Kim and Mila
I originally met Mila, a street dog brought to Canada from a Thai rescue group, as one of my dog walking clients. Mila was extremely fearful of people, dogs, and destructive at home-not the cute and happy rescue that most people dream of adopting. When Mila’s owner eventually decided to re-home her, I agreed to take her because I knew how difficult it would be to re-home her. It was a really difficult adjustment for us-Mila hid when guests came over, she was petrified of going new places, and just seemed to lack the zest for life that we wanted her to experience. When I first started working with Erika, she immediately explained to me that as a feral dog, fearing humans and keeping her distance was a survival mechanism. I don’t think I would have really understood what that without Erika’s help. It was really eye-opening and it helped me set realistic goals for Mila.
Working with Erika changed everything. She gave us information on different medications we could consider using for Mila to help decrease her fear, explaining to us what side effects we might notice, how long they would take to work, and what to expect in terms of changes of behaviour. Even though I worked as a registered vet tech for many years, Erika really helped me understand, for the first time ever, how to really read a dog’s body language. This was so important for not only helping Mila by being able to understand what she was saying to me through her body language, but something I’ve also been able to apply to my dog walking business. I’ve actually been able to take so much of what I have learned from Erika by working with Mila to other dogs i work with, which is pretty cool. She's just changed the way I approach training by giving me so much knowledge on behaviour training theory and all these tools and strategies I can use to change how a dog feels about a situation or to shape their behaviour.
Erika helped Mila learn a variety of skills-from loose leash walking to settling on a mat. More importantly though, she changed the way she felt about the world so that she became less afraid of people, dogs, and sudden changes in her environment. After doing some private sessions, we joined the reactive dog class for aggressive and anxious dogs that Erika runs. The first night Mila went, we couldn’t even get inside the classroom, she was that shutdown-we had to watch from another room. This class has been so amazing for Mila because it helped take the tools we learned and apply them around strange dog and people in a structured setting that sets her up to be successful. You should see her now when she comes to class-Mila greets Erika and then pulls me into “her spot” in the class. She’s so happy about being there. I would highly recommend Erika and Eden Dog Academy to anyone struggling with a complicated dog. Her knowledgeable, kind, and effective way of building your relationship with your dog by better understanding their needs is incredible. Mila is so thankful we found Erika and so are we!
Mandy and Maisie
I love to participate in dock diving, it’s one of my favourite dog sports. When I was ready for a new partner to train with, I set out to find a malinois. The breed always appealed to me-athletic, smart, and always up for something fun. When I got Maisie, I soon realized I got more than I bargained for. She had lived in multiple homes before me, and the stress of that showed. She was very shy and timid at first-she would cower and walk around with her tail between her legs. Although her confidence grew a bit over time, other issues cropped up, like nipping (herding) people when they would enter or leave a room-especially my daughter. Maisie hated being separated from me. She once busted out of a crate and ran loose in a hotel trying to find me. She also didn’t like being left in a sit stay so that I could lead out in dock diving. I also was struggling with toy drive. In dock diving, the dog needs to want to race to the end of their dock to catch their toy that’s thrown in the water-it's that desire to get to the toy that makes them run faster and jump longer. Maisie was pretty ho hum about toys but I knew she had the capability to give more and improve her dock diving performance.
When I first started working with Erika, I started to realize how many pieces of our relationship puzzle were missing. I didn’t have the tools I needed to communicate clearly with Maisie or to help decrease her stress. Erika helped Maisie become a better dock diver, and also also a better, happier companion to live with. Working with Erika, we’ve been able to eliminate the nipping and promote calm, polite greetings in the house. I now have an off switch now for when she’s over-aroused and an on switch, which I can use to get her amped for dock diving. It’s hard to explain it, but my relationship with Maisie is just better now. We do more things together because we have clearer communication between us. It's like the more we do together, the more our relationship grows. I would strongly recommend Erika for anyone looking to have a better relationship with their dog. Sometimes you don’t even know what you’re missing until you find it!
Jess, Brody, and Audie
I got Brody, a shepherd cross, when he was 11 weeks old. I started by doing some basic training at home, with good success, but taking him into public was a disaster. He would howl and bark at other dogs and people that he saw and it was difficult to control him and get him to listen to me.
I started doing some group classes when he was 6 months with Erika and she taught me how to help him turn his excitement on and off. We worked on the skills to both relax and chill but to also become excited when it was time to train. Since working with Erika, I have such a better understanding of how I can use positive reinforcement to motivate and communicate clearly with Brody. She’s honestly just helped me become an overall better, more consistent trainer. By attending group classes with Eden Dog Academy, we have dabbled in agility, rally obedience, scent detection, and now treiball! The fact that Erika has several talented dogs to demonstrate with really makes the learning process easier-you can see both what the beginning stages of training look like in her younger dogs and what the finished product will look with her older dogs.
I think it makes her more credible-you can see how she adapts her training to the strengths and weaknesses of her own dogs too, which just speaks to the fact that she’s anything but a cookie cutter trainer. Brody just loves to learn and I’m so glad we have been able to find so many fun things to do together. We actually just did our first rally obedience competition last year and got two qualifying scores!
I’ve always admired Erika's german shepherds, both the calm and reliable nature of Falcor and the fun, spirited nature of Quest. When I heard about their first litter, I was pretty excited at the idea of bringing home a new puppy. Erika let me visit them multiple times as they grew, ask all the questions I could think of, and involved me in the puppy selection process. My new puppy, Audie, is just amazing. The hard work Erika put into raising the litter really shows-she has been exposed to so many different things early on that as a result she’s confident, happy, and outgoing. And smart...so smart! I appreciate the care Erika put into raising the litter and her lifetime support as a breeder. I plan on trying some sports with Audie too. I would definitely recommend her as a breeder and trainer.