When I was eight years old, my dad brought home a cute Shetland Sheepdog puppy. I was so excited, and I immediately wanted to keep her. My dad wasn’t sure, but I convinced him that I was ready to take care of my own pup. I named her Heather, and completely fell in love with her. I immediately began training her tricks, and she loved it. My dentist loved animals and put on a pet show once a year.
I was so excited to bring Heather and show her off. I did so for numerous years and won first prize a few times. When I was in 4th grade, I began visualizing myself on stage doing animal shows. I decided to start this dream by joining dog 4-H. Heather and I did numerous shows in obedience and showmanship. I continued 4-H and showing when I received my next dog, Shadow, a Border Collie Mix.
Once I had Shadow, I realized I wasn’t enjoying dog training anymore. I was training with a choke collar and was using harsh training methods. It was no longer fun. Luckily, I was showing my dog at an obedience event, and my judge told me about an awesome book Don’t Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor.
He said this method of training was more fun and humane. I read it and learned all about clicker training. Because I felt so passionate about dog training and learning how to train with rewards, I was hooked. I began attending professional dog training seminars when I was only in high school. My mind absolutely loved problem solving on how to get my dog to listen in ways that were coming from being a team.
When I graduated high school, I decided to attend Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio. I received my Bachelors in Psychology and minored in Zoology and theater. The psychology classes that I personally studied were focused on how animals learned. My advisor was a pro at animal learning and helped me learn a ton about animal psychology. He definitely was my mentor at that time.
I actually did. It wasn’t exactly how I planned it to be, but I got involved in zoos. When I was in college I did an internship with the animal show at the Cleveland Zoo. I then progressed to the Columbus Zoo after college where I worked in the reptile department and then participated in the animal shows for a summer.
After living in Ohio all of my life, I decided to move to Utah and worked at the bird show for a summer at the Utah Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City. As a result, I have much experience training many animal species. I trained parrots, raptors, ferrets, prehensile-tailed porcupines and more! It was so cool being able to communicate with so many different animal species!
I really love animal training a ton and I think it is fun to see how you can train any animal by using rewards.
After working at zoos, I realize I worked best doing animal training with dogs. Salt Lake City, Utah is where I networked with different doggie daycares and began holding dog obedience classes at multiple facilities. I really enjoyed it so I decided to train professionally. After more networking, I began getting calls for private Salt Lake City dog training in people’s homes.
Yes, much of dog training is helping the owners understand why their dog is doing behaviors and helping the owners get the tools to change the behavior. When I first began training professionally, I had difficulty with getting the owners to do their homework.
After becoming a certified life coach in NLP, (neuro-linguistic programming) much changed. I was able to communicate with the people-end of dog training better. My Salt Lake City dog training clients did their homework, loved working with me and got results. It is amazing what can be done with NLP. I can easily teach dog owners how their thoughts and emotions affect how their dog behaves.
Johanna Teresi, Utah Dog Trainer and Owner of Four Legged Scholars LLC, Dog Training, Salt Lake City