In 2014 I got my first dog; a Shiba Inu named Bomba. In the weeks leading up to his arrival I had grandiose visions of what life with my new puppy would be like. I’d been training assistance dogs for a nonprofit since 2008 and I was itching with anticipation to apply all I had learned to my own dog. I imagined us going everywhere together, impressing everyone with how in sync we would be, how well behaved he would be. I felt fully prepared to deal with anything this new pup would throw at me, because I knew I could train the perfect dog.
When Bomba arrived in January 2014 I was devastated.
In his first hour home he shattered all those magnificent visions I had about puppyhood. What was a friendly, outgoing puppy at the breeder’s house became a terrified, anxious, anal-retentive wreck when brought in to a new environment. He was afraid of everything; loud noises, plastic bags, fire hydrants, me. Whenever I went out with him, I didn’t want anyone to know I was a dog trainer because he acted like an abused shelter dog. I was so disappointed and at a loss with what to do with him, I considered returning him to the breeder.
Fast-forward to today, Bomba is with me and has come a long way. He has his CGC, his Novice Rally title, and one leg towards his Rally Advanced title. It was a massive challenge to get him to where he is today (we failed the CGC the first time we took it!). But when he does well, it is so rewarding to me.
After bringing him home I realized how much I enjoyed training difficult dogs. The assistance dogs I worked, I’ve learned, are called by many trainers “EAS’s” (easy as shit). I realized how bored I was with training dogs that were purposely bred to be assistance dogs. Any dogs that didn’t fit the rigorous requirements were released from the program and placed as pets; I never got to fix any real issues. And even the dogs that didn’t cut it were often very biddable and confident.
I learned a lot about problem solving from Bomba. I’ve especially learned how to better train fearful, anxious, nervous dogs; and how to boost their confidence. He motivated me to want to work more with pet dogs, to help people solve everyday problems so that life with a dog could be easier and more enjoyable.
In June 2014 I started Bound to Bond Dog Training and worked with people and their pet dogs. That year, I worked full time as an assistance dog trainer, went to school part time to complete my degree in psychology, raised a puppy who was terrified of life, and started working with people and their pets at night and on weekends. It was a rough year, ending with my boyfriend and I moving in to my parent’s house (thanks Mom and Doug!).
I love helping people fix all their dogs problems.
I’ve found that what many people consider unbearable dog behaviors often have simple solutions. I thrive off of that look on my clients face when they see their dog do something they never thought was possible. Picture a dog who would bolt away if they got lose, now imagine that dog being fully off leash trained. Or a dog who would scream and fight when put in the crate, but now goes in to her crate on her own just because she likes it.
For me, Bomba was afraid of loud noises, people, various sights, you name it. I thought I would never be able to compete with this dog, which was one of the main purposes behind buying him. My proudest moment with him so far has been competing off leash at the Eastern States Exposition out in Springfield, MA. Chaos was all around us, but he stayed focused on me and qualified with 98 out of 100 points.
I’m writing this in January 2017 and reflecting how much life has changed in the 3 short years I’ve had Bomba. I quit my full time job training assistance dogs to operate my own business in 2014, bought a house in 2015, completed my bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2016, and just brought home a brand new puppy: MoonPie - a Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
MoonPie, January 2017
I’ve also changed the name of my business to “Banks K9 Solutions”. There are many reasons for the change, perhaps the most important one is the unfortunate similarity that Bound to Bond had to a certain blog (oops, don’t forget to research your domain). Banks K9 Solutions is here to help you with whatever problems you’re having with your dog. I have several strongly held beliefs that will reflect in my training. Some things you should know about my training style before we work together include:
I have a fair, balanced, approach to training. This means I include good consequences for good behavior, and unpleasant consequences for unpleasant behavior.
Developing a proper communication system with your dog is vital to your success.
Training with a dog should be fun for both parties. I love to use food and toys as much as possible. My goal is to teach you how to teach your dog that YOU are the best thing ever!
Behavior should be put under control, you should have the ability to start and stop behavior as desired.
Proper structure in a dog’s life allows the dog to be included in our everyday lives.
Advocate for your dog so your dog knows you will protect them. If your dog doesn’t want to be pat by a stranger, tell the stranger to back off. If your dog doesn’t want to play with another dog, tell the dog to back off!
With the right approach, almost any dog can be taught to be a good, respectful companion. If you’d like to change your dog’s behavior, contact me.
Because you deserve a good dog.
About the author: Jen Banks has been training dogs professionally since 2008. She started her own pet dog training company in 2014. Owner and trainer at Banks K9 Solutions, she provides group classes and in home training for family dogs.