"We contacted Maria shortly after adopting a ten-month pit bull, not due to specific behavior issues, but to moderate his assimilation into our family, which includes an eight-year toy poodle and an older cat, and to work on basic obedience. I’d read a lot about training, was aware of the diversity of opinions and approaches, and thought I knew what to expect from a so-called ‘positive reinforcement’ trainer like Maria. She quickly proved me wrong.
Our first two sessions primarily involved working with the humans to cultivate an understanding of her approach to training, of the basics of the canine mind and temper, and of the crucial role that we would play in the process. She established early on some ‘building blocks’, both concepts and techniques, which were then applied in a wide variety of situations. Before too long we realized that she was giving us a kit of tools, and teaching us to effectively use it both in both familiar and unfamiliar training situations. We came to see patterns of behavior and response, and how a relatively small number of techniques could be used effectively in wide variety of circumstances. Most of the big ‘aha’ moments came when we finally figured something out, and not when one of the dogs did. Not the least of these was when we came to understand that dogs don’t ever figure something out. They make choices, and our role is to guide them to make the right choice, until their doing so no longer requires our guidance.
Perhaps the most valuable thing we learned from Maria was that obedience is not the goal of training, but rather a result. The primary goal of training is to build a healthy, happy, relationship with your dog, and as good human relationships depend crucially on effective communication, confidence, and mutual respect, so do good human/canine relationships. The nuance and understanding she brings to her work are truly impressive, but her ability to simplify, explain, and convey that understanding is extraordinary. She’s been a delight to work with, and we look forward to spending more time together."
~ Joseph, Lindsey, Lucy, and Mister Jones