Meet Debbie Greco and her GSD Benny
Benedict and I began working with Lisa in May 2010, a few weeks after his first birthday and it is opening up a whole new world of dog activities for us. We had been through clicker training classes and Benny had done well but when he got to be 9 months he began have some reactivity to others dogs, skate boarders, running cats. He would lunge, bark and had knocked me off my feet more than once. The positive only classes would not let me use any type of aversive to correct this behavior. We were asked to leave the group class and I was told that I must always keep Benny “under threshold.” I didn’t see how this was possible in the real world. I am Italian and can’t always keep myself under threshold, let alone my dog and I did not want to resign Benny to a life in the house or yard.
I had been watching several Michael Ellis videos, liked his methods so sent him an e-mail asking advice for Benny and he recommended I meet with his partner Lisa! Just a week earlier at a canine police trial in town I had met a woman who was training her German Shepherd with Lisa and also recommended her.
At out first session Lisa asked me not just my goals for Benny, but my wildest dreams. I said I just wanted a dog I could take everywhere and Lisa said that was definitely doable, but she would have to make me a dog trainer.
Over our sessions I have learned that aversives, used humanely, are necessary tools needed by some dogs to reach their full potential. I have also learned that being too lenient can damage my dog and our relationship as easily as abuse or neglect.
Training Benny with Lisa is helping me recognize some of my temperament weaknesses (being too much of a pushover) that were not just effecting my dog training, but my work and family life too. A challenging dog and a good trainer like Lisa, is much better than an hour on a therapist's couch!
Benny and I are still a work in progress but it is a joyful process that has taken us to new places and given us both new friends, (4 legged and two legged) As we continue our sessions with Lisa, we have been enjoying off leash beaches, parks, lakes and will soon explore herding. My dreams for Benny are coming true.
Meet Tom and Debbie Oliver and their GSD's Keefer and Halo
We’ve worked with Lisa and our two German shepherds for about 6 months now, and I would highly recommend her to anyone who needs help with their dog(s). Before we met for the first time, Lisa and I exchanged several emails and had a phone conversation to extensively discuss exactly what our goals and issues were, as well as the amount and kind of training we’d done with our dogs so far. I felt confident that she understood what was important to us, and would be able to help us get there. Our first meeting was over 2 hours long, so she could observe and evaluate my dogs and we could talk about a training plan. She briefly handled each of my dogs to get a feel for their training and how they responded to someone else, as well as having me handle them while she watched and coached me. It was instantly clear that she is a very skilled trainer, as well as having an innate ability to read dogs. Watching her work with my dogs and hearing her observations while I was working with them gave me some very valuable insights into their behavior, as well as a realization and appreciation of how much I’d actually accomplished with them so far. What I really like is that our training sessions take place at a variety of locations with different levels of distractions, and are totally custom, based on what we want to work on that day. Each session is not only productive, but fun too – for us AND the dogs. And she’s got an awesome crew of dogs for her clients to train around, from the mals - Feist, who is an older, perfectly behaved, calm and neutral presence for those of us with leash reactive dogs, and Villier, a little younger and more intense, for a greater challenge; to the terriers – Gooey and Cosmo, bouncy and high energy, a perfect distraction for dogs who need to work on impulse control and prey drive. In addition, she will sometimes overlap training sessions with another client so we can work our dogs around each other’s, to introduce a new element of challenge. She also often has client’s dogs for boarding that she brings to training sessions too, and we’ve worked around several of them as well. We’ve had outdoor sessions at the park in Hercules, at some East Bay Regional Parks locations – Carquinez Straits, Point Isabel, and Fairmont Ridge, at a brewpub with a dog friendly outdoor seating area, and a couple of home sessions where we worked on polite greeting of guests, sending the dogs to a mat when the doorbell rings, and boundary training on the front lawn. Lisa’s first question when we’re talking about how to stop some sort of behavior is “what would you like them to do instead?”. We talk about that, and if I don’t have a clear idea of an appropriate alternate behavior she will offer suggestions. We discuss them, come up with a training plan, and then we work on it. Lisa is always available by phone or email when I have questions and concerns, or need clarification, and we always come away from our training sessions with a clear plan of what we will be doing on our own in the week or weeks between sessions. Several of our outdoor sessions at East Bay Regional Parks have ended with an off leash hike with our dogs, Lisa’s pack, and a boarder or two – as many as 8 dogs total. We use a lot of play rewards, which is great for dogs that aren’t interested in food in distracting places, such as off leash parks. The most fun session we’ve had so far was at Point Isabel with two other clients and their dogs, and one of Lisa’s friends - a fellow dog trainer, and her puppy. Mostly all we did was play with our dogs, working on keeping them engaged and focused in a highly arousing place with a huge level of distractions, while Lisa moved between us to assist. We all had a great time, and yet it was also highly productive.