Interview with Call of the Wild Canine Services

Today on the blog I'm interviewing Sarah McManaman from Call of the Wild Canine Services. She's a dog walker and dog trainer who takes pups on fantastic off-leash adventures through the beautiful trails of Nova Scotia. And documents it all with her GoPro! (all the images in this blog are hers)

Q: How did you decide to go into dog walking as a career, and how long have you owned Call of the Wild Canine Services?

I started fostering dogs in 2009, and my life quickly turned into all dogs, all the time, so caring for dogs other than my own was something I was doing regularly. In 2013 I took the plunge and started taking other peoples’ dogs for hikes! It was something that I did for free for quite a while because it’s so hard for me to charge money for things! I know, it sounds so silly, but I was raised to do nice things for other people because that’s the nice thing to do. If you can help you should. So it really took some personal discipline to be able to turn this into a business and understand the value that I bring to dog owners and their dogs lives.

Q: What types of services do you offer your clients? And why do your clients love it so much?

Off leash group hikes are what I specialize in and I love them! In the woods with dogs is really where I feel most comfortable, and even when I’m not working it’s what I do in my spare time. At the end of a day of hiking all day I like to drive out to the beach to try to catch a pretty sunset. As for what my clients love, you would have to ask them! I feel like everyone appreciates my honesty and approachability. I’ve never been much of a business person; I do what I do because I love it and I’m good at it. So my clients can always be sure that they are getting the real me and always hearing about any little changes or concerns I see with their dogs. I’ve always been upfront and honest about whether or not my services are the best option for them. Sometimes dogs may be a little too shy to feel comfortable to go out with a stranger and that is perfectly okay; I never want to force a dog to do something that they don’t feel comfortable with. I also feel like the people who seek me out to walk their dogs also appreciate my experience in dog training. It is definitely a huge asset when working with groups of off leash dogs. Another thing my clients love is the pictures that I take during our hikes. I am by no means a photographer, but I love taking photos and my GoPro is my weapon of choice. You’ll rarely see me without my GoPro in hand. You can only take so many cell phone portrait shots of dogs before it becomes quite redundant. I love that with my GoPro, which offers a wider angle photo, that I can capture the beautiful areas I walk as well as the dogs.

Q: Which areas does Call of the Wild serve and where do you like to explore on walks/hikes?

I service the core Dartmouth and Halifax areas. As for my favorite spots to hike, well .. I’ll never tell! I always joke when people ask me what trails I use, because the reason I love them is that they are low traffic areas and sometimes we can enjoy our whole walk without bumping into any! I will say though, it’s hard to think of a prettier place to hike in than Nova Scotia. My favorite places to go to hike and also get good pictures has to be rugged coastal trails. Especially the coastal trails around the HRM; they are just so visually pleasing for me. Any trails by the ocean are always a big winner. Anywhere I can catch a good sunset and be able to walk quite a ways without running into anyone else.

Q: Tell me about your own pups!

I share my life with a pretty amazing dog named Zephyr. He was a $150 mutt off Kijiji, which I know everyone has their own opinions on, but boy did I ever hit the jackpot! I picked him almost 8 years ago to this very day! He peed in the car on the drive home, but I was instantly in love. I can’t even say enough good things about him. He is fun, silly and so very loving. He loves to work, and he always has an eye on me in case there is an opportunity to do some tricks and earn some snacks. He is always up for any adventure I have in mind, but is also down for spending the day on the couch under some blankets watching movies. He recently got his Trick Dog Champion title, so you could say he is a bit of a trick connoisseur as well. My new year’s resolution this year was to do more with Zephyr. We already do A LOT together, but we’ve wrangled some new hobbies this year as well! In addition to getting his Trick Dog Champion title at the beginning of 2016, he participated in his first class ever, and started trialling for the first time as well. He tried out his paw at dock diving at AquaTerra Kennels, did a couple of Disc Dog trials, and we are currently training to give Rally Obedience a try! So, long story short, he is an awesome dog. 8 years old and only getting better with age!

Q: Where can the pups of Halifax find and follow you online? Which social media platforms are your favourites?

Instagram is definitely my favorite social platform!! I think I’ve only had my IG account for 2-3 years, but I’m almost at my 6,000th post. There are just so many cool people on there, and by people I mean dogs. I’ve gotten to meet some cool new dog walkers, dog trainers, and just dog enthusiasts in general! There is a great community of GoPro users as well, which is another big interest of mine. @timthetoothninja is a great example of someone else who loves dogs and is using his GoPros to help document the fun they have together. I really love the content he creates, and he has definitely helped me out in learning the ropes when it comes to GoPros. You guys should check him out! If you wanted to find Call of the Wild on the internet, you could choose any of these routes:

Website: www.callofthewildcanines.ca

Facebook: www.facebook.com/callofthewildcanines

Instagram: www.instagram.com/callofthewildcanineservices

Tumblr: http://callofthewildcanines.tumblr.com/

You can also find me posting pictures and training tips on the Sublime Canine Services page at:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/sublimecanineservices

Website: www.sublimecanine.ca

Q: What is your favourite local dog-related company?

