I have had the pleasure of working with Natalie at BARK training for 5 one-hour training sessions over about 6 weeks. The dog I was needing help with had a few specific behavioural issues. The main ones were restlessness in the house along with stealing things (including counter-surfing) and whining when he wanted to go out even when he had just been out, barking repeatedly when he wanted something, and bolting and strong on-leash pulling when he saw potential prey like squirrels and rabbits on a walk. The dog was a rescue whom I had had for about one month when I had my first meeting with Natalie. Natalie provided helpful general information about behaviours expected of rescue dogs over their first few weeks of being in a new home and about the main types of training and what they achieve. After that, I decided to book a package of 4 lessons. Natalie made great use of each hour. It is remarkable what she managed to cover and still check that you have understood. She is happy to answer questions after a session, as well. At each session, there was always a check-in with confirmation of how things were going and some feedback on the issues I was finding. Then she explained the basis of the dog's behaviour using analogies from human responses to similar situations. This would be followed by a description and demonstration of the training method to be done and then I would practise it with the dog. Natalie explained clearly, using words and drawings as well as the demonstrations, and provided clear and encouraging feedback to me. There are no harsh methods or punishment of the dog involved. It is remarkable to see what can be accomplished with physical and verbal cues and positive reinforcement. In between the sessions, I worked on the training every day. Since much of what I needed to do related to how he behaved on the leash, it was natural and easy to put in up to 4 sessions a day.
"While some of the progress we made may have been just from the dog becoming more settled with me over time, I think most can be attributed to applying the methods that Natalie taught me. Two months after our first session, the dog has become much more relaxed. While he still pulls and gets excited if we get too close to a prey animal before seeing it, he has gradually become much better at observing squirrels from a distance, for example, without always frantically wanting to chase after them. Most of the time he is walking loose-leash or I'm hurrying him along! His demand barking is now limited, for the most part, to occasions when he really needs to go out, and he is much less restless overall. I've kept the paper over the lower part of the windows, though, which I did so he is not tempted to spend his time watching out for wildlife and getting riled up. Thanks to Natalie and her well-defined, gentle, clear and consistent approach, I've learned some valuable things about dog behaviour, why dogs respond to things the way they do and ways to modify their response which I'll be able to make use of going forward.