An Introduction

An Introduction

FullSizeRender (1)Hi all, and welcome to Dr. Jen’s Dog Blog!  Let me introduce myself:  I’m a veterinarian and professional dog trainer, with a particular interest in behavior problems like aggression, separation anxiety, and compulsive behavior issues.

I do private behavior consultations and spend a lot of time working one-on-one with clients and their problem dogs, but also teach group obedience classes and do general “vet stuff” in the clinic as well – wellness exams and vaccines, sick pet visits, spays/neuters, etc.  So I’m a bit of a jack-of-all-trades, in that regard.

Like so many in my profession, I’ve been fascinated with dogs and how to teach them from the earliest age I can remember.  Growing up, I purchased every book I could find at our local Barnes and Noble on dog training and read them cover-to-cover, utterly entranced.  The idea of being able to forge some sort of common language with another living creature, with the depth of understanding and strength of bond that this implied, struck me then as something almost magical.

My family’s first dog, a wonderfully kind and patient Shetland sheepdog named Duncan, came into our lives when I was sixteen years old and from that point on, I was hooked.  I remember writing to the American Kennel Club to request a copy of their competition obedience regulations (in the days before such things were readily available on Google), and my excitement when the official-looking manila envelope arrived in the mail.  Duncan and I never achieved anything more than modest levels of success in the competition ring, but the lessons he taught me were invaluable and my lifelong love affair with the ups-and -downs of training began with him.

Today, I share my life with three Shelties (Remy, Gatsby, and Clint) who compete regularly in AKC agility, obedience, and conformation and occasionally dabble in new adventures as time allows.  I also have two cats, Isabel and Bernadette, who are not especially interested in being trained but enjoy keeping my bed warm and snuggling on rainy mornings 😉

My primary goal for this blog is to provide helpful, accurate behavior and training information for dog owners in an easily accessible way.  I want to address some of the common questions and concerns that my clients have about their dogs – everything from normal puppy problems, to aggression issues, to reducing anxiety at the vet’s office.  I will also try to shed some light on some of the more difficult topics and dilemmas we encounter in our profession, including behavioral euthanasia, risk factors and safety concerns with behavior problems, and when to consider rehoming a pet.

I’m excited to start this journey, and I hope you’ll feel free to join me!  If you have questions or topics that you would like to see covered, let me know and I will do my best to include them.

10 thoughts on “An Introduction

  1. Thank you for doing this. Willie is doing good. Coming to training classes was very good for both of us. Thank you for what you do.

    1. Willie is a great little dog – we loved having him in class!! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting 🙂

  2. Where do you offer the puppy kindergarten classes? I have a youngster who needs some school.

    1. I’m in Huntington, WV – feel free to sign up if you’re in our area! If not, you may be able to find a good reward-based trainer close to you who offers puppy kindergarten – check with your vet for recommendations 🙂

  3. Excited to read more of your blog. Would love to know if it is possible to train a “gun shy” dog for bird hunting. We rescued a lab at the age of 2 from a family who did not use her for that and she shows the natural instinct, but is horribly gun shy. We absolutely love her as our family pet, just wondering if there is hope we can train her for hunting.

    1. There are definitely ways of improving noise phobias in adult dogs – whether or not she is able to improve to the degree that she could be a happy, confident hunting dog depends somewhat on her personality and how stable she is in general, but would certainly be worth a try!

      Generally speaking, the approach to working on any kind of specific fear like this is to find a way to expose her to the sound of a gunshot at very low levels – either very far off in the distance, or on a CD or sound file that you could play in the house and adjust the volume as needed. Pair the faint sound of a gunshot with a delicious treat – as soon as she notices the sound, praise and toss her a hot dog. Over time, as long as she’s comfortable, you can gradually increase the proximity and/or the volume of the gunshot sound.

      I would recommend finding a good reward-based trainer in your area to work with on this, if possible – it’s definitely easier with some hands-on guidance! Best of luck with your girl 🙂

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