Properly training your pets is as important as feeding them a healthy diet, giving them plenty of exercise, and taking them to the vet. Below we talk to trainer Emily Carl, Head of Pet Services at Doggo and the owner of Great and Small Animal Behavior and Training, about the importance of patience and consistency when teaching a dog new tricks.
1. Tell us a bit about your background and current work. When did you first know you wanted to work with animals?
I first knew I wanted to work with animals when I was working towards my psychology degree and a professor brought in her therapy dog. She introduced us to the principles of animal-assisted therapy and allowed us to train her dogs as a way of applying what we'd studied about learning theory. The impact animals have on our psychological well-being became apparent when the same teacher's dogs paid visits to campus as a means of stress relief during exam week.
After college, I worked in a pet store and multiple humane societies where I had the privilege of working with thousands of dogs and cats who needed behavioral help. I started dog training at the shelter as well as a public training facility because it was clear to me that the way to prevent animals from entering the shelter system due to behavioral issues is to do all you can to assure that they're well-trained from the onset. I view training as a critical part of building the human-animal bond and the best way to keep pets in homes.
I'd wanted to start my own business for a long time and I found the perfect opportunity to do so when I was laid off from a humane society due to financial strains during the early stages of the pandemic. A few months into starting my own business, I was approached to see if text and video-based training were viable options for Doggo. Over a year later, I've had the pleasure of helping hundreds of people across the US find hope in training their dogs around their schedule.
2. What appealed to you about Doggo's mission and approach to pet care?
I strongly value transparency and hold animal welfare as a top priority, so Doggo was the perfect match for me. Animal welfare is at the forefront of what Doggo does and it only takes a few minutes of speaking to any member of the Doggo team to see how important pets are to everyone involved.
3. What advice would you give a first time pet owner about training?
Training is a daily investment, not a band-aid to fix a temporary problem. This can sound daunting, but it can look like a 5-minute training session, incorporating cues into a walk, or simply praising your dog for exhibiting good behavior without being asked. Everyone, even an experienced professional dog trainer, gets frustrated during the training process. When you face a challenging moment, remind yourself that the hard work you're putting in at that moment is lessening the amount of work you'll need later. It absolutely gets easier.
4. What is your favorite way to spend a Saturday with your pets?
I have two cats who are absolute polar opposites: Otto and Loki. Otto is a fluffy orange cat with only two teeth. He was a stray cat who acted very feral when I brought him home and is now an attention-seeking goof. Loki is a very distinguished black and white cat who has only known the comforts of home. I love spending Saturdays enticing Otto with a cat wand and getting lap snuggles from Loki. The first item on my agenda once I purchase a home is to get a dog, but until then I have a lot of “niece and nephew” dogs and fosters.
5. Transparency is at the core of Antelope's mission. What are some transparent brands you trust?
Bocce's is excellent – I have yet to meet a dog or cat who doesn’t love their products. Jackson Galaxy's toys and holistic solutions are excellent options for cats. 2 Hounds Design is my go-to company for the Freedom Harness, and they make some very fun collars and leashes as well.
6. What tools help you stay healthy and balanced in your own life?
It can be very hard to prioritize your own health when you have pets, kids, or other lives you're putting before your own. I'm a huge list-maker and simply writing down self care items has been an incredible tool for me. I try to drink a gallon of water a day and get outside any time I can. Aerial yoga, nature walks, swimming, and kayaking are my favorite way to focus on my physical and mental health. I also love to cook and try new recipes. To keep things fresh and exciting, I pick an ingredient I haven't tried before and look up recipes that include it. Or, I'll have a themed night where I pick a movie and create a dinner to fit the theme or feel of the movie. It's a great way to get the creative juices flowing and explore new cuisine. Lastly, of course, allowing myself to rest and enjoy quality time with my cats is key.