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Trainer builds understanding between owners and dogs

SALISBURY – Theresa Pitner wants to help dog owners understand their pets.

Thus, her pet training service is named Understanding Your Dog.

The company, which opened this year, offers three key ways to train dogs. They are personalized training she calls Daytime Dog Solutions, one-on-one training, and group classes.

“In Daytime Dog Solutions, I come to the home while folks are working and train their pets while they are at work,” Pitner said.

The goal is to provide at-home training so clients don’t have to send the pet to a boarding facility.

The certified pet trainer goes so far as taking video of the pet’s training so the owner can track the dog’s progress.

Pitner aims to make sure that owners understand how the training will affect their dogs. As training begins, she has owners give a brief history of any problems they may be having with their dogs and sets clear expectations.

“They tell me what they want, and what we have to do is manage it to make it happen,” she said.

“So many people say to me, ‘Well, my dog jumps. I just want to tell him to stop.’ I ask in response, ‘Well, what do you want him to do? What activity do you want him to do instead?’”

Pitner teaches manners, including keeping four feet on the ground, disciplining them if they bite, and teaching them specific commands.

In Pitner’s one-on-one training, she works with families and individual owners as well as with the dog.

“Ninety-five percent of dog training is de-training the people. The other 5% is the dog,” she said.

“I can get a dog to do anything, but I have to train the people to train their dog, and that’s totally different. And I teach the owners through demonstration,” said Pitner.

Pitner also holds group socialization classes such as trick classes designed to help keep dogs stimulated and engaged. The class covers a variety of tricks, from walking backward to crawling or standing on two legs.

She uses positive reinforcement to allow owners to communicate clearly with their canines.

She dreams of one day opening a dog training center that would offer services such as agility classes.

“I want my own training center here in Salisbury. I would love to have it in one of these empty buildings here in downtown Salisbury.”

“As a kid growing up, we always had a dog,” she said. “And when I was in my 20s, I had a dog. And I realized I could get them to do things,” she said.

She received her professional dog training certificate through the online Animal Behavioral College in 2016. She has years of experience volunteering and working with facilities such as Faithful Friends in Salisbury.

The most positive aspect of her business is making customers happy.

“When I see people training others on what I’ve trained them and speaking on how much I’ve transformed their dogs, to me that is success,” Pitner said.

And credits mentors such as business coach Paula Bohland with helping her be successful in business.

“She showed me the ropes, and now I’m an LLC,” she said.

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