Did you know that puppies born in 2020 & 2021 are demonstrating higher rates of problematic behavior, due to the pandemic? According to professional dog trainer, Dawn Lawrence, it’s true – greater isolation and a lack of general socialization with people and other dogs has led to training challenges, as puppies spent large portions of the early months of their lives affected by lockdown periods.
If you have one of these pandemic pups, or you have a canine companion born in any year, that you wish were behaving differently, I have a great interview and some helpful info just for you.
Dawn Lawrence is the owner of Fresno-based Happy Dog Basic Obedience. Our family has been working with Dawn for the past two months to provide structured training and guidance to our family’s newest dog, Rookie. Though we’ve owned a handful of dogs over the years, and fostered more than 25, Rookie is the first dog that we’ve hired a trainer for assistance with. He is a rescued Mallinois-mix – a highly-driven and intelligent breed with a desire to be working and focused on a task, and he was becoming destructive when bored or having to spend any period of time alone.
Now that our family has spent some time working with a professional trainer, we have a much better understanding of the benefits of training (and are getting to experience these benefits firsthand) and I wanted to take some time to dig deeper into the topic to share here on the FresYes blog, as I know dog training could be a huge help to many Fresno families like ours. Please read on for my interview with Trainer Dawn Lawrence of Happy Dog Basic Obedience.
FresYes (FY): How did you get started with Happy Dog?
Dawn Lawrence (DL): Happy Dog Basic Obedience was founded in 2011 by Rowan Sutton, and I purchased the business in 2014, and have been training since.
FY: Should most dog owners consider formal training for their dog? What are the biggest advantages to working with a trainer?
DL: All dogs should be trained. It improves the perception the public has towards dogs, and a trained dog with whom you live behaves. Additionally, I can share at least 5 great reasons to provide training to your dog.
- Training sessions provide dog owners with the skills and knowledge needed for dealing with common, normal, (but for owners, sometimes frustrating) dog behaviors like house training and chewing.
- No matter what age you start training your dog, foundational training provides the basis for any activity, behavior or job you want your dog to do.
- Training has been shown to be the single most important thing that keeps a dog in his or her “forever” home. (Well-trained dogs are far less likely to end up surrendered, abandoned, or re-homed.)
- Training builds your mutual bond enhancing the partnership, and enriching the relationship you share with your dog.
- A trained dog is able to join in the fun when company comes, accompanies the family to the kids’ sports games, goes with you to visit friends and relatives, goes for hikes, swims, and everything else the family does together.
FY: What are some of the most common behaviors that frustrate owners, that training is very effective in managing?
DL: The four most commons behaviors I am asked to handle are: jumping, mouthing or biting, house training, and bolting out the door. Training usually makes these subside in a short amount of time.
FY: Are some dogs easier than others to train? Are their specific breeds/mixes you’d recommend for new dog owners, and are there some you’d only recommend to more experienced owners?
DL: Some breeds are easier to train, yet all dogs can learn. If you have never owned a dog, and depending on where you live (apartment, house, motor home, etc.), breeds do make a difference. For house dwellers and those with children – Labs, Retrievers, Boxers and Bulldogs can be great choices. For apartments life (potentially also with children), the French Bulldog, Lhasa Apso or Havanese are easy to train and child-friendly companions. If you are living in an adults only home, and have the space, German Shepherds, Bully breeds, Rottweilers and some of the other hunting breeds could work quite well. When I am asked to find a dog for someone, I start with the person’s personality. I try to match energy levels – high to high and low to low.
FY: If a dog owner is looking for help with training, how much time should they expect to devote to the endeavor both in training sessions and on their own to achieve the best results?
DL: If you wish your dog to be well-trained, start with a trainer who can guide you in the pursuit. Most lessons are ½ to 1 hour long. Training at home however, should be a 24/7 adventure. Similar to when raising children, opportunities arise throughout the day that allow for training. In my case, every chance I get, I ask my dog to “work” for me. A sit, down, come, stay and so forth is not time consuming, but dealing with an untrained dog who does not know manners is.
FY: Do you have specific training experiences that have been your favorite over the years?
DL: There have been many success stories over the years and each stands out to me. Two specific dogs come to mind, as they amazed me in training and out. The first was Tobey. His family called and asked for me to come to their home for an interview. After a 2 hour conversation, they asked me to find the perfect dog for their son who had epilepsy. I explained that I could get provide training to the point of being able to pass the Canine Good Citizen test and anything beyond that would be their responsibility. During training, the dog we’d chosen, Tobey, reacted before a seizure would occur and this ability has given his owner a much more normal life.
The second is a dog named Hoss. Hoss is a Bordeaux Mastiff and his owner wanted to use him as a therapy dog at Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno. We trained Hoss through Basics and through Canine Good Citizen. When Hoss and his owner started to go to the hospital, Hoss was an immediate success. Hoss was added to the hospital staff and even had his own ID.
FY: Is there anything else you would like readers to know about dogs, training, or working with a professional trainer?
DL: Each dog possesses his/her own personality as is the case with humans. Even within specific breeds, each dog is an individual with individual needs, values, and desires. Training helps owners to learn, in a safe and faster way, what their dog is thinking, doing, and at the same time the dog is loving its owner. The challenge is showing dog owners that there is a hidden gem under all that fur!
If you’re a dog owner looking for a great trainer, I am happy to personally recommend Dawn Lawrence. She was able to immediately connect with our dog, grasp his attention, and get him to understand what it was she expected of him. We call her the “dog whisperer” because she truly can reach our dog in an instant, and he had clear and immediate respect, interest, and affection for her from the very day he met her. Dawn offers private lessons, and keeps her rates reasonable as she wants to ensure as many dog-owners as possible have access to great training.
Author’s Disclaimer: Though our family is currently working with Dawn Lawrence to advance training with our own dog, Rookie, she did not request this article be written, nor did I receive compensation or services from Happy Dog in exchange for this article. I am sharing this information expressly because I believe it will benefit other local dog owners, and I’m happy to support local businesses like Happy Dog through my writing here at FresYes.com.
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