My Name Is... Sandra Elvenholl

Dog behaviorist works on major issues with clients’ pets

Posted 1/7/19

‘Fancy dog trainer’ Bascially I’m a fancy dog trainer. I got started by training my own dog on an agility course in my front yard. People would walk by and be amazed at how well-behaved my dog …

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My Name Is... Sandra Elvenholl

Dog behaviorist works on major issues with clients’ pets

Posted

‘Fancy dog trainer’

Bascially I’m a fancy dog trainer. I got started by training my own dog on an agility course in my front yard. People would walk by and be amazed at how well-behaved my dog was. I’d offer advice, and eventually I went into business for myself.

When you talk about dog training, normally you’re referring to teaching a dog to sit, stay and so on. Behaviorists, however, work on issues like aggression, fear, and more serious behavior issues a family might encounter.

A bag of tricks

The majority of my clients come to me with dogs that are very young or getting old. There’s a wide range of issues: potty training, chewing and biting, jumping on people, leash aggression and more.

I’ve got a bag of tricks. No one approach will work for every dog. It’s important to get to know the dog — what drives them? Then I learn about the family and what their dynamics are like. The family can speak for themselves, but the dog can only speak to me in body language.

Who’s training who?

You’ve heard people say the owner is often the problem. That can be true, but when you’re working with puppies for example, there’s a lot they still need to learn. It’s important to train dogs’ owners too, though.

Sometimes the problem is simply a bad match between dogs and their owners. Say a second dog is adopted into a family with an older dog, and they don’t get along. If I believe it’s a bad arrangement, my advice might be to rehome one of the dogs. If that’s not an option, I try to explain to the family what their lives will be like, and what approaches they can use to at least make the situation tolerable.

Hang in there

One of my tough cases was a lady whose dog was so leash aggressive that she just stopped taking him out. If he couldn’t attack other dogs, he would just lash out at his owner. It was pretty severe, but the owner persevered, and now her dog is much better. I was really proud.

My advice to owners of difficult dogs is to have lots of patience. Find somebody you trust to work with. It’s not a straight line from start to finish — there are ups and downs in between. See it through.

If you have suggestions for My Name Is, please contact David Gilbert at dgilbert@coloradocommunitymedia.com

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