BATAVIA — There’s always hope for a naughty, aggressive or scared pooch, Tori Ganino says.
You just have to understand it.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to be a trainer,” she said at her newly opened business on Harvester Avenue. “I love psychology and to think about ‘how can we work around this?’ Everything I suggest, every technique or behavior modification I use, I know it works.”
Ganino and her husband Rich used to operate out of their home in Elba. They wanted to get into Batavia and thought that Harvester Avenue was a great location, she said.
Of course, the business name had to be true to her own passion, so she titled it Calling All Dogs. Ganino is a certified professional dog trainer that was knowledge assessed. That means she had to prove that she understood the make-up and psychology of canines.
Although most anyone can claim to be a dog trainer, Ganino went the extra mile to back it up, she said. She received a Certificate of Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed after obtaining 350 hours of hands-on training, working with other trainers and passing a practical exam to prove she actually knows her stuff.
She also obtained a certificate from Animal Behavioral College through a series of nine exams, hands-on work with shelter dogs and those in group environments.
It wasn’t until the couple adopted a skittish shelter dog, Cooper, that she focused more on behavior modification to help nervous and fearful dogs. Brody, their golden retriever, seems to be a well-adjusted, friendly, tail-wagger that knows who’s boss. He knows his name well, which has come in handy when his adventurous side flares up. All it took was for Ganino to call his name, and he stopped in his tracks and returned. It’s one of many lessons she can offer.
Ganino is a believer in positive reinforcement versus spraying dogs with water, shocking them or using any other forceful punishment for bad behavior. Instead, she offers treats and uses clicker training to indicate when a dog has done right. And if it doesn’t get it?
“We will find another way,” she said.
Two heavy-duty entrance gates greet visitors at the site. The thick wood swinging doors will ensure that dogs stay put during their daycare or obedience training activities.
She limits daycare to six dogs at a time, and evaluates each one before placing them in a group. If a dog seems too nervous or aggressive, she won’t just add it to the mix. Those dogs may need more one-on-one training in obedience or other specialized classes.
“It is supervised to make sure everyone’s dog is safe,” she said. “If a dog has lots of triggers, I won’t put a dog in an environment that may upset the dog. I will come to your home.”
Some big issues she is seeing include pulling on the leash, not coming when called, going after something the owner doesn’t want the dog to get and excessive barking.
Ganino is not a fan of invisible fences or shock collars, because they don’t really teach and help the owner to connect to the dog. It’s important to understand what’s going on and why a dog does what it does, she said.
“You want to pick up on the dog’s body language to change its (negative) emotion,” she said.
Calling All Dogs takes all breeds, she said, from chihuahuas and poodles to pitbulls and shepherds. Training really is for the owner as much if not more than for the dog.
“It’s more,” she said with a grin.
A pet owner can relay the wrong message with body language the dog is unfamiliar with. So if the Fido is used to his owner speaking softly at a distance, and that changes to yelling while standing over him, he’s going to feel some stress.
“I’ve always loved figuring out how to make things fun for us and to have a well behaved dog,” she said.
Daycare is available from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays, plus weekend playgroup and Reactive Rover (for dogs on a leash that are reactive to people or other dogs) and Frightened Fido for nervous dogs. She is also forming some evening sessions as well.
For more information, call (585) 455-5387 or go to www.CallingAllDogsNY.com.