"We loved the classes & are excited about becoming a therapy dog! We appreciate all Melissa's work to help us get there!" - Veronica

"Melissa is an awesome trainer. Our dog is changed completely for the better."-Jennifer

"Melissa does a great job explaining the lessons and working with the dogs."- Melodi

"I loved the class. Melissa is great, very helpful, and overall a great trainer."-Kayla

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Welcome! I hope what's brought you to my site is the fact that you're looking to get your dog trained, whether you've just adopted a new dog or are looking for some solutions to a few behavior problems, I've certainly got the training and the obedience classes to help you and your new pet! I've been working with adopted and rescue dogs for over 10 years and have extensive experience handling dogs with behavior issues from your typical potty training problem to aggression. My ultimate goal is to help you and your pet understand one another through positive reinforcement training. Please feel free to browse my site, and if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Monet, adopted through Heartland Small
Animal Rescue.


Aurora, adopted through Allies for Greyhounds

Eve, adopted through Allies for Greyhounds of West Michigan

What I'm up to:

June 27th-I've had some free time, so you all get another posting. Exciting huh? I've recently gotten the question what I do besides training dogs...well, nothing really...actually...that's a lie. I do go to school full-time. I have 2 more classes left, July and then October and I'll be done. I train my own dogs..oh wait...that's still related to what I do anyway...I, ugh, volunteer at Memorial Hospital and that's about the extent of my outside life. My friends and I will occasionally go out Thursday and Friday nights for your normal friends night out talk time. I also spend time going to seminars, like the one I went to in Detroit this past Thursday with Dr. Ian Dunbar. He's the founder of the APDT, a vet, and an animal behaviorist. Needless to say, he was awesome to listen to and I learned loads. Here's a pic just for kicks and giggles, and you can see all the new toys I have in my hand. 2 DVD's on aggression, 1 on puppy play, and a book. There's little that can bring highlight to a trainer than those! It was great to meet and interact with other trainers and just talk 'trainer' as we all like to call it. I don't get to do that very often. We don't speak English when we 'talk trainer!' Other than that, I don't do much else. I peruse facebook, twitter, and the internet in my spare time...whatever that is. I also haven't turned on a TV in about 5 years. I much prefer my computer, ipad, iphone, and my bookshelf to turning on the tube. I'm currently reading the new Summer edition of "The Chronicle" which is an APDT magazine and the new Whole Dog Journal. So, now all my internet friends will now know that I'm truly a geek. That's okay, it works for me.

June 21st-Second part of my journey to be a trainer...I found out that I fell in love with the Greyhound breed and I could finally have my dog that I wasn't allergic too. So, I went searching for her littermates and 3 months after I adopted Pawn, September 26th 2004 I adopted her littermate Queen. Queen wasn't nearly as easy as her littermate and she taught me that perseverance when you know something's wrong is always the way to go. I don't believe in giving up on dogs or their owners for that matter. We finally found a vet after a year that could diagnose her limp, she lived her life with corns and we managed them. Her and Pawn were inseparable. It was quite apparent they had a bond unlike no other. She was sweet, loving, and had a mind of her own. We called her loner because she was always off doing something by herself. I trained her the same way I did Pawn and we volunteered for Hospice as Therapy Dogs, just the 3 of us and she loved every minute. She was a great dog, and once again she taught me far more than I could ever teach her. As for updates, the puppy/beginner classes are filling up quickly. I updated the calendar to reflect some class changes(took away a beginner and a puppy class in July and August, so no biggie) and also to reflect the classes that are full The Sunday Therapy Dog Class is full, so only Tuesday's are left. 

June 12th-I'm always looking for things to blog about, and this question has popped up a lot lately...Why did you want to become a dog trainer? umm...well...actually...I didn't! So, I thought I'd blog about my 'journey' to the realization that this is really what I was ment to do. I was 17 and a Junior in highschool when I wanted a dog. MY dog. One problem, I'm allergic to dogs. All dogs. So we went to the local pet store one day and saw Greyhounds, I touched them, petted them and I found that one in a million dog that I didn't have a severe reaction too. My family and I put in our application to adopt and we waited. and waited. We didn't want a black dog was our only requirement. The adoption group finally got back to us and said, well we have a match for you...but she's black. Okay, well, bring her over! That day and Pawn and I had that instant bond. We'd spend hours in my bedroom working with the clicker and training her to do a myriad of things, including saying I love you, bow, twirl and all her basic commands. I discovered that I didn't really care what she knew how to do, I like the teaching part of it. She was my first venture into dog training and she was an easy dog. The ones that come after her, not so much, but until next time. I'll leave you with a photo of the dog that started my journey. I will forever be grateful to her. She graced me with her presence for 10 wonderful years and taught me far more than I could have ever even thought about teaching her.

May 30th- August's start dates are up. The big news is there will be 2 Therapy Dog Classes starting one Sunday, July 20th at 10 am and one Tuesday, July 22nd at 7pm. I recommend signing up sooner rather than later as I limit each to 6 dogs. The next Therapy Dog Test will be around the end of August/Beginning of September. I'm not taking sign-ups for this right now, but will post when I will be. Puppy playtimes are back through the month of June and beginning of July. They are great fun! Puppy classes are filling so if your interested in taking classes, I recommend getting signed up soon to reserve your spot! On a more awesome note, I only have 3 more classes left of school and then I'm done...I'll just need to pass my boards to be an RVT! Super stoked about that! Other than that, not too much going on and if you need help with your pup, I'm ready and waiting!

May 1st-I'm going to discuss another topic...Socialization. I'm pretty sure this word comes out of my mouth at least 100 times a day. It's important...no, I don't mean it's important because the new puppy is socialized with the neighbors dog and that's good enough...It's not. Socialization contributes to a lot of different behaviors. It ensures dogs get along with other dogs, know proper doggie social skills(yes, it's okay for dogs to sniff other dogs' butts). It teaches bite inhibition....WHY is my puppy taking off my fingers every time it takes a treat?! It lacks bite inhibition. WHY is my puppy biting me all the time and may be drawing blood?! It lacks bite inhibition. Why is my new puppy shy/scared/afraid etc? It hasn't been socialized. The first 16 weeks of a dogs life is the 'socialization period'. This is the time to introduce EVERYTHING in a positive way, meet lots of people, lots of different dogs, and lots of different places. The more you do, the better dog you have. The AVSAB(American Veterinary Society of Animal Behaviorists) recommends "The 100 Rule" a puppy should meet 100 new dogs and 100 new people in the first 100 days of life. That's a lot. I know. That's why I have puppy playtimes, that's why I start dogs in classes at 10weeks of age. Those of us that are up on the new science around this recognize the importance of starting puppies in classes before they're fully vaccinated. The risk of them catching something is very small when they're around fully-vaccinated dogs in a clean and sanitized area such as a training ring. Dr. R.K. Anderson was very instrumental in figuring this out(and yes, he's a VET)! Socialization isn't always viewed as important, and sadly it's effects are not seen until later when the training involved in rectifying those things(aggression, shyness, fear, etc) is far more labor intensive that simply bringing a new puppy out to meet new things. So, if you have a puppy....congrats on the new addition...do yourself and your pup a favor and SOCIALIZE it! If I can help, please let me know.  

April 24th-Butter and I were on TV supporting Memorial Hospital's Therapy Dog Program! Take a Look! http://www.wsbt.com/news/local/memorial-hospital-needs-more-fourlegged-therapists/25634898

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