When our Great Dane puppy was 6 months old, we took her to a well-known local trainer who used pack mentality and punishment as tools to train dogs. At first we thought all dog trainers were the same and we wanted to invest time and energy into our puppy fast as she was growing into a very large dog very quickly. However, it became clear that this ‘one size fits all’ training method did not work for our girl.
Feeling lost, but not wanting to give up, we found Valerie and she quickly showed us that there were other more helpful, compassionate, and respectful ways to to train a dog. She encouraged the use of techniques that were gentle, effective, and tailored to the specific needs of our family and our dog. Training with Valerie brought us closer to our dog through an understanding of her behaviour. Without Valerie we honestly don’t know where we would have ended up with our dog.
Not only are we happier dog owners, but we also have the tools to foster a strong and committed partnership with our girl where we both understand and love each another.
“If it wasn’t for Valerie Barry and Pam Murray, we would not be enjoying the company of our wonderful dog, Rebus. At six months of age, Rebus was fearful of and aggressive to people including us. The first behaviorist we used was punishment based and after two sessions, (two hours!), he thought our puppy would need to be put down. We were devastated! We changed behaviorists! Within one month of working with Valerie and Pamela, there was a significant improvement in Rebus. We have done some one on one work, nose work and manners classes. One year later, Rebus is a very happy, sweet cuddly dog. He has come a long, long way in a short period of time, thanks to Valerie and Pam. A true testament to the value of positive reinforcement, clicker training and great behaviorists! Thank you both!”
“When my Rottweiler started becoming reactive towards other dogs, I came home from almost every walk in tears. Just taking him out of the apartment to go for a pee made me anxious – I was terrified of running into other dogs. Valerie gave us some great advice and got us working on some productive exercises, rather than just managing the situation. She gave me the confidence to work with him on my own, and I soon began to enjoy our walks together again. It’s been about 8 months now and we have seen some huge shifts in his behaviour, and are able meet and play with other dogs in our neighbourhood! We are still working with him of course, and we’ll continue to keep things positive and follow Val’s advice.
“I got my first dog, a Scottish Terrier when she was 4 months of age. I had never owned a dog so enrolled in some classes. After 2 separate courses with different outfits, my dog still had some issues. I found Valerie through a local pet store. Valerie had an article in a magazine called Pet Connections. I got on the phone right away, and within days Valerie and I were meeting. It was the best-spent money ever!! Valerie gave me the tools and
instruction to correct my dog’s behavior in a way that was fun, interesting and my dog was happy! That was a couple of years ago, I called Valerie to the rescue again last week for another private lesson for a different issue and within a few days, the difference in our walks was remarkable, thanks Valerie!!!!!! I highly recommend your services and especially the private lessons, it was so helpful to have that one on one time and as I said, life is grand again!!”
“Thank you for your fantastic teaching and love of dogs! It has made our Buddy a happy playful dog and me a happy playful owner! You have changed my whole understanding of dogs and our relationship with them. My life as an owner is much more enjoyable!”
“How I ended up with a pup who, at 10 months of age, already outweighed me, and who also was as blind as a bat is a story for another time. Suffice to say I added him to my small pack of dogs. I’ve had dogs all my life and all my dogs have been gentle, well-adjusted, and well-mannered, so I knew I did something right when it came to dogs. Yet when I adopted Nootka I knew I needed help. I knew he needed more support than other dogs to keep him safe and to enable him to live a life as normal as his handicap would allow, and, without experience with blind dogs, I wanted guidance as to how to make that happen. I also felt strongly about a training system that was strength based, positive. I don’t believe people respond well to negativity or punishment, and I believe this to be true for dogs as well. This was extra important to me because Nootka came to me with anxieties and fears, and my wish for him was for him to learn to move through the world with confidence, not fear and anxiety. I believed that a strength based, positive approach was what we needed. I talked to my vet, and she strongly recommended Valerie. I called Valerie that same day and Nootka, Valerie, and I went to work.
Now, only three months later, Nootka not only is walking the trails with confidence, free of anxiety, he does everything my other dogs do—safely and joyfully. Valerie has coached us to break down complex tasks into bite-size pieces in a positive and rewarding way, and this is exactly what we’ve done.
As a result, Nootka, completely blind, can wrestle and play with other dogs, run up and down challenging mountain bike trails, even join us backcountry skiing. Many people say when they hear Nootka is blind, “aw, poor dog” but he’s not a poor dog. Because of the right training and support, he is a very happy dog who can and gets to do as much as, if not more than, many seeing dogs. In fact, many people we meet on our adventures can hardly believe that Nootka is blind!
It is absolutely amazing what a handful of simple commands and a positive attitude can achieve. Nootka, my other dogs, and I started off on an unfamiliar road a few months ago, but with a few easy commands, a positive approach, and Valerie’s immeasurable support, we have come a very long way in a very short time.”