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Creating Calm, Happy Dogs

Lifelong Skills for Well Mannered, Emotionally Secure Pets

Article by Laurel Otey

Photography by Dog Training Elite Richmond

Originally published in Midlothian Lifestyle

Dog Training Elite Richmond specializes in empowering dog owners through the implementation of canine behavior and socialization skills. Mastery of these fundamental skills helps support their pet’s lifelong health and happiness. They also build stronger bonds between dogs and their two-legged family members.

The founders of this Richmond-based, family business have been successfully training dogs and providing support to their owners for over 40 years. In addition to teaching basic commands, such as leash and potty training, their programs resolve common complaints such as jumping on visitors, destructive chewing, stealing food, playing rough, disruptive barking, and anxiety.

Paul Hearn, owner and lead trainer at Dog Training Elite Richmond, shares how his team can help turn your pooch into a happier, better behaved, more relaxed member of your family.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF OBEDIENCE AND SOCIALIZATION TRAINING?

“Families just want their dogs to have good manners, be calm and listen well… Everyone loves the idea of being able to take their dog anywhere, but most resign to the belief that they will never be able to do that with their dog. We think everyone should be able to do that and can with obedience training and socialization. Those two things ensure that a dog will be fine in public around almost any distraction.”

WHAT SETS DOG TRAINING ELITE RICHMOND APART FROM OTHER DOG TRAINING BUSINESSES?

“We are business professionals who love training dogs. We strive to be an organization that people trust as a business they give their money to as much as they trust to train their dogs. We also feel our training methodology is superior to all others, and have over 40 years of history and experience to back that up.”

WHY IS THE CLASSICAL CONDITIONING METHODOLOGY USED BY YOUR TRAINERS SUPERIOR TO OTHER STYLES?

“Classical Conditioning differs to most other training methodologies in that it does not rely on the dog’s desire to comply with a command. This can be most beneficial in recalling a dog in a moment where things get chaotic or in a situation where the dog may get injured. We condition the dog to respond to commands without thinking about it. This could potentially save a dog’s life in certain situations.”

AT WHAT AGE SHOULD A DOG BEGIN TRAINING?

“You can start teaching a puppy to be obedient as early as 8 weeks, which is around the time most puppies get a new home. However, just like a human child when they reach adolescence, when a puppy reaches the age of 6 to 8 months and starts to make its own decisions, the training methods change.”

WHERE DO YOUR TRAININGS TAKE PLACE?

“Our programs start with in-home training to develop a strong foundation in obedience. We then move the dog and owner to group classes in a park-like setting to further challenge the dog with distractions. This is usually where a dog’s capabilities improve almost exponentially.”

WHAT DO DOGS ENJOY ABOUT YOUR PROGRAMS?

“Structure is the main thing missing from most homes with dogs. In most cases the dog is looking for a true pack leader but there isn’t one. This creates anxiety in the dog’s mind. We implement structure and a pack hierarchy which calms the dog. Once this happens, training becomes a job to the dog, and as they progress their confidence builds. A confident dog is a happy dog.”

DO YOU CONSIDER THE DOG OR DOG OWNER YOUR PRIMARY CLIENT?

“Both. In most homes dogs are considered a family member, and we treat them as such. When we train in the home, we are training the dog and the owner. The owner learns how to train their dog and their dog learns the pack hierarchy. The human just pays the bill!!!”

HOW DO YOU MEASURE SUCCESS?

“When you see that the dog really understands what you are asking and complies without delay, that is success. When the client realizes they can communicate with their dog and have control when needed, and you see the look of pride on their face, that is the ultimate measure of success.”

DO YOU WORK WITH DOGS THAT HAVE ANXIETY OR PROBLEMS WITH AGGRESSION?

“Absolutely. Those dogs can be the most challenging to work with, but also the most rewarding. There are multiple issues that cause anxiety in dogs. Most anxiety is relieved with structure and a pack hierarchy. Another is the human’s unconscious confirmation of a dog’s negative behaviors. We create structure in the home and let all of our dogs know where they stand in the family pack. This will generally relieve most anxiety that manifests in a dog.”

“A highly aggressive dog is another matter. Many dogs are euthanized due to severe aggression. We want to do our best to avoid that and will evaluate the dog to see if we think we can help it. You can never train aggression out of a dog, but you can certainly manage it through a strong pack hierarchy and strong obedience training.”

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY ABOUT YOUR WORK?

“I’ve been a dog lover all my life… There are fewer things better than hanging out with dogs on a daily basis. There are so many dogs that need help and to be able to see a dog improve week to week is an amazing feeling. The emotional bond between owner and dog is strong to begin with, and we see that bond grow stronger as they learn to train their dog and see tangible results.”

IN ADDITION TO PUPPY AND ADULT DOG TRAINING, DOG TRAINING ELITE RICHMOND IS PASSIONATE ABOUT THEIR WORK WITH CHARITABLE ORGANIZATIONS THAT SERVE THOSE WITH SPECIAL NEEDS.

“One of the reasons I got into this business was the ability to help Veterans with PTSD through service dog training. I feel veterans are terribly under-served with respect to mental health. A trained service dog can improve the life of someone suffering with a mental illness, and in many cases can save their life. This also applies to anyone with severe anxiety. I want to make a positive impact to as many individuals and families as I can with this business.”

“We are currently partnering with a local charity, Chesterfield Gives Back, to gift amazing, too good to be true awards to citizens of RVA who go above and beyond to make their community better. The program is called RVA Hometown Heroes. We plan on giving out many awards this year and beyond to show how much we appreciate members of the community going above and beyond to make lives better and make the world a better place.”

A highly skilled, well-trained service dog not only provides their clients with increased independence, but also serves as a partner in life and new best friend!

Learn more at: dogtrainingelite.com/richmond