Bio

Hi, I’m Sarina and here’s my story.

(the short version)

I help pet parents develop their fur babies into Social Dogs:

Canine companions who are so well-behaved and brave, they can go just about anywhere.

I grew up with sweet but untrained dogs who spent their whole lives confined to a back yard. Because we couldn’t take them anywhere, vacations with the family dog were out of the question… and trips to the vet or groomer were traumatizing!

I eventually learned a better way, but it breaks my heart to think of all the other doggos who live like this every day. 🙁

So, I’ve made it my mission to help pet parents learn my principles of
Extreme Socialization:

Training dogs out in the world to prevent anxiety, build resilience, and develop the skills they need to live their best life!

(the long version)

I’ve been training family dogs for fun since I was a teenager in 4H. Working on basic manners, intermediate to advanced obedience, and agility helped me build a great lifelong relationship with each of my dogs.

When I bought my first puppy as an adult, I began working with a wonderful local trainer, Shannon Hall. Shannon was the first to really help me understand how dogs see, think, and learn. My rough collie, Honey, became the Best Dog Ever thanks to her guidance.

Learning how to train basic manners to advanced obedience and agility, I built a great lifelong relationship with Honey – which set me on the road to helping others do the same.

A fan of rescue mutts and herding breeds for most of my adult life, I got my first toy dog in 2003, a Papillon girl, and immediately became hooked on those funny-but-challenging little creatures!

Fast forward a few decades to just after my old girl died, and I started looking for my second Papillon puppy. It took over a year, but I finally found a breeder who had two 6 month old girls available for sale, in my price range, within driving distance. Eureka!

But I was a bit worried…

We had missed the ideal socialization window of 7-16 weeks.

I did not know how much training and socialization had been done with this particular puppy. As far as I knew, she had never left her original home and family pack of 10 or so other dogs.

Uh-oh.

But I really wanted another Papillon – so I decided to take a chance.

Immediately upon bringing Lily home, we embarked on an exciting journey of de-sensitization and environmental exposure.

I call my approach:

Extreme Socialization:

a systematic plan to build a puppy’s skills as quickly as possible, and prepare her for the world beyond basic manners.

We worked on basic obedience, “office manners” (she came to work with me every day), and stimulus conditioning. Then we expanded into agility, Trick Dog, and Canine Good Citizen training.

All training helps build a good relationship with your dog, but laying a foundation for Lily’s future was my sole focus for her first year with our family.

Every dog needs:

  • quality socialization experiences with humans and dogs
  • positive environmental exposure experiences to stimuli of increasing variety, duration, and intensity
  • gentle habituation to every possible handling scenario (face, feet, grooming, vet care, etc.)

I did not want a shivering purse dog. 🙂

Once Lily had the basics down, I began building the skills and resilience Lily would need to join us for greater travel and exploration, up to and including active sports.

Now, my 5 lb. Papillon is right there with us for ALL of our adventures!

Whether that’s a full day moto ride through the jungle, or a sea kayak trip to a deserted island…

…joining us for dinner at an outdoor restaurant, or riding the light rail to the Farmer’s Market…

…a day of shooting practice in the mountains or gun range, or watching New Year’s Eve fireworks on the beach…

…our robust little dog gets to enjoy an amazing life of inclusion with her family!

And I know I am anthropomorphizing a bit here, but indulge me just this once – she couldn’t be happier.

Everywhere we went, Lily developed a fan club and other dog owners came to me for help. I was constantly giving free advice, training other people’s dogs, and helping their humans understand the principles of non-human animal communication and leadership.

So, after training my own personal dogs for nearly 30 years I finally decided to take the plunge and help other dog lovers professionally… and Social Dog was born.

I prefer to call myself a coach instead of a trainer; to me, a “dog trainer” is someone who works at a higher level (personal protection or service dogs, for example).

I focus entirely on helping humans meet their goals for canine companionship. Owning a dog should be fun. And guess what? Dogs love having a job!

So if you want to:

  • help your doggo learn to ride in your sidecar, motorcycle, or scooter
  • take your furry friend along when you kayak or stand up paddle board
  • or just get your tiny toy dog to walk with confidence through the park and not bark at the neighbors

… I might be the coach for you.

Because nothing is more fun than sharing life with a “Social Dog!”

Woofs and wiggles,