It’s tough to be a dog. This big old world is odd… and can get pretty serious sometimes.
Not a week goes by at Dogs Colorado without a few calls about nervous, reactive, leash-aggressive, or otherwise difficult doggos. In these cases Dogs Colorado turns to the professionals for guidance and one name that keeps coming out above the fold is Patrice Kuiken of In Good Paws Dog Training.
Patrice’s force-free dog training approach dovetails perfectly with Dogs Colorado’s compassionate care and positive reinforcement policy. Patrice and I have met up over a few dogs in progress and at some point we decided that we ought to compare notes.
Our interview with Patrice is part of a larger series of Dogs Colorado interviews entitled Oh, the Many Wonderful Humans You’ll Find.
Jeff | DogsColorado
So let’s start off with the basics… how did you get started in the dog training world?
Patrice | In Good Paws Dog Training
When I began volunteering for the Boulder Valley Humane Society during my freshman year at CU Boulder. I initially walked dogs and kept kennels clean, and then I found out about their STAR (Specially Trained Adoptable Rovers) program. A local trainer volunteered her time and led a weekly group class for the dogs in the shelter. As a volunteer for STAR, I was assigned a dog to take to class and work with them throughout the weeks until they were adopted.
It was a profoundly rewarding and challenging experience, and this was when I realized I had the training bug.
Spending time with the Humane Society… what were some of your primary takeaways from that experience?
There are always animals in need out there, and any help you can offer to your local shelter or rescue group is much needed. Even something as simple as taking a dog from its kennel on a short walk is hugely impactful for their behavioral health while in the shelter environment.
I like how your website talks about force-free training. What does that mean to you?
Absolutely! Force-free training means that I will not use techniques that use force, coercion, pain, fear, or intimidation when working with your dog. Though these techniques can work and give people the results they want, there are huge risks of negative side effects in behavior and the mental health of our dogs that we cannot predict. There are more humane and equally effective methods to use, which is why I train the way I do.
Yes, exactly this. There is a great deal of seemingly outdated methodologies out there.
What are some common misconceptions that you encounter from people trying, but failing, to strengthen their bond with their dog?
A common misconception is that having a bond with your dog means being permissive and letting your dog do whatever he wants. In fact, this is not indicative of a good bond. Dogs need boundaries and consistency in order to be happy; they thrive on structure.
Here are some suggestions to strengthen your bond with your dog:
-Have clear, consistent rules that your dog understands. Rules should be the same with everyone in the house.
-Train your dog using positive reinforcement (treats, toys, belly rubs, walks, etc.). Rules need to be taught, and can be taught kindly.
-Spend quality time with your dog; one-on-one with your attention fully focused on them.
You specialize in young and out of control dogs. How did you find this niche?
This niche actually found me. The first puppy I got on my own as a trainer was an Australian Shepherd named Finnegan. He has been one of the best teachers I could have ever hoped for. He was a hard-core mouther/biter as a puppy with little frustration tolerance. This meant if he didn’t get his way or was frustrated about something he would begin nipping, latching on or body slamming me repeatedly. He was a tough cookie as an adolescent, but I gradually learned what worked on him and what didn’t.
Looking back at what he taught me, I realized I love working with this type of dog. I can completely relate to the frustrated owner who wonders why they ever thought a young dog would be a good idea. Or wonders where their perfect puppy went. Finnegan taught me that patience is a huge virtue! I enjoy helping people realize that, though it takes work and time to get through adolescence, you can end up with a marvelous pal for many years. It is well worth the effort.
Is there something most people don’t know about young and/or out of control dogs?
Many times I will hear that their young dog “knows” what to do and is just being stubborn. Though it is true that adolescent dogs push their boundaries just like human teens, they aren’t always “being stubborn.” Many times we teach them just the basics in the house, and then expect them to be able to translate that to the big, wide world. This just isn’t how dogs learn. You need to teach each cue in a variety of environments, gradually building up the difficulty if you expect your dog to listen (and understand) when you ask them to sit/down/leave it on a hike, at the dog park, etc.
What services do you offer?
I offer private in-home training within a 15-mile radius of Thornton. With private sessions I can focus directly on the issues that are most important to you and give you solutions directly related to your goals. I also offer specialty group classes in Westminster and Arvada. My specialty group classes are currently Nose Work, which is a fun canine sport where I teach your dogs to use their noses, and Control Unleashed, which is a small group class for reactive, distracted and/or anxious dogs.
How can somebody in search of your services get in touch?
They can reach me by email at email@example.com or phone at (720) 248-7212. Or they can check out my website at www.ingoodpawsdt.com. It has lots of information and great resources as well as contact forms they can submit and I will respond to within 24 hours.
Thank you for your time.
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