Susan Wilson |
I started my dog training career as a search and rescue handler for a NC unit with my dog Ayla in the late 90s. In this first experience I learned how rewarding and fun it was to work as a team with a dog. I decided I would like to help others with their dogs, so I went to dog trainer school at Triple Crown Academy. At Triple Crown I became certified as a Canine Training and Behavior Specialist. In this program, a Malinois named Sadie taught me the importance of building a relationship of trust with a dog. I believe you cannot just dominate them, you need to build a trusting, positive relationship with an animal. Sadie bit the student prior to me and the student after me and ultimately had to be euthanized. I will be forever grateful to Sadie for what she taught me about the relationship you can have with a dog when you build a trusting relationship with mutual respect.
After returning from Triple Crown I started A Good Dogs Life with my business partner Gail Hubbard. I really wanted to help people build solid relationships with their dogs in a positive way. I was also very interested in helping people with reactive dogs thanks to Sadie and my dog Razzle. I rescued Razzle (Austrian Cattle Dog) prior to going to Triple Crown and she ended up being reactive to other dogs. I had learned some about working with reactivity at Triple Crown but was driven to learn more. So I continued to learn by attending reactive dog workshops and reading many books about reactivity so I could help my dog and better help my clients with reactivity. It takes a lot of work to help a dog with reactivity and in many cases they are not 100 percent bomb proof. But it is worth all the work and you usually end up with an amazing relationship with your dog. I did agility with my reactive dog, Razzle, for 10 years without an incident. She taught me how to deal with reactivity and to love the sport of agility. I still really enjoy working with reactive dogs and if you need assistance I can help you in a private lesson. However, my passion now is training people and dogs to do agility for fun and for sport.
I began learning agility 16 years ago. I have competed with dogs and taught agility for 14 years. I have participated in 4 national championships and achieved 2 Master Agility Championships with my Border Collie, Zinger. At this time I compete with three Master Level dogs, Border Collies Zinger and Wish, and papillon d’Art. d’Art is a young dog who qualified for his first nationals in 2017.
I have trained with many different agility trainers and continue my education with facilitators, traveling and attending over 40 clinics and conferences over the years. As a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, I strongly believe in continued education. I teach 10-12 classes a week. I love getting to know my students, and figuring out what handling and training techniques work best for the person and their dog. Dogs and handlers start in a puppy, then basic classes and then foundation agility. Some dog parents come to me later in their training. I have classes for dogs and handlers at all different levels. I love watching the relationship between dog and human grow. I train only with positive reinforcement. It is essential that the dog loves training in a fun and stress free environment.
My latest joy in dog training has been introducing new trainers to the sport of Agility. Judy Chaet, a long time student now also teaches at Shooting Stars Agility. She has been a joy to watch as she excelled with her standard poodle, Asha, her MACH3 Max (miniature poodle) and now her young border collie, Leila. I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to start her in the sport of Agility.
I love teaching Agility but one of my favorite classes to teach are the young dogs in Puppy and Basic Manners classes. It’s an opportunity to help people with dogs figure out how to reach the dreams they have for their new friend. The two most important things for me when I start a new dog are:
- Setting up a good communication system with your dog, so you can teach them what you desire.
- Building a strong relationship between the dog and their human.
Training should be an exciting and fun experience for the human and their dog!