We had the good fortune of connecting with Sarah Walsh and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Sarah, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
The original purpose of creating my Dog Training YouTube channel was to help those who knew they wanted help but had no idea where to start. Reliable, science-based training advice is unfortunately not always easily accessible and can be hard to decipher what is good versus bad information. Dog training has changed a lot in the past 10 years, and how it was done back then isn’t necessarily the best way to go about things now.

I utilize humane, relationship-based methods in my training. Reward-based, or positive reinforcement training is the center of this training. In the grand scheme of things, positive reinforcement-based training is relatively new to the dog world. The focus of my channel is to break these concepts down into simple steps and examples that your everyday dog owner can follow and easily understand. For free!

Not everyone has the means to seek out professional dog training help, and many quite literally don’t have access to anyone in their area. Through putting my content online, in video format, and sharing my knowledge and profession with the world, I have been able to reach those that I otherwise would not have ever encountered.

One of my favorite success stories directly through my YouTube channel involves a small puppy who was rescued from a physically abusive environment in Thailand. The sweet man who rescued him found my channel and reached out for help with this shutdown, literally beat-up puppy who he named Tom. Even though we are on opposite sides of the planet, I helped Tom’s new owner learn as much as he possibly could about how to help Tom get through his trauma and have the life that he deserved to have in the first place. The great thing about positive reinforcement-based training is it builds the confidence of the dog in addition to teaching the skills that you want to teach. Which is exactly what Tom needed! It took months, but Tom started to learn to trust people again and healed both physically and mentally from his past experiences.

We are approaching the 1-year mark since Tom’s owner first reached out to me, and we stay in touch regularly. Tom is a completely different dog now and enjoys his TV time watching the Discovery channel and has learned to love his sniffy time outside on walks.

It was a miracle this puppy survived the level of physical trauma that was put on him so young (we believe he was just about 10 weeks old at the time of rescue). It is something else entirely that he is now a happy, confident adolescent dog that knows some sweet tricks! Tom’s story touched my heart and humbled me at the same time. And it all started with the one person seeing one of my videos.

Stories like Tom’s are the reason I do what I do, and the reason I started this channel in the first place. If I could help one person, one dog, it would all be worth it.

It blows my mind every day the impact that my small brand has had since I started it just 2 short years ago. Providing content that I believe everyone should know and offering that for free is what my channel is all about. What I did not foresee were the raw success stories and connections that it would present me…stories like Tom’s, rescue organizations around the country featuring my videos in their volunteer programs, young students reaching out for guidance on how to become a dog trainer, and the sheer sense of community I have with my followers.

YouTube has changed from a casual hobby aside from my main job, into another passion and now great responsibility. I hope to continue to make small ripples in this world through my videos in the coming years and am excited to see who that puts me in touch with next.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a full-time, certified professional dog trainer, and YouTube creator…and am extremely proud of both. As a kid, we were all told, “follow your dreams!”. But as we got older, we were told: “…but it has to be practical and within reason”. Dog training, when I was growing up, was never an option of a career that you could work towards. It wasn’t until halfway through college when I met my mentor, that I realized it was a realistic possibility.

Friends and family were supportive of it as a hobby and part-time gig in college, but I don’t think most of them thought I could make a living off it full-time. Anyone that knows me, however, knows that when I set my mind to something, I give 110%, every time and try my hardest to make it happen. So, this was no different! I put a wall up between me and the doubtful thoughts surrounding me and went for it. Within a year after graduating from college, I had two professional dog training certifications under my belt and was well into working with clients at that point.

I was told early on that I “had a knack” for this, and it became apparent that a lot of my clients would return simply because they enjoyed working with me as a person. For someone who originally got into this for the dogs, this came as a surprise to me. I have always liked interacting with people, but it quickly became a piece of the puzzle I didn’t realize I would enjoy so much.

Being a dog trainer is all about solving puzzles every day, and problem-solving. I wanted to do this on a larger scale than what my job at the time had the capacity for. I wanted to help more people, reach a larger audience. And by larger, let me just say that my original expectation was maybe just a handful? I didn’t have lofty goals back when I started my YouTube channel. I thought, if I could help one or two people, that would make it all worth it.

