Dennis and Cindy Zielinski
We have taken training classes for two years at Overdale Kennel. The classes have been invaluable in working with our dogs. The skills we have learned have taken us from dealing with “challenging” dogs to “challenging” our dogs in rally classes. This is something we would never even have dreamed of 2 years ago. Val and Hilary are great! ~Dennis & Cindy Zielinski, Newton and DD
Sparky came to us when he was nearly a year old. He had spent most of his life running wild and came to us with behavior problems most can only imagine. For five years, we had worked with other trainers to address those issues and to help Sparky be a “normal” pet. Unfortunately, Sparky requires regular training and socialization to maintain the progress made. We worked with some wonderful trainers during that time, but we completed all the courses offered by one trainer and the other training facility closed.
For six months, we searched for another facility. We needed a facility that offered a variety of high level courses that would challenge Sparky and a facility that would accept a dog with Sparky’s unique challenges in those classes. Other facilities had suggested that Sparky needed individual lessons and that he was not appropriate for the competition level training because of his past.
By the time we found Overdale, Sparky had regressed so far that we were wondering if we would have to have our little pal put to sleep. We met with Hilary and Val and discussed Sparky’s history, his previous training, and what I thought he needed to get back on track. They listened, something the other trainers we contacted hadn’t done. Sparky was soon enrolled in the challenging group classes he needed and was eventually introduced to rally obedience, a type of class not offered by our previous trainers.
Since then, Val and Hilary have continued to challenge Sparky and to encourage me. Sparky has gone on to earn novice obedience titles in three different registries. He has also earned advanced rally titles in three registries. His progress at class and in competitive shows continues to amaze me. More important, the behavior problems at home are under control again, and he continues to be a treasured member of our family.
When training, some dogs require very different goals and methods. Yvette is proof of those differences. Yvette came into rescue after being removed from the home of a hoarder. After eight months in rescue with two highly experienced foster homes and the use of prescription medication, Yvette was still terrified of EVERYTHING. She was so scared that she wouldn’t even interact with her foster family, wouldn’t play with the other dogs in her foster home, and wouldn’t even move from one room to another with being dragged or carried.
Other trainers may have encouraged paying for private lessons for Yvette, but Val and Hilary understood that Yvette needed the socialization that would be offered in group classes. They understood that mastering formal obedience exercises would not be the goal for Yvette. The goals would be much different and ever changing: walking through the door first, then sitting on the sidelines, walking around the ring, interacting with the other dogs in class, and finally accepting attention from the people in class. Through it all, Val and Hilary helped the other students understand Yvette’s needs and why her training looked so different from the rest of the class.
Yvette attended training classes at Overdale for more than six months. She repeated the beginners class three times. While the changes were slow, the progress was steady. When her progress seemed to stall, Val and Hilary helped find new ways to help her continue to gain confidence, including encouraging enrolling her in doggie daycare. When Yvette finally found her new home, Val and Hilary celebrated too.
Some would think that the new home would be the end of Yvette’s story, but it gets even better! Yvette’s new owner continued to work on her socialization and training. Four months after being placed in her new home, Yvette passed a test to become a therapy dog.
Since I have started training at Overdale Kennel, I have won two Best of Breeds and seven points towards my AKC champion title. I have also earned my Rally Novice title in my first three trials with placements in each.
Valerie and Hilary are wonderful teachers! They are always patient in answering questions and giving great advice. They have helped me with correcting some of my dog’s bad manners. Hilary is also extremely knowledgeable about types of dog food. She has helped me to choose a food that fits Burnie’s nutritional needs and that he will eat. I plan to keep taking the Rally classes Overdale offers and I can’t wait to start agility!