Editor’s Note (8/30/2012): As of 9/1/2012, the Nature Nanny will no longer be servicing the Maryland area.
We have the privilege of knowing some great people in our line of business, and Kelli Rosenberg (aka “The Nature Nanny”) is certainly one of them. If you live in the Baltimore area and need a dog walker or pet sitter, there’s no one more attentive, caring, and nurturing as Kelli. We know this personally because she is Debbie’s own pet sitter and she doesn’t trust just anyone with her critters!
We wanted to know more about Kelli’s experiences with positive training, so we asked her a few questions and here’s what she had to say:
On your website, you say you “also [have] experience with positive reinforcement training methods and it is the only method used for her own animal companions as well as others people’s pets.” Please describe some of the experiences you’ve had with training.
I have three dogs of my own with very different personalities. I also have a parrot! All have benefited from positive training methodologies. I have attended numerous training classes with the Humane Society and at the Oriole Dog Training Club. Both utilized clicker training which I found worked quickly and effectively for my companion animals. I also learned from a trainer that without a clicker you can use a word as a marker which I also utilize A LOT. As soon as the animal performs the desired action I say “YES!” in an excited voice and smile. Works beautifully! I have also done a lot of research and reading on the topic: Karen Pryor, Pat Miller and Jean Donaldson to name a few.
You get to see lots of different pets, some of which I’m sure are trained traditionally, and others probably positively. What kinds of changes do you notice between dogs who have had one type of training over the other?
When I see a choker or prong collar I cringe! I have seen some things done with a choker collar that were shocking. I do not feel that fear and pain should ever be used in training an animal. Positively trained dogs, I notice, are very happy and trusting dogs! They have joie de vivre and offer well-mannered behaviors on their own all of the time. It is much better than seeing a dog that cowers from you if you move too fast or thinks it’s being punished when it’s crate time. That is really heartbreaking.
How do you incorporate positive training in your pet sitting services?
I incorporate positive training with all of my pet friends (unless the client requests otherwise of course)! It not only makes the animal happy to receive positive encouragement and treats, which they LOVE (ha-ha)! It also helps the human family to have a happy and well-behaved animal. I focus on leash-walking skills and sitting quietly while having their harness and/or leash put on.
What factors in your life led up to the start of the Nature Nanny business?
I have always loved and had a natural affinity with animals. My first job at 13 years old was in a dog kennel! After leaving Bark!, I knew I still wanted to be around animals, it is very rewarding and fulfilling for me to make a positive difference in animals lives. I decided to start my dog walking and pet sitting business. It felt like a natural progression from being in the natural pet food and supply industry to a solely positive service model.
What is most rewarding about your job now?
The most rewarding thing for me is making a positive contribution everyday in an animal’s life. When I see their eyes light up and their tail wag when they see me, that completely makes what I do rewarding and wonderful. I love what I do!
What makes you “earth-friendly?”
I only use certified biodegradable plant based poo bags that meet ASTM D6400 specifications. I use grain-free organic treats that are US sourced and made, preferably local whenever possible. I am an avid recycler of everything! I purchase carbon offsets for my travel. I use reusable tote bags. I compost and grow veggies! I Use compact fluorescent light bulbs in my home. I only use safe, non-toxic earth friendly cleaning products, including animal grooming products. I keep my cats indoors. I am a vegan. That’s all I can think of right now, there might be more!
What advice would you give to the average pet owner so that they can keep their pet happy and healthy?
Good nutrition, play, love and exercise! I would also recommend consistency. When positively training your dog always maintain consistency in what you ask. Make sure everyone in the household is doing the same thing. Animals like the security of routine and consistency, I think. They know what is being asked of them, which make them more confident and happy.