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dog stories

We love helping owners and dogs develop enjoyable lifelong partnerships and are honored that so many people have pursued a + dog education. Each client's training journey has inspired us and we know they inspire others, too. By sharing their stories, these clients make a difference in the lives of other dog owners who may be facing the same challenges and looking for a path to success. Enjoy their journeys as we have!


Dakota's Story
February 26, 2012, Dakota was born in Iowa. In April, she and her brother made the long journey via plane to Boston where they took up residence at the Pikapup Kennel in Holliston, MA. Around the same time, I made the decision to look for a puppy to love. I came across Dakota's picture on the Pikapup website and fell in love. The next day, I went to Holliston where we had an immediate connection.

Before I knew it, I was in the car with a tiny adorable puppy, a bunch of supplies hastily purchased and sheer panic. What the heck did I just do? How would I care for this puppy? Who would take care of her during the day while I was working? Did I even remember how to raise an adaptable and well -adjusted dog? This was my first pet as an adult. After many sleepless nights and numerous accidents on my brand new floors, I was about to return Dakota. Surely someone else would be better equipped to care for her. After a combination of dog walkers, day care and puppy training that was marginal at best, I was referred to Pawsitive Dog.

Initially, I was terrified. I wasn't sure I could correct my dog without feeling bad about it. I wasn't sure I was disciplined enough to be consistent. I felt clumsy in class. I doubted that I could be a good leader. There were tears of frustration. I just wanted my little Dakota to be happy. With the support of the Pawsitive Dog team, Dakota and I have made terrific progress over the past two years. We have grown as a team and I have realized that we have entered into a lifelong process. I was so proud when Dakota passed her Canine Good Citizenship and Temperament tests.

Each morning when I drive her to day school, she happily bounds out of the car, tail wagging, ready to engage and learn. Although we still have a few challenges ahead of us, I am now confident that Dakota and I will grow together and achieve our goals. Looking back, I am relieved that I did not give up on our partnership. I couldn't imagine my life without her.

In retrospect, I would have taken a bit more time upfront to prepare myself for being a dog owner and for seeking our expert advice and guidance. I hope that others considering dog ownership will do the same.

— Helene


Lachlan's Story
It was my dream to have a dog. I finally made the decision to get one and had my heart set on a Scottish Terrier. I loved their dignified and loyal demeanor and I envisioned the two of us becoming best of friends, doing everything together.

Then reality set in.

Lachlan started out young at two months with a local trainer. He brushed off my concerns about him lashing out towards runners and told me he would always be "feisty" but not to worry. When he turned one he started getting very aggressive and tried to attack anything and everything- kids, dogs, adults, trash cans, fire trucks, you name it. After our first incident I decided to try another trainer, with no real improvement. Lachlan was getting worse and worse every day and eventually I dreaded even taking him out for bathroom breaks for fear that he could seriously hurt someone.

I decided I was going to try one more trainer at the recommendation of a friend, and if he did not show improvement I would have to put him down. The tears I shed, the number of hours I spent with a lump in my throat worrying about my dog and what he might do were starting to take an emotional toll on me and my friends and family noticed a change in me.

The trainers at Pawsitive Dog have brought about an amazing change in Lachlan. At his consultation he was a barking, lunging, snarling beast. Now, seven months later, he looks to me for direction and can participate in field trips to the drive-in and apple picking. He participates in Doggie Defense to boost his confidence and help control his instincts. He looks forward to weekly training classes and prances around the center like the social, stable dog Jen knew he could be.

Not only has Pawsitive Dog given my dog the confidence boost he needs, it also provides a safe haven for those of us with behaviorally challenging dogs. Trainers and trainees alike have created a judgment free zone in which anyone can learn. I look forward to each and every class we attend!

I have the Pawsitive Dog to thank for saving Lachlan's life. Without their encouragement, knowledge, and support , he would not be here with me today. We still have a lifetime of training ahead of us, and I cannot wait to see where it will lead us!

— Rebecca and Lachlan


Bentley's Story
I just wanted to take a moment to thank you both and your entire Pawsitive Dog Team! I look back at where Bentley started to where he is now, and it is completely night and day and for that I am so grateful. I know that he still has a ton to learn (as do I), but you have given both of us the most amazing gift - a true partnership, one that is built on love, trust and respect. Trust is still a work in progress but we practice everyday and I am 100% confident that with your guidance, the two of us will get there. With your help and the tools that you have given to me, I have been able to truly enjoy all things/activities that I didn't think I could ever do with my dog - from hiking to strolling around the neighborhood with little to no reaction to other dogs to just romping on the floor - our relationship grows stronger every day and that is all because of you!

So thank you again!! You guys are truly one of a kind and the best investment I have ever made.

Here is a picture from this weekend of Bentley and I getting out and joining nature together. He just loves running through the trails and it warms my heart and puts a smile on my face seeing him having the time of his life. After all, isn't this what being a dog owner is all about!

All the best,
— Kim


Harper's Story
I'd like to nominate The Pawsitive Dog for best dog trainer in Boston.  Here is why....

