Daycare With a Trist
By Scott E. Kinney, Atlantic News Staff Writer
Atlantic News, Friday, March 30, 2007
[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News.]
[Atlantic News Photo by Scotgt E. Kinney]
HAMPTON -- It can be a home away from home.
It can also be a place to learn discipline, obedience and social skills.
At My Dogs Mind, owner/ lead trainer Terrance Kirby offers his customers and their pets the opportunity to have all these things.
"It's kind of like a daycare with a twist," he said.
Whether you've got a new puppy that is developing behavioral issues or just a dog that's left at home all day, the business has something to offer every dog owner. The classes combine obedience with play outside coupled with obedience training inside.
It all began several years ago, when Kirby experienced some behavioral issues of his own. He had purchased an Australian Cattle Dog puppy for his then 70-year-old father's birthday.
"Not the smartest thing," he admits. "I didn't do my research. Six months later [it was] biting on mom. He had never owned a dog. I wanted him to have the perfect dog experience."
During a vacation taken by his parents, Kirby took the dog with the intention of training the it. He traveled far and wide — Boston, Cape Cod, throughout New Hampshire and Maine — looking for answers to his questions.
"The dog never went home," said Kirby. "I couldn't really get the answer that I wanted. There was obedience, but there was still a part of that dog I couldn't trust. That was the catalyst. I trained that dog every day. I was always intrigued with animal behavior."
That was 15 years ago.
Since that time Kirby has done his homework.
He is a member of the International Association of Canine Professionals and has apprenticed and trained under some of the most renowned dog authorities including Jennifer Vickery of The Pawsitive Dog Training Center in Boston, Mass.
Kirby said his work in the city helped his ability to work with a wide variety of people and dogs.
"While working in Boston I saw the whole spectrum of both people and dogs," he said. "I think training in a big center in the city really helped."
Now Kirby continues to run his own training center right next to his home.
He calls his own training style "eclectic," combining a variety of tried-and-true methods, customized to the individual dog and owner, to achieve the best results.
"It all comes down to helping people understand what they have," said Kirby. "How much exercise do they need? How much leadership? It's dependent upon the individual person and the individual dog. Training can be a little bit 'trendy' and you have to keep and open mind."
As for those interested in acquiring a dog, Kirby has a few bits of advice.
"Do your homework," he said. "Do your breed research and if you're going to a breeder, do your research on the breeder."
He also has advice for those who've just brought their new friend home. Among them providing exercise, showing clear, calm leadership and controlling resources (i.e., anything the dog sees as valuable).
"He doesn't need to listen to you if he gets everything gratis," he said. "It's OK to spoil your dog if your dog listens to you."
My Dogs Mind is located at 55 Tide Mill Road in Hampton and can be reached at (603) 926-8665. More information can also be found at www.mydogsmind.com.