Last August, writer Susie Wall introduced us to “Run Your Pack,” a canine training program headquartered in Clinton, Montana, owned and operated by Chris and Caite Williams. Offering both human and dog training (you can’t have one without the other!) in obedience, manners, confidence, and behavioral issues, Chris also offers classes that are more focused on working canines looking to build skills in tracking, scent detection, bite work, shed hunting, and puppy imprinting. After seven years in business, Chris and his team are ready to expand the pack beyond Montana via online training courses.
“The big message of [RYP] is that we love teaching students here in Montana but not everyone can get to our training yurt. So, we want to bring the yurt to them,” said Chris. Through an online curriculum of self-study materials, Chris will share his training philosophy, which can apply to any handler with any dog.
“Everything we do centers on respect for the animal," he said. "We channel a dog’s natural drive, not fight it. The goal is to build a foundation of trust so your dog feels confident enough to do other things like working disciplines.”
Mike Tucker, owner of Doakes—a border collie—can testify first-hand to the effectiveness of Chris’s methods. “He’s so intuitive with dogs. He understands what the dog is understanding, then goes from there. In that way, Doakes trained me just as much as we trained him.”
The videos are guaranteed to be educational and entertaining. Before launching his training business, Chris worked as a TV producer on the reality show “Mountain Men.” He's applying the same edutainment strategy to his training videos.
“We’ll have short, punchy content designed to be rewatched as needed. I want to do the best we can to create materials easy to absorb and put to action,” said Chris. “Each course will include corresponding PDFs with bullet points, reminders, and tracking logs. Overall, I can see our online [RYP] program being a course catalog of sorts. It will include the basics every dog owner should understand, as well as extracurricular, higher-level disciplines to draw out the working dog style.”
Courses will include:
Find My Stuff: find and indicate anything with the owner’s odor on it. “It is a fun game for the dog and could be the difference between dropping $1,000 on a new phone or having a kick-butt story to tell friends about how your pet found your phone on cue,” said Chris.
Tracking: track a person associated with an object or article of clothing. “This is a helpful discipline should a member of the family go missing. It’s also good for Search and Rescue and military teams.”
Wounded Game Tracking: hunt down an injured animal when you cannot follow the blood trail yourself. “Deploy the dog! This skill gives them a hunting job and helps make sure no animal has to suffer or go to waste from a bad shot,” Chris said.
K9 First Aid: be prepared to attend to your dog in the outdoors. “The goal of this course is to give the owner enough knowledge to dress wounds in the field and keep their dog stable long enough to get to a vet.”
Detection: have fun finding anything with an odor. “Students can pick their next adventure that builds off the languages learned in the other courses. Train to hunt for sheds, morel mushrooms, bed bugs—you name it!”
Tricks: take skills learned in foundational obedience to a higher level for trick training! “Spins, dancing, agility, bouncing off walls…there are lots of tricks we can have fun with,” said Chris.
As a graduate of the Run Your Pack program, Mike see’s how Chris’s training style will make online learning easy. “He knows his stuff. He’s developed a program that anyone can take and make it work for them. What he is doing is real forward thinking,” said Mike.
Run Your Pack is successful because Chris makes everything work for the dog. “I love this profession because we’re giving this animal what it already wants to do naturally and giving them an outlet for it in our modern world,” he said. “In that way, an owner’s relationship with their dog becomes more symbiotic and less a tool. We teach both to form a team.”