Providence area dog training experts give tips
Check Angie's List to find the best dog trainers in your area. (Photo courtesy of Marilyn Whicker)
Who we talked to
Jenny Dickinson, owner
Tara Valletta, owner
Sophie's Dog House
Jeff Gellman, owner
Solid K9 Training
What services do you offer?
Jenny Dickinson: "I go to people's homes and help them with their dog problems. Aggression is my specialty. I work one- on-one with families."
Tara Valletta: "I offer in-home dog training. I offer pet sitting, dog walking, vacation services and pet taxi services."
Jeff Gellman: "I do four different things: dog training, behavioral modification, household management and an exercise program."
Why should people hire an animal trainer?
Jenny Dickinson: "It's enormously worth while to make your relationship with your dog the best you can."
Tara Valletta: "By having a dog in the household we're asking them to conform to a lifestyle they wouldn't normally have."
Jeff Gellman: "Something might be new to a client, but we've seen it hundreds of times, so we know what to do."
What methods of training do you use?
Jenny Dickinson: "I use food and a lot of work with the leash. But I'm not strictly positive reinforcement."
Tara Valletta: "I use positive reinforcement. It's using types of different motivations to gain the dogs attention and voluntarily offer positive behavior."
Jeff Gellman: "I'm a correction-based trainer, which people who aren't educated think that's being mean. But it's the opposite. Dogs are looking for leadership."
How do you charge, and what is the cost?
Jenny Dickinson: "I have to take into account where people live. My least expensive fee is $75. It goes up according to mileage and hours."
Tara Valletta: "It ranges depending on what the service is. It can go anywhere from $50 for one session, all the way up to $400 or $600 for six to eight-week sessions."
Jeff Gellman: "It runs anywhere from $100 to $175 an hour. I'm one of the more expensive dog trainers, but I travel the country learning about dogs."
What's one helpful training tip you can offer?
Jenny Dickinson: "Assume when the dog makes a mistake, he's confused. Don't assume he's being disobedient."
Tara Valletta: "The most important elements are consistency, patience and physical and mental stimulation."
Jeff Gellman: "If you have a badly behaved dog, whatever you're doing is going to have to change. Be ready for change."
Do you own any pets?
Jenny Dickinson: "I have four dogs, three cats and fish. I have a curly coated retrievers."
Tara Valletta: "Sophie is my only dog. She is a Boston terrier. She just turned 5."
Jeff Gellman: "I've got two German shepherds, a chihuahua and a shepherd-pit bull mix. Their names are Bella, Max, Uma and Coco."