Sublime Canine Services. I am biased though, because I am one of the trainers for this lovely dog training company (you can find me in puppy class!). I’ve always loved these guys for their approachability. They make training fun and realistic. I remember before I ever got into dog training I had taken one of my foster dogs to a Basic Life Skills class with them, and they had laid out everything so clearly; it was a huge game changer for me! Definitely the reason why I got into dog training. They are kind, supportive, and always accommodating. I can’t say enough good things about them. Beyond puppy training and life skills training classes, everyone on the team is pretty involved in dog sports! If you’ve ever been interested in dog sports and want to ask some questions I’m sure any of our sport trainers would love to talk your ear off about them!

Q: Thank you so much for taking some time out of your day to talk about Call of the Wild, Sarah! Is there anything else you'd like to add or talk about?

I think if I could encourage anyone to do anything, it would be to have as much fun as possible with their dogs. Perhaps get into trick training. Tricks can be cute and entertaining when you have company over, but they always can translate into real world skills. Even more than just being tricks, it’s an opportunity to bond and connect with your dog. You can really find out a lot from the learning process. For example, my sweet boy can be quite sensitive, and get frustrated if he doesn’t understand something. So I’ve become a “master splitter”: I learned to break behaviours down to smaller steps so that I could gradually build up the behaviour or trick to when I wanted it to be. Being able to see those small rewardable moments in your trick training transfers over into real life as well. We expect our dogs to put up with a whole lot in life, and often just take it for granted. I’ve always felt a lot happier when I’ve been acknowledging the small successes with my dogs, instead of just getting after them for the stuff I don’t like. So I guess what I’m saying is play with your dogs! Whether its tricks, or dog sports, long walks or just chucking a ball for them. Do what makes you both happy as much as you can! Our time spent with them in this world is so unfairly short, never pass up an opportunity to bring out the joy in your relationship and not take things to seriously.

Interview with Fitpup

We're back with another interview! Katie Hart owns Fitpup, a dog walking and training business in Halifax. Welcome, Katie!

Maggie ("Mags")

Maggie ("Mags")



Q: How did you decide to open a dog walking business, and how long have you owned FitPup?

4 years ago my sweet puggle, Fendi, was hit by a car - a simple mistake that could have been prevented by teaching proper recall. I have always loved animals, I couldn't go anywhere without trying to smother random people's beloved pooches so after Fendi passed I decided to jump on my dream and start working with dogs. I started with basic obedience, because I didn't want to be responsible for other people pups without knowing exactly what I was doing. While mentoring with Unleashed Pawsabilities I realized how much dogs thrived by being outside together and romping around in nature, and I thought about when my dogs are their happiest, when they are outside in the woods chasing squirrels. All of our dogs have to have basic recall to join our groups, and if they don't we offer training so they can eventually be a part of the fun.

Fitpup is 1 at the end of June :)

Q: What types of services do you offer your clients?

We have group walks for dogs that love running off leash in the woods with other dogs. We also offer private walks which are great for dogs that are not yet socialized or just prefer the company of a human friend. We work within a dogs limits, we understand that not all dogs have to like playing with dogs. We offer private sessions of basic obedience as well, which we highly recommend taking advantage of if you would like your dog to be a part of our groups but are worried about their recall.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about what's involved in your daily life as a business owner and dog walker?

Oh is that a learning curve. I am very lucky to have very patient clients/ now new friends! We have spent the past year working hard to pair up dogs with each other so they will have the most fun so that has been a daily event that is now coming together. I'm lucky to have an amazing team working with me, they help me endlessly build this business into one people can rely on and trust. So keeping us all organized, keeping contact with currant clients so they know about their pups either via text or through our Facebook page while in our care, answering emails and putting some wear and tear in my hiking boots daily.

Q: Which areas does FitPup serve?

We service Halifax, Sackville, Bedford, Fall River & now Tantallon.

Q: Tell me about your own pups!

