Q: How did you come to dog training?
A: Oh boy. That’s a very long story. One that is not really all that unique. I was a child who love animals of all kinds. My childhood was full of catching feral cats, making friends with them and finding them homes. Taking neighbourhood dogs for walks, etc. Pretty typical story when it comes to anyone with animals as their passion in life. When I was older, I started training our first dogs and was hooked. I shadowed a few trainers and took classes from many trainers I respected.
Eventually, I dipped my toes into training in a private in-home setting. I was very selective about cases I would take as I knew I had a lot to learn and I wasn’t going to use others as guinea pigs. I knew what I was good at and stuck to that. I referred other cases to trainers I knew could help. Thankfully, they often asked if I wanted to sit in on the sessions so I could learn more. I didn’t miss a chance to do so.
I dove into study of how animals learn, other trainers’ methods and taking courses. All the while, building my clientele which was strictly via word of mouth.
Here I am, 14 years later and finally getting a presence on social media. I’m not a techie type person so it’s been a real experience… for those I ditch this task on. Lol.
Q: What type of dogs do you train?
A: I have experience in many of the power breeds with aggression issues but I decided about 7 years ago to focus on pet dogs in my efforts to educate owners how to communicate fairly and positively with their dogs so the placement sticks and the common pitfalls can be avoided. I’m all about setting people up for success. I also do private coaching for teams entering sport.
Q: Can you tell us about your puppy program?
A: Of course! I’m very proud of my Puppy Quick Start program. It’s become very popular and having numerous breeders and vets recommending it to their clients is the most amazing compliment I could ever receive. I developed this program to offer education to new owners so they can bypass the typical struggles and mistakes that are often made as they navigate life with a new puppy. If I can reach one family, one dog and guide them to a mutually enjoyable experience living as a family, I feel I’ve made a difference and that’s all I need or want. [click here to learn more about our PQS program].
Q: Sounds like you have a lot of irons in the fire.
A: I wouldn’t be able to do it without the help of my assistant, Kylie Boychuk. She’s multi talented and has been a god send.
Q: I hear you train service dogs as well.
A: Yes, and I have developed an owner-trainer program that is highly effective and successful. We also have a therapy team program for those wishing to enter that philanthropic work. I have many teams working at the UofA hospital and a myriad of other places.
Q: What methods do you ascribe to for training?
A: My number one goal is to show owners how to relate to their dog without being combative. There are all kinds of ways to relate to a dog without becoming confrontational. I am thrilled when I have the opportunity to share those methods with people who want to develop a deep relationship and bond with their dogs.
It’s primarily engagement training. My methods are best described as neither permissive nor compulsory in nature.
It’s all about relationship. I chose the name of my company carefully. I want nothing more than to help owners learn how to build an alliance with their dog.
Q: Do you use treats in your training?
A: I do. In the beginning, lots of treats. But I’m dedicated to the prevention of people becoming walking Pezz dispensers. That’s not necessary. I teach my clients how to gradually reduce the use of treats, introduce other types of rewards and once that alliance is established, the dog is a willing participant. I do believe a dog needs to be “paid” in one form or another. I just doesn’t need to be treats all the time.
Q: What piece of advice would you give to new dog owners?
A: Keep in mind that alliances are built on mutual respect. Focus on what you can bring to the table. What will create a desire in your dog to enter into this relationship with you. We often get swept up in all the ways a dog can make us happy, serve us, give us… whatever. We often neglect to consider the other side. Why would your dog want to enter into a relationship with you? What can you do to provide, serve and enrich their lives? Nothing comes for free: not even the love and devotion of man’s best friend.
Ella is one of Kylie’s Australian Labradoodles, and loves showing off her skills in classes! She thinks people are the best thing ever, and when Kylie is not having Ella show something during the class, Ella will often sneak away to get pets from the students. Ella believes she is the queen of the training facility, and loves to play fetch there since there is so much room to run! Scent detection is Ella’s favourite dog sport, where she has trialed and received her share of ribbons. She is also a therapy dog at the University of Alberta Hospital, where she has fun making everybody feel better! Ella definitely knows how to use her cuteness, but please be aware of her allergy to beef and any other bovine (buffalo, etc) before giving her treats!
We train with a dedicated focus on engagement: when your bond with your dog is mutually rewarding for both dog and owner, it is incredible what you can accomplish. From fun tricks to life saving safety skills, this type of training can achieve it all. Engagement training effectively creates a strong drive in your dog for what he loves most…YOU! This is a process and results in a deep connection between you and your dog that makes skill development easier, more fun and deeply seated. We use treat rewards, toy rewards and the reward of partnership to achieve this deep bond that results from engagement. Our classes are fun for owners and dogs and we celebrate the progress of each team on their own merit. All of our training is based on whole science, is not compulsory or permissive.
What To Bring
- 6 foot leash
- Bait / treat bag with your dog’s favourite treats cut into small pieces
- Indoor shoes are mandatory (sandals, open toed shoes, or open back shoes are not allowed due to safety concerns)
If you miss a class, we usually do not have time to get you caught up during the next class as this takes away from the class time of the other students. It is best to have a private catch up class, it can be arranged with your instructor at $25.00 (plus GST) per missed class. Please contact your instructor as soon as possible to book one. It is sometimes possible to have you attend a different class if there is room and advanced warning is given.
Cost & Payment
All classes are $225.00 (plus GST) and payment is required to hold your spot. Sessions are refundable up to 10 days before classes begin. A $50.00 administrative fee will be charged. Payments can be made by cash, cheque (made out to Twilla Boyce), or e-transfer (please contact for information).