About North Vancouver Dog Trainer

Michelle Sellars

From Struggling Dog Owner to North Vancouver’s Most Trusted Dog Trainer

 

It all started when my husband and I adopted a seemingly innocent 7 month old Shepherd cross named Sam through a local rescue organization.  He seemed to be adjusting fairly well initially, but after about a month, little behavioural issues started popping up all over the place and we found ourselves wondering just what we had gotten ourselves into.

What started as something as simple as refusing to get into the car, turned into growling and barking at the littlest of noises at all hours of the night.  Accompanying these behaviours was what we referred to as the yard Houdini tricks – no matter what we did (short of securing the entire perimeter with an 8 foot fence) it seemed Sam would find a way out. My husband jokes that Sam was like water…he’d always find the path of least resistance to leak his way out!

This was soon followed by digging and destroying the garden, laying down on walks and refusing to move, chewing the remote controls (not to mention the vet bills associated with the possibility of your dog ingesting batteries!), pulling the garbage apart, barking at anyone and everything that came down the back lane, jumping up on people, completely ignoring recall unless we had food, just to name a few.

 

AT THIS POINT WE DECIDED TO SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP

Some of the advice we were given was to put dog poop in the holes Sam was digging and cover them with dirt and then place a chair over top.  When this didn’t work and all we had now was a knocked over chair and dug up dog poo, we were advised to soak a paper towel with bleach and bury it in the hole.  This only worked until Sam decided he would just dig in another spot that didn’t smell of bleach.  To address the issue of fence jumping, we were told that the only way to keep our dog in the yard was to build high enough fences around the property that he couldn’t jump over.  This wasn’t an option for us financially so we didn’t let him outside off-leash anymore.

We decided to take Sam to basic obedience classes, which he excelled while in class, but when we tried to practice commands at home around real life distractions, it wasn’t working so well anymore.

Among other issues that kept carrying on were disregarding obedience commands unless there was a tasty bribe involved, pulling on the leash on neighbourhood walks (even though he had learned what “heel” meant in obedience classes), completely ignoring us when we called him, and the list goes on.

The final straw for us was when he developed a hefty case of leash reactivity towards bigger dogs in the neighbourhood.  This seemed to be triggered after Sam escaped the yard, yet again, and was lunged at by a pair of dogs being walked down our street.  We took full responsibility for this happening, but now felt that we were out of options as previous methods we had tried of reward based training hadn’t seemed to be very successful.  Sam’s bad behaviour was escalating-and quickly!

I will never forget the morning I had the realization that having to re-home Sam may become a reality for us and this broke my heart.  I had him on leash and took him to “say hi” to a Black Lab in the street that morning and here acted so aggressively toward it, making so much noise and fury that neighbours were poking their heads out to see what all the noise was about.  I was thoroughly embarrassed as well as terrified because I felt completely helpless.  The ever looming thought of possibly having to say goodbye to Sam was now front and center in my mind.  Something had to change, and NOW if we didn’t want this to become our reality.

 

WHAT I DID TO ACHIEVE BALANCE IN OUR DOG

So from here, I experimented with different techniques to achieve my own version of “balanced” method of training.  I tried a different approach based on developing my relationship with Sam and saw crazy results in a relatively short period of time!  I was blown away at how much more in tune with me he was and how, through developing trust and respect, he naturally began looking me instead of making his own terrible decisions. THERE WAS HOPE!

It didn’t take long before we had people stopping us on the street remarking at how well behaved our dog was on a leash, friends and colleagues of ours asking for help with their dogs’ behavioural issues and others just seeking any advice that could bring balance back to their home.  This is when I began helping friends and neighbours with their dogs, and seeing consistent results.

It wasn’t long before helping train other people’s dogs became my passion.  Before I knew it, I was seeking out opportunities to learn first-hand from the best of the business all around North America.  To this day, I continue to educate myself in all things dog training and behaviour as well as improve my skills, so that I can be the best possible teacher for all of my clients.

I am extremely grateful for everything I gained from attending training and I am more than excited to have the ability to help families all over the Lower Mainland achieve a more harmonious relationship with their dogs.