Leah Roberts

Socials 7-22 Leah1.jpg

Leah Roberts has been training pet dogs in the Central Florida area since 2002, both privately and in group classes.  The classes that she offers include Puppy, Adult Basic, Intermediate, Tricks, CGC, and Downtown Hounds.  She specializes in early puppy socialization and development, and also offers weekly Socials in which puppies interact with and learn communication skills from well-socialized older dogs.     

From infancy when her grandmother's dog was her constant companion, Leah has always loved the company of dogs.  As a child the neighbors dubbed her the "Pied Piper," because wherever she would go, she would be accompanied by a pack of neighborhood dogs.   If the family visited anybody with a dog, Leah could always be found on the floor.  And after years of begging, her parents finally gave in and bought her a dog of her own, a chihuahua she trained to do tricks using cookies.  Leah was never without a dog of her own again.

In 2001, after over 30 years in the administrative support field, Leah took her new border collie puppy to a training class at PetSmart.  That first session brought a major wake-up call when she looked at the class trainer and thought, "I finally know what I want to be when I grow up!"  And from that moment on, she studied dog training books, became involved in online training discussion groups, attended every seminar and workshop she could find, and within a year joined PetSmart herself as a new trainer.

Since then she has worked for both her own and other training centers, and is currently owner of Dog Willing Positive Training Solutions in Oviedo, which provides a large and comfortable air-conditioned training room that exits into a large fenced field.  Here she is able to work on perfecting off-leash training techniques, which fit well with her philosophy that the way to train a dog is to create a behavior junkie who is eager and willing to work, and without the use of force, fear, intimidation or pain.  Nothing upsets Leah more than to see a dog treated as an adversary that needs to be conquered.  Instead, she envisions dog training as teaching both dog and owner a dance that they perform together.

More information about Leah's training can be found at http://dogwilling.weebly.com

Follow Leah on Twitter at http://twitter.com/DogWilling and also on Dog Willing's Facebook page.

Photos and videos of classes and Puppy Socials can be found at the Dog Willing facebook photos page.

Blog posts by Leah Roberts

Pilot and Sasha playing a rousing game of bitey-face

Games Dogs Play

When children get together in groups they often play the same standard, well-known games with each other.  All children know how to play tag and hide-and-seek, for example, and it’s clear to the participants what the general rules are for each game.  When dogs are together in groups, they also have their own standard games that they play together, also with clear-cut rules.  And just like children, some prefer certain games over others.   Listed below are the most common games that dogs play with each other.

 
Pilot being lured into a down

Sometimes the Clicker is Quicker

There are people in the industry who dog trainers look up to as heroes, mentors, and gurus.  One of our most notable leaders is Dr. Ian Dunbar, who was responsible for bringing dog training methods out of the too-harsh-for-puppies dark ages to the modern reward-based puppy classes of today due to his creation of the lure/reward method of training. 

 
Boomer will work for peanut butter

When liver doesn't cut it

Most of the time when positive reinforcement-based trainers talk about rewarding behavior we are referring to using food.  Since most dogs love to eat, and an edible tidbit is very easy to work with, food is the most commonly offered reinforcement. 

 
Training tools aren't required in this off-leash class

When choosing a dog trainer, buyer beware!

Before 1981 when Dr. Ian Dunbar developed the first Sirius Puppy Class, training wasn't recommended for puppies under 6 months old.  The only training methods available at the time involved physical force using training tools such as choke collars, and were considered to be too harsh for young puppies.  Dr.

 
Madigan

What is the Perfect Dog?

I sometimes take Madigan, my 9 year old border collie, to classes with me.  The last time I did this she jumped on all the people, barked at me when I wasn't paying her attention, and refused to hold a stay once I took my eyes off her.  Mind you, I'm teaching this class.  This is the dog who represents me and my skills in training.  I was humiliated and wanted to hand her to the nearest stranger and say, "Is this your dog?  I don't know where she came from!"

 
Bear-Bear at home

Heartsick Over Bear-Bear

I've been trying for days to write an upbeat piece for the blog, but my heart isn't in it. 

By now most people have heard about the shooting and killing of Bear-Bear, the young husky whose only crime was playing like a dog in an off-leash park in Severn, MD.  In brief, last Monday night off-duty cop Keith Shepherd and his wife, Wendy, brought their German shepherd into this park on a leash, Bear-Bear approached and engaged with the GSD, and Shepherd pulled out a 9mm gun and blasted a hollow point bullet into the husky's body.  He claims that he, his wife and his dog were being attacked.  There were no injuries sustained to any of them.  Bear-Bear died as a result of his extensive injuries after suffering for 6 hours.

 
Cosmo is not a happy camper

Learning to Speak Dog

When I first started training dogs, I'll admit that I was pretty ignorant about how to communicate with them.  Like many long-time dog owners and lovers, I *thought* I was pretty savvy about understanding their language.  I could read what they were telling me to some extent.  If a dog's tongue was hanging out of his mouth while his butt danced the jig, I knew I was looking at a friendly dog.  If he held himself crouched on the ground and his tail was tucked, that told me the dog was frightened.   That's pretty basic stuff.

Though I still had a lot to learn about reading dogs, it was being able to talk back to them in their own language that was my biggest weak spot.  After all, we all know that when one speaks to a stranger, it's impolite if you don't establish eye contact, right?  Well, right for humans.  Very, very wrong for dogs. 

Speaking Dog 101

 
Positive reinforcement training

Why I Love My Clicker

I have a little plastic box that cost $1.50 (plus tax) that I am convinced operates by magic. 

Okay, it's not magic.  It's simple operant conditioning using a specific marker sound, if you want to get all scientific about it.  But I do believe that there is something very special about the use of a clicker when training dogs.

Lure/Reward Training

 
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