My first experience years ago in obedience training was with a local trainer who used compulsion training methods only. During that time, I noticed that my dog was bored and unhappy, although she did learn.
Consequently, it was a THRILL to find Ellie Bell, who has a balanced training program that emphasizes positive reinforcement. As a result of this kind of positive reinforcement training, the experience of learning became a pleasure for my dogs, and I have became a better handler and trainer.
I initially attended Ellie’s excellent and helpful puppy classes. Later, I became interested in competing in multiple performance activities, and I needed more focused help, so I began taking private lessons from Ellie. Her sound advice and instruction aided me greatly in my performance activities. Along with other mentors, books, tapes, and multiple performance internet lists, Ellie has contributed to our achievements, including our attaining the Canine Good Citizen certificate, two championship conformation titles (American and Canadian), a novice draft title, and two obedience titles (Companion Dog and Companion Dog Excellent). Ellie shares credit for my boy’s becoming a BMDCA-recognized Versatility Dog, for his being honored in the Parade of Titleholders at the 2000 BMDCA National Specialty, and, perhaps best of all, for my berner boy’s being honored by Front and Finish Magazine as one of the top ten Bernese in the US in the 2010 Open A Working Group. (He tied in the number three spot.)
In addition, Ellie often helped in remedying particular problems that occurred during the training process as we prepared for specific titles. For example, her suggestions helped my “Velcro” boy to beautifully and happily accomplish the out-of-sight down/stays and sit/stays required in Novice Obedience while most of the other dogs in the line up changed position or anxiously followed their owners.
With Ellie’s help, my berner boy quickly finished his CDX in his first three attempts, which is unusual, especially for a first-time team. Further, he was High in Class in each of these attempts. Adele Yunck, co-writer of the excellent competition obedience manual (Competition: A Balancing Act), congratulated me on this accomplishment—and Ellie certainly deserved some of that praise. More recently, Ellie has helped me as I’ve practiced the more advanced Utility exercises with my boy and has often played “pretend judge.”
As a result of this journey with my dog inspired in part by Ellie, I recently created a project on learning and reinforcement to encourage my writing students to use more positive reinforcement techniques as they learned to write. This project included an in-class dog demo showing the effectiveness of clicker training, which many students enjoyed.
Ellie is a wise, generous and experienced professional, who trains her own dogs in Agility. She has a gracious, positive, and considerate manner with her clients. Those of us who have been fortunate to have her as our trainer have benefited greatly from her knowledge and experience.
Thank you, Ellie!