When Alison Eberhand was a small child, a stray dog wandered into her yard. Naturally, Alison and her siblings wanted to keep the dog, but Alison’s Dad threatened to give him away unless he was trained to have some manners. “He was the worst dog ever,” said Alison, whose mother immediately enrolled her in an obedience class where they lived in Chino, CA. Fortunately, her mother was an experienced obedience trials competitor, so she encouraged the training of “Gus” (initially referred to as “Benji”), when Alison was only seven years old. Thus began Alison’s dog training career, and she has been training ever since.
After her success with training Gus, Alison joined 4-H and competed in dog obedience, as well as horse showing. Later, Alison started working as a rehabilitator for rescue groups, and eventually, she rented a boarding kennel so that she could train and rehabilitate dogs for the local dog rescue groups.
When asked how she learned to train dogs, Alison said she had mostly learned on her own by trial and error, gobbling up all the dog training books and videos she could get her hands on, but her biggest influence was William R. Koehler. “I literally grew up at his training kennel. Bill Koehler was the trainer for Disney at the time. My father worked in the movie industry and Bill became our family friend and mentor.” Koehler is the author of The Koehler Method of Dog Training as well as several other books, and since its first appearance in 1962, this popular dog training book has gone through 38 printings, and sold more than 475,000 copies.
Alison eventually began attending some of the many seminars, workshops and conferences on dog behavior and training techniques. The old style of compulsion training, which involves force and punishment, was, up until recently, the method which most trainers were using (and many are still using). In 1989, Alison began to learn about and use clicker training, which involves positive training using a clicking device and food (or other motivating activities) for reinforcement.
“I have always worked in one animal related job or another,” Alison remarked. Some of the many positions Alison has held include working as a dog trainer at a feed store, an on-staff trainer for a vet clinic, a professional horse handler, a Petco manager, and a dog training instructor at PetsMart. Having recently waited the obligatory six months to start a dog training business after leaving PetsMart, Alison, with the help of her family, finally opened up Everyday Dog, which is her first storefront business. She added that this has been “thirty years in the making,”
Alison does do individual training sessions, but she does not recommend it for most people unless it is for a specific behavioral challenge such as aggression or fear-biting. Her classes are structured so that students can finish at their own pace and move up when their dogs are ready to pass a test and go to the next learning level.
Everyday Dog classes currently offered are:
- Puppy kindergarten
- Basic dog training
- Intermediate dog training
- Advanced dog training
- Barrel racing
- Obstacle course (an alternative version of agility)
- Canine Good Citizen
- Therapy Dog Preparation
- Jackpot (in which the lesson is always a surprise)
In addition to holding classes, Alison fosters and trains service dogs for various needs. She is currently working with a dog which potentially has the natural ability to signal an alert behavior when its diabetic owner’s blood sugar level gets too high or too low. Alison is also in the process of training a psychiatric service dog for a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder and a service dog for a person with both psychiatric and physical needs. “These dogs only have to learn one reliable behavior.” The reliable behavior Alison teaches these psychiatric service dogs is to get in between the owner and other people. Once these dogs are adopted, they and their owners are entitled to one entire year of free dog training lessons with Everyday Dog. Alison commented that “There are all kinds of disabilities. There just needs to be an acceptance of psychiatric service dogs.” She also added that if more people took their service dogs into stores, these different types of service dogs would become more acceptable.
Alison’s parting remarks were “Everyday Dog is a rockin’, happenin’ place, so come and get your dog trained here!”
Everyday Dog is located at10409 SE Mill Plain Blvd. in Vancouver, WA. The phone number is 360-433-2005.
Filed under: Training
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