Scuppers’s training has been one of the best investments we have ever made, and being the owner of a SolidK9 trained dog has been nothing but a joy for me.
It’s been over a year and a half since you worked with my then boyfriend (now fiance) Sam, myself, and our dog Scuppers, so this (long) email may seem a bit out of the blue- but I can’t remember if I ever wrote you a testimonial for you to share with prospective clients, and if I haven’t I feel like I should really write one for you now. I just got back from a really wonderful walk with Scuppers at India Point Park in Providence, and I felt like I had to write to you to tell you all about it- it’s the dream that Sam and I had in mind when we started looking for dog trainers- and one that I didn’t even really believe was possible before we worked with you.
Back then, we couldn’t let Scuppers off leash without an arsenal of squeaky toys and treats to get her to come back to us- and even with all those things sometimes she just wouldn’t obey, but would make us chase her all over the park instead. I wouldn’t take her off leash at all when I was on my own: I have asthma and can’t run very far or fast without causing my airways to go into spasm. I was afraid she would run away from me and get hit by a car. It was not a good situation for us: Scuppers could never run around and get good exercise, and she had so much pent up energy that she behaved poorly on leash as well. I remember the first time we met with you to discuss Scuppers’s training, we said “Well, some day, we would like to be able to take her off leash at the park”, thinking that was some far off pie-in-the-sky dream. You just said “Done. By the time we’re finished, you’ll have an off leash dog.” Just like that. Like it was no big deal. “No, really,” you said “it’s simple. By the time you’re done training with me, you will be able to walk your dog off leash”. You were so totally confident that Scuppers could behave off leash and that you could teach us how to train her to do so. I don’t know when I started to believe you, but I do know that in that moment at the first consultation I thought “Well, this guy’s crazy. There’s no way we’ll accomplish that in just 7 sessions”. It turns out that I was the crazy one: it only took you 2 sessions teaching us to use the electric collar to have us comfortably walking Scuppers off leash at the park every day, and within a month or so of that we were starting to walk her around our quiet neighborhood in the city on just her e-collar.
But back to today. It’s a beautiful 65 to70 degrees out, the sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, and a nice cool wind was coming in off the water. The park was full of kids, joggers, bicyclists, people playing sports, having picnics and all sorts of activities. Scuppers was off leash the entire walk- I hardly ever bring leashes on our walks these days- they just aren’t necessary. The only time we put Scuppers on a leash is if we’re going some place where it’s clearly marked that dogs must be on leashes, or when we are specifically practicing her on leash behavior. Instead Scuppers was wearing her electric collar that you taught us to use. Most of the time she doesn’t even need that anymore: she will walk in a perfect heel with us and come when we call if she’s wearing a plain flat collar, but the e-collar is still really useful for training, which is what we were doing today.
At least once a week I like to make one walk all about training. (We do lots of little things for training in between, but once a week it’s nice to have a solid hour where it’s all about Scuppers and challenging her in fun, creative ways.) Recently what we’ve been doing is incorporating simple commands while we play with the Chuck-it (her favorite outdoor game, second only to playing with other dogs). We started by giving her either the “Sit” or “Down” command, throw the ball, and she can’t chase it until we release her- then she’s off like a shot! After she got pretty good at that, we started giving her the “Sit” or “Down” command after she had gotten the ball and she was bringing it back to us- that was even harder for her because she was far away from us, also because she had to stop what she was in the middle of doing and obey the command instead, but with just a little practice she got the hang of it. Today Scuppers and I were working her current challenge: I’ll throw the ball and let her start to chase it, but when she’s about halfway to the ball I’ll give her the “Sit” command. It’s such a high level of distraction, and it’s soo hard for her- sometimes I need to correct her on the e-collar (something I almost never have to do any more)- but she’s starting to get really good at it, and you can tell she loves the challenge. She’s so proud of herself when she does well in a training session, there’s really nothing else like it for her. Or maybe she’s just happy because I’m so proud of her- either way, she loves the challenges I give her during our training walks; and people always comment on how impressed they are by her behavior and what a well trained dog she is. We love it.
Anyway, we were doing all this at the park, while people played Frisbee and ate picnic lunches on the grass- kids were running around and yelling, there were bicyclists and skateboarders, and other dogs being walked too. And while all this was going on, I was working with Scuppers to stop and sit mid-chase while she fetched the ball, waiting on my permission to go get it and bring it back to me. After she got tired out playing fetch, I just collected the ball (which she dropped at my feet- and did not make me chase her for, like she would have two years ago) and walked by my side to the bubbler. I was letter her drink from the doggy-fountain they’ve got at the park when I realized just how perfect a moment this was: there were a million distractions for her: insects, smells, noises, people, dogs, not to mention the distraction work that I was imposing on her as a challenge in our game of fetch. But none of it mattered. I wasn’t worried or anxious or stressed. She wasn’t running away from me, chasing after other dogs, or bothering the other park-
goers. We were just playing together in the park, and Scuppers was 100% under my control, and I didn’t even have to think about it. It occurred to me then that *that* is what you mean when you offer SOLID K9 training- you mean exactly the ability to have your dog 100% under your control, and have that control just be second nature to you.
The best part is that this walk is not unique for us. Sure, it’s particularly nice weather outside and Scuppers did really fantastic with her training today. But the fact is all of our walks are like this. We leave the house, I tell Scuppers to “Heel”, and she does. We walk the 2 or 3 blocks to the park in heel, when we get there I release her from heel and we play/train with the Chuck-it until either she or I get tired. Then we walk around the park in heel for the rest of the hour. There’s no struggle- there’s no tugging on leashes (heck, unless I’m making her practice walking on a leash there are no leashes at all.) There’s no chasing other dogs or people. There’s no running way from me hoping I’ll chase her. It’s just me and my dog, walking together. It’s the sort of thing I thought only happened in the movies, and it’s because of the training we received from you.
As I’m writing this email, Scuppers is curled up at my feet, enjoying a hard-earned post-walk nap. I feel so fulfilled in my experience with my dog- and I know that Scuppers is more fulfilled as a dog because of the kind of walks that I am now able to give her. I felt I needed to thank you: none of today’s wonderful walk would have been possible without the training you provided for us. If people are wondering whether or not your training techniques work, whether the training you provide will “stick” (or if it’s just some effect you have on dogs which will “wear off” in time), if any one has concerns that your techniques differ from the “positive training only” methods that most trainers espouse, if any one has any questions regarding what it’s like to working with you at all, please don’t hesitate to give them my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to answer any questions they might have as best I can. It’s been over a year and a half since Sam, Scuppers and I worked with you, and we could not be happier with our decision to do so. Scuppers’s training has been one of the best investments we have ever made, and being the owner of a SolidK9 trained dog has been nothing but a joy for me. I am happy to recommend you most highly to anyone hoping to improve their relationship with their dog.
Thank you. Sincerely,