WARRENTON — A transplant from Kansas has started a new rewards based dog-training center in Warrenton.
Elise Patrick, who recently moved to the North Coast from Lawrence, Kansas, with her husband, opened Mod.Dogs Canine Enrichment Center on Marlin Avenue near Bayshore Animal Hospital.
The business focuses on socializing puppies, adult dog manners and other common behavioral issues. The modern aspect of the training rewards good behavior rather than punishing the bad, Patrick said.
“If you jerk on a chain or put a shock collar on a dog, then that tells the dog to stop doing what I’m doing, because otherwise I’m going to be punished,” she said. “That’s what’s known as positive punishment. And while yes, it works, the fallout from that can be much more difficult. It can be harder for dogs.”
Before she trained dogs, Patrick, who has a master’s in student affairs, worked in higher education administration. She and her husband, who works remotely as a software engineer, recently began looking at moving to the Pacific Northwest, where they have family.
“When we were anticipating this move, we knew I would probably need to have a job that was a little bit more portable, so I kind of positioned myself for that,” she said.
Patrick began by volunteering at a local animal shelter in dog play groups and behavior evaluations. She apprenticed under Pat Miller, a veteran dog trainer focused on positive reinforcement, at Peaceable Paws in Maryland.
Mod.Dogs includes classes for puppies eight to 20 weeks and all-age classes for older dogs. Patrick largely focuses on teaching owners how to speak dog.
“They see the world with scent, and then they communicate with their bodies,” she said. “That’s the way they read each other. We know enough about body language to be able to help owners understand if a dog is stressed, feeling uncomfortable, not liking a situation or liking a situation.”
To keep group classes safe, Patrick will sometimes refer some more difficult behavioral issues to Rain Jordan, a certified trainer who runs Expert Canine focusing on fearful, feral and traumatized dogs.
“She works more with skills training, whereas I work with skills training and behavior,” Jordan said.