Welcome to Eyes on You K9 Training! My name is Deb and I am a balanced dog trainer in Elkhart, Indiana. I am a former elementary school teacher who has always loved dogs, though I was clueless about how to properly train them. (I grew up with the rolled-up-newspaper philosophy. Cringe!)
After struggling for years with my two out-of-control rescue dogs, Rylee and Rue, I decided that something just had to change. Does that sound familiar to you? I've been there. I understand.
I began researching dog training on the internet and became really good at teaching obedience commands. However, that did not help our dogs with their reactivity, jumping on people, growling at guests, fence fighting, lunging on leash, and general naughtiness. My research revealed that there were few trainers that had answers for changing a reactive dog's state of mind and truly stopping bad behavior.
I had already taken Rylee, our black lab mix, to purely positive training. It was a wonderful thing for teaching her new skills and we both really enjoyed learning with other dogs and their owners. At the time, I thought, "I'd really love to be a trainer some day!" Funny to think back to how little I knew then!
Around the same time that Rylee was going through training, we also became involved in fostering through a local rescue. Our first foster dog was a highly-reactive power breed. I could not take her out on walks without major explosions when she saw both people and dogs. I worked hours with her and tried every positive technique that I could find to help her with her anxiety and reactivity. Nothing gave me reliable results. When a trigger came along, she had zero interest in the food I was trying to distract her with. She was way too stressed for that!
Finally, I discovered balanced dog training. I was skeptical at first. Using tools to train a dog? An ecollar? No way! A prong collar? Are you kidding me? I was offended by what I saw. I was not going to be cruel to my dogs! I didn't know enough to rightly judge what I was seeing. I didn't realize that, when used the correct way, these tools were clearest and kindest way to train dogs. It makes sense to them and does not harm them in any way.
Despite my initial reactions, I was desperate for answers. I wanted to include all of my dogs in every area of my life possible and to actually help my fosters move on from whatever landed them with me. I was weary of having to always be on guard for things that would trigger problems. So....I watched the videos. I filtered them through the purely positive grid that I had used thus far. I'll admit, I was critical of what I saw, but secretly impressed with the rehabilitation that was happening right before my eyes.
Then "it" happened. Our dogs got loose one day. Our sweet neighbor happened to be outside. Our two girls ran toward her barking and growling. They began to circle her. We had a very hard time getting our hands on them as they were in such a frenzy. Needless to say, our neighbor was petrified! Frankly, so were we!
That was the crisis point that convinced us to purchase a Mini Educator Ecollar. I was so nervous using it at first. I didn't want to hurt them no matter how bad they were. I'll admit that I made a lot of mistakes. I was trying to learn from what I found on the internet, but there is a limit to how well you can understand the principles from videos.
I searched locally for a balanced dog trainer. I could not find one. I spent two years independently studying and trying to learn these techniques. Though not perfect, we were seeing some incredibly positive changes in our dogs. They became far less stressed as they saw me taking my role as a leader seriously.
The rest, as they say, is history. I became convinced that you can use these tools in a kind and gentle way. You still work positively with these tools 95% of the time. They allow you to gently guide on- and off-leash. They allow you to say "yes" effectively without being dependent upon food, but they also allow you to say "no" at a level that matches your dog's state of mind.
I have since been blessed to attend a couple of excellent dog training seminars, shadow a balanced trainer, work in some kennels, and work privately for a couple of days with a world-class balanced trainer. I have learned so much and continue to refine my skills. And...guess what? I can now take my dogs anywhere that is pet friendly. I can now walk multiple dogs at a time. I can help my dogs calm themselves if something triggers a reaction. It's truly an amazing thing!
My dogs used to live in a chronically stressed-out state. They now know how to have rowdy fun and, then, turn it off and calm completely down. It's a fantastic way to live with dogs. I'd love to help you learn from my experience.