Training for Dogs and Their People in Grand Rapids

By Jane Whitttington on November 21st, 2016 / Comments

Although it’s hard to know exactly, the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) estimates that there are between 70 and 80 million dogs in the United States. That’s a lot of doggy walks, training, feeding, throwing a ball and taking care of our canine animal companions. One business is helping dogs (and their owners) live happier lives in the city. A Pleasant Dog offers “city dog and people training” in their urban facility located in the historic Heritage Hill district of Grand Rapids.

Jenn Gavin, owner and head trainer of A Pleasant Dog, is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed® and is accredited through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. She is also an American Kennel Club evaluator for the Canine Good Citizen® and AKC Star Puppy tests.

Gavin says, “I started training dogs through rescue work over 20 years ago. I took in strays myself and worked with dogs in shelters and rescue facilities. I helped out at the Kent County Animal Shelter, and I served on the Board of the Great Lakes Border Collie Rescue group. Most dog trainers are self-taught although I did do some work with Christine Williams, a local dog trainer. Eventually, I received professional certification.”

She continues, “Before I even started doing this professionally, I was the person everyone asked for dog training help and advice. I realized that there wasn’t a dog trainer who specifically focused on the dynamics of having a dog in a city environment. There are just so many dogs, so much density of population, so little space for dogs to get all the exercise they need. So about three years ago, I quit my job in a legal office and focused on A Pleasant Dog.”

Although Gavin says that taking the plunge was “terrifying”, she was happily surprised to find that the business took off almost at once. Starting as a one-woman show, she now employs five trainers, one assistant trainer, and two administrative assistants.

The facility itself is comfortable, welcoming and scrupulously clean. In a busy part of town, it’s the perfect spot for training dogs and their owners to make the most of city living.

Services offered at A Pleasant Dog include private lessons; group classes; Puppy 101 which helps puppies learn basic manners; Adult 101, basic obedience for dogs over five months old with no previous training; Intermediate Skills; AKC (American Kennel Club) Good Citizen®, a class designed to prepare dogs to receive certification from the AKC; Bully Breed, a class for pitbulls and pitbull mixes; both beginning and advanced agility training; classes to teach dogs to do tricks; Intro to Sports and Urban Fun; and Rally, a companion sporting event.

A Pleasant Dog also offers training for reactive dogs, those who are not comfortable with other dogs.

And there’s even more to add to their services. They give assistance to those who want to adopt a shelter dog, determining which dog would best suit the family. They help dogs and families welcome a new baby into the mix. A Pleasant Dog also trains service dogs.
In addition, on a pro bono basis, they offer evaluation of dogs, staff and volunteer training, and screening of potential adopters or foster homes.Although they are often at capacity, they also have onsite doggy daycare.

If it has to do with dogs, A Pleasant Dog probably offers it!

Gavin says, “Our philosophy is that dogs respond best to positive reinforcement. We would never use dominance or punishment in working with any of our dogs. I myself have a border collie mix and a Rottweiler, and I have trained them with the same methods we use here at A Pleasant Dog.”

For more information about A Pleasant Dog, visit their website at www.apleasantdog.com

About the Author

Jane Whitttington

Jane Whitttington

Jane Whitttington is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Grand Rapids. A Michigan native and Michigan State University grad, she enjoys reading, travel, politics and volunteering.