PRINCETON — Dogs and their owners don’t always know how to communicate, but Lisa Wood, positive reinforcement dog trainer at Pet One & Pampered Pet Resort, knows how to help.
Wood grew up around dogs.
“The first pictures of me are with my dad’s Doberman puppies,” she said.
She grew up on a farm and was around working dogs. In school she joined the 4H training club and later became club president.
“When I left high school I knew that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” she said.
She has always wanted to work with animals. She said her interests are constantly changing, but always center around dog training. One day she would like to work as a trainer for film and television.
“I don’t think there will ever be a time when I’m involved in dog training,” she said.
Wood has been at Pet One for a year, but has more than 20 years of training experience. She began a two-year apprenticeship in 1993 with the Columbus, Ohio Police Department. She then lived in New Zealand for 14 years and worked as both a private trainer and in pet retail. In 2010 she moved to Durham, N.C., and was a dog trainer at Petco. A year ago she moved to the area and began working for Pet One.
Wood’s strength as a trainer comes from experience.
“My training methods have changed as I’ve progressed,” she said, adding she has continually evolved as she saw new ways of training.
As a positive reinforcement trainer, Wood focuses on what a dog should do instead of what it shouldn’t. For example, instead of teaching a dog not to jump, teach it to do something else like sitting and giving eye contact.
“It’s about looking for opportunities for the dog to succeed and get the dog excited about learning instead of waiting for him to fail, do the wrong thing and correcting that,” said Wood.
She rotates between treats, toys, praise, affection and access to resources — like sniffing a tree — as rewards during training.
When asked why it is important to train a dog, Wood replied, “The biggest reason dogs are surrendered to shelters are for behavior issues.”
She said a dog who is trained is more likely to stay with a family, to be able to participate in activities with that family and receives enrichment from learning. The mental stimulation from a training session equate to a 45 minute walk for some dogs.
She also said training helps owners and dogs communicate. Giving a command to a dog that doesn’t understand what it is supposed to do can be frustrating for the dog and the owner. Wood said owners often change the meaning of commands — the word “down” can mean anything from “get off the couch” to “don’t jump” — which confuses the dog.
“[Training can begin] when you realize your dog isn’t being defiant, but just doesn’t understand,” she said.
Wood said one of her favorite things about being a trainer is seeing the connection between an owner and their pet when they learn how to communicate.
“It’s that moment when an owner who thinks their dog can’t learn anything sees a dog that is thinking and is engaged and there is relief and a light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.
Wood has not only trained dogs, but guinea pigs, birds and fish. She once taught a baby cockatiel how to dunk a tiny basketball in a net.
Wood said any animal can be trained within their physical abilities.
“You have to be able to motivate them and break it down into small steps,” she said.
At Pet One & Pampered Pet Resort, Wood offers basic to advanced obedience classes, AKC Canine Good Citizen classes, therapy dog prep and several other classes. Training is available through group classes, private lessons — for dogs who do not learn well in a group environment — and 30 minute drop-in sessions, which allow complete flexibility for owners and are tailored to a dog’s specific learning style. Training sessions are also available for dogs in daycare or overnight boarding at Pet One.
Wood also offers private, in-home classes independent of Pet One.
Owners who enroll their furry friends in the puppy, big dog or good citizen classes also receive access to online resources including reading material and videos that they can use during and after the completion of a class.
Pet One is currently under renovation and will no longer be a pet store. Once the remodel is complete, they will cater to dogs with new kennel suites, a play area, larger training space and a dog retail section. During the remodel training classes and daycare/boarding will operate as normal. They have also recently added pet photography packages.
For more information about training at Pet One, visit the Think PAWsitive Pup Facebook page, go to www.pamperedpetone.com or call 304-425-0600 ext 2.
— Contact Jackie Puglisi at firstname.lastname@example.org