We had the good fortune of connecting with Savannah James and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Savannah, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I discovered dog training during a very low point in my life. I was given the opportunity to participate in a dog training program and it changed my life. The first 30 days I had an instructor with me 24/7 and she taught me how to teach dogs basic commands. Nothing had ever been so interesting in my life. I began to understand in order to be able to train a dog I had to be able to understand how a dog’s mind works. So I spent my days training dogs and when the dog was tired I would let them relax and open up my books and start studying. At this point dog training was becoming my main priority. I started taking on harder cases or what we would call “last chance dogs.” Which meant if this dog didn’t change in the time they spent with me then they would be put down and honestly I liked the challenge and hated the idea of a dog being put down when we could fix it. But it does go deeper than that because I understood what was going on in these dog’s mind. They didn’t mean to bite someone, they were just scared. They didn’t mean to bark at every dog they saw on a walk, they were just excited. And I kept reading more about dogs and their true nature and I realized they are social animals and it isn’t natural for them to dislike other dogs, it isn’t natural for them to dislike humans. They are loving, and eager to please if they are raised in the right environment with the correct structure. So I believe I can help them and honestly that is why I pursued a dog training career. Because everyone deserves a second chance, even our dogs.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Dog training is my passion. It really comes from my heart and the amount of dedication I have is what I think really sets me a part from others. It’s not just a job or a career for me, it is my life. Nothing makes me happier than teaching dogs new commands or breaking bad behaviors. I’ve studied every method possible and in my experience I’ve learned dog training is an art not a science. There isn’t one method that works on all dogs. Some dogs need all positive, some dogs need a martingale collar, and some dogs respond very well to a verbal correction when they are misbehaving. Not only that but each and every dog I’ve encountered is motivated by something different. I would say a large portion of dogs are motivated by food and that is always my go to. But if they’re not I’ve used toys, bones, praise, and even just a couple pets and I think it is critical to find the thing that makes your dog tick. What does your dog love? Use it to your advantage to train. I’ve faced many challenges as a dog trainer but I think the biggest one was finding someone to give me a chance to share my knowledge. In the very beginning I tried to work at shelters, and even dog daycares and every place I worked knew that I had something special with dogs but I ran into the issue of them already having a trainer and not needing me in that aspect but needing me as a dog handler, an assistant groomer, or even working reception. So I stopped trying to work under someone and I started my own dog training business and it was the best decision I ever made. Finally I was able to make a difference where I knew I could. Every client I have had has told me in length about how amazed they were that it just took a few simple adjustments to coexist with their dog happily and that’s all I’ve ever wanted. I have spent 4 years educating myself and taking classes and attending virtual seminars just to be able to share my knowledge and make sure every dog had a chance to live happily. Training is more for the dog than it is for us. Imagine being brought into a world and not being able to understand what is going on around you, or what anybody wants from you. An untrained dog lives a very chaotic life but all it takes is 30 minutes a day to teach your dog a few simple words like sit, or down and just like that their life becomes balanced. They don’t feel so out of place in this world. They feel happy and confident. I want everyone to know how important training your dog is. We all love our furry friends so much, so let’s help them gain an understanding of our world that we domesticated them for. They deserve it and quite frankly we need to be up for this challenge when we bring our dog home and if I can get all of denver to understand this, I think we will have a better community all around.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Well a lot of my friends are very similar to me in the aspect I spend so much of my free time outdoors.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I believe the way I was taught to train dogs in the very beginning is what set me up for success. I had some of the most knowledgeable and dedicated dog trainers guiding me towards a successful career so I would like to give a shout out to my very first instructor Sarah Berry. As well as my talented friends in the dog training world Denise Presson and Sandra Jacobson. I wouldn’t be where I am at today without their guidance.