ANDOVER â Jolene Creed, who recently opened the Perfect Pet Dog Training studio in Andover, said the job is â25 percent dog training and 75 percent people training.â
âWhen I trained my first dog 25 years ago â it was a little cocker spaniel â I fell in love with the process,â she said. âItâs kind of been a goal of mine for quite some time.â
But the former 25-year bookkeeper is no stranger to an ornery canine. Six years ago, she sought help with her troubled pooch from LeeÂ Hamilton of Manâs Best Friend Dog Training in Madison andÂ spent six months learning advanced training techniques.
The four-legged members of herÂ household have since grown to include one large, long-haired German shepherd, five spaniels and two shih tzus.
âMy husband said, âno more dogs in the house,ââ she saidÂ â so not long after her 2014 retirement, she opened her own training, daycare boarding and grooming studio off their Andover home and alongside Mega-Byte Computer Services, which her family also owns.
Creedâs month-long lesson plans include extended boarding stays with dogs whoâve already been through her training, then some wraparound lessons using an electronic collar in the dogâs home, to confirm their corrected behaviors.
The kennel has housed up to 13 dogs in the past and sheâs able to add more space as needed, she said.
But Creed also does private appointed training sessions seven days perÂ week â though less often on weekends â which continue over an average two-month span. Thereâs no beginner, intermediate or expert level courses, she said.
âYouâre getting a âfinishedâ dog when Iâm done. Itâs not just puppy classes,â Creed said. âWhen I do have a dog for that month, I do get very attached to them. But itâs a quick turnover to having their owners follow suit and do the same things Iâm doing.â
The toughest customers are the ones that bite â only because âthen youâll have to get tough with the dog,â she said. Dog owners and trainers canât avoid improper behavior â such as food aggression or rambunctious leash-pulling â or coddle pups with anxiety issues, because it only reinforces those behaviors, she said.
She said she meets those issues head-on.
âBefore you can address a lot of the problems, they have to see your position as leader,â Creed said. âThatâs kind of my motto: âHelping people and dogs live in harmony … through love, leadership and discipline.ââ
Otherwise, the jobâs âpleasant,â and when she finally takes her leave and sees dog owners obeyed by using her process and tools â âitâs wonderful.âÂ With a dog thatâs well-trained, thereâs âendless possibilities,â she said.Â
Deborah Powers of Westford, Pennsylvania, said she wasnât sure what to do with Max, the spirited young boxer she rescued one dark night from the middleÂ of the highway with no collar and no apparent owners.
The 63-year-old said she was looking forward to a dog in the family, but quickly found him too much to handle â especially when he spotted another dog he wanted to meet and dragged her, leaving her injured.
âI was saying, âWe have to give him up.â He was just too powerful for us. He would run every chance he got loose,â she said.
Upon meeting with Creed in November, Creed agreed the dog was a bit much for Powers and her 71-year-old husband. But for Powers, relinquishing Max to a shelter â and possibly euthanasia â was out of the question.
âWe did a full training course with her. Lo and behold, today, that dog goes to her daycare and he is now socially acclimated to other dogs,â Powers said. âI walk him off-leash now and itâs just incredible what has transpired. She worked wonders for us.
âWe were about to give him up and give up hope, but she gave us a new life with him. I canât thank her enough,â she said.
To reach Perfect Pet Dog Training at 6440 Gibbs Road, Andover, call (888) 739-2180, or visit the studioâs Facebook page at Facebook.com/lovedogtraining.