Dog trainer Paola Hoger learned lessons from every dog she owned, trained, or competed with. She brings her 20+ years experience and positive reinforcement methods to help her clients achieve their dream dog through private training and step by step guidance.
Paola Hoger – Head trainer at Shake-A-Paw
I have spent over 25 years learning the best way to achieve my own “dream dog”. I have owned numerous breeds; Akitas, Siberian Husky, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, and now Border Collies.
Every single one of these dogs has had a lot of lessons to teach me. I honour every single struggle we went through as we reached for those dreams of being off leash, walking nicely on leash, behaving calmly around company.
Those struggles became the reason I kept learning, kept searching for better methods of training, kept acquiring knowledge. I have learned from some of the best: Ian Dunbar, Chris Bach, Susan Garrett, Terry Simons, Terry Arnold, Janet Lewis, Turid Rutgas, Carolyn Clark, Justine Davenport, Jessica Patterson and many more.
I have competed with my dogs in Obedience, Agility and Scent Work. Competing in any sport takes your training to the next level. It forces you out of the safety zone and into the anything is possible zone. Skills have to be better, now that you are performing, the training keeps reaching new levels as you and your dogs reach for more.
My deep belief is that one of the most important qualities in any canine companion is that they are well mannered and well-tempered, so I become a certified Temperament Test (TT) and a Canine Good Neighbour (CGN) tester. I’m also a member of the Agility Association of Canada, Canadian Association of Professional Pet Dog Trainers, Canadian Kennel Club, Ottawa Kennel Club and the Ottawa Valley Border Collie Club.
Every dog you own becomes your teacher!
My own dog own and dog training journey…
Yukon was my first dog. Getting an Akita as a first time dog owner is not recommended but I knew I could make it work. I was very lucky that Yukon had the sweetest temperament. Coming when called on the other hand was optional. The beginning of all the work I do with off leash training started in figuring what worked and what didn’t with this dog. Yukon also taught me about understanding and accepting that every single dog has drives and sensitivities, and a good dog trainer learns how to use these to bring the best out in the dog.
Hudson, was my first girl. Hudson was the most confident dog I have ever met, she met every challenge head on. I got her a 2 years old with very little socializing, very scary in an Akita. It took a number of years to get her where she could go anywhere and be comfortable. Any time you work with an adult dog with issues, you always have to look back and be grateful for how far you have come.
Max was my first drivey dog. I got him at 6 months old, he had been in a home and returned to the breeders. I would guess they were fond of the scruff shake because when you touched his neck he came at you full teeth. He had no understanding of calm and would whine and squeak incessantly when out in public. He is the dog that started post game, to guide him towards settling down without suppression. A few years later he could go anywhere and function, he was such a good boy and mastered self control. Max also taught me how his and my mental state affected his reactivity to dogs and to people.
Our next dog was Splash, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever. My husband is a hunter and wanted a hunting dog and had previously fallen in love with Chessies. Splash was a powerful dog with some amazing speed, but turned like a tractor trailer. When you start an agility dog, body awareness and turning are taught at a young age. When I got Splash, at least what I did, was create speed and distance. Which was all good until she couldn’t decel and turn to save her life. Splash was also great at home but hated competing and ended up having a very short agility career – instead stayed home and hung out with my husband, which really was her original purpose. Splash taught me the importance of always keeping the balance in agility, turning with speed, handler focus with obstacle focus, control with drive.
By this time I was completely in love with agility. I realize that though agility can be done with many different breeds but I wanted a Border Collie. When my son was 1.5 years old I got my first Border Collie, Iggy. I could write books on what Iggy taught me. Some stuff I got right and some stuff we had so many struggles. Every dog I get there are more expectations for this dog which led to a hellish first year. There were many tears, at 4 months old Iggy didn’t even sit on cue.
I kept at it and he was patient in an Iggy sort of way :). Iggy is now almost 10 years old and is that dog that you can take anywhere and do anything with and he handles it all with confidence and composure. You can teach your dog to want to pay attention, to want to work for you, but it will take patience, respect, and acceptance.
Last but not least, our latest addition Spec, an amazing dog with drive, work ethic, and commitment that constantly amazes me. Running agility with Spec is mind blowing with no time for anything but full focus and commitment because that is what he gives you. Iggy taught me how to use failure, Spec taught me to find that line of too much failure and just enough failure without leading to frustration. In hindsight right from puppy I saw little tiny signs of fear from him but when he hit about 8 months old he seemed to go through a year of fear period. I am so happy to say we worked through it, at age 4 he can now go anywhere and be put in most situations and no one would ever know he was reactive. I am so very proud of how far he has come every time he excels in a challenging situation.
Personalized 1:1 Dog Training with Paola
My focus is on providing private 1:1 training packages which are highly customized to you and your dog’s needs or challenges. We’ll work together to come up with a step by step plan. We can work in person if you live in the Kemptville area, or I work with clients worldwide via video call and online training.
I believe in positive, reward-based training and I continuously learn the most up to date training techniques to help my clients achieve a wonderful relationship with their dog.
Ready to strengthen your relationship
with your dog?
Learn more about private dog training packages here. Or if you’re ready to get started now, simply fill in the short online form telling us about you and your dog, and schedule your personal consultation.