We have two dogs. When we brought Calvin (our second dog) home from the shelter, he had no manners at all. He was so excited by his ball that he’d jump up and bite the hand of whichever family member was holding one. After he was too rough with my son, I decided to look into training classes sooner, rather than later. With our first dog (Maggie), we attended training at a pet store, and we weren’t really very happy with how our pet was taught there: the trainer at the store encouraged some negative reinforcement techniques and I wasn’t very comfortable with that. So when we adopted Calvin, I was considering looking at other options.
I was familiar with Allie’s Walkabout, and I saw that they had classes there, so I contacted their trainer, Jim Devenny. He spoke with me at length about Calvin and the troubles we were seeing with him. He gave me some information about working with Calvin right there on the phone, before I even registered for a class. I was struck by his knowledge and his compassion for dogs, and I was happy to hear that he never recommends hurtful training methods. We began attending classes right away, and we saw a lot of improvement in Calvin very quickly!
Shortly after we began classes, our first dog, Maggie, became reactive about some of the dog toys and we started having some fights at home. After a particularly bad fight, I contacted Jim because I didn’t know how to handle it, and I was terrified for their safety. Jim came over to the house to visit the dogs in their own environment, and again gave us information to help curb that behavior right away. He even invited us to bring Maggie to classes to help socialize her a bit more. I’m happy to say that we haven’t had a single problem with them since we began implementing his suggestions.
I’ve been working with Jim for nearly six months now, and I am continually struck by his kindness and patience, both with dogs and with their owners. When I talk about him to others, I really do call him the dog whisperer, because I’ve seen him work miracles with dogs that were terrified or very reactive. I appreciate that he moves you through different levels of training as you and your dog are ready – even though you’re working in a class environment, he handles each dog and owner individually.
One of the reasons I had chosen to take Maggie for training at the pet store was because I was afraid that working with any other trainer wouldn’t be an affordable option for us. As I’ve been working with Jim, I’ve found that, not only are his classes affordable, but he goes above and beyond for his students. He visited our home without charging me, just because he was truly concerned about our dogs. He stays after class to answer questions. He allows his students to attend earlier levels of training whenever they want, so when I feel like our dogs need extra practice, we just drop in. There have been many weeks when I’ve attended as many as 4 classes with one or both of the dogs.
I STRONGLY recommend talking to Jim and attending his classes if you have a dog. It doesn’t matter if you have a new puppy or an older dog with some bad behaviors… you’ll leave class with a better understanding of your dog and with practical strategies to train him/her. Our nearly unmanageable Calvin AND our reactive Maggie are now both training to be service dogs, which are successes that I completely attribute to Jim and his training!