Daphne Robert-Hamilton

A Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Trainer

[email protected]

Pre-Ownership Counseling

Pre-Ownership Counseling – This might be a service that is new  to you.   Pre-ownership counseling can save families from making mistakes with a dog/puppy which often lead to a lot of stress and hardship.  It might be the first time you want to get a puppy/dog or it might be that it’s  been a while since you lived with a dog, in either case, there’s been a lot of advances in canine care and insight into behavior/training that families need to be aware of.

Avoid Impulse Decisions

Deciding to bring  a dog into your life requires a lot of thought and planning. Impulse decisions show a lack of responsibility and usually end up negatively effecting the dog and the family. AVOID PET STORES, newspaper ads, craigslist. Reputable breeders would NEVER sell their dogs/puppies to a store. A good breeder should interview you in-depth, ensuring that you are prepared to look after their dog/puppy. They also should not sell you more then one dog/pup. Getting siblings from the same litter can lead to more problems then not.  Better yet, look at breed rescues or shelters. There are just so many puppies/dogs in need of forever-loving homes.

Are you dog savvy?

It will be important for the shelter/breeder to know what your experience level is so that they can better match you with a dog/puppy.  Have you lived with or owned dogs before?  If not, this is not a walk -in-the-park.  If you have never owned a puppy/dog before you will want to research what breed, age, sex would work best for your lifestyle AND I would suggest that you audit several training classes.  Taking a positive training class or hiring a positive private trainer will help you learn how to best live with your new pup/dog and give you the skills and understanding to make him/her a life-long companion.  You can learn about proper nutrion, how to teach your dog to walk on a loose leash, dental care, nail trimming, crate training, stop barking, come when called, be happy at the vet office, and so much more.

I would also suggest that you volunteer at a shelter if you’ve never been around dogs and if you have, I would suggest that you foster BEFORE committing yourself to the responsibility of  dog ownership.  You might also want to think about taking a Pet First Aid/CPR class once you have a puppy/dog.  

Not All Dogs Are Alike

Damage from a dog suffering from separation anxiety

If you’ve never been around a dog/puppy before, volunteering is one way to become familiar with them as well as visiting dog parks. However, you have to be aware that not all dogs are alike.  Each dog is a unique package of emotional tolerance and sensitivities. Some dogs can be very loving and accepting but there are a lot of dogs that are more selective and come with ‘baggage’.  You need to be prepared as an owner to know that a dog is an emotional being and that they can be loving in one situation  and have aggressive behaviors in other situations.  Some dogs can truly have behavioral issues that require the help of a Certified Professional Dog Trainer/ Behavior Consultant / Animal Behaviorist. There are fewer “Disney-like” dogs then dogs that sometimes can drive you crazy and question why you have a dog. You need to be aware the age, breed and past histories matter.  Young puppies require a lot of time commitment. They go through a few developmental periods just like human infants/toddlers go through. You have to be aware of what’s “NORMAL” for a puppy. They poo and pee a lot, they chew anything and everything, their puppy teeth hurt, they need specific guidance from owners such as alone time training so that they grow into confident dogs.  Young dogs can have lots of energy. Older dogs might have more medical problems that require special care.  Different breeds also have certain character traits that are sometimes suited for one family while not for another. Cavalier King Charles are a small breed that are great for young families but they can have some pre-disposition to health issues.  A ‘working-line’ Labrador Retriever would not be great for a young family. They are high energy and very mouth oriented.   Small dogs and big dogs also have their unique needs.

Your Responsibilities

Run in with a porcupine

The care for a dog’s daily routine usually falls on one person in the family. Don’t be hoodwinked into thinking that your daughter/son will do what’s necessary for daily care. It’s very rare that I see a young person step up and take responsibility for the they begged for. So —– Mother’s/ Woman of the House – be prepared for more responsibilities. Puppies and dogs require a lot of personal time and financial commitment.  The cost of getting a puppy/dog, daily walks, training class, dog socials, boarding facilities, pet-sitters, veterinarian visits /medical costs, emergency care, quality food and treats. It all adds up.  Puppies/Dogs from a breeder can cost anywhere from $800-$2,000.  Don’t make the mistake of getting a dog for a lesser amount. This usually equates to poorly bred dogs which will in the end cost you more money for prevention and care of medical issues.  Owning a dog for 12-14 years can cost anywhere from $4,000-$40,000. http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+1671&aid=1543

If you don’t have free time and an income to support dog ownership – don’t get a dog!

Risk and Liability Issues

Owning a dog can bring a lot of joy and increase you patience and compassion. But they can also pose a risk and liability to you, your family and community.  Dogs aren’t perfect and when you have an irresponsible person in charge, a lot can go wrong.  More often then not, the dog pays for someone’s irresponsibility with their life. So many dogs are euthanized because our shelters are overwhelmingly full. Some home-owners insurance companies will not insure you if you have a certain breed of dog. Dogs are animals, which means that when certain triggers line-up that they can end up biting and injuring another person or animal. It’s important to have a properly fenced in yard (NO invisible fences or chains to tether), secure locks on the gate, anti-escape features to your yard/fence if needed, proper shelter for all sorts of weather, access to water.  My preference for all of my clients is that they have a dog to be a family companion and live with the family and NOT banished to the backyard to live in solitary. Invisible fences have become more popular but be forewarned, they are not secure nor humane. http://www.dogbitelaw.com/PAGES/fence.htm

If you need a utility person to read your meter, contact the company to let them know you have a dog and you do not wish them to enter your property. Dogs should always be on a leash when off your property.  Dogs can be a risk to young children if they are sensitive to activity levels, personal space issues or have resource guarding issues or have combinations thereof.

Pre-Ownership Counseling

I offer this service for anyone thinking about adding  a puppy/dog to their family. I will conduct and interview with your family, do some research for you, present a selection of possibilities based on your lifestyle information, visit shelters/rescue groups/breeders with you to assess a potential puppy/dog and offer you 2-hr private training.  I’ll be able to guide you to an easier transition to dog ownership.   Here is a touching story about a family’s mistakes in getting a dog:  http://siliconvalley.parenthood.com/sv_doggoneit.php

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All VSPDT dog trainers:
  • Are hand-selected by Victoria.
  • Train dogs using only positive reinforcement.
  • Avoid force & outdated dominance-based methods.
  • Work personally with Victoria and her team.
  • Share Victoria's ability to talk and think dog - positively
  • Practice the highest level of courtesy and professionalism.
  • Respect you and your dog at all times.
  • Share the VSPDT mission of creating healthier, more balanced relationships between dogs and owners
  • Help the Victoria Stilwell Foundation support canine assistance organizations.

About Daphne

Daphne has been involved in training/instructing animals and people for the past 18 years involving horses and dogs.  Certified Professional Dog Trainer since 2004 and in business since 2002. She specializes in aggressive dogs. She founded South Bay Trainers in the SF/Bay Area and volunteers her expertise to Guardian Angels for Soldiers Pets.