Tammy Williams started PAWsitively Social Canine Adventures after years of training dogs as a hobby.
Williams was mentoring under other instructors and volunteered at rescue shelters. She saw a lot of dogs being surrendered due to behavioural issues, which further inspired her to start her own facility to teach owners how to train their dogs.
PAWsitively Social works closely with owners and dogs to help them adapt to their surroundings and curb any behavioural issues. Williams highlights the importance of socializing puppies. Their puppy perks program helps to acclimate puppies to other dogs, people and noises like cars and construction, as well as new environments and situations. This will help the puppies grow to be more confident and resilient adults.
“We’ve got a good following now, we take puppies to seniors centres, I go to different schools, we’re starting story time at the library next week," she says. "It’s beneficial for the puppies and for the children who learn how to interact with the puppies and dogs.”
Williams also helps people with reactive dogs. Dogs that negatively react to other people or other dogs can been very stressful and often lead to a dog being surrendered.
“They might not get walks because their humans are too nervous or too afraid or too uncomfortable to walk them out in public.”
As part of their reactive dog program. Williams gives owners and their dogs the skills and confidence to help reduce reactivity in real life conditions.
PAWsitively Social now has seven instructors, who call themselves "dog nerds." They’ve had an indoor space for the last two years that allows them to have classes year round.
“We have one property with two buildings so we can have two classes going on at the same time.”
Classes are capped at six dogs per class.
“We want to make sure that we have enough one-on-one-time with the instructor.”
PAWsitively Social’s motto is training for life. They offer many courses focusing on manners and life skills for adults and puppies. As well as co-operative care classes to help owners learn to trim nails, brush hair and teeth. Tricks classes, rally classes, scent work and agility are all taught at the school.
“We try really hard to make sure we are up-to-date on all of our training. It’s important for us to be current. We are always changing our curriculum and our classes and what we offer based on what we’ve learned through courses and different seminars.”
Williams recommends people start with the life skills classes, where humans are taught the basics so they have a good working relationship with their dog.
“We start with puppy life skills, that’s a four-week course. It’s all about teaching basic manners and building that bond with your puppy. We do a lot of noise desensitization and body awareness in that class. There’s playtime as well. That course is for puppies under 16 weeks.”
The courses progress as the dogs get older, moving on to life skills like loose leash walking, recall and other techniques to keep pets safe and happy.
The training doesn’t end there. Thunder Bay residents love their sports and activity and so do their dogs. PAWsitively Social encourages keeping dogs active with sports that are physically and mentally rewarding for dog and owner. Scent work, rally obedience and agility (in collaboration with Love that Dog!) courses are offered for dogs ready for a fun new challenge.
Three instructors are CPDT-KA (Certified Professional Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed). Williams is also a Fear Free Certified instructor. These skills help trainers to observe the body language of dogs and ensure they aren’t being pushed beyond their threshold and are comfortable and relaxed when in classes.
As a certified family paws parent educator, Williams highlights the importance of training your dog for a new family member.
“It’s all about getting your family and your dogs prepared for the new baby. We have seminars on that as well.”
She personalizes her training depending on the type of dog and the behaviours of concern.
Training puppies for life with humans and helping adult dogs adjust to the human world are the key elements of PAWsitively Social Canine Adventures and Williams’s work. Dogs are far less likely to be surrendered to a shelter if their owners have the tools and training to properly influence their dog’s behaviour.
PAWsitively Social has a great website where their course schedules can be viewed with more in-depth details along with contact information for any more questions. Their Facebook page has updates on current events, training tips, and cute photos.