Dog Behavior & Rehabilitation With Brianna of Pack Leader Help LLC

Washington, DC, USA
Dog Behavior & Rehabilitation With Brianna of Pack Leader Help LLC

It's no secret that I love my dog.  I treat Oliver as if he's a child of my own. It's grossly adorable. Like a child though, he needed some serious training. Do you train children? Oh well, Oliver needed some training!! He's so lovable and is way more chill than most huskies, but there were some things he needed instruction on that we just didn't know how to provide to him. Enter Brianna. We met Brianna through our friend Maria and right away we hit it off. She was incredibly easy to work with and I'm not even exaggerating when I say she is completely affordable! My mouth hits the floor every time she sends us an invoice because to get a personal dog trainer, who is so flexible and comes to your own home is normally a ridiculous price, but Brianna honestly loves what she does and wants to share her knowledge more than making a quick buck. I can't rave enough about Brianna and Pack Leader Help LLC. To get to know more about Brianna check out her interview down below and of course contact her if you're interested in setting up a behavior modification session.

Dog Behavior & Rehabilitation With Brianna of Pack Leader Help LLC

What's your name and how long have you been in this field?
My name is Brianna Dick and I have owned Pack Leader Help LLC for a little over two years!

How did you get into the field of dog behavior and rehabilitation?
I grew up absolutely infatuated with animals, horses and dogs specifically. I spent every second I could trying to understand what made dogs tick. What fascinated me the most was how dogs would follow owners off leash. That was the ultimate connection to me. I always wanted that type of connection with any animal that I was with. The only books I read or television shows I watched while growing up were related to animal behavior. The second I had the opportunity and was old enough to volunteer at a local humane league, I did. I gained four years of experience handling dogs with severe behavioral issues by training, caring, fostering and rehabilitating them through two rescue groups. Long story short, I moved back to Northern Virginia after graduating with my business degree and wanted to start dog walking before I started law school. I quickly realized that not only did pet service companies in the area not understand anything about dog behavior and psychology, but they were downright negligent in their care of dogs. I was shocked by how little training, it any at all, was necessary to care and walk client's dogs. I was so disorientated by that experience I decided then I was never going to work for anyone but myself in order to help owners understand their dogs and have a better relationship with them.

Who did you learn from the most when first learning about this field?
I grew up reading and watching Cesar Millan. It became a religion for me for a long time. I've always understood how energy affects animals, because when working with horses the energy of the rider or handler affects everything. So his concepts spoke to me at a very young age. I received my first Cesar book in sixth grade called, "Be the Pack Leader," his follow-up to "Cesar's Way." I spent years, countless hours and energy watching the Dog Whisperer when I was young and even through college because it was one of the only sources of true rehabilitation for dogs that was documented on video. Now I have a broad range of behaviorists and trainers through social media. Some of my favorites who I shadow and learn from include Sean O' Shea, Cheri Lucas, Jeff Gellman, Tom Davis, Linn Boykee, Brian Agnew, Robert Cabral, and The Monks of New Skete.

When did you decide to turn your passion into a job?
I initially volunteered at The Humane League of Lancaster where I went through training to become a dog trainer for the shelter. I ended up only walking dogs and doing basic obedience through the shelter for little over a year before transferring universities and start at an animal rescue. I noticed early on while working with all the pent-up and frustrated dogs that I had learned something the other employees and volunteers hadn't, how to walk a dog. It was the simplest of tasks, yet no one seemed to understand the importance of it. I began fostering and working with the dogs that were labeled as "aggressive" and "untrainable." What I was doing just felt natural. I trained the volunteers how to work with leash pressure and how to have a dog walk calmly. I did this for the next four years. Give dogs structure, give dogs rules and walk them every single day. When I moved back to Northern Virginia it was clear there was a need for a behaviorist in the area. There was plenty of "dog training" companies but no one catering to the larger issues owners have which are aggression, over excitement, fear, separation anxiety, etc. In the fall of 2016 I opened Pack Leader Help and it has been the greatest decision I have ever made.

What is the biggest misconception about dog training?
The biggest misconception is that the dog is the one that needs to be trained. Dogs don't really need the training, it's the leaders. Institutionally, dogs follow leaders who are calm, confident and consistent. These are the skills that I instill in my clients and I'm exclusively talking about dogs with behavioral problems not teaching agility, nose work, etc. When I visit a new client's home, I show the owner how they're influencing their dog and they are always shocked to see that they actually have a well-behaved dog this entire time. It's just that the owner wasn't speaking their language or fulfilling the dog's needs.

