Thanks for all of your info and videos, etc. You really went above and beyond putting a lot down in words and sharing a lot with us personally even.It’s so great to see how you’ve created a business out of this wonderful gift – service dogs. And it is truly a gift. And for those who are blessed to be able to have them as part of their lives making a difference helping them do things they can’t do themselves and be successful in ways they couldn’t on their own, it’s a miracle – and you are a part of that.
You are an amazing person. I just wanted to say that – as a completely side note separate from me and Toby, etc.And I do believe Toby and I will be successful and I am committed.
As a long-time dog owner who has worked with many dogs and trainers in the past, I have to say that the services Alex provides is nothing short of exceptional.
I adopted Rudy last July 2019 as a companion dog, with the goal of training to do therapy work. When I first got him, he was everything I was looking for: calm and easy going, responsive and eager to learn, great with all different types of people and animals, and adaptive to different environments. Then, about 3 months later . . . he started demonstrating some hypervigilance and fear-based reactivity. The best decision I ever made was scheduling a comprehensive evaluation, and engaging in individual sessions!
I am relieved and excited to say that with ongoing daily training/socialization, Rudy is starting to return to his happy-go-lucky self, but I have no doubt this would not be the case without Alex. Their clarity and attunement to Rudy’s strengths and challenges, skillfulness in breaking down larger goals into specific training exercises, calm but enthusiastic presence, and genuine care and kindness throughout in guiding my process with Rudy has been invaluable.
Although it is yet unclear whether Rudy has the desire and traits needed to succeed in a therapy dog role, I feel much more confident in my ability and skill set to help Rudy work through his adolescence (and potential rescue dog baggage), all the while increasing our communication and deepening our bond.
Thank you so much, and looking forward to continued individual sessions and classes!
Katie contacted Sharon for Day School for her puppy, Greyson. He was making good progress in his training.
Then, the COVID pandemic hit. Since Katie and Greyson both had foundation skills, we were able to switch to both outdoor lessons (for leash manners, stranger reactivity, and working around distractions) as well as virtual lessons (for foundations in down-stay, leave it, ring a bell to go out, and getting Greyson comfortable with grooming clippers).
After Katie and Greyson’s first virtual lesson, she said…
I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I didn’t think it would be that effective, but I thought it went great!
Having the video to watch as a playback is great to watch and see the correction Sharon is giving in detail afterwards. So for the future I don’t do the same thing and need to be corrected on that piece. As so much of dog training is also truly owners training. I really enjoyed it.
Comments from SL:
It’s a great class! We are loving it.
The best part of class for me is…
Working around other dogs. Seeing his confidence build
Comments from KG:
The best part of class for me is…
Reassurance I am doing good with my dog
Comments from TE:
I’m so happy with all we are learning
The best part of class for me is…
Just learning all the steps to teaching my dog correctly
A great class I have learned a lot and will continue to work with my dog
Hope you had a nice holiday! Molly and I spent a few days at my Mom’s house. Really good update 🙂
I was able to use both my Mom and sister for some good reps of the distraction training games we played during our lesson and she did excellent! And then, we had a night where my aunt and uncle came over which usually would have sent her over the top- but I was ready having prepped her with some reps of the “break, say hi” exercise before they came and OMG what a difference! She did amazing!
It was almost unlike her because she was SOOO focused on me that she almost wouldn’t even say hi to them, but that is honestly such an improvement for her that I will take that because I honestly NEVER thought that would be possible for her! She was always out of control with excitement when people came over, especially people like my aunt and uncle who are essentially “new” because she rarely sees them so that is extra exciting to her. I was amazed!
I honestly NEVER thought that would be possible for her!
I started holding off treats a bit more to get her to engage more with them in order to see if she would say hi longer- she ended up being able to at times but each time I was still able to call her right back to me! I’m like still in shock lol! And because my uncle is a very loud and extroverted type of character which is especially overstimulating to Molly and she still did amazing!
Also, today back in Boston, we went out on a walk and I used the “click for noticing you exist” technique and basically did a combo of both click/treat for any attention/even turn of the head towards me as well as completely stopping as soon as she got too far ahead. Doing this as well as I think the prep-work of all the exercises we have done around people-distractions resulted in a SUPER loose-leash walk with zero need for the Gentle Leader! She wanted to stay near me and I only had to employ a full stop a few times.
