Nearly 10 years ago, Lynn Gagnon visited Cody, her German Shepherd-cross rescue dog, at his foster home.
It was love at first sight.
“When I met him, he was immediately all over me,” said Gagnon in a press release. “He acted like you would expect a puppy to act.”
Two weeks later, when it was time for Cody to come home, Gagnon noticed that he was terrified of everything. She had to carry him across street intersections because he was shaking.
As a guardian for the animal, Gagnon knew Cody needed help.
“Being a new dog guardian, I had no idea about the lack of regulation in the industry, and I signed up for the first dog training class I could find since I figured that’s what my dog needed.”
In order to help Cody, Gagnon turned to a trainer, who advised she use a prong collar on Cody, and to use it every time the dog was scared.
“Cody didn’t seem any less frightened – he would just sit and shake when I popped the collar,” said Gagnon. “The trainer said I was wrong, and he wasn’t afraid if he was sitting.”
She stopped the training classes and looked for other options, which paid off. She found an experienced trainer who taught science-based, positive reinforcement methods, which led her to learning what was best for her dog.
Through her experience with Cody, Gagnon acquired the knowledge and credentials to become a dog trainer.
This led her to founding Stoked Dogs Training & Behaviour, which is now the first of its kind in Revelstoke to receive BC SPCA’s AnimalKind accreditation.
The BC SPCA, wanting to encourage dog guardians to consider their options carefully when looking for a dog trainer, created the AnimalKind program to provide dog owners direction who were looking for skilled trainers who use humane training methods and information used to recognize companies for their commitment to promoting animal welfare.
Through a partnership with the UBC Animal Welfare Program, the BC SPCA, Vancouver Foundation and the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies provided funding to establish the program.
“My experiences in the dog training realm before I became a dog trainer really opened my eyes as to how unregulated this industry is,” said Gagnon.
“Anyone can call themselves a dog trainer, and as a result, many dogs are hurt, and human-animal bonds are damaged. It honestly blows my mind that we allow people without experience and without regulation to work with living, sentient beings.”
To learn more about AnimalKind accreditation or find a trainer, visit animalkind.ca.