Laurie C Williams CPDT-KA

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Laurie C. Williams CPDT and her 6 year old Maltese dog Andrew may have been runners-up on the CBS summer reality show Greatest American Dog, but they are America’s designated champions in demonstrating the beautiful, mutually respectful relationship that can result from positive, dog-friendly training.
 
A canine education specialist, dog behavior counselor and trainer for over 25 years, Laurie is the owner and Director of Training and Behavior Counseling at Pup ‘N Iron Canine Fitness & Learning Center in Fredericksburg, VA, 45 minutes south of Washington, DC.  The 11,000 square foot, state of the art dog training, daycare and fitness and rehabilitation facility is the only one of its kind in the country. 

Laurie is the host of the radio podcast show DSPN – Dog Sports and Performance Network on Pet Life Radio and a professional member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT).  Laurie was one of the first dog trainers in Virginia to receive the CPDT (Certified Pet Dog Trainer) credential issued by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers and is an A.K.C., U.K.C. and APDT Rally Obedience judge.  A nationally published writer, Laurie’s work has been featured in Fitness, Good Housekeeping, Shape, and 9-1-1 magazines.  She is a Contributing Editor for the APDT Chronicle of the Dog, is a weekly columnist for the Stafford County Sun newspaper and is a featured author in the newly released book Dog Trainer’s Resource 2.  Laurie is an AKC Canine Good Citizen evaluator and a Delta Society Pet Partner therapy dog evaluator.  She has participated in both Animal Assisted Therapy and Animal Assisted Crisis Response with her dogs since 2003.

Blog posts by Laurie C Williams CPDT-KA

Are Behavior Problems and Issues in Dogs Increasing?

I've been involved in helping people train and care for their dogs in some capacity for the past 25+ years. Despite all the guidance, advice and information currently available via books, online, on TV, from trainers, behavior experts and veterinarians covering early socialization, the importance of training, behavior modification, proper nutrition, health care, etc, is it just me, or does it seem like behavior issues in dogs continue to increase? Or at the very least, it seems like we haven't made the headway in the area of prevention that we should have. Simply put, as a general rule, for trainers and behavior modification counselors, it seems that business is booming, which from a business and financial standpoint is a good thing, but at the same time, it's a little sad, too. I've thought long and hard about this and have come to several conclusions as to some possible reasons for the steady increase.

 

Being Honest About Ourselves

My last post was entitled Being Honest About Our Dogs and told of the pact I have with my friends to call each other when we start making excuses about our dogs' behavior or issues. However, I guess I took it for granted that being honest about our dogs should go hand in hand with being honest about ourselves and examining how we may have reinforced, encouraged and/or enabled our dogs' behaviors. If we take credit for the good, then we have to at least take partial credit for the not so good, right? Granted, there certainly are behavior issues that can't be directly attributed to training, environment, or our relationship and human interaction with our dogs, such as some fears and phobias that really do seem to come out of nowhere. For example, my beloved Dalmatian Tucker developed a fear of thunder and loud noises around the age of 5. Up until that time he never exhibited any sound sensitivity and then all of a sudden, he became fearful of those two specific sounds.

 

Being Honest About Our Dogs

My close friends and I have an agreement, and I'm talking the pinky swear, Ya Ya sisterhood, Thelma and Louise type of pact that's meant to be taken very seriously. We've pledged to keep each other honest about our dogs' behavior and our relationships with them by immediately blowing the whistle when either of us attempts to make excuses for, fails to acknowledge, or attempts to overlook inappropriate behavior (on either our dog's or our part). We've promised to be each other's system of checks and balances, which everyone needs, because when we're in denial about our dog's behavior, we become enablers and the behavior will never improve. Dog trainers in particular, serve as that voice of reason for our students and clients, so it's very important that we have someone to serve in that capacity for us.

 

Has Michael Vick Paid His Debt to Society?

We dog people are a tough lot. We're opinionated, oftentimes judgmental, and let's face it, we're much harder on humans than we are on dogs. We'll forgive dogs over and over again for sometimes horrible infractions and give them multiple second chances, and rightfully so. They're animals and have no moral code. But with humans, not so much. After serving a nearly 2 year sentence, Michael Vick, once the highest paid NFL player ever, was released from prison yesterday morning.