I also found that even in more populated areas where I would usually have to rein her in on a shorter leash due to her tendency to just randomly pick out people that she believes are clearly waiting on the sidewalk for her arrival and/or people talking/laughing loudly and then just walk straight up to them- but today I noticed that due to all the games we had been playing she now is giving ME the attention instead and there was no need to hold her close on leash! Thank you SOOOOO much—you are amazing! Just one lesson and so much improvement! I mean, I will give Molly some of the credit hahaha, she is a smart cookie and has always learned so fast.
Just one lesson and so much improvement!
But wow, this has been what I knew I needed all along but never had another person to do it with- I knew I needed another person to set up these people-distraction practice scenarios like we did in our lesson to teach her the foundations of what I needed her to know when out on the street, but I just never had another person to do that with. Even my Mom, I had asked her so many times and she would say yes but then never was “available” so I think even having her in lessons with us and just her commitment to this in general is now making her want to be more involved and motivated to actually do so. Thank you!!
What a MAJOR difference working with you has been compared to the nightmare of the last service dog program…
Anyways, what I want to add is just what a MAJOR difference working with you has been compared to the nightmare of the last service dog program/scam we went through. From our first meeting even, I remember driving home with my Mom and we couldn’t stop talking about all the differences! I kept saying things like, “and the fact that she even has all those worksheets! And that she even WANTS to talk to my therapist! And that she understands PTSD and CARES enough to want to know what my signs and triggers are when working with me!” I was just shocked, seriously, because the last program had NONE of this. Your worksheets on dog training were well beyond their knowledge and also well beyond the basic time/caring that they spent on their clients/dogs.
Like the fact that you spent time making the client portal and making those sheets and that you KNOW all that stuff- those people had zero training worksheets to give us, no knowledge on training to even tell us beyond just demonstrating a few of the same things every time we saw them with the same demo dog that over time we came to notice was just abused and overly fearful of this man (came out later from several families that the demo dog had actually bitten their children on visits to the kennel, UGH). They also not even once asked to speak nor even write to my therapist, nor even asked me to fill out any worksheets on my disability!
I immediately felt comfortable with you because there is a true level of empathy
You are so incredibly thorough in understanding the person, and I immediately felt comfortable with you because there is a true level of empathy there because this is something you have gone through yourself. I think that really helped me feel comfortable too. Throughout everything so far, you have been so incredibly kind and patient with me and have put me at ease. I can tell that you genuinely want to help me and Molly and that you care about doing whatever you can to help us succeed. Usually with most people, I feel too judged and anxious to work with them on something like this, especially when it involves me performing tasks in front of them. So the fact that I feel I can do it with you says a lot.
As compared to the other program I went to and I’m sure even “good” programs but ones that are just big factories of service dogs that spit out tons of dogs a year, I think that working one on one with someone like you that actually understands and makes such an effort to get to know all aspects of me and Molly’s life together and my disability, I think makes such a difference and I think ultimately is what will set me up for the best success in the long-term.
You go above and beyond by doing things like making accommodations for my disability to make things easier/work better for me such as filming the lessons so I can review them later or working with me to come up with specific ways that I can manage communication to the public about her since that is something I struggle with (the last place never gave me cards like the ones you just emailed me! So thoughtful and helpful- the difference between this and the last place is just so profound and such a welcome relief to me and my Mom that it’s hard to describe in words, we finally feel like we are in the right hands and can relax!). I’m so grateful and happy to have found you and to finally not feel alone in this process!
Hi Sharon,Thank you for your presentation yesterday. I found it very informative and helpful. I teach Basic Manners and Puppy Kindergarden group classes as well as offer private day training in Reno, NV and have been approached by a client with a disability to look into setting up an Owner-Trained Service Dog training club with her. This project is on hold while she trains her own service dog and we will discuss again once her energy level allows. She trained her previous service dog through a group in Utah but that group disbanded. I’m not sure I would want to re-constitute that group as I think the training methods were often aversive. I felt so lucky when your webinar popped up and that you are a KPA-CTP! I knew it was going to be quality info. Your presentation was very helpful and I especially liked learning more about how important it is to screen owners to make sure they get the support they need and help owners understand the work involved. The quiz and poll were delightful and engaging. Thanks, again.I’m sharing your contact info with my client and will encourage her to reach out if she needs more than I can provide as a pet dog trainer. I just wanted to reach out and say thank you and let you know that one or both of us might be reaching out in the future if the project moves forward.Best,BevBeverly Lassiter, BA, CPDT-KA
AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator
Barn Hunt JudgeHead Over Heels
Owner and Lead Trainer
Cassie contacted At Your Service for help with her puppy, Bodhi, a future service-dog-in-training.
