Hi. I’m Cloudine, owner, certified trainer (CPDT-KA), and instructor at In Joy Dog Training. In Joy has been in business for 10 years, but my professional experience with animals extends beyond 20 years, Needless to say, my background story is a little long:
My introduction to animal training started with horses when I was just 9 on a lounge line. I learned how to “sit” before ever being handed the reins to a horse’s mouth, and thus began my appreciation of how critical good foundation training is to excellence. Being so young, I was a malleable, receptive, unencumbered sponge, with access to strong instruction that allowed me to advance in leaps and bounds. Soon I was riding 2-5 horses a day, 4-6 days a week, working as an instructor and training and exercising peoples’ horses for them, with the goal of becoming an Olympic level horseback rider. My abilities and luck offered me such exceptional opportunities as traveling to Germany as a working riding student for two exceptional riders (Herr Plaege and Colonel Herr von Ziegner). While I thoroughly enjoy training to the highest levels, I learned that competition is not something I enjoy. However, pushing myself to grow and expand as a trainer is something I find really fulfilling. So, after 8 years of riding horses, I switched to driving horse-drawn carriages…in downtown Chicago.
I have to tell you, there is nothing like driving a horse down a city street, pulling up next to someone lost in thought, having a bad day, and surprising them with an obscure sight and a funny remark. Words cannot adequately describe what such an experience (working with a flighty animal in impossible conditions, while entertaining passengers) taught me. Never a dull moment, I assure you.
After over a decade of working with these incredible animals, the horse and I parted ways. It wasn’t until my own dog needed something more from me that I began looking into what we could do together. She was a really great dog so we tried agility.
Agility is a really fun sport, though, I feel like agility (and clicker training, for that matter) is best done well or not at all. The focus is on fast accuracy and fun, and for that you need real self-control and confidence from your dog, which can only be taught by making your dog “smart” by teaching them in positive and fun ways. There’s no end to learning for you, me, or the dogs. It’s my kind of sport.
More recently, sometime in the last 5 years, I found out about a new sport: Rally-FrEe. Julie created the sport as a way to improve foundation skills for musical freestyle with this hybrid of a Rally-O style course combined with many more behaviors than in traditional Obedience with the addition of tricks and creativity. With so many behaviors, It motivated me to become a more efficient and thoughtful trainer in order to keep dogs from getting confused. During my initial pursuit into the sport, I was commanded to arrange my first freestyle routine. Freestyle is a free form compilation where dogs are required to perform tricks back to back, easily upwards of 30 behaviors, without any primary reinforcement. This teaches us so much about how to build behavior chains and delay reinforcement while keeping a dog motivated. It is quite a skill to be able to get a dog enthusiastically working so hard!
Thanks to the wealth of information available to us in our current technological age, I’ve studied (and continue to study) with people all over the world, both in person and online. I’m grateful to so many, especially the many dogs that I’ve had the privilege to work with over the years. Rather than owning a large number of dogs, for years I preferred working with other people’s dogs, getting experience with all sorts of temperaments, all sorts of histories, and various training agendas.
Competition is an enormous time commitment, and I don’t have the desire to be too active at shows. Agility can be enjoyed anywhere that you have equipment set up. So, there is no need to regularly invest entire days at a competition, unless that social environment is what your into. However, I enjoy Rally-FrEe and Freestyle so much that I compete and judge for RFE.
It’s important to test dogs in tough environments, not just in the show ring but in real life scenarios in various locations on a regular basis. Training to the point that your dog can function out in the world is ideal to help ready dogs for the competition environment, but beyond that it educates your dog about how to “be” so you can include your dog more in your life…The more constructive experiences your dog has, the greater his ability to “behave”. The better your dog can “behave”, the easier it is to include him more. The more you include him, the better he gets. But, if you only train at home or a training building, you won’t be able to reap all the benefits dog training has to offer. It’s not necessarily easy, and that’s where I come in. I would like nothing more than to help you learn how to train in all sorts of different scenarios. One of my most memorable moments was heeling Irie through thick Christmas crowds in downtown Seattle, moving completely in sync, tackling so many distractions while performing tricks on top of demonstrating incredible heelwork and attention. Though the attention and heelwork were the more impressive skills, it’s the tricks that make kids and adults smile (while reinforcing the dog and relieving pressure!).
But, above all else, I want training to be a joy for everyone who does it. Good training is viewed by the dog as playing. Within that play we cleverly add all sorts of challenges that teach a dog to develop impulse-control (otherwise known as obedience), to think and listen, honoring the individual dog for her talents by sculpting them into worthwhile outlets that are enjoyable for both you and the dog while teaching your dog important skills. This leads to a relationship with your dog where your dog sticks with you, not because he has a leash on, but because he wants to. Because you never know, it might be time for another game! 😉
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