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Schooling Fido: Dog trainer Jenn Guerriero explains it all

Kirsten Obadal
By Kirsten Obadal
Posted on Feb 21,2012
Filed Under Pets , Community,
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Courtesy Photo<br /> <br />Jenn Guerriero is the proprietor of Big City Dogs, an Old Town-based dog training academy.
Courtesy Photo
Jenn Guerriero is the proprietor of Big City Dogs, an Old Town-based
dog training academy.

ALEXANDRIA, VA. - After investing several hundred dollars for a breed puppy, what could be worse than having it poop in the house and chew on your best pair of boots? Or bark too much? It’s enough to send you running to nearest pound.
 
Better yet, find a certified dog trainer to educate your dog about proper canine behavior.

Courtesy Photo <br /> <br />Guerriero chose to move to Alexandria with her family recently because she realized what a dog friendly place Old Town is.
Courtesy Photo
Guerriero chose to move to Alexandria with
her family recently because she realized
what a dog friendly place Old Town is.

Jenn Guerriero is the proprietor of Big City Dogs, an Old Town-based dog training academy.
 
Guerriero graduated from the Texas based Triple Crown Academy, which offers certification as a Canine Behavior & Training Specialist. She also attended Martin Deeley's International School for Dog Trainers. At this school she was certified as an 'E-Touch' remote collar trainer. Guerriero was originally based in New York City, and still trains the guard dogs at Macy’s in New York, and instructs the guards on how to handle the dogs.
 
Guerriero also apprenticed under the legendary canine expert Captain Haggerty, who has been hailed by the New York Times as the "world's most experienced dog trainer."

Guerriero chose to move to Alexandria because she realized what a dog friendly town it is.
 
She says that training enhances the relationship people can have with their pets. “People love animals but we should train them to have better communication with them," she says. "If you can get on the same wave as your dog, and he understands what is being asked of him, he’s happier and not confused.”
 
Guerriero has to instruct owners, too, in how to communicate with their dog. “Training for tricks, like sit and stay, is easy; but we want to get the dog to process information, where there are distractions, so he can still respond to a command and look to you for leadership outside, so we teach the owner how to do that too.

Guerriero explains that sometimes people forget that dogs are animals, not people.
 
“They are hard wired to do certain things, but we try to make them into children, but they have instincts, and when we tap into that, they become the dog they were meant to be; we have to bring out a dog’s potential by getting in touch with the instincts of particular breed," she says. "It can be dangerous not to train a dog, and if you love your dog you will let him be the dog that nature intended, but bring out the best in the breed. Walking on a leash is not natural for a dog, they have to learn that; we have to show the dogs how to live in people world.”

Courtesy Photo <br /> <br />
Courtesy Photo
"People love animals but we should train
them to have better communication with
them," she says.

An untrained dog can be a safety hazard, Guerriero points out. “Training will make it safer for you and your pet, and will create a greater relationship,” she explains. “I had a wealthy client in Manhattan who had a spoiled welsh corgi, who would growl when disturbed on the bed; they dog bit his owner and she had to have 72 stitiches. So, you have to show the dog he is not the king. It is important that the owner make a committment to getting the dog to change behavior.”

Owners have to back up training by reinforcing the lessons and drills after the trainer leaves.
 
Otherwise, lessons previously learned can be lost. They learn quickly but it has to be reinforced; to sit for their food, for their leash; Guerriero explains that dogs don’t have to be puppies to respond to training: “All dogs can learn, you can certainly teach an old dog new tricks. The problem is to unlearn bad behaviors”

Guerriero offers a tip for people whose dogs tend to jump up on people: She says, “ people put their hands on the dog, but that reinforces the behavior. Simply Leashing a dog and stepping on the leash when there are visitors will help correct this. The dog will learn that this is a bad behavior. Then you can pet the dog while he stays down to reward him. (WHILE HE KEEPS ALL FOUR PAWS ON THE FLOOR) Hollering at a dog just confuses him, and creates chaos.”
 
Guerriero notes, “I learned from the best trainers in the country, and I try to continue learning. I keep an open mind and try to keep both dogs and owners happy. Everyobdy loves a well trained dog, its worth it to invest the money and get it done. Guerriero works at her clients homes, visiting the dogs where they live, to do the trainng. She can be reached at www.bigcitydogs.net



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