Abita Gets a Baby Brother

AbitaWhen Mike and I found out we were pregnant, we realized the time had finally come to reign in the bad behaviors of our first baby, our American bulldog Abita. We had adopted her when she was two from a college friend who had already trained her quite well. Naturally sweet-natured, Abita came to live with us with the perks of also being house-broken, aware of her name, and able to "shake" on command. We affectionately came to call her "the girl," as her loyalty and affection broke us of ever establishing many house rules. Instead, she slept where we slept, sat where we sat, and more or less walked us around the neighborhood.

We met Jenn of 2SpeakDog at the monthly Birth Talk meetings that she facilitates and soon decided our girl could use a refresher on dog manners and some tightening up before baby. What we didn't realize was that we were the ones who needed the discipline! We first attended 2SpeakDog's Dogs and Babies: Fostering a Healthy Pack Part I class and learned that if we wanted Abita's behaviors to change, we needed to first change our own. So our first assignment was to ditch the baby-talk and constant questions (questions like, "Abita, do you want to go for a walk? Do you need to go pee pee outside? You want a treat, girl?" to which Jenn wisely asked, "Does she ever say no?"); establish proper "door etiquette;" and once and for all, create some furniture boundaries. She also talked us through ideas for introducing our skittish girl to unfamiliar baby items like the car seat and stroller and suggested ways to later best introduce her to our baby when we all came home from the birthing center together. It was so helpful to have a plan in place that would honor our relationship with our dog during this big, family transition. We later took the walking workshop to establish a better routine for our girl. She was notorious for stopping and sitting, chasing after squirrels, and pulling us harder than we could handle. After trading in her old harness for a new collar and practicing our new walking techniques, we finally began to make some headway, creating confidence in us to later successfully walk her alongside the stroller.

Aside from the practical tools learned, Jenn also taught us these lessons: when baby comes, your dog will simply become your dog and that's ok, and there's no room for guilt in parenting - both babies and dogs.

Abita has eagerly welcomed home our son, greeting him with excited licks every time we return home and seemingly guarding him from our bed as he naps in his nearby bassinet. She gently joins him for tummy time on the floor and snuggles the three of us on the sofa - from her designated, blanketed area, of course. As we settle in as a new family of four, we are grateful for the lessons learned through 2SpeakDog's baby-specific classes. It was a worthwhile investment and opportunity to focus on our dog during those final months of the pregnancy so that we can now invest our energy into getting to know our child.

Catherine & family

Zeppelin graduates

Zeppelin3JD, thanks so much for all your help with Zeppelin.  All of your tips and tricks with training have made a huge difference!  We look forward to signing up for the Intermediate class.

Ryan and Tara


Julep's mom learns '2SpeakDog'

JulepI just want to let you know I found your class over the last six weeks to be both wonderful and informative.  You have really helped Julep and I establish a method of communication that we might not have found so easily on our own.



Ella’s tranformation amazes

EllaI just wanted to thank you again. We had such a great visit! We all learned so much! Ella has done really well since Saturday! Amazing well! So, where is my dog? What have you done with her? Just kidding! :)

I took Ella to visit with my girlfriend and her dog (7 year lab named Daisy). The dogs absolutely love each other. My girlfriend lives in the fan. We took a long walk together – Did some more of the back and forth walking with the long leash in the Va Museum yard. Daisy joined in and started following behind me too. It was too funny!! Ella did not growl and bark at bikes, runners, baby carriages, and other dogs. It was amazing.

I've been taking her on regular walks through the neighborhood – Every now and then she will get alarmed by dogs barking – But I'm able to tell her it's okay, she's safe with me – and presto – she's calm. Another thing was finding out that she really was looking for me to protect her and to let her feel I had everything under control. That was a revelation to me. I can now tell her "Hey, I got this. You don't need to be growling." and she hears me. She knows what I am saying and she totally gets that!

We've been working on door etiquette and been playing the hide & seek game. We are doing great! Just wanted to let you know how much we really needed your services! We are all very happy! :-)



When I adopted my first dog from the local animal shelter I was overjoyed at the chance of having a new friend in my life. I knew during the process that I was taking on a shy little "fixer-upper" with a colorful assortment of treatable health issues. What I didn't know was my new partner in crime was also severely under socialized and wouldn't let another dog within thirty feet of her without giving it a piece of her mind. Jennifer Kyzer was truly instrumental in my "busted border"'s miraculous rehabilitation. She not only met with me privately with her dogs to teach my dog right from wrong, she taught my dog the leash was her friend, not just another tie out in the back yard of her former life. Despite my new dog's fearful and almost feral demeanor, Kelda and I were able to undergo basic obedience training under Jennifer's guidance.