Well… fast forward to now, my account reaches roughly 30,000 people per month. I still can’t believe that number. I am still a small channel, but I think my success has come from the fact that I genuinely just want to help people with their dogs.

Good quality dog training videos are a missing link online, I knew that years before starting my channel. I would sift through videos for hours just to find a good one demonstrating the concept I was trying to get a client to understand. One day, I got fed up with looking for the perfect video and just started filming my own.

Someone close to me told me that I should consider posting these videos online. It took about 3 months from the time that thought initially entered my head to the time I posted my first video online. Let me tell you, watching myself on camera was one of the toughest things to get past. Especially training dogs while doing it! 99% of the time, if the dog messes up, it is usually due to something you inadvertently did. Watching all your mistakes back on video is a little painful initially. But guess what…it also made me a better trainer. Watching what you are doing wrong, absorbing that information, and making it better for the future is one of the things I recommend all trainers out there experience.

Now, on my YouTube platform, it is extra important that I harness those mistakes, or call them out when I make them so people can learn from me as well. A lot of what I try to emphasize on my channel is that we are all living beings (including our dogs!) and will make mistakes. And that is okay! I want to normalize dogs being dogs, and humans being humans.

I have started a video series titled “Real Life Training” that involves a full, unedited training session with my dog, Wrigley. Instead of just showing the steps of how to teach something (which I also make videos like this), I show the struggles myself and my dog go through in the training process. And more importantly, how I deal with those struggles and get through them. I believe that is a huge missing link for people training their own dogs at home. Our dogs are dogs, and learning is not linear, there are going to be bumps in the road, and teaching people how to get through these is a massive part of what I do. But this can be hard to show in a video format. So far, I have gotten great feedback from these videos, and plan to continue them in the future.

Mental stimulation and enrichment videos are actually the big piece of my channel that unexpectedly took off and is the direct credit of the majority of my channel’s success. This is a relatively new “hot topic” in dog training, and for good reason! Working our dog’s brains is equally as important as exercise and should be incorporated daily. I take great interest in this topic, and they tend to be the most popular videos on my channel.

Keeping up with my YouTube channel isn’t easy, and usually involves staying up late after I have already worked a full day. But making the time for it is worth it and will continue to be worth it in the future as well.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Northern Colorado is full of some amazing places and things to do! If my best friend were to visit, the first place we would go is up into the mountains to visit Rocky Mountain National Park. Some of my favorite memories took place in this park, and it is in my opinion something that everyone needs to see.

We also love our beer here, and there is no shortage of breweries around! Touring some of the popular ones like New Belgium and Odells tend to be on my friend’s minds when they come, but I also enjoy taking them to some of the smaller ones like Prost, and Verboten. Also, a great place to meet some awesome locals!

Fort Collins itself is a place I became very familiar with through college and remains to be one of my favorite cities. Great places to eat, hang out, and shop all in one! Walking around town is great, and you are bound to find a place to eat that suits your fancy – the options are endless!

Rock climbing has quickly become a new hobby of mine, and very much a Colorado thing to do, so taking friends to check out my climbing gym would absolutely be a stop for us as well!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to dedicate this shoutout to two very important people in my life. Ryan, my loving partner who has supported me through everything, and actively helps me with some behind-the-scenes work on my YouTube channel. I could not do this without him!

And secondly, Cathie Lee, my mentor, my boss, and long-time friend. She took me in when I was just a kid and showed me the ropes on how to be the best dog trainer I could be. Without her, I would not have had the confidence to start my YouTube channel or pursue dog training full-time.

I still work for her, as her Supervising trainer at K9 Wisdom Training and Consulting, LLC in Loveland, CO. I am grateful to work for such an amazing human being and am still learning every day from her.

Website: https://www.k9wisdomtraining.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sarahcertified/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sarah.walsh.9022662/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9K_VHBK7r5FyXiJYIfgLNA

Image Credits
Not applicable, all taken by me.

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