I have a 2 year old rescue, Harper, that I got at 4 months old.  While he was a puppy, my life was opened up to all the rewards and challenges of having a little companion. We would go on hikes, go to the dog park, go to the beach, and even to as many stores that would allow dogs as possible.   As he grew out of his puppy phase and I became more and more distracted by my own life changes, our relationship took a turn for the worse.  Harper started being incredibly aggressive towards other dogs.  We couldn't go to dog parks, we couldn't go hiking, and we couldn't even meet other dogs to play.  All the joys that I experienced became tainted.  After months of delay, I finally sought out help at The Pawsitive Dog.  After starting training we've become such a stronger pair than ever before.  I now have the confidence to handle Harper around other dogs and tools to work with Harper so he can be around other dogs.

The Pawsitive Dog has given me back my puppy, my dog that can go anywhere with me.  I don't sit at home, thinking 'what am I going to do with this crazy dog...am I going to have to give him up? Can I make this work?', I get to be at home and work with my dog every day to become better and stronger, thanks to what I am learning with The Pawsitive Dog.

This isn't a training school that sells you a package of classes and prints off a certificate at the end of the number of classes and calls it a day.  It is a structured system that is incremental at first (everyone starts off at the same point) but gets tailored to the dog and owner as they progress.  There are many different services offered to help the dog and owner succeed, and the attention to detail and owners is phenomenal.  The owner, staff, and visiting trainers are all 100% dedicated to the dogs and the dogs succeeding and go above and beyond consistently.
They are hands-down and paws-down the Best in Boston, and to me I will always owe them for restoring my relationship with Harper.

Thank you,
— Chris


Duke's Story
Thanks for all your help and support the past year or so. Duke is settling into our new home just perfectly and enjoying loving my special needs sister. Thanks to the pawsitive dog rules and adaptableness, he can also enjoy playing with my nieces and nephews (toddlers), whom before he was terrified of.

Thank you! 
— Julia & Duke





Wagner & Gibson's Story
Training at the pawsitive dog is not for everyone.

It's not quick-fix obedience training. Rather, it trains people how to interact with their dogs so that they can enjoy relationships with dogs who are happy, content, well-behaved and trustworthy. But, since people are hard to train, it requires a commitment.

I have trained 3 dogs--beginning as puppies--at the pawsitive dog for over 10 years. I give the pawsitive dog FULL credit for the fact that all of them were/are amazingly well-adjusted; obedient enough that I can take them to virtually anywhere with confidence--and importantly, happy. They absolutely LOVE going to the pawsitive dog for classes and Day School--and they LOVE the staff members. the pawsitive dog staff is expert and absolutely committed to setting up owners and their dogs for success. They offer innovative solutions to individual dogs' specific challenges. Their training techniques are positive (principally reward driven)--but not coddling.

Day School is amazing. If you think that most dogs, left to their own devices, spend their whole day sleeping, the pawsitive dog Day School is a big change. The staff is indefatigable. They are constantly giving the dogs different activities--from teaching them to overcome 12 distinct challenges just involved with adapting to a crate (who knew?); to giving them multiple, 1-on-1 short training sessions (dogs don't have long attention spans) focused on specific behaviors; to training them to be quiet and content on dog beds or tethers; to supervising play with appropriate canine companions (not a free-for-all where injuries can occur.) I recommend as many Day School sessions as you can afford. It's worth every penny.

Training classes don't work miracles (although the dogs are surprisingly well-behaved in class for the expert + dog staff). But, dog owners certainly learn the fundamentals. It's up to the owners to have enough commitment and discipline to reinforce the training outside the classroom. (I'll admit, I'm a bit of a slacker--but, I try.) Alternatively, if you can afford it, just invest in full-time Dog School, let the pawsitive dog staff train your dog--and try your best not to undo all that good work. Your dog will win Obedience Titles.

Here are some "human companions" for whom the pawsitive dog may not be a good match: People who:

  • have read a few books, watched a few videos and TiVOed "The Dog Whisperer" and THINK they know everything about dog training
  • think dogs are small people in fur coats and should be treated the same way humans are
  • are not willing to make ANY changes in how they interact with their dogs
  • are not willing to make a commitment to training and lesson reinforcement (aka lazy)
  • think that their relationship with their dog is a democratic one
  • expect their dogs to behave perfectly after a handful of classes
  • want a "quick-fix" obedience training
  • view their dogs as accessories/part of the furniture

Here are some "human companions" for whom the pawsitive dog likely is a perfect match: People who:

  • are open to new ways of interacting with their dogs
  • understand that training a dog, like the study of the Japanese language, can be a lifelong pursuit (although classes at + dog do not need to be)
  • can understand that dogs have a different value system from that of humans
  • are prepared to assert their role as the leader of the pack
  • are committed to consistency and reinforcement in helping their dog to learn
  • understand that loving your dog is different from spoiling your dog
  • view their dogs as responsible members of the family.


Gracie's Story
It's so funny to think about the evening we arrived with Gracie for our first consultation at The Pawsitive Dog. The room was filled with all sorts of curious canines, and we half expected someone to lead us with our loving, but dog-reactive Gracie to a quiet, private room where we could discuss our needs away from all the doggie distraction.