Mags is my dachshund/beagle mix. She is 12, I adopted her when she was just over 1 year from a lady who was bringing dogs that were about to be euthanized after Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, over to Calgary where I lived at the time. She has always been an old soul and was the best hiking partner until an old injury/age slowed her down. Now she loves to have small walks and just relax at home until I get back and our Netflix marathons can continue. She's a cranky old lady but she's my soul mate, I will never have a dog like my sweet Mags. Coco is our family dog, we adopted her in Fendi's memory from Litters-n-Critters. She is a chihuahua mix, she is the opposite of Mags, she is social with everyone and everything. She'll wander into the woods with a groundhog if it means she could possibly have a new friend. She is currently in Agility learning how to do some cool things. She is very sporty, loves frisbee, running in the woods, swimming. Coco joins our group walks quite a bit, she's extremely easy going, and if you need a good face licking, just say hi to Miss Coco!

Q: Where can the pups of Halifax find and follow you online?

You can follow us on Facebook & Instagram. There are direct links from our website www.fitpup.ca Or here: Facebook: @halifaxfitpup Instagram: @hfxfitpup

Q: What is your favourite local dog-related company?

I'm like a kid at Christmas when I go into any of the local pet stores. Pet Valu, Global Pets, B&R Pets Supplies & Best Friends.

Q: Thank you so much for taking some time out of your day to talk about FitPup, Katie! Is there anything else you'd like to add or talk about?

Big thank you to Cassie for taking the time to reach out to us. We love working and connecting with other local companies, I have also personally used your services to have pictures done of my girls and they are something I can look at and keep forever. We recommend our clients that are looking for professional pictures to Wet Nose Images. Cassie is extremely professional and even old lady Mags was following Cassie around after their first meeting, so that says something ;)

Thanks again!


Katie & team

Interview with Unleashed Potential K9 - The Valley

For our second interview of this series, I've reached out to Camellia Saunderson from Unleashed Potential K9 - The Valley. She runs this training company and has done some amazing things for many dogs in Nova Scotia!

Tank in Point Pleasant Park

Tank in Point Pleasant Park

Q: How did you decide to go into dog training as a career, and what is the Unleashed Potential brand all about?

I have always had a love for dogs, which is why I opened a dog rescue. in 2013, I brought in an extremely human aggressive 85lb dog who was extremely reactive aggressive toward strangers. I worked with a basic trainer in the city, socializing him to a variety of situations, people, and dogs and although he was progressing, he was still the same insecure reactive dog that came to me. 7 months in, he got into a fight with one of my dogs, resulting in my dog losing a limb, so I was left with a decision to make; adopting the dog out was not an option because he was far too aggressive still, keeping him was not an option, and despite what everyone was telling me, euthanizing was not an option, so I sent him to live with a UPK9 trainer. For two months I was terrified he would come home the same dog and I would have to euthanize him anyway, but he amazed me. When Tank came home, I could walk him on the Halifax boardwalk on a summer Sunday afternoon with adults, children, bicycles, dogs and more all around, without a single issue. That is what made me decide to get into aggression rehab, so I could help dogs like Tank who really need it, and that's when I packed my bags, and went and studied to become a results based trainer for UPK9.

Q: What types of training programs do you offer your clients, or what behaviours do you address?

I offer two training packages for potential clients; the board and train program and the ultimate obedience one on one program. With the board and train program, your dog would come and live with myself and my pack in my home for a results-based amount of time, average of 3-6 weeks, where he would learn obedience, focus and attention, impulse control, socialization, confidence building, and a proper leader/follower relationship between human and dog. Once your dog is fully prepared to go home and continue going everywhere you want to take him, we would do a full-day session where I train you on what your dog has learned, and then we do a follow up session to ensure everything is going well at home. With this package you will get all required training tools, group classes and pack walks for your dog’s entire life, and access to a trainer for advice should you ever need it. The best part about this package is that I do all of the hard work for you and you get to do all of the fun socializing after! With the ultimate obedience program, we train one on one, on average once per week, for a results-based amount of sessions. Whether it takes 3 sessions or 10, we will work together until we get to our desired results. From there we will do a few semi private sessions with other clients, and then you will be able to go to group classes and pack walks for your dog’s entire life to maintain the training. With this package you will also get all required training tools, and access to a trainer for advice should you ever need it. The best part about this package is that you get to do the training and grow along with your dog;. I also offer two training packages for potential puppy clients; puppy management and puppy lifetime. With puppy management, we train one on one, on average once per week, for a results-based amount of sessions. Whether it takes 3 sessions or 10, we will work together until we get to our desired results. From there you will get to attend group classes until puppy is 6 months old. With puppy training, we cover everything from crate and house training to socialization and obedience and more. Puppy lifetime is puppy management followed by my adult ultimate obedience program at 6 months of age. Commands that I teach include come, off, wait at the door, quiet, heel, place, sit, down, sit from the down, sit and down from distances. Behaviors that I address include a lack of impulse control, socialization, housebreaking, boundary training, focused attention and how to keep it, jumping up, digging, play biting, fence fighting, car manners, bolting,, dog, cat, and human aggression, and more!

