At Way of Life™ Dog Training, I draw on more than 15 years of diverse experiences with dogs. As an academic by training, I have a curious mind and I love research. So, when I faced hard challenges with my dog, Maya, I dove deep into a theoretical and practical study of all things canine. That study soon became a passion, and that passion revealed itself to be a calling.
While the journey began with my effort to heal Maya, it has expanded since to include volunteer work with rescue and shelter dogs (walking and fostering), boarding challenging dogs, and working through new challenges with more dogs of my own. Along the way, I found mentors who could steer me in the right direction.
Chief among them is Sam Malatesta (Who’s The Dog), who taught me almost everything I know about the human-canine bond. For a decade, he took me under his wing and mentored me to my bones.
I also credit my holistic vet, the late Dr. Sharon Kopinak (Talking Horse Farm), for teaching me to become a self-reliant caregiver and appreciate the links between a dog’s diet, health, and behaviour. I also learned a lot about how to comport myself around all kinds of animals, as I observed Sharon vetting fearful cats, touchy dogs, and flighty horses.
From my trainer in herding, Kathy Warner (Tee Creek Dog Training), I learned to hone the dogs’ drives and test my relationship with them in the presence of prey animals. Kathy’s unique approach to herding focuses on “intent,” meaning the energy produced by our minds and our bodies. More than once, I got to see how intent made a difference in how I handled dogs inside and outside the herding arena.
More recently, I’ve been expanding my sport interest to competition-style obedience, scent work, protection, and building drive and discipline in tandem, training with Chris Rolox (Gemini K9) and Rob Kirkwood (Progressive K9).
You can probably tell that I love canine sports. In my early career as a dog handler, performance in sport was a proxy for relationship. Over time, I have come to use sport in the service of relationship. Engaging in sport tests and elevates relationships, provided strong foundations exist.
My life outside of the dog world has also prepared me well for this work. For starters, I studied dance (albeit reluctantly!) for many years and then continued to pursue fitness. This has given me a strength and fluidity that supports skilled handling of dogs of all kinds.
As an academic with expertise in management and organizational behaviour, I am well-versed in the behavioural theories that undergird mainstream dog training. For nearly 25 years, I have researched the critical area of work-life balance exploring the challenges people face juggling their responsibilities, including those towards their animals.
Academic life has shaped my identity, keeping me focused on mindset rather than technique. In fact, as a scientist, I am well positioned to be skeptical of any training approach or technique branded as science.
Today, my goal is to share all that I’ve learned about the human-canine bond with people who are passionate about dogs – people just like you!
Uncovering the dynamics of relationship requires that we start with deep conversations and from there, I can help you build the kind of relationship that I know you and your dog are both longing for.
Is this approach right for you? Many people are content with basic obedience classes; they have no desire to explore the deepest potential of their relationship with their dog.
If you sense there is something more – something absolutely magical – about the human-canine bond, I can guide you to discover it. You will need to be inquisitive, patient, open-minded, and above all, passionate about doing the work.
Together, I know we can make it happen.
Resonate with my style of training? I'd love to chat with you about whatever goals you have for your canine!