"Nope," said Jen. "You're gonna come right on in with Gracie!"

And that's the way things went from then on.

It was a little overwhelming, but it was such a relief to be told that we could handle this – that Gracie could handle this and more – and to discover all that our boxer girl had to teach us about resilience, new beginnings, and being open to the world.

We discovered that – in addition to discipline – there was a lot of love in that room for our Gracie and for us, even if we made a misstep. In dealing with Gracie's "separation anxiety," we had developed our own. But dropping Gracie off for doggie day school was so much easier with Breslin there taking Gracie's leash with a smile and a sweet "Come on, mama," or a "Let's go, sweet girl." And when we had to leave that sweet girl for our first weekend away, we had no doubt that Jen would take good care of her. What we didn't count on was how many great new experiences she would have at the farm. Gracie and horses? Really?!

Gracie made so much progress in her short time at The Pawsitive Dog – she became a loose-leash walking champ in our neighborhood, learned to live and let live with the squirrels and pigeons of the South End (sorry, stray cats – we were still working on that!), and encouraged us to take her on all sorts of exciting escapades – from hikes to road trips to soaking up the sun at dog-friendly beaches and enjoying a chew while we had drinks at a harbor-side bar that welcomed Gracie as one of their favorite patrons.

Gracie make it clear to us when it was time to let her go, and took care of us each step of the way. She was bursting with love right up until the end, giving us endless kisses in the final minutes when we were trying to comfort her.

It's hard not to wish that we had more time with our Gracie girl, but she packed a lifetime of adventure and affection into the sixteen months we had with her. We can only hope we did the same for her.

Thank you for the beautiful flowers that you sent – they really did Miss Gracie justice. And thank you for being our capable and loving trainers and friends, pushing us when it was right and being gentle with us when we needed it.

— Steven & Stephanie





Lyra's Story
Of all the things I will miss in Boston, the + dog is high at the top of my list. I cannot imagine another training center that could even compare to what you have built: it is so much more than just training, there is a real community and eye-opening lessons to be found at the + dog.

Before coming to you all, I was one of those people that loved dogs forever. I was pre-vet for a couple years, have worked and volunteered since childhood with animals but when I got Lyra, my first dog on my own, the reality of pet ownership smacked me upside the head. I've loved Lyra since I first saw her, when she was 9 weeks old, but something was missing … turns out it was wisdom! I went through a year of destructive/aggressive behavior with a dog that was not happy; not even $100s on toys, dog walkers, another dog … anything could fix it.

My life with Lyra is so different now. I love her all the same but she is so much happier now that we train 24/7. I could not have done it without your support and wisdom. I know I am on the path to having a stable and happy dog, which is all I wanted … even when I was clueless.

I promise you will hear from me in the future; the + dog has really inspired me to explore all things dog obedience. I have hooked up with two Schutzhund clubs in WA (not for Lyra, don't worry) and will be doing an internship of sorts for the next 6 months – 1 year, with the hopes to enter the sport someday.

Lyra and Pan will continue their training and I will update you constantly.

I truly cannot express what you both have done for all of us. My passion has a real direction now and I have the best foundation thanks to you.

— Jayson


Abby's Story
Although we've known for a long time that we have made progress with Abby, sometimes it's hard to see it in the day-to-day and week-to-week nature of our hectic lives. However, we've been thinking a lot about you this week as we've been able to take a 1 year time lapse snapshot of where we were and how far we've come. A year ago we camped in Acadia National Park for 3 nights with Abby. On the way up we stopped for lunch (Lobster Rolls on a dock - Talya's favorite) and I had to sit AT THE VERY END while Talya ordered and brought the food down. The week continued with this avoidance technique - finding empty places to hike and holding Abby back when she did try to eat every other hiker that passed, not going out for any more meals, and basically living in fear of an incident. At the time it felt like real progress since starting with you 6 months before - at least she could stay in a crate now! Additionally, no blood was drawn so it seemed like a very successful week.

Well, we're back in Acadia and it is completely different. Two fellow travelers shared french fries at the lobster shack, we've been all over the island, on carriage trails with horses, hiking trails, the busy streets of Bar Harbor, and even into gift shops and restaurant patios. Both dogs are social and their body language is trusting and loose. For the first time we didn't have to warn our friends that she was "sometimes aggressive when feeling threatened," we just let her chill and "say hello" when she was comfortable. She is completely different, and our family has a level of ease that simply wasn't possible last year.

It's the last night and we just watched the DogYouMentary. I cried when I saw Spike - just another reminder of the challenging and difficult work that you put in to these relationships.

