies with him right there so that I could see it in action.
After we discussed the jumping problem, we all headed outside to go for a short walk. Julie watched the way that Reg walked and the way that I walked with him. We chatted amiably as Reg and I practiced our walking, Julie relating anecdotes of her own dog’s behavior and dogs she’s encountered before. There’s clearly not only passion behind her work but a lot of experience and education. With a degree in Psychology/Sociology, she taught behavior modification to people for a decade before incorporating those same methods into her dog training.
Back inside, after our walk, Julie led us through a few more commands and behavior basics. Explaining the necessity of a dog that pays attention to you (after all, how else could you get them to obey?), she taught Reg the command “look” that requires him to make eye contact. She taught us that he needed a place – like a bed, mat, or raised platform – where he was told to go when he needed to be out of the way, then described the importance of a dog staying in a position – like sit, stay, or lie down – until they were given permission to “break.”
Written out like this, it may all seem a little overwhelming to any dog owner. But Julie’s methods are gentle, engaging, and instructive. She never goes too quickly, and she always allows time for your questions. Sitting here writing this, a few weeks post-lesson, Reg is certainly still a lot to deal with. But even with only one session with Julie, I feel like I have a better handle on his behavior and solutions to otherwise exhausting problems. So with a little persistence and a little consistency, he’ll start, well, behavin’.
Learn more about Julie and Let’s Start Behavin’ Dog Training by visiting www.letsstartbehavindogtraining.com. Photography by Kate Gardiner.