About a year ago I adopted a beautiful Whippet-Border Collie mix. The first day I had her home I sat on my floor and called her. She put her ears back, belly on the floor, tail between her legs, and crawled to me. If I moved a piece of furniture, she would circle it and growl at it. When I would get out anything she hadn’t seen before, she would circle it and growl at it. She once tried to attack a snowman and was very grabby with her treats and food. She was very smart, and quick to learn obedience commands, but struggled to act appropriately around other people and dogs due to anxiety. She also had terrible separation anxiety and would try to break out of any crate or dog-proof room she was left in to the point where it was dangerous for her. In addition, she was leash-reactive.
While I had owned many dogs before, I was not entirely prepared for the training needs of this one. I heard about Deb’s training and the individualized plan she would be able to offer my dog. We met with her for individual consultation and I was so impressed from the moment I walked in the room. Deb knew what my dog needed to feel safe, and created a positive and trusting work environment for a very fearful dog. My dog still gets so excited when she sees that building! Through training Deb taught me how to continue to teach my dog Behavioral Adjustment Training. While most trainers train your dog, Deb taught me how to communicate with my dog, see things from her perspective, and ultimately be the one responding to her emotional and training needs. Through the process of rehabilitating this rescue, Deb provided the support and guidance we needed.
Now, a year later, my dog can stay home alone anxiety-free. She greets others nicely, loves to meet new people, is curious about new things, and is even starting to make some dog friends. I have learned so much more about recognizing her needs and responding to her stress levels. When I got my dog, I used to say that our best kept secret was that she was actually a good, smart, affectionate dog who loves others. At a point where most others would not have recognized the wonderful things about my dog, Deb saw those things in her. Now, our best kept secret is that my dog was once that “bad dog” and that she has struggled so much with behavior. Today she is happy, healthy, and living her life to the fullest! We can’t thank you enough Deb!
-Veronica and Mardia, January 2016
Our rescue dog, Megan, had some real issues after we adopted her. She had separation anxiety and was (softly) biting our youngest child. She was also terrified of men which meant she wouldn't go near my husband. In our private lessons Deb gave us some real-world training applications. After some hard work and training, Megan is a different dog. She is well-behaved and after Deb had my husband hand-feed her for several weeks, Megan has finally warmed up to him. She is a part of our family thanks to Deb and Over the Rainbow Dogs. Deb's gentle spirit and patience helped us work together as a team and change Megan's behavior as well as ours. We can't thank her enough.
-Matt and Carrie Barrett, April 2012
I have learned as much or more than my pup! Deb has such sensible, practical advice for everything we learn. I love that my dog is being socialized with other dogs and people, that he is learning manners and obedience as well as just having fun. I would recommend this class to anyone who would like to learn how to have the most rewarding relationship with their favorite canine!
- Sherri White, Albany, IN
I attended (as an observer) a training/class session put on by a large, well established obedience club in our county. The building was filled with beautiful dogs, pretty much all of which were being yanked by their handlers for undetermined misdeeds. (sigh) I thought back to Bad Dog author Martin Kihn's commentary on the popular Koehler Method of Dog Training (my notes about that are here) and knew this wasn't the group for me. The dogs there were all obedient, but none looked happy. When I asked one of the instructors about the use of food rewards, she snorted and said it was discouraged as it tended to cause chaos - all the dogs could think about was finding the food - NOT the task at hand. (which I guess was being yanked by the neck?)<---sarcasm
About the exact opposite of this is Deb's method at
Over The Rainbow Dogs. She DOES NOT ALLOW choke or pinch collars in her class. Food rewards are mandatory, and some of what folks were bringing as treats for their dogs looked better than what I'd had to eat that day... Deb encourages chaos. We work on a specific behavior for a little while, then the dogs are all released to run around and play with each other. At first it was a free-for-all, with a lot of butt-sniffing and snooping around the room (which is a back room/storage area at a vet clinic) As the weeks passed, the dogs learned to pay enthusiastic attention to what was being taught AND they looked forward to the short play sessions. There was no drilling - we practiced different things, and then moved quickly to the next exercise. The transformation was remarkable. With no drama, no yanking, etc. my dog's focus improved dramatically and she not only behaved, but she did so fairly reliably in a distracting environment. I could not be more pleased with the outcome, and I am so very thankful that I passed on the first class - the one with what appeared to be a more impressive attendance, history and accolades.
-Gina Keesling, Alexandria, IN
Deb Dolak is wonderful! She helped us through a very difficult time with our beloved dog, Ripley. Our black lab was about a year old when she started having trouble being home by herself. Our normally sweet dog destroyed dog crates, scaled pet gates, chewed up books and comforters, and tore into drywall. Her destructive behavior escalated to the point where we couldn’t leave the house without worrying about her safety and our belongings. We were convinced we couldn’t give our dog what she needed, but we were afraid she would be mistreated or euthanized if we gave her to someone else. Deb helped us understand our dog’s problem and patiently taught us how to train our dog to be home alone. She also helped us connect with a supportive vet who had experience with separation anxiety and medication. Our dog has been “destruction free” for about two years. She stays home by herself and no longer takes medication for her anxiety. Deb gave us the emotional support, background knowledge, and training support we needed to help our dog and keep our family together. Ripley is now a wonderful companion to our new baby girl!