Thank you again for all that you do,

— Yana, Talya, Abby and Ollie


Kiva's Story
When we first came to + dog, we really felt like we were at the end of our rope. Kiva's separation anxiety tied us to her and to the house - we felt like we couldn't leave her, even for a few minutes. When we did try, it meant a long process of pretending to ignore her, packing Kongs full of treats, setting up video cameras, and much more, and she usually barked the whole time we were gone anyway, annoying the neighbors. In apartment hunting, we tried to talk up how wonderful our dog was, all the while hoping they wouldn't realize that she would be obnoxious if we ever tried to leave her. We tried doggy prozac, useless "sit-stay" dog training classes, animal behaviorist home visits, everything. On top of all of this, Kiva now seemed be more aggressive than she ever had been before. We wondered if our need to stick her in doggy day care because she couldn't be left at home was making her nervous around other dogs, and our once-peaceful walks in the woods now became stressful when we passed another dog and Kiva started lunging and snarling.

From the beginning of our first class, we started noticing positive changes. We learned to feed ourselves first, then Kiva, and pretending to eat her food before we gave it to her was the magic trick - our dog who had always turned her nose up at her food and was somewhat underweight now gobbles up dinner - and has gained 10 pounds! Our neighbors must think we're crazy as we dance around the neighborhood doing loose-leash walking, but Kiva now trots along beside us, and when we pass another dog, will sit patiently and eat treats until they pass (most of the time).

The best part is our new-found freedom. Now that Kiva is learning that her crate is a safe spot and that barking is not allowed, we're able to go out to dinner, see concerts with friends, and go to other dog-unfriendly places. While she still seems a bit anxious when we get home, it takes her less and less time to calm down and be ready to be praised for being quiet in her crate.

Our friends and family have noticed the change in her too, saying she seems happier, and better behaved. We've talked about how much we know that Kiva has learned, but also how much we think we've learned, too. We're so grateful for this experience. We loved Kiva before our training, despite her faults, but we love her even more now that she is a more positive member of our family! I have been wanting to let you know how much we really appreciate all of your hard work, and to tell you about the amazing progress Kiva has made.

— Jessie, Brett & Kiva


Patty's Story
Ten years ago this fall, my partner Steven and I enrolled at Pawsitive Dog with a scared and withdrawn beagle named Patty whom we had just adopted (joined a year and a half later by her wacky basset brother Ernie). In the 4+ years that she was there, Patty was always the senior member of the group, so it may surprise you to learn that she is still alive and still running the household. Her joints are not what they were ten years ago, but, quite frankly, neither are mine. You can see from the picture that she is grayer than before (again, a trait we share). She has been, until very recently, in amazing health.

We had been putting her age in the 15-16 year range, but the vets are saying after the exams that it is more like 18. Whatever the exact age, in the words of the neurologist, "She is an ancient dog and for an ancient dog is absolutely remarkable." For quality of life issues, we have decided not to do treatments.  We are keeping her comfortable and happy. For the first time ever, she is allowed to eat whatever she wants and as much as she wants. She is thrilled.

As this joyous ten year journey of ours enters its last phase, we needed to write and thank you for the significant role that you played in it. The insecure and frightened dog we adopted never would have survived these ten years . It was only though the training and time with you that she developed the self-confidence she needed, built the trust in us she required, and blossomed in that Patty attitude that we all have come to know and love. Although you may not know it, you played a major role in making these the best ten years of our lives.
So on behalf of perhaps one of your oldest living alums (and me, Steven, and Ernie—the three men who love and worship her), we want to thank you and to let you to know that we will be eternally grateful for all that you did in making this possible. You have touched our lives and the lives of everyone who came into contact with Patty. She is an amazing dog and you were key in bringing that out.

We hope that all is well with you, that things continue to be successful at Pawsitive Dog, and that you are still making life joyous for all your clients.

— John, Steven & Ernie the basset


Tucket's Story
Tucket came into my life at the age of 14 months and I quickly realized that he was much more than I had bargained for. Busy is an understatement, pushy is an understatement, defiant is an understatement, and rude is definitely an understatement. I quickly realized that living in the city with a dog like Tucket – he pulled so hard while walking (to be more specific, jogging but not by choice) that I had to bless myself while crossing intersections in hopes that we didn't get hit, was definitely a hazard. Calling him to "come" actually made him look at me and run the opposite direction. Tucket barked at me, woke me at 4:30 a.m., moved his crate across the entire room trying to get out, pushed me with his nose when he wanted something, and when all else failed, mouthed me – he jumped on people in my home and on the street, took ice cream cones from children, and helped himself to groceries in people's bags we passed on the street. He was, pretty much, a nightmare. I remember being so exhausted one night – I looked at him with tears running down my cheeks and said, "I can give you a wonderful life but you are going to have to work with me."

Enter Jenifer Vickery, the saint. It took me some time to realize that it was me that desperately needed the training – I needed to learn to understand my dog, teach him to focus on me, follow my lead, and most importantly , respect me. Giving him toys and treats didn't earn respect but setting boundaries with him did. It was tough….he challenged me every inch of the way but through training Tucket learned to control his "enthusiasm" and has aged into a wonderful companion. I often look at him now and realize that without Jenifer's dedication, knowledge, and years of help I probably would not enjoy him as much as I do. It is a great comfort to be able to have your dog around you all the time and know that he will adapt and behave. He is welcome at any of my family's homes, my friends enjoy his company, and their children definitely enjoy his company. He travels with me by car, boat, and plane and truly has been the companion I had dreamed of owning.

