I am what people call a cross over trainer. When I started working with dogs in the 1980s the only techniques that were prevalent were to say the least aversive Choke chains, prong collars, shock collars.
Helicoptering, hanging and shutting down dogs were all normal and accepted because quite frankly that's all most people had seen done. It was a sad time for dogs. Some trainers still do this abuse today. But just a short 10 years later positive training was making a name for itself. I, like most traditional trainers spoke out (loudly) about why you couldn't use these techniques for dogs and how it would never teach reliable behaviors. Many of us would claim that while they might work for trick there is no way you could help a dog with real aggression issues.
After a few years of spouting out how ridiculous positive training was I decided it was time to do something about it. I set off to prove once and for all it didn't work. So I learned about these techniques. I learned what a clicker is (and no it doesn't make the dog do anything unlike what I had previously thought). I learned about reinforcement rates and criteria. Then I trained a dog using just these techniques. What I found surprised me. So I trained another dog....and another...and another. By the time I worked with the 10th dog I started to realize what many before had discovered. It worked. Not only did it work but the training time was faster, the dogs would work for longer periods of time and they actually loved it.
So after years of being an expert I was an apprentice once again. In order to help people and train dogs I had to relearn everything.
After a few years of doing positive training, I started doing more clicker training. Then added shaping, another amazing discovery.
It was then I realized what an idiot I sounded like for all of those years. I was trying to disprove a scientifically proven technique. One that was used in the 1960s to train cats and dogs to spy for the CIA.
Off leash. In foreign countries. One that when the Guide Dogs of Northern CA finally decided to implement cut their training time in half while raising their pass rate which never went about 55% went up to 86%.
So now I learn, I learn a lot and often. I attend about 100 hours a year of continuing education. This has been every year since 2003. When I think about how little I used to do as a traditional trainer and how sure I was of myself and what I was doing, I shudder. Not only do I work with dogs but I work with other species. Whale, hawk, tortoise, chickens. Trust me, you don't need more force to train a dog to heel or stop barking at people or dogs then you need to train a whale to pee in a cup(yes that is a thing)
I consider myself to be one of the lucky people that from a young age has gotten to work in a field that I love. I started by volunteering at a shelter. Their trainers trained me. Then I took on clients and worked with all types but mostly people that wanted nice family pets or dogs that had serious aggression issues. With rescue groups I fostered over 150 dogs, including a dozen or more Great Danes. All of them had behavioral issues that I was able to solve and they all went to great homes. I have worked with the most recognizable group in the US, doing behavior fosters. I owned a doggie day care, pet sitting service, pet supply store, training center. I've done in home training, board and train and taught many people how to be a dog trainer. I was chosen as one of four trainers in the US to do a year long study of the effects simple training has on dogs in shelters. For five years I was luck to be the Director of Behavior and Training at spcaLA. Together with one of our APS officers I designed and present to Law Enforcement Agencies on staying safe around dogs and keeping dogs safe also, which was picked up by the Department of Justice. In 2017 I went to a totally new type of rescue space, Wallis Annenberg PetSpace. There I was able to help great dogs and cats come from the shelter and do into forever homes. And in 2020 I found myself back in Bucks County PA, working at the shelter I adopted my dog at.
At the end of the day I am a dog trainer.
I am here to help people and pets live a great, happy lives in harmony. I am here to help you.
Copyright 2013. Eleasha Gall. All rights reserved.