The Approach

The foundation of my method is that dogs and people are both social animals. Both suffer in isolation and blossom in healthy connection with those they love. I teach you to improve your connection and honor the biological need all social mammals have to co-regulate their nervous systems through interacting with each other. I do this through awareness of your dog’s need to be a dog and your need to have a well mannered companion. We reach both these goals through force free training methods. Training becomes fun and something both of you look forward to. Behavior problems are solved through true empathy, compassion and deep understanding of how the problem came to be and how to change it with the most humane training possible.

“In order to meet your needs, you have to meet your dog’s needs — it’s all about the relationship.” — Joanne Ometz

Positive reinforcement training is the only method I use. This means it is done through rewarding the dog for doing the right thing instead of punishing him when he does not get it right. I never use choke, prong, or shock collars because they only tell the dog what it did wrong and do not set the dog up for success. With these ‘aversive’ devices, early results may seem very fast but the training can lead to other behavior problems. You also cannot expect your dog to behave well without wearing the equipment. With positive reinforcement, your dog will love to work for you and you will love to work with your dog!

When people ask why I only use positive reinforcement, I answer in three ways. First, this the only way to train dogs that has been scientifically researched and proven to be universally effective, no matter the temperament of the dog or the problem. Second, I ask, “Would you work for free?” If you were constantly being told what you did wrong or threatened with discomfort if you did not do as your boss directed, you might start to look for a new job! Positive reinforcement works with people and it is also the best way to work with dogs. And third, if there is a way to train dogs that never causes pain or fear or discomfort and leads to happy dogs who love to learn, why train any other way?

“Dogs do speak, but only to those who know how to listen.” — Orhan Pamuk

About Joanne Ometz

Although I was a dog lover from an early age, I first became a social worker to help other humans lead better lives. I learned to work effectively to communicate with and help people. And I use many of the same people skills in teaching my present day clients to learn to live more happily with their dogs. The work involves two different species, but I am still helping to improve relationships.

As a dog lover, I trained every dog I had over the years, starting with the old style of causing some kind of discomfort in order to get the dog to do what I wanted. I never liked yanking on a choke collar but did not know any other way. I would take a class and then stop training after a while because it just wasn’t any fun. And I loved having a dog because of the connection I always felt with them, not so I could control their every move. In the 1990’s I took a class to train my new puppy Garp. It was based on positive reinforcement. He was the first dog I taught to do tricks and to love going to the vet, all because Garp enjoyed it and so did I. Then 8 years ago, when I got my now 10 year old Sadie, I took a class using clicker training. Seeing how easy it was to train this way was a revelation. She loved it and so did I! Training was fun! We went on to take advanced classes and had a great time. I was hooked.

Before moving to North Carolina, I started and ran the Gateway Dog Club in my Maryland community, the Gateway Arts District. Along with organizing occasional classes led by professional trainers, I taught informally at our regular bi-weekly meetings. Through this experience, I realized how much I loved teaching positive reinforcement dog training.

In 2015, I took Turid Rugaas’ year long certification course. Here, I learned more about dog body language, how to incorporate it in to training, and how to evaluate the dog’s movement for signs of pain and discomfort.

At present, I am enrolled in the Karen Pryor Academy Professional Dog Trainer program. This is the premier course in the world for learning proficiency in clicker training at the highest level.

I combine all of my education including my social work background in to an effective, fun way to train dogs. And I also teach people how to live more happily and peacefully with their ‘best friends’.

Issues I can help you with include but are not limited to:

  • Obedience
  • Loose leash walking
  • Separation anxiety
  • Shyness and Fearfulness
  • Leash aggression
  • Jumping up
  • Understanding dog body language
  • Identifying any connections between physical pain and behavior

As a member of both the Pet Professional Guild, and FACT (Force Free Alliance of Charlotte Trainers), I have signed ethics agreements stating I will never use equipment nor techniques that cause pain, fear, intimidation, or other discomfort.

I participate in the Pet Professional Guild’s Trade-In Program. If you have been using a choke, prong or shock collar and want to switch to more effective humane methods, you can trade in this gear for a discount of 10% on training sessions and a $5 discount on a Balance Harness.

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