I will never be able to express to Jenifer and Breslin how grateful I am every single day for guiding me and educating me in building the wonderful partnership I have with Tucket. Thank you!!!

— Renee & Tucket


Bella's Story
I waited 48 years for my first dog. My kids were almost out of the house, I had a job with a manageable schedule, the cats were all grown up, I could even afford a dog walker. And while I had high expectations for companionship and behavior from this long -awaited little black poodle, my dog training experience was limited to watching old episodes of The Dog Whisperer. We'd had a family dog growing up, but I'm pretty sure my mother did all the work. Undeterred, I had assured all my friends (the same skeptical friends who assured me I was out of my mind for getting a dog) that my adorable toy poodle was going to be well-socialized, well-mannered, a great boat dog, a perfect little Canine Good Citizen and eventually a compassionate Therapy Dog.

Bella proved to be all of the above, for about six months. And while I was busy congratulating myself on her relative perfection, she took charge and quickly transformed herself into a raging little toy terror.  We couldn't walk by any dog without wild yapping and lunging to the end of her lead. She would bark ferociously and without provocation at dogs she encountered on our home sidewalk, as well as any owner or child she associated with that dog. She had no interest in loose-lead walking and used every ounce of her seven pounds to drag me where she wanted to go. At home, she demanded lap time and refused crate time. Her schedule became my schedule. She was in charge before I had any idea I'd been ousted as leader of the pack.

Despite all my careful pre-canine planning, what I'd neglected to recognize was Bella's status as a city dog. We live literally in downtown Boston. She doesn't have the luxury of a quiet, fenced suburban backyard, with long car rides to every errand or outing. Her yard (and bathroom) is a public park and a city sidewalk, noisy and crowded with children and tourists, bustling with pushy and often belligerent dogs and dog owners. We walk everywhere out of necessity, and every walk becomes a potential confrontation. Even a quick potty trip outside can lead to an altercation. I realized, belatedly, that it was a big, scary world for a little dog and an inexperienced owner.

We enrolled at + dog, based on a recommendation from her vet. After our initial behavior consultation, and my realization that my inexperience was contributing heavily to most of her "issues", we started working our way through manners, basic obedience, and the many + dog exercises designed to build self-reliance and esteem for dog and owner alike. "Doggie Defense" classes also were a huge confidence booster; she's grown from a timid, fearful dog to an attentive girl who can now focus on her owner and function with assurance in a group class where bull dogs, pit bulls and other "big guys" are learning, on command, to turn their aggression on and off. She's usually the smallest in the class but she holds her own.

It's been about a year of + dog training classes, Friday night lectures, study halls, field trips and even a "Yappy Hour" at a local hotel. Thanks to + dog and all their encouragement and expertise, I no longer dread our walks in the park;  Bella's more confident and I'm much more relaxed and in charge. Most important was the confidence I gained to be her leader and protector, so that she doesn't feel the need to aggressively protect me. We can walk by other dogs without incident, I've learned how to guard her space and how best to initiate an appropriate greeting, to recognize aggressive dog posturing and how to avoid those dogs (and their owners!). And, we're working hard toward that Therapy Dog certification so she'll have a real job!

I truly love my little dog and my time with her. We're well on the way to the promised "enjoyable lifelong partnership." I tell my friends that classes at the + Dog are a highlight of my week and, while I don't know what that says about my life {smile}, I know Bella and I love every minute of it!

— Cathy & Bella


Enzo's Story
I wanted to take a moment to let you all know how important you are to us and thank you for everything you have done and still do with Enzo.

Anthony, Enzo and I have learned so much since we started classes and day school back in February. When we adopted Enzo from death row last August, he was a very sick, neglected, sweet guy. He had heart worm to the point where he might have had it for the rest of his life and was scared of certain men and objects since he was abused on a regular basis. He was way too eager to lunge, bark and create chaos when he saw other dogs. Walking on a leash was more of pulling and choking on the leash while getting offended looks from other people. We were ready for the deaf dog but not for the monster.

Well, we saved his life, have an amazing vet who completely cured his heart worm, restoring him into a super healthy boy and thankfully found you to help him with his "manners" and his happiness. Enzo has completely changed the way he reacts to other dogs, he is a pleasure to walk on the leash, plays nicely with his dog friends (before Pawsitive Dog, I thought friends for Enzo would have been impossible). He has turned into a dream.

We are looking forward to our second phase of classes in the fall. I'm determined to make my dream come true of seeing him on one of the dog beds at school!!!

Thank you again for everything. I can't tell you how wonderful it is to finally feel in control and proud to walk my little tank!

— Bethani, Anthony & Enzo


Otter's Story
Greetings from Alaska!

Ben and I are so glad we took the time to work with you both before and after Nia (our daughter) was born and, although we now live thousands of miles away, your teaching is very much a part of our daily lives. Otter still gets a hefty chunk of his caloric intake from treats, and we take every opportunity to practice obedience and make him think Nia --now almost 2-- is the best thing in the world.

