This week’s expert Pamela Johnson answers your questions on canine freestyle!

When I first started the Pet Expert of the Week column, I immediately thought, “I need someone to come on and chat freestyle!” because I know that there are quite a few of our members that are interested in learning more about this fun, relatively new canine sport.

The problem is, I don’t know any freestylers! I asked KPA faculty member and former expert Nan Arthur for suggestions and Nan mentioned that I should touch base with this week’s expert, Pamela Johnson.

I contacted Pamela, and she graciously accepted my invitation to come on board. Only later did I realize that I met Pamela last year at ClickerExpo in Providence! I also had the fun opportunity to spend a bit of time with her in Oakland at APDT, since she is friends with my new friend and fellow award winner Emily Larlham, of kikopup fame on youtube.

Join me in welcoming Pamela to RBDT this week. Here is more information on Pamela!

Pam’s Dog Academy: http://members.cox.net/pt4dogs/

Pamela’s dogs on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/pamelamarxsen

I am a full time PE teacher, but have had a passion for training my own dogs for the last 5 years. I trained horses (barrel racing), dogs (tricks), and cats (tricks) when I was a kid and always had a love for animals. I grew up on a small farm with just about every type of animal except chickens as my father did not like chickens. I competed in professional rodeos barrel racing since the age of 9. When I graduated from High School I wanted to be a Jockey and ride race horses. I did exercise race horses at a track in Arizona but found it hard to keep my weight down. I ended up joining the USAF and serving for 6 years in order to get money for college. I volunteered on the Air Force base at the vet clinic for 6 years and knew that I wanted to work with animals.

I started out doing obedience with old traditional methods and HATED every minute of training and so did my dog. She was just not happy. I never trained obedience before and thought that was how you did it. So, when I realized that my Isabelle was not happy, I went on a quest to find positive methods. I was so fortunate to find clicker training and crossed us both over right away! I started reading about it and watching videos. Then I went to many clicker expo’s and kept learning and practicing. Still to this day, I want to keep learning and practicing clicker training methods. One can never have too much knowledge! I have been using clicker training for 4 ½ years. Now I train obedience, pet dogs, tricks, agility, and canine freestyle all using clickers. It is amazing and so much fun! My dogs, cat, and I love it! My husband has also converted to clicker training and goes to many clicker expo’s with me.

I started my own dog training business in 2007 and hope that by the time I retire from teaching (9 years to go) I will be able to train dogs and cats full time. For now I have group classes at the Lakeside Community Center and do private in-home trainings. In 2009 my friend Emily Larlham and I started a club called SD Canine Freestylers and have been conducting freestyle classes and seminars. I am having a blast helping others create routines, learn new tricks, and enjoy seeing the close bond that develops with the handler and their dog! Clicker training is like magic and so amazing that I can’t imagine my life without it.

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