Born in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in a small town called Newberry, Brittany was raised in nature. Camping, fishing and hiking were daily activities that Brittany was lucky enough to enjoy. Living so close to nature helped her passion for animals develop. Her entire childhood her family had dogs and cats. But it wasn’t until she turned 19 that her passion turned into more. It was at this time Brittany bought her first dog as an adult. Boa came into the picture as a bouncy, bubbly and happy 8 week old German Shepherd Dog. Within the first few months, Brittany sought the help of a dog trainer to make sure Boa was properly socialized and well-behaved. She found an in-home based trainer named Jonathan Brinkley in central Ohio to help. After months of training Boa to an extremely high standard of on and off leash obedience, it was suggested that Brittany look into becoming a trainer herself. After doing some research, she signed up for National K9 School for Dog Trainers in Columbus, Ohio.
After graduating National K9 School for Dog Trainers and becoming a Certified Professional Trainer, Brittany moved to Tucson, Arizona and began her new life. In December 2008 she opened up a small in-home dog training business. Within two and a half years the business grew large enough to open a small training facility in central Tucson. Four months later the business expanded into a 4,000 square foot training, dog day care and boarding center. Within a year another expansion occurred that opened up a 2,500 square foot agility room to give more variety and training options to the residents of Tucson.
In 2013, Brittany closed the doors to her Tucson based facility and headed to Northern California. Brittany was hired on as the Training Manager for a large boarding and day care facility to grow the training department. Within nine months of employment, she had over doubled the revenue from the previous year, taken the department from one part-time trainer to three full-time trainers and grew the list of services offered exponentially.
Once finished in California, Brittany headed back to Tucson to continue offering her services to Pima County.
From the time Brittany started training dogs, she has held a strong belief that continued education is a top priority. She has studied under many world-renowned trainers and continues her learning from all the great dogmen and dogwomen she can. On top of attending other schools, seminars and workshops, she believes strongly in supporting other trainers by hosting them to teach.
Brittany has a strong commitment to maintaining integrity in the dog training world and supports all methods of humane training, including the use of training tools. Her support and membership of the International Association of Canine Professionals is a testament to this mission. She is also an active opposer of Breed Specific Legislation and has a long history of work within the rescue community taking in shelter dogs for training and rehabilitation.
Becoming the dog trainer I am today wasn’t an easy journey and it is still evolving to this day. I learned many hard lessons that shaped my views on animal behavior and ultimately guided me to the path I am on today. The question always comes up, “how did you become a dog trainer”? Well, the story behind that is one that many dog owners can relate to. It begins with myself and a problem dog.
“I learned many hard lessons that shaped my views on animal behavior…”
One day I went to the local mall, walked by a pet store, saw the cutest puppy and couldn’t resist the impulse purchase. Michelob is my, now 12 year old, Jack Russell Terrier. Little did I know then, he would start me on a journey that shaped my passion to help guide owners into a better life and understanding with their dogs. Not knowing the appropriate way to purchase, let alone raise a puppy, I ended up with a dog that had a very nervous and fearful temperament. Because my dog was displaying these behaviors, I tried to act as any caring and compassionate owner would by loving my dog and showering him with hugs, kisses and affection anytime he showed distress or anxiety. As my dog’s behaviors worsened, I was at a loss of how to help him. All I seemed to be doing was enabling these negative and dangerous behaviors.
“I tried to act as any caring and compassionate owner would by loving my dog and showering him with hugs, kisses and affection anytime he showed distress or anxiety.”
I decided that I needed to help my dog. I began looking into training techniques and found myself using a method of training that consisted of using a ton of food and the mentality that I should NEVER tell my dog “no”. After a long period of time, I realized there was something missing from this conversation, as the root of Michelob’s stressful behaviors were left unaddressed and intensified! I dreaded one day I may come home and find my dog dead because of the massive amounts of anxiety that he suffered from. I felt helpless watching my dog go through this and not knowing how to help him.
“I realized there was something missing from this conversation…”
Once again, I took action and dug deeper into researching other methods of behavior and training techniques. I realized that I was missing a HUGE component of my language with Michelob. By only sharing one half of the information with him, only telling him when he did right, I was missing the other half of the conversation. I needed to give him all of the information to make him successful. By providing feedback on every end of the spectrum, guiding him to understand what is acceptable and unacceptable, I was allowing him to gain clearer knowledge on every behavior he was displaying. Because I wasn’t telling him something was unacceptable, he was unsure of that missing piece of information. The clarity that he was given when I started to communicate in the full spectrum of behaviors was undeniable. The reality was, the guidance he needed was to say “no”. Once he understood that, then I could share the “yes’s” with him. In his mind, it was like we were playing the hot and cold game, but I was only telling him about the “hot”. Imagine the frustration that would ensue with only partial pieces of information.
“In his mind, it was like we were playing the hot and cold game, but I was only telling him about the “hot”.”
My dog’s story of behavior rehabilitation is like that of many others. Only, my dog’s story didn’t just change him, but also changed me. I had to change the way I loved my dog in order to help him. How I thought I was loving my dog and how he truly needed to be loved were completely different sentiments. The first was a love of only emotion and not looking at the whole picture. I was acting on emotions that weren’t rational. Once we got past that hurdle, I was able to love my dog in a way that was healthy. I was able to give him the mental, physical and then emotional support he needed to sustain a balanced and calm life. I had to change myself and the way I thought about and viewed the relationship with my dog. I was a dog owner who loved my dog, but I didn’t know how to properly love him.
“My dog’s story didn’t just change him, but also changed me.”
Since then, I have gone on to a raise the bar and learn as much as I can about dog training and rehabilitation. I have graduated from working with world-renowned rehabilitation trainer, Duke Ferguson of Unleashed Potential. I am a dedicated Associate Member of the International Association of Canine Professional (IACP) and attended the IACP 2014 Conference. This conference boasted many amazing speakers and a variety of dog training related subjects in which I had the pleasure of learning from; Duke Ferguson, Michael Ellis, Ted Efthymiadis, George Cockrell, Tyler Muto, and many more.