Although we still have a policy of watching him (and her) like a hawk and keep the two separated unless they are under our supervision, we recently had an incident where I failed to properly latch a gate and turned around after feeding him to find her petting him and reaching for his food bowl while he was eating. It was very scary to realize I had let this happen and I felt horrified but, fortunately, Otter did nothing but stand there as she petted him with her hand on his food bowl. Without your help, I am afraid this situation would have turned out differently.

I wish I could be writing to say that Otter has miraculously turned into a "bomb-proof" dog who now works on the side as a nanny but I can't say that (actually, now that several of our close friends have children who were bitten by "bomb-proof" dogs, I can't say I believe there is any such thing). What I can say is that training has helped reduce his previously overwhelming fear of toddlers and that he has become a dog who now happily welcomes any opportunity to be around them. (Don't worry though, we still put him away when Nia has playdates.)

I can also say that your work --plus my own realization that I need to be even more vigilant about gates/etc.-- helped us become more realistic about how we managed Otter. (And Nia too. We're working hard to teach her to be respectful of all dogs and their space. The recent incident with Otter (approaching while eating) was a powerful reminder of how important those lessons are and also how closely we must supervise to be sure they are followed.)

So thank you again for helping us learn how to manage our "barks and babies" better. I hope all is well for you back at the Pawsitive Dog. You guys are great.

All the best,
— Regan, Ben & Nia


Yukon's Story
Calling all Canines! Let me tell you a bit about my time at the pawsitive dog. My name is Yukon and I'm a 6 year old Bernese Mountain Dog. I've been coming to + dog for almost 42 years… that's dog years!!! My Mom brought me here when I was about 10 weeks old . Apparently she was a bit nervous about what she had gotten herself into with a dog that could possibly grow to be over 100 pounds. I was a bit pushy when I came home but that was only because I was really scared. I was very shy and timid and quite mouthy.

Well – I've grown into a strong, confident and handsome Berner. I've learned to trust that my Mom will watch out for me and do her best not to let a situation get too overwhelming for me. We do everything together and she takes me everywhere. I love it!

I come to day school twice a week where I get to interact with all kinds of different dogs. I've learned really good manners with all the other animals and I can easily figure out my place in the pack and just enjoy the day. We have training time and nap time and I'm even working on my cardio on the treadmill. I've learned to get used to the kennel a little each day - we get really yummy treats in there. I go out a million times a day for potty breaks. Sometimes I get to run around free while the humans take care of business. I've made some really good friends here. I even went on to earn my Canine Good Citizen award.

I also take Competition Obedience classes… whatever that means. All I know is once a week my Mom comes with me to school and we play for an hour. I've learned all kinds of things to do with Mom and we now go to competitions all the time. I think Mom likes it more than me but it's fun to work with her. I've got a whole drawer full of ribbons and even took first place once! In obedience I've earned my AKC Novice Title and my UKC Novice Title. I've also competed in AKC Rally Obedience and have earned my Novice and Advanced Titles there. I was the number 13 Berner in the country for Novice Obedience in 2005 and now I've been number 5 for the past two years!

I am a registered Therapy dog and Reading Partner. I spent a lot of time visiting a nursing home where all the residents thought I was very cute and funny. I like to act a bit silly and sometimes embarrass Mom – but it made the people laugh.

On the other hand, I also take the Doggie Defense class. This class has helped me to come out of my shell and have some confidence in myself. I was very scared at first and spent months hiding behind Mom. Now I am all business in this class. I have learned that Mom will tell me when it's OK to act like the tough guy and when to behave myself. I have a lot of fun with this one and it has helped me to become more stable in my day to day life.

All and all – I don't know where I'd be without Jen and the rest of the humans at + dog.

— Kristin


Murray's Story
I adopted Murray, a German Shepherd Dog, in 2000 and quickly learned that I had to do something with him because he seemed to be angry at the world.

Any man, woman, child or dog who make eye contact with him would immediately cause Murray to go after to try to bite them. I could not take Murray anywhere without this happening.

I could not be happier with the progress I have made with Murray since enrolling him at the pawsitive dog. Now, I can take him to parks, beaches and the Blue Hills and it's very rare that he doesn't get complimented for his behavior. I have had Murray off-leash in some of these areas and he's gotten compliments from the State Police, DCR personnel, and various animal control officers. Even a member of the Travel Watch organization in the Blue Hills called Murray the most well behaved dog in the Blue Hills.

I would like to thank Jen and the pawsitive dog staff for helping me help Murray with his issues and give him the good life that a dog should have.

— Pat


Stanley, Louie & Sophie's Story
We had an Italian greyhound, Stanley - sweet, but undisciplined, in part because we had an older dog that was in very poor health and she took all our time and energy. When she died, we got another Iggy - Louie.

Now we had 2 dogs, Italian greyhounds, a breed known for being high strung, and difficult to train. We decided it was time for the pawsitive dog. When we got there, there was an Italian greyhound, Sophie, lying on a bed, relaxed in the midst of training other dogs, people coming and going, telephones ringing ...

