What is your favorite activity or sport that you do with your own dog(s)?
I love to do nose work or scent detection with my dogs. So much of how dogs see the world is through their noses, so giving them lots of opportunities to use their noses increases their confidence, allows them to experience the world in many ways, and helps to strengthen bonds and communication.
I am particularly passionate about medical and allergen detection. Several of my dogs have been trained to detect Parkinson’s disease as well as to assist people with the disease. I also train dogs to detect gluten. Because gluten is so prevalent in food, hygiene products, household items, and more, for someone with gluten sensitivities, a gluten-detection dog can make a huge difference, preventing or limiting exposure and allowing that person to live a healthier life.
What is your proudest training moment?
My proudest training moment was when Bella passed her first odor-recognition test. I was so nervous, and she was so calm. After she alerted me to the correct odor box, she pranced beside me as we left the room. She looked up at me as if to say, “We did it! That was AWESOME.” I will never forget the look on Bella’s face or the bounce in her step. She was truly happy, seemingly knowing we had done something amazing together.
Who has been your inspiration in the animal training community?
I have had many people in the training community inspire me, but no one more than Terry Ryan. She has become a friend and a mentor since I graduated from KPA. I am so fortunate to call her a friend and to continue to work with her. Every time I am with her, I learn something new about training, encouragement, and observation.
What do you do to continue your training education?
I am constantly looking for opportunities to learn more about dogs, how to make their lives better, and how to help educate humans on ways to improve their lives with dogs. For example, before the pandemic, a big part of my focus when I sent puppies to their new homes was to make sure that the families continued with enrichment and exposure for their puppies. Once the pandemic hit, I knew we would come out the other side with an epidemic of dogs with behavioral issues, especially separation anxiety. So, I began to look for educational opportunities to learn more about, and how to help dogs overcome, separation anxiety. I was fortunate to find a great program and became a certified separation-anxiety trainer.
What is the most important piece of advice you can give to a new trainer?
Train the dog in front of you. Don’t compare that dog to other dogs. Trainers need to modify their methods to suit the students, not the other way around.
If you were a dog, what breed would you be?
I would want to be a Lagotto Romagnolo. They are very intelligent, part human, part goat, part cat, and all love!
Learn more about Pattie through her website and YouTube channel.