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Where it all began…
The Paws4Life Story

How it all began… from crime to canine care

My journey to dog-training is perhaps not as straight-forward and conventional as other trainers in my field – but I believe it is this background which has best positioned me to offer the services, care and insights which make Paws4Life such a unique and distinct academy.
Unconventional beginnings…

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.

Fresh graduate
I was 23, a fresh graduate from university with no idea how to suddenly immerse myself in the working world or find my place in the world. I persisted with my criminology studies and gained my honours degree in 2013.

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.

My best friend…
In the beginning nothing was wrong with Yko, he was a gorgeous pup with only the most beautiful nature, he won my heart from the very first second. In addition to being my companion at home, I’d decided to train him as a protection dog in my career as criminologist. Yko was so smart and quickly caught on to every trick I taught him. People began to wonder why was he so smart, I only replied that he is a shepherd, of course he is smart, but never realised he was only borrowed to me for a short period of time.

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.

From trainee to trainer…
I started working at K9 & H in 2015. Although I only worked there for a month, I learned so much about dogs and my urge for knowledge and understanding in this field was insatiable – I wanted to know more. So in 2015, I started to develop a dog training school of my own. I researched and analysed different courses available on dog training and completed a basic obedience online course through Leerburg Online University. I completed the certificate in Basic Dog obedience in 2016. On completing the certificate I opened Paws4life Training Academy – focusing on basic obedience.

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.

The Paws4life Motto:
A Dog Is Not “Just A Dog”
More knowledge, more care…
In 2016, I also did a first-aid course for dogs and successfully completed level 1. I decided it was not enough and wanted to learn more thus I enrolled with Petsense. I completed my advanced diploma in Canine Behaviour Management as well as a course in “Snake awareness, first aid for snakebite and venomous snake handling” in 2017.

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.

Our training courses
Specialised training for all breeds, behaviours and needs

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

Online courses coming soon!
Paws4Life is working hard on course material which can be accessed by anyone around the world! Check in again soon to enrol for your dog-training course.

In the meantime, feel free to contact us for a range of dog-training courses in your area!

Training for all breeds and creeds
Assistance with al your training needs
Caring for dogs of all abilities and affinities

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Mon-Thu: 8:00 – 17:00
Fri: 8:00 – 15:00
Sat-Sun: Closed
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Phone: +27 72 445 4310
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