Jim and I thought, it's a trick dog; NO Iggy could hold a position like that, ever! I told the trainer and she said, "Oh, someday your two will do that." We nodded politely and laughed ourselves silly when we left the building. We said, "Wait 'til they get a dose of our dogs. They will never get them to sit still, never mind obey a command like 'go to bed.'" But we thought it couldn't hurt to try, so the following week we started school.

Within a month, we tried day school. Within 2 weeks, they were holding a "down, stay" on the beds. We stopped laughing and began to think we could actually have good dogs that were safe, happy pets that could adapt -- and we do.

— Carol, Jim, Stanley, Louie & Sophie


Theo's Story
+ dog has positively changed our dog, Theo, and us. I will say Melissa and I would most likely not have Theo today if it weren't for + dog. He was a feisty 4-month old puppy that we just didn't know how to manage. I would even go so far as to say he was a ferocious, monstrous puppy with sharp teeth and bad manners. Melissa and I have a much deeper understanding of what he's about and how to handle him, thanks to Jenifer and the + dog team. And we love going to class!

So he's our handful, and we'll keep working with him, especially since our family will soon grow by one baby.

Jenifer & Breslin ... you are a dog-send! Thank you so much.

— Lisa, Melissa & Theo


Orion's Story
Our first dog was a beautiful, sweet Great Dane. She was always very eager to please, playful and at ease with other dogs at dog parks. When our second Dane turned out to be a bigger challenge, we knew we'd need a professional! We had moved since training our first dog, so we set off to find a trainer in Boston. I'm not entirely sure how, but luckily we found the + dog.

Six years ago when we started training our big Great Dane puppy he was a good student. He learned sit, stay, down, but always was a little rough with his older sister. We kept signing up for more classes as each session ended and as he become the dog equivalent of a teen, we realized how glad we were to still be in training. He was not like our other dog. She was gentle and lovable. He had his moments as well, but he never really got along well with other dogs and was somewhat of a tough guy during his formative years. With the + dog's guidance we were able to rein in our unruly pup through positive reinforcement.

Today he has outgrown his teen years, but the lessons we learned over the years have proved invaluable. Through the + dog's Doggie Defense I was able to get the confidence I needed to control my 140 lb dog. Through their Barks and Babies class, we were able to help both dogs welcome a new baby into the family. The + dog has touched our family and continues to be a great avenue to exercise both our dog's mind and body as our little Orion continues with competition level obedience training. We can't recommend Jen and the + dog more, whether you think you need 10 classes or 100!

— Phil, Steph, Eleni, Val & Orion


Ferdie's Story
I just wanted to take a moment to thank all of you for helping us begin a fulfilling relationship with Ferdinand and helping him to become a much happier and secure little dog.  We plan to enroll in further obedience training within the next couple of months but you have given us so much to work with and so much more confidence in our ability to handle his aggressive behavior and move him further along towards voice control and beta status...

As you know, when we came to you, Ferdie was 11 months old and we were feeling hopeless and desperate as he continued to bite me and show other aggression towards me and large dogs.  I feared that we couldn't keep him and it was truly breaking my heart.  During the first class, he seemed practically feral, hiding under a chair, growling, snapping, and snarling at every dog.  I know he scared the hell out of the other owners (one person even admitted it!) - they wondered why we would keep such a dog when we described his problem behaviors.  Those same folks were blown away at how much he changed and my expectations for him have been raised.  After the first couple of classes, he was really excited when he saw where we were going and bounded down the stairs despite the fact that he had to work much harder than a lot of the other dogs.  I am soooo proud of him and us!

It was also helpful to learn about the psychology of dogs - who knew they were so complicated!  But who knew that it could be so effective and fun to train your dog!!!!

So, we will be singing your praises whenever we can, working hard, and enjoying the rest of our summer with Ferdie. We will see you in the fall - we cannot thank you enough!

— Ann, Bree & Ferdie


Olive's Story
I remember the first time I came to the Pawsitive Dog in 2003 with my fear-aggressive Australian Shepherd mix. Olive was so afraid of everything that, going outside my front door in her own neighborhood, she would snarl and lunge at anything in her sight which moved. She had never bitten anyone but I knew that, without professional help, one day she most likely would.

I had adopted Olive from a no-kill shelter when she was 4 months old. When I saw her at the shelter, she appeared to be what I was looking for – a smart, active, herding dog. The next day, I began to meet the true Olive when she trembled going outside the front door and frantically barked and lunged at cars and passersby.

I hired her first trainer and brought Olive to puppy kindergarten. As other puppies settled in, Olive became increasingly agitated with each new class, barking at other puppies and nervously eyeing activity in the street through the window. She barely "passed" the class. Although I later tried to work on her reactivity at home, increasing her distance and exposure to things which triggered her fear, I was unsuccessful and sought help from a second, more experienced trainer; but by then Olive's reactivity had intensified. When I had to move, I was very concerned about Olive adapting to a new place and knew that I needed to get serious about training her. After settling in, I asked everyone I knew for referrals to trainers who hard experience with dogs like Olive and heard about the Pawsitive Dog.

