I first met Vicky Kirkland through her dog, Bronco. I always hoped to see him hanging out in front of Goodson Rec Center when I would drop my kids off for preschool or attend a yoga class there. As I got to know Bronco and watched him with his owner, I knew he was the kind of dog that would be perfect for my family. One day I stopped Vicky and introduced myself. I bombarded her with all kinds of questions about her wonderful dog, and she willingly answered, only adding at the end of our conversation that she was a dog trainer. I eagerly took her card knowing that she would be the person I would call when I eventually got a puppy. Having seen the way Bronco behaved and the things he could do, I knew Vicky was the trainer for us!
About a year later, my family adopted a roly-poly female yellow lab that we named Bijou. Bijou was a great dog right from the start, but like all puppies she did a lot of annoying, destructive, and sometimes dangerous things – like eating my son’s socks! I called Vicky right away and enrolled my dog in her beginning obedience class. Starting with the orientation, our life with our dog began to change for the better, and each week things improved even more. Bijou responded brilliantly to Vicky’s training methods, and she learned quickly. Best of all, she loved our training sessions because it was so easy and fun for her. In a matter of weeks, we had ourselves a well-mannered, obedient, exceedingly happy dog who was great with our kids and everyone she met.
Over the years, we have taken many classes with Vicky, including the intermediate class twice, an off-leash hiking class, and agility, and Bijou earned her Canine Good Citizenship certificate, too. I would hate to think what our life with this wonderful dog could have been like if we had not trained her or chosen a trainer who used horrible things like pinch or shock/vibration collars. Every technique that Vicky taught us used only positive reinforcement and there was no “punishment” at all. We never had to use dominance or intimidation to either get the behavior we wanted to or to teach Bijou not to do the things we didn’t want. The positive approach paid dividends because our dog trusts us implicitly and has no reason to doubt how much we love her. This we owe to Vicky and her wonderful dog, Bronco.
Today I am proud to myself be a part of the Denver dog training community. Thanks to what I learned from Vicky and Bronco, I am now a dog trainer, too, and I love teaching puppy classes, watching the dogs learn to socialize and build their dog obedience skills, and seeing the bond with their owner deepen into a special relationship.