A friend who said she was amazing referred me to Tracy, from The Big Backyard. Because I had recently adopted a dog that I worried didn't have great socialization skills, I wanted to check it out and see if he could get used to being around other dogs. The first time I took my dog, Brody, to the BBY, he didn't exactly "pass" his interview because of the way he was around other dogs. While Tracy told me she couldn't accept him into the daycare, she spent the next hour that day talking to me about things I could do with Brody to address some of the issues I was having with him. But before that, I had to learn how to become the pack leader, as I was dealing with a very dominant, alpha, stubborn (not to mention 90lbs. of pure muscle) dog.

I used some of the suggestions Tracy made (read both of Cesar Milan's books, starting using a back-pack with Brody) but I still felt like I wasn't quite making the progress with him that I was hoping for. So I had Tracy come to my house for a 3-hour intensive training session, and since that time, I have made huge strides with Brody. I have learned how to control him on our walks together by showing him that I am the leader and that he doesn't have to be threatened by other dogs. By walking him between 45 minutes to an hour every morning (and another 45 minutes at night) - with his backpack on that carries almost 20lbs of rice - he definitely is more focused on his walks and comes home tired out and more relaxed. I am able to pick up on his cues much better now; I have learned to understand what sets him off and am able to address the issue before it ever comes about.

Tracy taught me that in order to have a balanced dog, I have to take the lead. I have to be the alpha in our relationship and teach Brody that he can trust me and that he is to follow my lead. But above all, I have to give him exercise, discipline, and affection - in that order- or we both get totally out of whack! Brody now takes his cues from me; he looks at me for direction before we ever leave the house and will look up to me as we are walking to get the next cue for what to do. While I've only had Brody for seven months, he has made such incredible progress, and I attribute that to the amazing work that Tracy did with us. I should say, the work was really for ME, and now I am just continually working to transfer what I learned to Brody and make him understand that he is safe and can trust his pack leader. He is well on his way to becoming a balanced dog and will hopefully someday be able to play at The Big Backyard! Tracy is an amazing trainer to work with, and I have learned so incredibly much from her!

Katie Symons