Coming to the Center and training with Jenifer and her staff has been the best thing to happen to Olive and me. When she evaluated Olive, Jenifer asked if I was prepared to work hard. That was all the encouragement I needed. Olive and I have worked hard together and been conscientious about doing our "homework." Every class we took, I learned something which helped. Improvement was slow but visible. At first the classes were stressful for both Olive and me, but by the 3rd class, I could tell Olive was enjoying coming to a place which had terrified her. I began to learn that Olive is happiest when she "has a job" and I give her direction.

The training has paid off. Olive always will be reactive but with ongoing training, her behavior is under control. My neighbors now comment on how well behaved Olive is. New clients at the Center seeing Olive hold a "down-stay ," off leash and on a bed next to other dogs, often have no idea that underneath that controlled exterior is a reactive dog. Training has become a passion for both Olive and me; she is a member of the "100 club," having taken well over 100 classes. I have successfully added a second dog, a stable more dominant male, to the household. Jenifer and her staff have been wonderful. They are firm, compassionate no-nonsense trainers who really "get" dogs and clearly love doing what they do so well. Without them, I'm sure that I would not have Olive today.

— Debbie, Olive & Milo


Lucy's Story
I cannot say enough great things about the pawsitive dog. When my husband and I first got our "little girl", Lucy, we thought we were prepared; but we had no idea how much work it was going to be. She is an Airedale terrier with lots of energy. We had a dog walker come twice a day when we were at work, and we would play and exercise with her all morning and all night when we got home. But it still wasn't enough and as she grew older and more energetic our little terrier became more and more of a "terror-ier". We really didn't know what more we could be doing to stimulate her and tire her out. We would get up earlier and earlier every day to work in play and exercise with her before we went to work. It was never enough. In the meantime we were becoming zombies! We were also concerned because although she wanted to please us, her frustration from all the pent up energy she had was making her very difficult to train and she was becoming aggressive.

Enter – the pawsitive dog! YAY! When we first met with Jenifer I knew it would be the perfect place for us and for Lucy. Jenifer and her team are honest, down to earth and know their stuff! Within two weeks we had a completely different dog. She would wait patiently in a down while we watched TV and not bother us and run around like crazy. She would sit when asked and down when asked. She stopped trying to be in our face all the time. That was just to start! Then, just a short while later she was doing down-stays and would wait until released. She was actually listening to us. She was so mentally stimulated from the classes and the day school that when she came home she was no longer a "terror-ier" but rather a snuggle bug who just wanted to love on us and share with all she was learning.

The true test came when we went to dinner over at a friend's house. They love dogs and wanted us to bring her. We were a bit nervous, but we thought we would try it and see how it went. We put her bed down in a corner and told her to down and stay and gave her a chewy. She lay there all night and never bothered us once while we enjoyed dinner, drinks and even a raucous board game where we were all jumping around like idiots. She just lay their happily chewing on her bone, occasionally looking up as we made fools of ourselves. Later that evening my friends commented on what a good dog she was. Little did they know that only three weeks earlier she would have been a nightmare in their home!

She loves school and we do, too! Each and every day our relationship with our Lucy grows into a deeper and deeper bond. She is the love of our lives and thanks to the pawsitive dog she is growing into such a good dog. It is such a treasure to spend time with her and see her growing into herself in a pawsitive way. Now that she has such a strong training foundation we have a better relationship with her because we trust her and can take her everywhere with us. Thank you, pawsitive dog! We couldn't do it without you.

— Rachel, Brando & Lucy


Cassie's Story
I adopted my Shepherd mix Cassie 3 ½ years ago when she was four years old. She had never walked on a leash and was fear aggressive to other dogs. Two other trainers gave me a dim prognosis for any recovery, particularly with her dog aggression. One refused to train her.

I live in the South End where there are lots of dogs, so knew I had to do something. She is a wonderful dog, good with people and with my 3 cats. When I finally came to the pawsitive dog, she walked on a leash but just barely, dragging me around the neighborhood. I was astonished that she would be trained in a room with other dogs, and in the beginning I was scared to death. Jenifer helped me overcome my fear and Cassie's fear as well. She taught me the need for consistency and the need for me to take charge. We started slow and small, and then built up, so now she can be around other dogs and even a little friendly to some of them. My neighbors think Cassie is a miracle, and she is; but it is due to her willingness to follow my direction and my knowing how to lead her, under the guidance of the pawsitive dog. I am forever grateful for helping this sweet animal work toward her full potential.

Check back soon for more pawsitive dog stories!

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the pawsitive dog training center, + dog, is Boston, Massachusetts' premier dog training facility. Our dog training professionals offer a variety of personalized programs including, but not limited to, dog obedience training, dog behavior and dog owner education. the pawsitive dog offers creative, personalized alternatives to canine classes, dog day care and dog boarding through individualized dog training programs including dog day school, overnight boarding and training stays at camp pawsitive dog, doggie field trips, home visits, Canine Good Citizen and Therapy Dog training and more.

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