Bozeman's premier training and behavior center.
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Free-range, organic, sustainable and gluten-free dog training

“I asked Percy how I should live my lifephoto(15)

Love, love, love, says Percy.
And hurry as fast as you can
along the shining beach, or the rubble, or the dust.

Then, go to sleep.
Give up your body heat, your beating heart.
Then, trust.”

-Mary Oliver


Last night, I enjoyed a sunset walk down our winding dirt roads, amongst horses, sheep, cattle and sleeping farm dogs. I had Willow with me off-leash and my favorite pair of barefoot running shoes on to be more aware of the earth beneath my feet. I got to thinking about all of the things I had done yesterday with my dogs that didn’t require a leash or much verbal communication; we hiked down the Gallatin River from the backyard, we took a long bike ride and the dogs ran behind me on the quiet dirt roads and then my evening sunset walk. I love this relationship with my dogs. And I’ve noticed many of my neighbors in the country have a similar way of being with their dogs. It’s so …. natural.

Then I got to thinking about the buzzwords floating around describing a lifestyle choice regarding our food, our exercise and our impact on the earth that ultimately is about primal or minimalist living. We hear the terms free-range, sustainable, organic, paleo, barefoot, raw, local and natural. How do these relate to dog training or more specifically, how we live with our dogs? For me, I tell my clients up front that I prefer to use the least amount of tools (training devices) on my dogs (and their dogs) as possible and that includes a leash. The farming folks around here have mastered this relationship but it presents more of a problem in the city and the suburbs. In fact, I will write an entire separate blog about the life of a dog that lives in a constant state of behind barriers.

Ideally, I believe when you adopt a new puppy, it should start following you off-leash as often as possible. If you have access to woods or lightly-used trails, you should explore these everyday while your puppy is young so it becomes natural to follow you. It’s equally valuable to get your puppy (on leash) in busy places with lots of loud noises, passing people and playful children so that when you encounter these things off-leash, your dog will be well-adjusted and easy to manage. And then as often as possible, your dog through adulthood should have opportunities to walk, run and explore off-leash. Many years ago, my holistic veterinarian asked me if my dogs had access to off-leash movement everyday and I remember him stressing the importance of this freedom. It goes without saying that you should choose a safe place for these off-leash adventures and be considerate of other people and dogs.

There will be times where you will have to use training tools temporarily to gain more freedom in the long run. If you desire to have a more ‘free-range and natural’ lifestyle with your dog, ask me how we can get there.




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33 Barnett Lane Bozeman, MT 59715



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