My career working with dogs began in 1980, with a German Shepherd who I trained and worked alongside in The Israeli defense and Rescue Missions Dogs Group. Together, we carried out rescue and retrieval missions, helping to find people under buried rubble following explosions or building collapses. After people began noticing my natural intuition with the dog, I began training dogs for the local members of my community, teaching them tricks or working on their behaviour.
These were informal beginnings, but in 1992 I read an article about conditioning just as I got my second dog, which fundamentally changed my approach to training and techniques. I trained him without the use of a lead – instead using a ball as my main source of reward, and the results were significant. I could have stopped my first dog from chasing cats even during the chase, but my second would simply wag his tail whenever he encountered one.
Despite this, training dogs was never something I thought of developing as a profession; until the year I started working with my brother’s dog, Bamba. A highly intelligent but problematic border collie, Bamba was nervous on busy streets, widely known for her aggressive behaviour towards dogs, and generally difficult to control. After I started working with her, the training quickly resulted in noticeable improvements in her behaviour; and when other local walkers noticed her altered character, they began approaching me to ask for help with their own animals.
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I started offering a boarding service for problematic dogs in 2008, helping to train and condition animals with behavioural issues that ranged from being extremely shy and timid, to highly aggressive, towards other dogs or people.
I work with dogs predominantly off the lead, using positive reinforcement to teach them commands that they will enjoy performing. If a dog isn't cooperating and enjoying itself during time with me, then as I'm not doing my job correctly. After establishing a positive connection, the next stage of training involves asking the dogs to perform tasks next to things that caused them to behave badly – for example. other dogs, cyclists, or loud noises.
At the foundation of my process is the art of motivation. My chief aim is to be able to control a dog off the lead, with methods it will enjoy and be eager to respond to. Working with or two dogs at a time taught me to read their individual characters and needs, and respond to their behavioural issues accordingly. No two canine clients get the same treatment: I spend enough time with my dogs to evaluate their needs and develop bespoke training solutions, that suits both the dogs and owners, to help them resolve their problems. Every one of my canine clients, the majority of whom had behavioral issues when they started training with me, can be walked off the lead.