Hi! I am Sabrina Joens, owner of Good Dogma. Dogs are truly awesome! Being able to share your life so closely with another species is an amazing experience. However, I have also seen when it is not such great experience. When families are struggling with their dogs & are unable to make that much wanted connection. Or dog owners that feel like they have no control over their dogs & they are causing havoc within the homes that they share. I have seen these dogs relinquished to shelters, or worse, when many times a good training intervention is all that was needed. My passion, if not mission, in life is to help people live better lives with their dogs. I am here to help guide you through and translate the canine language. I will help you bridge that communication divide that you currently have with your dog.
Throughout my many years of education & experience I have learned that a balanced approach to dog training yields the best results. My original background was in a purely positive training approach… I’ve been there. My own dog, who one would consider very well trained in obedience; knew not only the basics, but tons of tricks, was able to hike off leash, would regularly travel & come to work with me. In fact, he completed courses & workshops with me. I felt he was truly a model dog! Once he reached the age of maturity (between 2-3yrs) he became extremely reactive towards other dogs, children & people. We lived at the time in a condo setting, where things lurked around each corner. Having a dog that would lunge, bark & go after pretty much everything that walked by us became extremely stressful & needless to say made walks a complete pain is the you know where! No amount of distraction, high value treats or counter conditioning was making a dent in the behavior. I was constantly dragging my growling/barking dog away from situations that would surprise us on his front attaching harness, head harness or slip lead. The environment was not good for successfully using positive reinforcement methods alone. We were constantly confronted by things that frightened him due to our living situation. I decided there HAD to be a better way. I went on to learn about every training method & tool available for dogs. After much soul searching, I found myself exactly in the middle… balanced. And so did my dog.
Being balanced in your training provides both “yes” & “no” feedback for your dog. Dogs need clear rules, boundaries & consequences in order to correctly navigate this foreign world we expect them to live in. Remember English is a second language for dogs, it is our job to develop a language we can share with them. Providing our canine companions with good leadership and a foundation of learned skills is what makes a well-behaved member of the family. I believe in educating owners in order to help them with this conversation with their dogs. With commitment, consistency & structure, I will help you & your dog evolve into a great team!
My Education & experience
I have owned & operated Hair of the Dog Grooming for the past 12 years. This is where I found a true public need for knowledgeable pet services. I began receiving so many dogs that had handling issues; they would act fearful or aggressive & ultimately got kicked out of other grooming shops or veterinary practices. I had a wonderful rapport with these dogs & was able to rehabilitate their behavior. This is when I made my education of canine behavior the cornerstone of all the work I do. I have worked alongside veterinarians & within vet hospitals in order to help staff work with dogs that are afraid or aggressive for handling. I am a behavior consultant for the Rescue Haven Foundation, where I assist both foster & adoptive homes with their dog’s behavioral issues. I am a mentor trainer for Animal Behavior College, helping aspiring trainers learn hands on skills with dogs. Plus, I still enjoy grooming the “difficult” dogs that may have experienced mistreatment or misunderstanding at the hands of others in the past. I not only strive to make lives better for the human side of the relationship, but I find it equally important to improve the lives of the dogs in our care.
I believe that dog behavior is an ever-evolving field that as professionals we must stay ahead of; keeping our knowledge & skills up to date. I graduated Rutgers New Brunswick in 2001 with a Bachelors in Animal Science. I continued on to receive my grooming certification from the Nash Academy in 2006. My first official certification in dog training was received in 2012 from the Companion Animal Science Institute taught by James O’Heare. This lead me to work with shelter dogs, the most misunderstood. I met & worked alongside Fernando Camacho, the founder of the FernDog Rescue Foundation, now known as Rescue Haven Foundation. I graduated from his hands on FernDog Dog Trainer Academy in 2014. From there I sought out a certification in clicker training. In 2015, I graduated with distinction from the Karen Pryor Academy. This rigorous 6-month program taught me how to perfect my communication skills & timing with dogs. I also graduated from Karen Pryor Academy’s Puppy Start Right program, which teaches how to correctly socialize, expose & train puppies in order to help them to become more balanced adult dogs. In 2017, I received my certification from the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers. This is one of the few organizations that vets dog trainers based on their experience & knowledge in the field. In addition to working with dogs, I have worked with & trained a wide variety of animals including: wolves, fox, coyote, bison, horses, chicken, parrots & cats. I spent time at Wolf Park in Indiana helping park employees put together training plans to help them work with the animals they had at the sanctuary. Working with other species really helps develop your ability to communicate with animals in general. Needless to say, it has had a tremendous effect on the way I have learned to work with dogs.
My passion however is behavior modification. I love being able to bring out the true dog underneath all their exterior confusion. Giving families the dog they want, not the dog they have. Dog owners struggling with their dogs want results & fast! Many times they have gone through a myriad of trainers in attempts to fix their canine problems. Maybe some families feel that it is hopeless & they are destined to years of a poorly behaved dog. This is where my work shifted & I sought out other methods of training dogs. More balanced methods. I graduated Dr Susan Friedman’s Living & Learning with Animals in 2016, The Science & Technology of Behavior Change. This really helped me to break down behavior modification in a scientific way. Shortly after in 2017, I attended T3 Train the Trainers, instructed by Jeff Gellman, Sean O’Shea & Victoria Smith. This course truly helped to round out my abilities when working with dogs. Their balanced approach to behavior change was truly eye opening & life altering. It lead me to Tyler Muto, who is the President of the International Association for Canine Professionals. I attended Tyler’s Mastering the Remote Collar training workshop & also spent time shadowing him as a trainer. His approach has really added so much to my education & taught me amazing skills.
These world-renowned trainers all have had a compound effect upon how I work with dogs. Each teacher, course & workshop has helped me to become the professional I am today. I believe in being a positive role model to both humans & dogs. My training methods are structured in the humane, ethical & fair treatment of our canine friends. Strong leadership & commitment to your dogs is what yields results. Fair, balanced & clear.
I look forward to working with both you & your dog!
Sabrina Joens, CPDT-KA