by Shayla Oliver
On an average day, I run out of my house with dog hair and drool all over my leggings…looking like the tossed-away strip of a lint roller. But it’s cool. Most of the people I see first thing in the morning know how many dogs I tend to have in my home. I wake up two hours on the low end of enough sleep before I have to be out of the house, because I can have up to eight dogs that all need bathroom breaks, outside time, and breakfast before I can leave. Not to mention the two-legged kids who follow me around like lost puppies in the morning. I have a busy life. I am, first and foremost, a mama of two babes and two pooches, but I’m also a full-time dog trainer, and I am often boarding clients’ dogs in the house, and it’s usually hairy and loud. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s the best!
I’ve been working with dogs for about 10 years now, but that wasn’t my original objective in life, when I walked out of my high school holding the paper that gave me permission to be an adult. Nope, I was going to do so many different things along the way. But my heart always led me right back to dogs! So, 10 years ago, when I finally made the leap to a professional dog training career, I never looked back! I don’t pick and choose the breeds and personalities that come my way; I like to think that they find me when they need me. From rescues to boarding, they can always benefit from the time they spend in my home, and we are always glad to have them!
Growing a family was in the cards, and after years of working with other families, I had a pretty good insight into a safe dynamic to offer my pack in my own home. Which is where the purpose of my blog really entered the picture. It was growing increasingly common to get calls about pets that needed to be re-homed because their owners were having a baby. More often than not I have had to have an uncomfortable conversation with a client, letting them know that the issue at hand was likely not their dog, but the child at home, and it didn’t always save the relationship. Sometimes people are either overwhelmed, just unwilling to put in the work, or unwilling to make a change that would keep their four-legged pal in the home. Really, whatever the underlying reason was, I was living in a home with my own three large dogs, up to four dogs boarding at any given time (often with behavioral issues), and my two kids. So clearly it’s doable, right? YES! So my first thought was, “Why not share how we make it work with the world?” DONE!
Most of what I do, from teaching classes, to activities at home, generally encompasses everyone here. I like to include my kids in the things I do with the dogs, and vice versa. I also really encourage my clients to include their kids in classes, so they can learn how to be respectfully hands-on with their furry family members, too. In fact, when Karma, our little Pitty, runs agility, my son Aiden will often tag along and run her a few times through himself. I recently scheduled some bite-prevention assemblies with a local elementary school. So, we love seeing kids connect well with dogs, which in turn creates healthy relationships and respect, which can keep kids and dogs safely together.
So, how do I manage to keep everyone busy and happy? Well, when we go watch Aiden play a baseball game, Vino, our handful of a Cane Corso, comes, too! If I take the kids to the park, the dogs get leashed up and come along. If I’m walking the dogs, the kids come along, because why not include everyone when I can? Cooking? Recipes for everyone! My favorite project lately has been home-made popsicles for the kids AND the dogs! The kiddos get a chance to get their hands in the mix, and the dogs reap the benefits of frozen coconut cubes. Win-win! Feel free to take my easy recipe, and create some delicious snacks for everyone in your home!
Be sure to check out Shayla’s blog Tiny Toes & Furry Paws.
Check out more pet stories and articles in our Pet Perspective section.