 
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That's a Service Dog?

If you were going to wager a bet, which one of these dogs pictured would you guess is a service or assistance dog? Because we most often see Labrador and Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds serving as guide dogs and/or assistance animals for the visually impaired or providing assistance to people in wheelchairs, most would probably pick the Labrador. However it is a huge misconception that assistance dogs must be a large breed dog. I received a call the other day from a landlord of a property that didn't allow pets, and wanted to know what certifications a dog needs to have to be a service dog. Apparently he was checking up on one of his tenants who he thought was trying to pass off her dog as service dog. So first I wanted to know why he thought the dog wasn't, in fact, an assistance animal.

He answered, "well, it can't be. It's a Yorkie."

 
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Chalk One Up to the Underdogs

Okay, let's be honest, when it comes to competition obedience, how much of an underdog could a Border Collie and Aussie really be, but believe it or not, in my neck of the woods, the two dogs pictured, Logan and Phoenix, kind of are. Dog sports within the mid-Atlantic area (PA, NJ, VA, MD) is highly competitive. Earning an OTCH (Obedience Trial Championship) has become more and more elusive through the years, and has become limited to trainers who view competition almost as seriously as a job, rather than a part-time hobby. For us part-timers, particularly those of us who use only positive methods and have more of a pet person mentality (those of you involved in dog sports will know exactly what that means), no matter what breed we have, we're definitely considered underdogs. No matter how you train or what methods you use, you never really know what a dog is going to do in the ring.

 
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AKC Mixed Breed Program - About time or too little too late?

Last week the American Kennel Club (AKC) announced the implementation of a Mixed Breed Program that will allow mixed breed dogs to compete in AKC licensed obedience, agility and rally events. For anyone who has been in the dog fancy or participated in AKC events, this decision cannot be viewed as anything but monumental. Since its formation in 1884, the AKC has exclusively been a registry for purebred dogs. According to history, the non profit organization was founded by 12 sportsmen, who I'd be willing to bet were blue blood and upper class. So not only were there rules and restrictions about the dogs that could be registered, but I would venture to say there were also rules and restrictions, whether written or implied, about the owner/handlers who could register and exhibit dogs as well.

 

A Great Day!

In one of my first posts here on DSD I shared some information about some clients of mine who'd become frustrated with their highly active, adolescent Shepherd mix, and showed up one day in class with him wearing an oversized choke chain at the recommendation of some neighbors. I pulled them aside and re-explained why I thought that was a bad idea at this point in time, encouraged them to stay the course, yadda, yadda, yadda, and then they disappeared. It bothered me. I know we can't save them all, but still, I knew I'd always wonder how Rebel was doing. This was just before the holidays and I hadn't seen them since. Well, I'm ecstatic to report that they're baaaaaaaaack!

 
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Holy Dogtrimony

I often compare the relationship one has with his or her dog to a marriage, of sorts. I know the comparison gets lost on some, but in close examination I really do feel the two relationships are very similar. A lot of people view their dog as their child, and there's nothing wrong with that, but to me, the objective of parenting is raising children well enough that they can leave you one day and live their own lives. How many times did you endure your own parents say things like, "you can do what you want when you move out, but while you live under my roof, you will do what I say ....."?

 
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What Would You Do?

I really love What Would You Do. For those of you who haven't had the opportunity to watch, it's a hidden camera show, reminiscent of Candid Camera (boy did I really date myself there), that has unsuspecting people witness questionable acts and situations, and then the viewers get to see how they react. Will they turn a deaf ear and blind eye and just walk away or will they confront the offender and speak up? I've watched this show in disbelief as people stand back and say nothing while witnessing a man put an unknown powdered substance in his blind date's drink, a drunk get into her car with her children and drive away, a group of kids gang up on another child, a man verbally abuse his girlfiend, and even a stranger approach a little girl in a public park and lead her away. Unbelievable. Or is it?

 

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