I've had Kelda for almost 4 years now and the difference in her behavior is remarkable. She is a healthy, dog and human friendly, funny, adorable and loving 6 year old best friend with a constant smile on her face and a heart of gold. She's lived with a plethora of dogs and cats over the years and currently has two animal siblings who she considers her best friends. I have since started volunteering with rescue and animal welfare/protection organizations and got a full time job at the shelter I adopted my dog from. In short, working with Jennifer and rehabilitating my first pet has changed my life. My partner and I are in the process of adopting our second dog and are pleased to have Jennifer helping us along the way.


Hank becomes an “American gentleman”

HankWith a face like this, it's hard to believe Hank could be a total monster at times. But, he got to the point where crazy eyes and guttural growls were all too frequent, scaring both of us. He used to lunge up at our faces when we put a collar and/or leash on him, bit and nipped to the point of bruised arms and calves, and even chomped the vet who suggested getting him into obedience school as soon as possible before things got worse.

Despite the fact that he was just a wee pup (16 weeks or so at the time), we took his advice and enrolled Hank in Jennifer's six week, basic obedience class and saw a change almost immediately. His ability to focus and settle down improved, but he was still having his aforementioned "episodes." She showed us a few things to try at home during these fits which subdued, but didn't totally stop them. Her suggestion for a private lesson was the perfect solution to our puppy trouble. During the two hour plus session, we discussed some root causes of his behavior issues (most of which stemmed from a traumatic choking incident at just a few weeks old) and began rehabilitative work based on that.

Now, we are sans bites and attitude when putting anything around his neck and he prances like a little show dog on a loose leash making for a pleasant walking experience. Guiding Hank with the cool and collected leadership skills that Jennifer taught us, we've uncovered the "American gentleman" that Boston Terriers are supposed to be. We're also applying Jennifer's dog mantra of "Nothing is a big deal" to our daily life and it works for us too!

Hilary and Jenn

Koda makes a remarkable turn-around

KodaWhen we called Jennifer we were at our wits end with our unruly, aggressive dog. Jennifer immediately changed our dynamic with Koda and gave us a tractable rehabilitation strategy. Today, Koda is a happy, well-behaved member of our family. The difference is remarkable!

Michael and Bethany

Bailey and Ben are now buds

BaileyThis is our son Ben with his best bud Bailey! Although neither look particularly happy in the picture, they are getting along very well (in large part thanks to the techniques you taught us). Thanks so much for your helpful tips and insights, they really helped smooth the transition!

Brian and Kristen

Miko is a happy well behaved dog

mikoMiko is a purebred German Shepherd dog. I got Miko from the Monks of New Skete when she was 10 weeks old. From the time I brought her home, Jennifer Kyzer has been an integral part of her training.

Jennifer has been an invaluable resource as a trainer and overall support for raising Miko. Today Miko is a very happy well behaved, obedient and well socialized dog. Jennifer's knowledge, experience and consistency have played an invaluable part in raising Miko.


Carson’s training pays off

CarsonCarson and I are so very pleased with the training that Jennifer has done. Carson is responsive to commands, walks beautifully on leash and is a more confident and secure pet. I am very satisfied and content.



Just wanted to give you an update. Marty has been doing a GREAT job!!!!!!!!!!!!! Saturday evening he was tested on our walk several times because we ran into two stray dogs. We managed to avoid them but his walk overall has been great. My boyfriend couldn't believe his eyes when he saw him walking against my knee. Yesterday, was great too. We walked to my sister's to show off. Her boyfriend couldn't believe how well he was doing on a leash. I still have a little trouble with other dogs but it seems to be better than before. I think his controlled state of mind adds to the lack of aggression. Thanks for everything.


Guinness and Gypsy make great progress

Gypsy & GuinnessMy wife and I moved to Richmond with two Rottweilers, Guinness and Gypsy. One had issues with fear and stress while the other developed some dog and people aggression.

Jennifer worked with both of them and with patience, a calm assertion and lots of encouragement, did wonders for the dogs. The one with fear issues acclimated to city life and the other is making great progress on socialization. We had a great visit this Thanksgiving with our family and they couldn't believe how well behaved they were.

Kevin and Kate

Bitsy is improving

BitsyJennifer came to our house and spent a couple of hours to assess Bitsy, our Chihuahua. When we adopted Bitsy, we were told that Bitsy was a rescue amputee with phantom pains. She is very sweet until these pains kick in. Dog Talk was recommended by our Vet, Dr Hiser, to help with her behavioral issues. Anyway, Jennifer helped immediately.

Jennifer confirmed our vet's evaluation that the phantom pain was more behavioral than physical. She gave us three options to overcome this and our homework was to find two more ways. These solutions have worked wonders. My wife brought tension into the relationship with Bitsy and I wouldn't give any discipline. Jennifer explained to us our problems, so we could in turn help Bitsy. I can't wait until our follow up visit with her in a few weeks.

