Kim Jukes became a certified dog trainer when she couldn’t find the right trainer to help her reactive rescue dog.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, how you first got into animal behavior and training and what you are doing now…
There were a lot of things that brought me to becoming a trainer. About four years ago, I adopted a rescue dog that was highly reactive. I was at my wits’ end and decided I needed help from a trainer.
When I did the research to find one in my area, I didn’t like the methods used by the local trainers. Shortly after that, I made a trip to Fairbanks, Alaska where I met the most wonderful woman, Mary Shields. She was the first woman to finish the Iditarod dog sled race in 1974. I met her dogs and listened to her story.
Mary’s dogs were genuinely happy and she had been perfectly able to train them to be great mushers and/or happy dogs without resorting to aversive methods. And that’s what I wanted for my unhappy, reactive dog.
Upon returning home to Texas, I was still struggling with her when, suddenly, she stopped what she was doing and looked to me for more guidance. That’s when I decided that I could become the trainer I needed to find, and set out to get certified and learn all I could in order to help both my dog and people that have dogs like mine.
Tell us a little bit about your own pets…
I have four dogs, currently.
Trinny is a 9-year-old Labrador/Great Pyrenees mix with megaesophagus, a medical condition that requires her to eat in a specialized chair called a Bailey Chair.
Then I have Joy, who is a 7-year-old Chihuahua/Boston terrier mix and is highly reactive.
Heather is a 6-year-old Great Dane/Great Pyrenees/Staffie mix that is partially blind.
And Loki is a 3-year-old boxer/Staffie mix that had been dumped in a heavy equipment area behind where I currently work a day job.
All four dogs are rescues.
Building Relationships between Dogs and their Owners
What do you consider your area of expertise?
Relationship building between owners and their dogs.
What are some of your favorite positive reinforcement techniques for most commonly encountered client-dog problems?
I love teaching puppy push-ups as an alternative to unwanted behaviors, such as barking, lunging, jumping and other overstimulated responses.
I also recently started using pattern games and have seen such positive results with my own reactive dog, that I now use it as part of a plan to include the relaxation protocol.
What is the reward you get out of a day’s training with people and their dogs?
I get to help people who are at their wits’ end, as I was, and most everyone breathes a sigh of relief after our first meeting. And, of course, I get to play with dogs!
What is your favorite thing about your job?
Getting updates from clients. When a dog has made progress and their people are so excited to share with me, because I know where they started.
What is the funniest or craziest situation you have been in with a pet and their owner?
I was walking with a client and her reactive dog in their neighborhood. As we near the end of the street, a dog was loose. He had probably got out of his yard through the fence.
When the dog noticed us, he started barking and heading our way. I had the leash of my client’s dog, who was, surprisingly, not reacting. I got between the client’s dog and the oncoming dog, stood tall, loudly said “OUT!” and pointed towards the loose dog.
The dog stopped in his tracks and went back to his yard. This was the first time I had utilized this particular technique with a client dog and wasn’t 100% sure it would work. The client was totally impressed, but we both got a big laugh about how the other dog just said, “Okay then, I’ll go.”
Force-Free Dog Training
Why did you become a dog trainer or Pet Care Provider?
I found there was a need for positive reinforcement trainers in my area and decided to help fill that need.
Are you a crossover trainer or have you always been a Force Free trainer?
I’ve always been force-free.
What drives you to be a force-free professional and why is it important to you?
As I volunteer at the local shelters and as I work directly with people and their pets, I have seen the devastating reaction dogs have had to aversive training methods. I will never understand how someone who loves their pets can use punishment as a training technique and not understand the risk of fallout that comes with it. My dogs aren’t perfect, but they’re happy. Everyone deserves to be happy, even our pets.
What awards, competition placements, have you and your dog(s) achieved using force-free methods?
Heather has her CGC title, Joy has her Virtual Home Manners title, and Loki has his Pet Dog Ambassador Level 2 title.
In addition to my ABCDT (Animal Behavior College Dog Trainer), I am a CGC (Canine Good Citizen) evaluator, a Pet Dog Ambassador assessor, and a Dog Bite Prevention educator.
Who has most influenced your career and how?
My husband has most influenced my career. He is the most supportive person. I couldn’t do what I do if he wasn’t there to support me and take care of everything at home.
Continuing Professional Development
How has the Pet Professional Guild helped you to become a more complete trainer?
PPG has so many resources. I can take classes, attend webinars, seminars, and chat with others of like mind when it comes to training. If I am unable to help someone, I can search for someone that can, and trust that they’re not going to use aversive methods.
What advice would you give to a new trainer starting out?
Know your limitations. If a particular case is above your skill set, refer your client to someone that can help them better than you. Word of mouth is the best advertising and if you do whatever it takes to help your client, they will remember that and spread the word.
Also, learn as much as you can. Take classes, go to seminars, and so on. Just because you’re certified, it doesn’t mean you know it all.