We received this letter from a Puppy Camp student and I was thrilled to hear about puppy camp achieving exactly what I had hoped when we began it last year. We get thank you notes all the time from students (yay!) but this was so detailed and clear that I asked Dana for permission to share it on our website. Note: I also added in some links, but otherwise, this is Dana’s original email. It’s especially valuable feedback, because Dana is a Ph.D. clinical psychologist!
My French Bulldog puppy, Babette, has been a grateful Puppy Camp student for eight weeks. I wanted to drop a note to make sure you are aware of what amazing work is going on there. I really cannot imagine how Babette’s development would have played out had it not been for Frank, Amber and Katie.
Babette came to me as an extremely shy puppy; too anxious to participate in Kindergarten. She trembled on my lap, refused peanut butter smeared on a plate, averted her gaze when puppies came near. Amber suggested we try puppy camp and assured me of their experience with and affection for shy dogs.
Then I watched in amazement as day by day, Amber, Frank and Katie socialized my fearful puppy. They worked with exquisite patience and obvious expertise. Here’s how Babette looked on Day 2 of Puppy Camp, being rewarded for simply being calm:
Babette progressed from peeking at the other puppies from behind a divider, to a curious but skittish visitor as they were tethered, to acknowledging the other puppies then running away, to nose greetings and sniffs, to tentative play. Now she is an exuberant (but gentle) playmate who can initiate play, respect cut-off signals, paw spar and chase. The Ahimsa trainers have been just awesome. Wynona even brought over a younger, shy puppy for Babette to “mentor.”
It is absolutely, positively clear to me that I could not have accomplished this on my own. I’m tremendously impressed with Amber, Frank and Katie’s professionalism; with the depth of their knowledge about positive training and doggie psychology. If you’ll pardon my language — they know their shit, and it shows.
After four weeks of Puppy Camp, Babette could play with other puppies in Amber’s Kindergarten class:
I have also really appreciated how organized and sane the Puppy Camp experience has been. I was asked for my goals each week and could see they were working towards them. I had report cards each day that helped me understand what Babette was learning and how I could build on that. Katie, Frank and Amber were able to answer every question. They were graceful in the face of transition back from the Annex to the classrooms then back again. They run a tight ship (and a clean one.) They demonstrate abundant support for the owners and tenderness towards all the puppies in their care. It was a privilege to be a part of Ahimsa Puppy Camp.
Now, after Puppy Camp, Babette has achieved DoggieZen:
Babette in a zen moment
I had an unsocialized rescue dog for a short time [Ahimsa note: this was another dog that was showing too much aggression and had to be returned to the rescue], so I know what the consequences could look like without Puppy Camp. Babette and I are most grateful!