What are some of the golden rules you follow when speaking to new clients or meeting new dogs?
When I first meet almost any dog, but especially a dog I'm working with, I always follow the "no touch, no talk and no eye contact" rule. All three of those things lead to excitement and excitement for dogs will always lead to aggression if it's left unchecked. When meeting a new client I always ask about their daily lives, what they do and what their picture-perfect life with their dog looks like. My goal is to show the owner that they can have whatever dog they want with their dog if they are willing to put in the work and understand dog psychology. Dogs truly do want to please their owners, but we so oftentimes leave them confused with mixed messages. My job is to clear up that confused communication.

What is the worst experience you've had while rehabilitating a dog?
Hmm, that's a tough one. I actually haven't had any terrible experiences with dogs, but I have had bad experiences with owners. One of the worst experience I have ever had was early on in my business included two very large breed dogs and both were aggressive. The owners were completely in denial about the fact that they created aggressive dogs. One of the dogs ended up biting one of my trainer assistants and she had to be hospitalized. I learned then that some people just don't want to put in the work because their perception of a "happy" dog was so disgustingly distorted that they should never own a dog.

What are some at-home exercises clients can do?
Every interaction we have with our dogs is training them one way or another. I would say the absolute best activity an owner can do with their dog before or after an obedience session is a walk. It's so simple, but it's the most effective. A long, structured and heeled walk. It's very difficult to influence a dog's behavior  when they have pent up energy, but structured walks help to calm them down. Having an on and off switch for every behavior, especially excitement, is so important. It's one of the biggest concepts I teach. You must be in control of your dog's excitement. After sessions they should continue with the homework! Walk their dogs, make clear rules and boundaries for their dogs, practice going out with their dogs to new places and waiting until they are calm.

Give your best advice for . . . 

Aggressive Dogs - Hire a behaviorist or balanced trainer immediately.

Dogs With No Recall - Get down a structured and calm walk. Repetition of the "come" and "here" command with a long-line, e-collar or both. Be consistent with corrections if a dog doesn't come and reward when they do.

Dogs With Separation Anxiety - There's a relationship breakdown with separation anxiety. Many different factors go into this topic, but owners need to practice separation in the house when they are home before they try and practice separation when they're not home. The "place" command is very helpful for this.

Toy/Food Obsessive Dogs - Stop allowing your dog to have toys and food when they please. Don't reward excited behavior. Work on the overall relationship.

Dogs Who Chew - Your dog is BORED. Get them engaged, don't allow them to free roam and chew things. Don't forget a good structured walk.

Dogs Who Potty In The House - Crate them when you can't watch them. Keep them on a strict potty schedule and clean the carpet REALLY well.

Let's talk about Oliver and Smokey . . . 

What was some of the obvious characteristics that Oliver and Smokey needed to have corrected?
Oliver was super laid back, unbeknownst to his owner šŸ˜‰.  He really just needed direction in a way he understands. He needed someone to be his driver on the walks and teach him how to ignore other stimulus and focus on his handler.

Smokey needed a leader to let him know that he can be calm when there is someone at the door and on the walk. There was a leadership gap in the house and no one blocked his excitement when the door was knocked on or the mail person came. Essentially, he just needed someone to tell him, "No, sorry bud you can't get that excited."

How were those characteristics corrected?
With Oliver we got the properly fitted leash and collar for him so his owner would have more control of the walks. He needed such quick and minimal corrections to understand that he shouldn't be overly alert and excited on walks and that he needed to look towards his owner for guidance. I taught his owner to relax her mind and body on walks to keep Oliver calm.

Similarly, Smokey just needed someone to teach him a new rule on the walk and in the house. He needed his mom to take the reins and give him more structure. He had way too much freedom on walks which translated to him not listening to the owners in the house. We corrected him at the door and blocked his excitement when he heard the door or the mail person.

What makes you different from other dog trainers in the area?
I think there are plenty of people who can do what I do. I know there are hundreds of wonderful and balanced trainers out there, but I think what makes me different is that my approach changes for each client and each dog. I'm not a one-trick pony and I will find rehabilitation programs that works for the lifestyle of each of my clients. There are truly thousands of ways to teach a dog the same thing and I'm willing to adjust, while always keeping the foundation of dog psychology, to what my clients need. I think my biggest strength is my obsessive passion for balanced dogs and balanced people. I have a lack of ego when it comes to my business, because I don't make my training about the dog or about me. I make it about the owner because their the ones who needs balance the most. If I can help people I know I'm ultimately helping the dogs.

Dog Behavior & Rehabilitation With Brianna of Pack Leader Help LLC

Contact Info:
Brianna Dick
(717) 809.3715
@Packleaderhelp on Facebook and Instagram

Brianna is having a holiday special! New clients can get 15% in-home training sessions with the code word "BALANCEDOG."

xoxo, Michele


Michele, One "L". Theme by STS.