Featuring Jen Larson, KPA-CTP & Whitney Spence
Concept by Courtney Emken

Whitney Spence leads our “Tricks For Treats” Halloween Workshop. She is one of our trainers here at DogBoy’s. Our training department manager Jen talks to her about why she became a dog trainer, what keeps her inspired, and the Sunday Workshop.


– I’m Jen and I’m the manager of the Training Department and I’m here today with Whitney, one of my trainers and we’re gonna do a little bit of an interview so you can get to know her. So Whitney, how did you first get into dog training?

– So, about six and a half years ago, I rescued one of my first dogs from a shelter and she ended up being really people and dog reactive. And, never working with dogs before, my parents and I decided to go to a training class. And the trainer used a lot of adversive techniques that made me very uncomfortable, especially ’cause I see my dogs as my children. So, seeing one of my dogs being so uncomfortable and fearful of people than she already was, I just wasn’t okay with that. So, I decided to do my own research and through working with her and using positive reinforcement training and slowly building her confidence with people, very quickly I realized that just taking it easy and being nice to your dog, she eventually got over her fear of people and dogs.

– That’s a really nice story. I love that you were able to see what kind of a change positive reinforcement can make instead of using adversive methods. So, what’s one of your favorite things to teach using positive reinforcement?

– So, I’m actually also trying to get into the film industry and one of my favorite things to teach is trick training. I would eventually like to be able to train dogs for TV and film in the future.

– So, what kind of animal would like to train other than a dog?

– So, another animal that I would like to train would definitely be cats. I find cats very interesting. They seem to have kind of their own attitudes compared to dogs so they seem like they would be a lot of fun to work with.

– Do you have any training role models that you look up to?

– There’s a positive reinforcement dog trainer called Zak George on YouTube and I love how he really helps show the community that positive reinforcement training is the right way to train your dogs and helps introduce love into the training and make training fun for both dogs and people.

– So, as a positive reinforcement trainer, are there any common problem behaviors that you see more than others?

– I mostly see a lot of pulling on leash, as well as I’m seeing a bigger trend in more fearful puppies that haven’t been socialized at an early age.

– Right, so, yeah, that can definitely happen with puppies. If you’re not getting that early socialization in during that critical time period, we do see a lot of fearful and reactive puppies coming in. Making sure that you’re exposing your puppy to new people, places, and things pretty much as soon as you can. So, eight weeks is not too soon. As soon as you can start socializing your puppy, you should. So, Whitney, tell me about your pets.

– So, I have two dogs that live with me. One is a Border Collie mix. She’s a rescue from Forgotten Friends Mixed Breed Rescue here in Austin. Her name is Kimchi. And I have a Corgi that’s about a year and a half and her name is Soju. Their names are Korean based off of kimchi, which is the fermented cabbage side dish, and then Soju is the Korean alcohol drink

– So, Whitney, what’s one of your favorite things to do with your dogs?

– I love trick training with my dogs. We do a lot of targeting. So, that’s going to a marker and it’s really good for them for working on camera.

– Cool. So, one really fun thing that we’ve got coming up is a Halloween themed workshop that Whitney’s going to be teaching called Tricks for Treats. Whitney, do you want to tell us a little bit about what you’re going to be teaching?

– Yeah, definitely. So, in this workshop, you’re going to learn how to be able to teach your dog new tricks, as well as learn some things like Play Dead, Stick ‘Em Up, Cover Your Eyes, or, like, a simple spin.

– So, why is trick training so much fun for dogs and what’s important about it?

– So, trick training is really important because it not only builds confidence in your dog. So, if you have kind of a shy dog, this will really help, especially if you bring your dog into maybe an unfamiliar area, do some fun tricks that your dogs know. But this also helps build a really strong relationship between the dog and the pet parent.

– Because we’re using positive reinforcement training so we’re really deepening that bond. So, that’s great. Trick training is a lot of fun. So, we hope to see you there. The workshop is gonna be Sunday, October 28th from?

– From 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.