To understand how I ended up in dog training, I have to give a bit of background. I always wanted to be a veterinarian, but unfortunately life didn’t work out that way. I gave my other passion a go, criminology and yet – life was not about to let me give up on my love for animals. I ended up working with dogs anyway.
Criminology is a very harsh subject, however, and as a criminologist one is perpetually bombarded with all that is bad and ugly in society. I realised I had to get out of this black mess of violence and mayhem. So I decided to get a GSD (German shepherd) pup. I looked everywhere for a reputable breeder and found one who just happened to have a pup available on my birthday. I just had to take him.
I started at a training school and it was great, Yko did so well in training. Throughout every interaction, my bond with Yko grew stronger – something that I never realised was possible. Yko was the first dog that I really trained – I’d never known how rewarding training could be for dogs and people alike. But unfortunately this bond was formed on borrowed time. At 6 months Yko’s health started deteriorating and he passed away swiftly at 7 months due to a genetic disorder.
I was devastated at the loss, and yet the training bug had bitten me. Despite having lost my best friend, I felt the need to offer the same bond to other people – to make them realise that a dog is not “just a dog”. I got my second GSD puppy whom I named Prego. Together, Prego and I started the journey not only as trainees, but as trainers.
I met wonderful dogs and students, but through my training I also realised I needed more insight in canine behaviour as I had several students whose pooches presented behavioural problems.
I persisted in building my knowledge on the subject through books and consulting with specialised trainers focused on protection dogs, dog play and tracking dogs. My training and experience taught me how to work with each dog’s level of drive, strength and weaknesses. I’ve made sure to learn from trainers who do not work with the Alpha theory but drives instead.
More knowledge, more care…
But my training is far from over. Although I offer training services to my clients, I realise that the more I can learn as trainer and behaviourist – the better the services I can offer to my human and canine clients. I can help people and dogs work together and fortify that very special bond between them. Every day I learn something new about dogs and animals, thus I feel that one can never say that they know everything. I want to continue learning whether through courses or through my students’ experiences.
The bigger picture
My main aim and aspiration is to create a facility with everything a dog owner needs. I envision a facility with a rehab centre for dogs specialising in hydrotherapy, an agility course, tracking course, personal protection course, a rehab for dogs with behavioural problems, a puppy area and an area for basic obedience.
The facility should have a dog groomer, dock diving and a coffee shop where people can relax after training. This should be a place where people feel their dog has a purpose, their dog is good at something and if they do suffer from a behavioural problem we will do everything possible to help the dog and the owner.
In essence – I want the relationship between man and dog to be purposeful and proactive. I have taught all my students to give their dogs a purpose, and to make their dogs a part of their lives – to take them to dog-friendly restaurants and adventures. I encourage them to experience how dogs enrich their lives.
Just like Yko brightened up my life and brought back the beauty and positivity in life – so too can my students find purpose, meaning and happiness through the bonds with their canine friends.
At Paws4Life a dog is not “just a dog” – they are family.
I still think of Yko every day, he took a little bit of my heart with him but gave me so much more in life. Yko also gave me Prego – my constant companion in learning, teaching and enjoying life.
Paws4Life is the no.1 South African dog-training academy. We offer a range of customised training programmes specific to your needs and your dog’s needs.
When choosing a training course, we consider the following:
- Your family makeup
- Your home environment
- Your dog’s breed
- Your dog’s age
- Your dog’s health
- Specific behavioural issues
- The health and age of the dog handlers
- Specialised dog training needs
- Your dog’s history
In the meantime, feel free to contact us for a range of dog-training courses in your area!
Fri: 8:00 – 15:00