Sharon, your visit really opened my eyes big time! I am really thankful for your visit. So, even taking a small few steps in a day has changed my relationship with Bodhi a ton. Outside he did well with prevention. In the morning, I use a comand “sit, down” and, he doesn’t get attention unless he is down, and calm. I have my clicker ready and, treats. So, I am working on controling the jumping that caused the port to dislodge. Bodhi needs to go out BEFORE I even infuse. Today, his crate was dry all day and, that was great! He is really doing much better because I feel more in control and, more capable with the skills to stay on top of things. I had no idea how much work this would be but, I realize, I must keep Bodhi busy and, use prevention with positive reinforcement in order for him to be happy and, healthy emotionally. The same goes for Taboo and,Casey. And..me. This kind of training is non-agressive and, is perfect for my dog. With Lyme people constantly judge me. One moment I can walk, the next I am falling that is judged. So, I started to lose confidence in US. I am so thankful that you helped us, I will be in touch. And, I feel a lot better about my ability to care for Bodhi. I can do a good job. I did not have the tools when you arrived however, I feel I am now on the right track with him and our pack. People are complicated. Dogs are not. It is hard to learn how to be uncomplicated and more like Bodhi. I think I can though. Thank-you Sharon. Sincerely, Cassie, Bodhi, Casey,Taboo
You helped us a lot. You know a ton about dog behavior and, service dog training. I did not know what I would learn or, what you had to offer as advice. I used to work with dogs for a living and have thought I had “seen it all” and, have seen other forms of training too. I was surprised that their was so much information I learned about dog behavior I have been now able to add to my knowledge. But more importantly, you were kind to us, explained things to me in a way I could understand, did not judge me despite that having occured in many other places in my life. It is hard having a “stranger” over (any new person), but, when you arrived, it was like mary poppins for dogs and, although my day was rough, it was a good feeling that I was doing right by Bodhi and, I did not feel my ussual nervousness as your form of training brings positivity into the home, and the “energy” feels different. I began to feel empowered and, Bodhi is happy. You really know your stuff. Anyone anxious about inviting a trainer to their home could know, with you if they feel that way, they need you to come visit. Please post our testimonial if it would help others. Thanks again, Cassie, Casey, Taboo, Bodhi
Cynthia Hinckley from Bright Spot Therapy Dogs here…..
I’ve been meaning to email you since I attended your talk at AA several weeks ago. I thoroughly enjoyed your talk and all the information you offered the group. I feel very fortunate now that I have a highly qualified person I can refer folks to who email me asking about getting or training a therapy dog for themselves or other family member, when they really need a service dog.
Just the other day, we were holding a Bright Spot Therapy Dog event at Western New England University where a woman asked me about therapy dog training for her autistic son…. happily, I was able to refer them to you.
Nice to hear that you will be offering classes now at AA. That’s terrific!
All the best,
[Note: AA here stands for Animal Alliances. Not the other well-known AA. -Sharon]
I just wanted to say thank you for everything you’ve done so far with me and Nova. Wednesday was the first time we’d ever been in a situation that big and it was definitely scary for me. I was fairly convinced it would be too much for Nova and this would be the end. But she sure proved me wrong! I was amazed with how well she did, it really felt like a turning point for us. That was the first time she performed her pressure task for me (by laying on my legs) in public and it was wonderfully helpful. I ended up really enjoying the class instead of the anxiety fest I was expecting! I’m excited to take her to Montreal now.
Thanks again for everything!
Pam contacted me to help with training her Chinook puppy, Jedi, to be a future service dog. Here’s her email after our consultation and first lesson.
Hello and HAPPY NEW YEAR!
We have been doing our best to do everything that we discussed. We do zen every day, and we’re having a lot of fun with it. I will be making a working chart this weekend to ensure that we get our homework done.
I loved working with you, and I look forward to working with you in the future. Thank you very much for your help with Jedi. I think with the two of us working with him, and a little doggie daycare with help there, that he will be a wonderful wonderful service dog and companion.
We will keep you posted as we move forward. Thank you for coming to the Cape to work with us!
Pam & Jedi