Will Brunz, KPA CTP, owns and runs Columbia Mountain Kennels (CMK) along with his wife, Andrea. Now a positive-only trainer, dog-sport competitor, and pet owner, for many years he was an aversive trainer. Will’s wife Andrea launched him on the clicker training path by opting for that sort of training with her new puppy. Initially, Will scoffed, believing that positive training would not work consistently with high-drive working dogs. It was while he was researching for information to support his anti-positive-training position that Will first heard about Karen Pryor Academy (KPA) and the Dog Trainer Professional (DTP) program. “The more I tried to prove her [Andrea] wrong, the more I knew that it was me who was misinformed,” remembers Will.
Completing the DTP course in March of 2017, Will studied with Terry Ryan in Sequim, Washington. Traveling 12 hours each way from his home in Montana to and from the hands-on training workshops was a challenge, but Will says, “It was so worth every trip.” Changing his default training paradigm was also difficult for Will. “Terry’s mentoring, guidance, cheerleading, and tough love helped me believe I could get through the program.”
At the Columbia Mountain Kennels boarding kennel and daycare facility, launched in 2013, positive training is always the choice—for leveled basic training, scent work, shed hunting, tracking, therapy work, agility, and more. Will reports that clients often remark that their “dogs come home calmer and better behaved.” With that realization, clients are open to becoming more immersed in the training process and to “creating that same level of calm in their everyday home lives.” Will channels Terry Ryan’s “never-ending support and willingness to help that really made a huge impact” on him in his interactions with clients.
On a typical day, Columbia Mountain Kennels has 30-50 dogs on the premises (only 11 dogs live with Will and Andrea at their home close to Glacier National Park!). Will believes that his KPA background helps him, and others who work at CMK, understand “why dogs do the things they do.” He says, “We are able to care for aggressive, reactive, fearful, and unaltered dogs that others in the area can’t or won’t.” Will is always looking to provide the first or only positive experience these animals have had, “even though they have issues.”