I began taking classes with Beth Harrison/A Paw Above last April. Six months prior to that, I adopted what I believed to be the most incorrigible, wild, uncivilized (approximately one year old) rescue dog Id ever imagined. Ive owned a number of dogs in my lifetime, so dog behavior wasnt new to me. But he wasnt housebroken, he ripped through the house, jumping on couches, beds and even kitchen counters, and tore into a window screen to gain access to the house. He chewed up everything he could find and I mean everything with the exception of his own chew toys (of course). After working with a trainer between December and February, I was able to teach Blue (lab/pit mix) some very basic commands and tried to slowly introduce Blue to another dog. Actually, he learned it all very quickly....and was remarkably obedient, until there was another animal (especially a dog) in his universe.
We left that training with one MAJOR issue and it tainted every single day of our lives. I still couldnt walk Blue anywhere without him pulling, dragging me and completely flipping out when he saw a bird, cat, lizard, squirrels, roosters (yes, there are some roosters in a yard that backs up to the city wash behind our house), and most especially other dogs. He would flip and leap and lunge and I could barely contain him. I couldnt take him in the car because he would fly at the windows when he saw a dog on the street. He managed to free himself out of four or five different kinds of collars, including harnesses and head collars. He growled and whined and I was afraid he might hurt another dog as I was unable to interpret his reactions. Blue clearly needed the exercise, but I was worn out by the time 20 minutes had gone by. And if he didnt get PLENTY of exercise, he tore up everything in sight....his bedding, water hoses, sprinklers, kitchen towels, shoes, socks, newspapers EVERYTHING. I was beginning to fear that I could not keep this dog.
I finally began calling around and met with three different trainers. I chose Beth and Azure from A Paw Above because of Beths confidence and her extensive work with rescue dogs and dogs suffering from abuse and neglect. I also chose A Paw Above because I was allowed and encouraged to observe classes (as many as I needed!) before bringing Blue. Beth assured me that she would help me, even just getting Blue from the parking lot to the door. Classes are generally focused on the dog with the most challenging issues and all the other dogs get to work on the lesson and/or how to deal with other dogs with issues. What I like best is that there is no judgment about a dog or an owner of a dog with issues. No bad dogs. The focus is always on how to help the dogs get past whatever their struggle is. What I also like best is that the first 20 minutes or so is "free play time," so they can release some of their energy prior to concentrating on a lesson or a command. Makes for fewer failures in the training process.
Fast forward six months though it is no longer necessary, Blue and I still attend classes on a fairly frequent basis. What a transformation, I have witnessed as Beths take on Blue was that he was not aggressive, but didnt know "how to play," due to lack of exposure and experience. He now romps with the other dogs in class, we can walk in our neighborhood past squirrels and roosters and lizards with ZERO reaction. He still whines some when he sees a cat or dog, but no longer finds the airborne back flips to be a rewarding response, and instead looks to me for reassurance and the understanding that he cant have it.
Beth and Azure know their stuff and there are often other students helping out from the local Animal Behavioral College. Choose A Paw Above, for a well-managed, well-behaved dog and a peaceful life.