Marie Finnegan

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Marie Finnegan is the founder and owner of K-9 Solutions Dog Training Inc.
Specializing in private training for dogs and their owners, her focus is teaching effective communication between the two for the betterment of the relationship. Her motto is, "I do not whisper, I translate."

Marie has been training her own dogs since 1992 and decided to pursue a professional career in training in 2000 after noticing that many dogs at her local shelter were given up for simple training issues. Of that period she says, "I knew enough to know I didn't know quite enough to teach others, so I went in search of some advanced training. I found myself fascinated by the whole process of teaching, behavior modification and effective communication." Her thirst for knowledge lead to a yearlong hands-on apprenticeship learning both traditional and progressive techniques,

Marie focuses on reward-based training to help build a better bond between dog and owner. Her experience includes working with deaf dogs, police drug dogs, and cadaver search dogs. For fun she does tracking with her Akita.

Marie also runs a prison program, K-9 Corrections, though her local humane society. The program pairs unruly, and therefore at risk, shelter dogs with prisoners for hands-on round the clock training to teach the dogs the skills they need to become more adoptable. She is a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and The Tracking Club of Maine. She has been a contributor to Akita World and Just Frenchies magazines and the Downeast Dog News.

An avid reader, she enjoys continually learning what makes dogs tick. A few attempts in the obedience ring with her Frenchie, which has produced no ribbon results as of yet, but some great lessons and fun stories to share. "We never stop learning about training and behavior. That's what keeps it fun for me."

Marie lives in Maine with her husband and two children. They share their home with Jack the long coated Akita, Missy the Frenchie, and Jenny the pug.

Blog posts by Marie Finnegan

Pass it on

I am a die hard bibliophile. I love books and have for as long as I can remember. If one day all reading was done on computers, I would still have a collection of real books to hold, fondle, smell and re-read at will. It's not just the book itself that I love, but the contents awaiting me inside. I am not sure when the love affair started. Perhaps in my youth when reading was an escape.

These days my collection includes much dog training and behavior related fare. Being a trainer with a heavy interest in behavior gives me an excuse to add to my book shelf regularly. And I have with gusto.

 

A training guarantee

I admit that I watch a fair amount of Animal Planet. I like certain shows and whenever I leave the house I turn it on for the dogs to watch and listen to. My husband is less convinced the dogs care which channel is on. (maybe they don't but it makes me feel better) While watching AP recently I saw an ad for a dog training franchise. It said they could change your dogs behavior in less then two hours, for ANY problem, with a lifetime written guarantee. Whoa! Really? A lifetime guarantee?

So I did a little online digging. The company started in another country in 1989. They have been here in the states since about 1998. The good news is that it looks like they do use primarily positive methods. (From what I could see online though I have questions about the thing they are throwing around that they use as a "correction".)

 

Why I love the Super Nanny

Last night we watched Super Nanny on tv. It is one of my kids favorite shows. I am sure I am not the only trainer that has recognised that the principles Jo the nanny teaches the parents, are exactly the same we use in dog training. Positive reinforcement, communication, and setting boundries or rules. (and staying calm) Anyone who has read Karen Pryors book "Don't shoot the dog" can see the principles in action on the show as well.

When clients have children that are very unruly I used to worry that it was not going to go well for the dog. If they couldn't control the kids, who speak and understand english, how were they going to add a being of another species to the mix with good results? I have learned over time that my teaching them the principals of positive reinforcment helps everyone, not just the dog. The show Super Nanny is a great example I can bring up of positive reinforcement with real world applications as well.

 

Cruelty and pet ownership

There is a story in the news about a woman in Colorado who is getting fined for dying her poodle pink. Pink was chosen to raise awareness for breast cancer. This blog link sums it up quite nicely:

http://smartdogs.wordpress.com/2008/03/12/on-pink-poodles-and-pet-owners...

What astounds me is that this is considered cruel treatment of the dog.

First, poodles are NOT rabbits and chicks which is why the law there was created in the first place. Apparently people were dying bunnies and chicks them to sell around Easter time. Using gimmick to push product because that is the spirit of Easter after all. Let's forget that a few weeks later the kids get tired of the blue/green/yellow holiday pet and mom or dad dumps them off at their local rescue. But I digress.

 

Tips for Training the Special Needs Dog

All dogs benefit from basic obedience training, including those that are labeled as special needs dogs. It doesn’t need to be the precise obedience as seen in the show ring to be considered an important skill. For all dogs, special needs or not, learning to live in our world and behave appropriately keeps them safe.

Training a deaf or blind dog is similar to training one that hears or sees, with a few adjustments. The special needs dog has no idea it is missing anything, and your job is to communicate what behaviors you want from the dog and which ones you don’t want, just as it would be with any dog. Giving them that valuable information is accomplished through basic training, and by giving them feedback for behaviors they offer.

 

Why A Growl Is Good

My new Akita puppy Jack was on his bed chewing a fresh bone. I sat down beside him to work on desensitizing him to having things taken away. There is little of higher value to a dog than a fresh bone. I asked him in a singsong voice “What have you got there?” and put my hand on the bone. His response was to clench the bone and give a low growl. My husband was watching this exchange and was flabbergasted when I calmly got up without saying a word to go get my training bag with treats in it. “Why didn’t you correct him?” was his question to me. “And why are you about to give him some treats?”
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