As instructed, we are still hand feeding Bitsy. When she growls before her episodes, we either offer the snack in our hand, pick her up, and/or I can even grunt or speak to her to bring her back. The episodes she had on Tuesday evening/Wednesday weren't as severe as the ones she had before your visit. Bitsy is improving.


Cricket remains calm after her private lesson

cricketBefore Private Lesson: Cricket and I came to some classes a few months ago, and she is pretty obedient, except that she is awfully territorial/protective of me at home. Cricket is a rescue pup, and I don't know what she experienced prior to being adopted, but I have also noticed she gets startled easily and gets mad when someone startles her.

After Private Lesson: Thank you SO much for yesterday! We had friends over last night, and Cricket was amazing. We talked to them on the phone before they came in, and told them what to do/not do. Cricket was calm, no jumping or nipping!! WOW!

A million thank yous!


Annie makes quick progress

AnnieThanks so much again for coming out. We really found your advice so helpful and have been working diligently to apply it. Annie is making a lot of progress in her walking. On Tuesday morning, she'd stopped the biting while walking but also stopped the walking! :) She refused to budge. But she's since progressed very nicely. She's starting to get it. She doesn't nip at my legs anymore and walks nicely beside me for the most part with a loose leash. Yeah! Lots of work still but definitely progress! Thanks so much!

She's doing a good job waiting to walk out the door, sitting when asked, waiting and coming, and is definitely doing less nipping. Still lots of work to do; so nice to see progress so quickly though.

Georgia, Rob, Samantha and Gabbie

Delilah helps train her boy

DelilahDelilah is doing great with her training. She is responding very nicely to the walks up and down the street and has even heeled for a block or so. It has also been good training for the 8 year old male human. Teaching him to pay attention to be very aware of how his behavior affects other beings is fantastic for him. It is also a great lesson to him on how important boundaries and limits are and what happens when an animal (or kid) is allowed too much freedom.

Thank you so much for both dog and boy training!


Minerva gets her cute puppiness back

MinervaWhen I emailed Jennifer for our first private lesson, I was worried that my young puppy had turned into a monster. Minerva the Italian Spinoni was then four months old. Even at four months, her play style was harsh: she bit and snapped at me during play. She was jumping up, she had little respect for my personal space, and she would run at me to try to get a taste of my hand as she made her pass. Walks were very hard.

Jennifer came to my house in the mid-afternoon. She immediately established the relationship with my dog that I knew I should have. It was uplifting to see my dog calm and cute again. Jennifer worked with Minerva and got to know the two of us and my specific needs as a pet owner. We set both long-term and short term goals. Jennifer showed me specific strategies for dealing with Minerva's personality.

Later that evening, Minerva acted up. I managed to remain calm despite Minerva's strong and resilient attempts to bite at me. I left a message for Jennifer and she called me back within an hour. She talked me through specific actions to take to get Minerva calmed. They worked and I had my cute puppy back – this time because I did the work. That was a real confidence-builder.

Minerva and I are on the way to a proper relationship. Jennifer Kyzer has made as big an impression on me as she did on Minerva, and I see a calm, monsterless future with my puppy.


Dogs and Babies workshop a hit with Roxy

Roxy & WalkerMy husband Brian and I had a great time at Dogs and Babies yesterday! We learned so much. We are looking forward to our two-hour initial consultation with Jennifer in our home to work with Roxy.

Many thanks!


Toki's progress brings hope

TokiToki is doing well overall with the new rules. Although she's very agitated by dogs walking by outside, she is now spending less time on the sofa so she notices them less often. I took her to PetSmart to get her claws done and she was very sweet, didn't drag me on the leash, and was gentle and submissive when she met another dog in the parking lot.

There is definite overall progress, and progress gives us hope! I had her in a legitimate sloppy heel for the first time last week, and I wanted to do a victory dance!


Noah heads in the right direction

NoahWe are seeing some good improvements with Noah. He's doing well with greeting people at the door (no more jumping) and we're working daily with the exercises. He catches on quick and he knows exactly what we want when we do the "focus" exercise, and he's very good with the respectful hands. He's not snapping anymore when we try to get things from his mouth and I've found that a small spoonful of peanut butter does the trick and he'll drop just about anything for it. We've also noticed that the barking is getting better.

Noah is also much better at staying off our bed which is what we wanted most. Plus the new feeding ritual is working like a charm! Thank you very much for the suggestions. I'm still having a little trouble with the walking, mainly pulling and getting distracted by other people. I am looking forward to your suggestions at our next session. I definitely think we are going in the right direction.


Incredibly helpful workshop

CateThanks Jennifer! We both thought the workshop was incredibly helpful and appreciated your time and help.


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