-Karen Bogol January 2009
I am a 66 year old retired teacher who has enjoyed the company of dogs my entire life. Childhood dogs lived outside on the farm and came inside only for short visits. As an adult, my Airedale terriers and Scottish terriers have all been full-time indoor companions. I never took any of my dogs to formal canine training until my retirement. Why? My goal was to train a Scottish terrier puppy to be an international pet therapy dog so we could help people in hospitals and nursing homes. I met Deb Dolak through a local obedience training club in my area. Brody and I chose her as a trainer based on recommendations from other students/owners. Deb is totally committed to helping dogs and owners acquire learned behaviors through the use of clicker training with praise and treats. We trained with Deb during 3 different 8 week sessions. I was amazed by her knowledge, commitment, and love for her avocation. I have seen her have successes with all breeds and all types of dogs. I now have another 8 week old Scottish terrier beginning puppy school with Deb. I would recommend her and her techniques to anyone.
-Dave Burgess, Muncie, Indiana
One year ago, my wife and I acquired Charley, a Golden Retriever puppy. Little did we know that our Charley would behave much like the famous Marley of the movie world. When we asked our vet about a number of behavioral issues (issues we thought serious enough for us to consider returning our puppy to the breeder) she recommended that we consider a puppy socialization class offered by Deb Dolak. We participated in her class for six weeks, learning techniques of K-9 behavior modification and gaining self confidence in our ability to train our dog.
Deb Dolak possesses what we believe to be three essential qualities in dog training: a thorough understanding of the intersections of human and K-9 behaviors, an understanding of and ability to teach specific techniques for training behavioral outcomes, and perhaps most importantly, a genuine passion for training dogs and instilling self-confidence in dog owners. We couldn’t have had a better mentor and trainer for Charley.
-Michael, Caroline and Charley Sullivan
I took my puppy, Maverick, to Deb’s puppy class at the Westview Animal Clinic. We absolutely loved it and learned so much. Deb creates an environment in her class that is fun, safe and educational. Her use of positive reinforcement really works. Finding your dog’s motivation allows you to break the bad habits and teach the positive ones. I would recommend Deb to anyone who is looking for a great dog training course with a trainer that is not only very knowledgeable about dogs and training techniques, but is also a very caring person, who is willing to take the extra time and effort to meet both the dog and the owner’s needs. Thanks so much, Deb!
-Lauren Orto and Maverick
My name is Earlene and my therapy dog is Bobo. We took Deb Dolak's therapy dog classes 1 1/2 years ago. Bobo had also taken puppy classes with Deb for socialization (several years ago). I've known Deb thru church and personally know what a kind, gentle, and loving person she is. She monitors you and your dog to see how best she can help you both. Deb uses only kindness, patience and love for her training sessions.
If I were to ever have another dog I would only take her to Deb Dolak's classes. She is the BEST!
Earlene and Bobo (arf, arf)
“A year ago, Libby timidly went into the first day of Deb Dolak’s therapy dog class at the Riverside Methodist Church. She only knew one command: “lie down.” She didn’t even know how to walk with a lead. She was terrified of the other people and dogs in the room. But after just five Saturday classes of gentle coaching and Deb’s insightful training of me and the other humans in the class, Libby passed her test with flying colors and became a therapy dog. She learned not to be afraid of other people and dogs, wheelchairs and nursing home equipment, and she learned numerous new obedience commands – all with purely positive rewards and no negative discipline. Now Libby and I closer than ever. She runs with her tail wagging to get in the car to go for nursing home visits and to go to the library for the “Reading is Doggone Fun” program where children gain confidence and have fun reading aloud to therapy dogs. All this has enriched my life as well as Libby’s so much. I am truly grateful to Deb for giving us these new experiences.”
–Carol from Yorktown
"Let me first start off by saying, Deb is wonderful- not only as a dog trainer but as an individual. My dog received training from her weekly over a six week period and the training was very professional, helpful, and engaging. She treated our dog with respect and truly cared for my dog's progress. This is my first dog; therefore, I had no idea what I was doing or getting myself into with such a commitment, so, Deb not only gave us great hands on training, she gave me great advice concerning many other aspects. I completely trust her judgment with all of the research she does, and I have always looked at her has an expert in the area of dog training. Deb also makes herself available through email so if I had a question between training sessions, she responded promptly. I cannot thank Deb enough for the progress my dog made through her instruction."
-Lauren Heiden, Pendleton, IN
Deb Dolak provided a wonderful experience for us in her classes. Each session was well organized and fun for the dogs and owners. Deb and her assistants used a variety of activities to teach needed skills for our pets to use during their therapy work at nursing homes and libraries. All the instruction was done in a professional manner, and suggestions were made to help the dog and owner complete the course. The socialization among the dogs was great, and we still see our friends from the class at different locations while doing therapy work. We always anticipated the fun and learning we would experience at each session.
-Cherlynn Renner and Mr. Jumbo
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