Jacqueline McClure-Zerbe

Michelle doesn’t just train dogs, she trains owners.

We were first-time dog owners trying to socialize a 2 year-old Japanese Akita. An adorable companion in the home, Bruno would threaten other dogs outside the house. As he became increasingly but unpredictably reactive, he was no longer welcome on pack walks. We attributed this to past trauma: a neighbouring german shepherd barked and ran at Bruno when he was a puppy. But we were at a loss: how to help Bruno relax around other dogs? Luckily our favourite dog walker knew about Michelle Sellars and Cascadia Dog Training. We had tried dog trainers before, but none of them had been effective at helping us with the reactivity.

Michelle came to the house and did a thorough evaluation. She recognized the skills we were lacking. She gave us a framework to improve our communication consistency throughout the day – not just on walks. Because of Bruno’s history of reactive aggression, we needed to exercise firm control in public. The expert training we received included the use of a training collar, as this was applicable to our specific situation. The collar gave us the confidence we needed to venture out again, knowing we could interrupt aggression with an early warning message. We are now confident handlers and can communicate that confidence to Bruno. Bruno is 100% more relaxed outside the home. He doesn’t react with fear at the sight of another dog, and neither do we.

Please note that BCSPCA advises that any training collar be used carefully and under direction of a dog trainer who follows humane, positive reinforcement training methods. Michelle is one such trainer. She turned a difficult dog relationship into a healthy one and gave all of us the skills we needed to live in harmony with our pet and with other pets in the community.

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