by Len Lear
Lots of people love dogs and would love to hang out with them all the time, but since we all have to make a living, that just is not possible. Unless you are Leigh Siegfried, who figured out a way to do both. Leigh graduated from Penn State and did some work as a copywriter but then left the corporate world for a life where she could hang out with dogs all the time. She started out in the Washington, D.C., area working at animal shelters, dog daycares and training centers.
Then she came to Philly and started a dog training business, Opportunity Barks, at 3510 Scotts Lane in East Falls 15 years ago. Leigh is now an pets, associate member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. She conducts private behavior counseling sessions, group training classes in basic and advanced manners and agility and more.
Leigh‚Äôs reputation has spread so far that she was called in as a consultant on enrichment and training protocols to help 11 of the pit bulls rescued from Michael Vick and his fellow torturers to decompress while they were temporarily housed, awaiting completion of Vick‚Äôs trial.
What are the most common problems that people come in with? According to Leigh, ‚ÄúJumping, nipping, pulling on leash, barking and lunging on the leash.‚ÄĚ
What are the most difficult problems that people come in with? ‚ÄúSeparation anxiety can be difficult and stressful for the owner. Also, a dog that barks and lunges towards other dogs or people can be stressful and difficult to manage for many owners.‚ÄĚ
How many sessions does it normally take before the training is complete?
‚ÄúTraining really gets started for a new puppy or newly adopted dog, and most owners are off to a good start within four to six weeks. But training really is ongoing and needs to be maintained for the first few years. And for many it may never be ‚Äėcomplete.‚Äô For many of our clients it‚Äôs all about using training as a tool to build the bond and the relationship.‚ÄĚ
In addition to Leigh, there are six other trainers ‚ÄĒ Audrey, Alyssa, Ingrid, Rebecca, Jennifer and Pam. Classes, lessons, workshops and more are held at locations in Old City and Quakertown as well as in East Falls. They also offer puppy socials, one-on-one training programs, day school and boarding school. ‚ÄúOur clients are usually referred to us from a client/fan or from their veterinarian,‚ÄĚ said Leigh.
Dana Leuth Byrnes, a client of Opportunity Barks, had this to say: ‚ÄúLeigh is smart, funny and kind. She knows dogs like no other and gives you tools that can be applied in the real world to help your pup be the happiest and most confident pup they can be.‚ÄĚ
Stephanie Muth, another client, stated: ‚ÄúLeigh has helped us out repeatedly over the years as we have added rescues to our pack. Each addition has brought its own set of behavioral challenges, and each time Leigh guides us to completely turn things around with our pups. Recently, a one-hour phone call helped us institute a few behavior modification techniques that transformed our unruly pack of three to the calm, quiet and responsive pups we have been striving for.‚ÄĚ
Is it true that you can‚Äôt teach an old dog new tricks? ‚ÄúYou can absolutely teach an old dog new tricks and a new dog old tricks.‚ÄĚ
In addition to training a dog, do Leigh and her staff also have to train the owner? ‚ÄúOne hundred percent of what we do is bridge the gap between the dog and the owner, help them connect and learn how to be more effective at any opportunity.‚ÄĚ
For more information about Opportunity Barks, call 1-888-OPBARKS (1-888-672-2757) or visit www.opbarks.com