How I became a dog trainer

NancyBy Nancy Paolucci

One of my favorite activities at the lake is to run around it first thing in the morning. It’s quiet, there are very few cars, and it’s a great way to start my day. However, I am fully aware that I am always scanning to make sure I won’t be ambushed by an off leash dog. This happens often because many people don’t have fences and just let their dogs out in their yards.

I have a confession – I am a dog trainer and I am afraid of off leash dogs.

Maybe afraid isn’t the right word, but I am definitely cautious and always have been. I walked to school every day in grade school and can remember the wave of fear that came over me when I would see a dog coming my way. So how did I become a dog trainer, who has three dogs and at times are surrounded by more, often very large dogs like malamutes?

It all started with two cats. I moved in with my husband and he had two amazing “dog” cats. You know, the friendly ones, who come when called, love to be petted and were very social. They were amazing brothers and when they both died within months of each other we knew we would never find such awesome cats again. Plus I am very allergic, so we decided on a dog for our next family member.

That’s when my life’s path changed and I didn’t even know it!

Abby, a setter mix, came to us and stole my heart. She’s the sweetest dog you will meet, but Abby came with some baggage in the form of anxiety – something I didn’t realize could happen to dogs.

After adding another setter to our family a few months later, I started training them and reading books by Pat Miller and Patricia McConnell. I couldn’t get enough! I knew I wanted to be a dog trainer, but how? I looked into all of the online programs and some local in person courses. I reached out and had many conversations with a local trainer who started her own program and over the next year attended a number of her open houses. It’s a big decision to change where you are going in life and it took me a couple of years to actually make it happen, but the first day of class at FetchFind Academy, I knew I was in the right place for me. I have to remind myself every day that I am a DOG TRAINER;  it doesn’t seem real!

As my breadth of knowledge continues to grow, that fear of dogs begins to change into more of a cautious respect. My family continues to laugh and wonder how the little girl who was afraid of dogs now spends her life being surrounded by them. This is the place I am meant to be and I couldn’t be happier.


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