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

Sometimes they ARE listening!

I had this client awhile ago that was sometimes very fustrating to me as a trainer. I was the 3rd or 4th trainer she had worked with and she just wasn't very compliant. I would explain things she needed to change or do to help her situation with her 2 dogs and she would pleasantly tell me she simply wasn't going to do that. The dogs wouldn't like it. I didn't let it rattle me and did the best I could as we worked on some simple exercises that she did approve of. After a few weeks of scattered sessions she called to say she would ring me back for more help when the weather got better. (it was winter in Maine at the time) I really never expected her to hear from her again.


Breed matters?

Yesterday I saw an ad for genetic testing for dogs. Specifically it is a DNA test to determine what breed a mixed breed dog may be. The part that caught my eye was the claim "Breed count matters to trainers". It made me pause. I mean I stopped to really consider the question, does what breed a dog is change the way I conduct training for that dog and their people?

I have to say I honestly don't think it does. Sure I take breed traits into account IF they affect what issues I am there to work with for the client. But I have worked with plenty of random bred dogs who's breed is a big fat question mark. It doesn't mean I can't do my job at 100% lacking that information.


An un-tapped resource

As dog trainers we regularly see people who have chosen to add a dog to their home that isn't always the best match for them. Our job is to teach them how to live together in spite of the challenges a mismatch may bring with it. Most of the time we can help, but sometimes sadly the dog ends up in rescue instead, despite our best efforts.

What I don't understand is why more people don't ask trainers their opinion in finding the right dog for them. We see and work with more breeds and shelter dogs regularly than they will ever meet in a lifetime. Some of us even live with multiple breeds in our own homes. Not to mention the fact that dog trainers know about dog behavior and breed traits because it is our job to know this information.


Updates and plans for the future

I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year and Happy Holiday season. I always like looking forward to the new year while saying goodbye to the old. This year is no different. To update the readers that have followed my blog posts here, I am happy to share that my sister did find a wonderful bulldog breeder and added Minos to her family. He is a very funny boy and loves the snow. My akita Jack and he love to roughhouse together and he is also infatuated with our pug Jenny. It is never boring when he is around for sure.


Calling all dog lovers!!

Your mission, should you chose to accept it, is to help educate our movie going public. Your deadline for the mission is December 18th. Your countdown begins now. While this current mission is targeting those who may be interested in a specific breed, it benefits anyone considering a dog. How? Because it helps to educate people about the need for breed research BEFORE getting a dog "just like the one they saw" in a movie. This in turn hopefully helps cut down on the amount of mismatched dogs to owners. Not every breed of dog is right for every home after all. What might be the best match for you may be a nightmare for your best friend and vice versa.

The steps for this mission are simple.

1) Go to this website and download and print a copy of the file "Is the akita the right dog for you?"

2) Take the handout to your local Staples store and make a bajillion copies.


Why I heart trick training

So is anyone else as excited by the new show on Animal Planet called Super Fetch as I am? Hosted by Zak George this is a show that literally shows how you can teach any dog any trick in a step by step process. I love it. The first episode had a french bulldog that was owned by a man with a hair salon. To help drum up business he wanted the dog to fetch the clients gowns once they sat down. The other dog in the episode was an akita mix. The wife of the household wanted to teach the dog to move the husbands alarm clock when it when off in the morning to prevent him from hitting the snooze button repeatedly in the morning. I won't tell you how it turned out, but I will say I loved the part where the wife was happy that the dog was now listening to her more since starting working with him. Before that the dog was much more into her husband. She realized that the training helped them build a better bond with each other.


Hachi, a dogs story

I am unsure how to embed video on this blog so here is a link. As an akita owner I am HUGELY conflicted about this movie coming out. (I should say again -the original was made in Japan with english subtitles of which I have a copy) It looks like they did a beautiful job on it. I just worry that it will create a demand for them and they simply are not the dog for everyone. Akitas rescues are always full as it is. Check any of them out for yourself. The dog in the movie is stunning and I fear there will be morons out there looking to cash in on the movies popularity and begin back yard breeding ventures. (heck some probably already are sad to say) I just hope like hell they have something in the beginning of the movie stating something about the breed not being for everyone. I do TRY to be an optimist. 


The Magic of TV Training

It seems no matter where you look on the internet there are always conversations about TV trainers to be found. We have a few trainers to chose from here in the states. Those include Cesar Millan of National Geographic Channel's "The Dog Whisperer", Victoria Stilwell of "It's Me or the Dog" on Animal Planet, Andrea Arden of "Underdog to Wonderdog" on Animal Planet as well as the various trainers on "Barking Mad", also on Animal Planet. (correct me if I have forgotten anyone)

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Kids and dogs, safety first.

I have been reading quite a few posts lately about kids and dogs, and seeing photos of kids and dogs, and videos of kids and dogs that are being shown as proof of how scary watching kids and dogs together can be. Whew, that was even hard to type!


The story of a journey

Tomorrow I am headed on a trip out of state with my sister to go look at a litter of bulldog puppies. It took us a long time to get to this point and now it has arrived. I am excited but also reflective. Last May she lost her previous bulldog Zeus to temperment issues. This is his story.

Zeus originally came to her as a rescue out of hurricane Katrina. He was found with 2 other bulldogs outside in a yard. One of the other dogs had been killed by a fallen tree. He never did like windy days after that and would hide in his crate when storms came in. Who could blame him?



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