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A Unique Approach to Dog Training By Glenn Smith

Did it ever occur to you that your disobedient dog can sometimes be attributed to your energy? This is what animal trainer, Johanna Teresi thinks and she has success stories to back her claim.
Owner and operator of Four Legged Scholars, L.L.C., based in Salt Lake City, Utah,  professional dog trainer, Johanna Teresi holds individual and group trainings where she utilizes a unique approach to dog training. “I like to see the dog and owner shift, ” Teresi said during a recent interview. Johanna believes that a frustrated owner often leads to a frustrated dog. “Dogs will pick up the energy the owner is experiencing, ” she said. The “shift” she refers to is when the owner is coached along with the dog and the obedience issue is addressed by encouraging a change in attitude or belief in the owner.
Johanna began dog training in 1989 when she was a young girl in 4th-grade. She was a member of dog 4H Club and participated in dog shows and country fairs where she and her Shetland Sheepdog, “Heather” won awards for showmanship and obedience. As a young adult, Ms. Teresi received a Bachelors degree in psychology with an emphasis in animal learning from Ohio Wesleyan University. She has worked with exotic animals at three zoos including the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City.
When confronted about the idea that dog owners need coaching outside of the “norm” of teaching mere commands and how to implement them, Johanna said she feels as though she can help build a connection between dogs and their owners. “I put myself in their shoes (owner), ” she said. One successful training session had a boy and his Golden Retriever on the same page after some clever coaching. “The boy believed he wasn’t capable of telling his dog to “stay” and his lack of confidence showed up in a dog that wouldn’t stay.” Johanna explained that she could get the boy’s dog to stay consistently by exuding an air of confidence. Once Teresi pinpointed the boy’s lack of confidence and its relationship to the dog ignoring his “stay” command, Johanna began to use a technique called, “anchoring”. She asked the boy if he recalled a moment in life where he was most confident. “When I play the organ, ” the boy explained. Johanna then prompts the boy to close his eyes and picture himself playing the organ. From there, the boy is asked to replicate the feelings and emotions associated with playing the organ and then ask the dog to stay. “In less than one minute, the dog obeyed the stay command from his owner, ” she said. Teresi mentions that she sees these kinds of “shifts” all the time and says that dogs usually train up to four times faster while utilizing this technique. “The owner’s commitment level equals results in their (dogs) ability to be trained, ” she said.
In addition to coaching owners to be empowered to establish a positive relationship with their dogs, Johanna highly encourages positive reinforcement. “Give the dog what he or she wants. ” she said. In addition, Teresi recommends head collars over choke, pronged or shock collars. She also suggests using front-hook harnesses with a soft touch application. Some brand names she mentioned were Easy Walk, Halti Gentle Leader and Comfort Head.
Johanna will hold group classes with no more than 8 people and one dog per person, once a week. She also offers private sessions and currently her case load is 4 private sessions per month with room in her schedule for 8 more private sessions. Ms. Teresi recommends 6 to 8 week training sessions at 1 hour per week. Johanna will also extend the training sessions to focus on trainings that may require more time. She is quite clear about her dedication towards successful outcomes with dogs and their owners. She is an expert at offering positive feedback and the results seem favorable. Keep an eye on her website for special offers and important upcoming events.
To find out more about Johanna and her trainings, visit: http://www.fourleggedscholars.com/

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