Q: What class or group options do you have available for clients and dogs? What about dogs who aren't comfortable around other dogs yet?

All dogs who attend my group classes have undergone one on one training first. This allows the dog to go through the learning phase of the program with little distractions, before expecting them to be able to focus with large distractions such as people and dogs. During the one on one training, your dog learns obedience with lower level distractions, confidence building, how to focus on you, their handler, rather than other dogs or the environment, and to see you as a confident, assertive pack leader. This gives the dogs in my training program, as well as their owners, all the tools they need to be confident, humble, and under control in any public setting, such as group class. I know that there are some training tools that can cause some confusion or controversy among dog lovers.

Camellia and Blitz on the Emera Oval in Halifax

Camellia and Blitz on the Emera Oval in Halifax

Q: Can you talk a bit about the tools that you use, and how they're used effectively/humanely?

I specialize in a balanced training approach using electronic collars as a training tool. With over 100 levels of adjustability, our collars act as a muscle stimulator that grabs the dog’s attention, like a tens machine that a physiotherapist would use, giving us the ability to find the absolute lowest level that the dogs feels and teach him how to respond to it. This allows us to add pressure to our words, or give them meaning in a way that the dog understands, without going over the level that he truly needs. By doing this, you are using the collars as a motivational tool, rather than a punishment based tool. With a range of up to a mile long, today’s collars are so advanced that they can even be used under water, but the best thing about the electronic collars is that they are impersonal, so you can be as soft with your dog as you would like to be, and still get results. Coupled with electronic collars as a training aid, I use leash pressure and release techniques as motivation, teaching the dog how to turn off the pressure as reward, and immediately following up with a food reward, praise, or toy, depending on the individual dog’s preference. All dogs that go through training with me will undergo structured learning specific to their individual needs, where a number of systems and procedures are put into place to help create a well-balanced social creature. Some of these procedures include crate training for prevention of unwanted behaviors and absorption of learning, leadership exercises to accomplish respect, using the dog's regular kibble as an opportunity to use as positive motivation for increasing desired behaviors, multiple daily training sessions to increase drive, extensive socialization with humans and dogs, as well as exposure to many different environments and situations that they may encounter throughout the rest of their life, and much more. Implementing these things will help the dog to understand his position, know exactly what you are communicating to and expecting of him, and will help your dog be happy, humble and live a balanced life.

Q: Tell me about your own pups!

I have four bully breed dogs, all with very individual personalities and stories. Diesel the valley bulldog came to me 5 years ago a complete mess; he had separation anxiety, generalized anxiety, food aggression, reactivity toward loud or moving things, as well as men who tried to touch him. Buddy came to me 4 years ago as a puppy and as he grew, it became very clear that he was dominant, pushy, and controlling toward other large breed male dogs with similar characteristics, being attacked on numerous occasions by other males just for walking by and then getting into a dog fight by the age of 10 months. Tank came to me in 2013 for extreme fear aggression toward any stranger who showed him the slightest amount of hesitation or nervousness. I got Blitz in 2014 with reported aggression toward humans and animals to he point where he was deemed too aggressive to live in society. Both Tank and Blitz were supposed to be euthanized by the same shelter for their issues, and I even had to fight to save Blitz because someone believed that killing a dog was a better option than training him. Today, all of my dogs are rehabilitated and help me train client dogs every single day. Diesel is my go-to for adding distractions because in his old age, he just does his thing and doesn't bother with the other dogs unless they engage him in a friendly manner. Buddy gets along well with all dogs now and comes to schools with me to help teach bite prevention seminars to children. Tank is at a stage in his rehabilitation where he can greet strangers without any proper structure or control needed and he helps to teach semi-private training classes and rehabilitate dogs with extreme dog aggression because he is so calm and laid back. Finally, Blitz comes absolutely everywhere I go, and this little dog who was once deemed too aggressive for society helps me teach one on one lessons and group classes and gets along great with small children, all dogs ,and adults. He is my biggest asset because he can read another dog or human's energy so extremely well, which has helped me out of a lot of sticky situations. As a whole, my dogs and myself form a balanced pack, used to rehabilitate aggressive, insecure, or simply out of control dogs every day.

Diesel and Buddy, posing for Christmas photos.

Diesel and Buddy, posing for Christmas photos.

Q: Where can the pups of Halifax find and follow you online?

Facebook: facebook.com/upk9thevalley

Website: www.upk9.ca

Email: CamelliaS@upk9.ca

Q: What is your favourite local dog-related company?

My favorite dog-related companies in the area are Wet Nose Images and Hound Tales Inn Dog Daycare. When I was running a rescue, Cassie from Wet Nose used to photograph all my adoptable dogs, free of charge, in an effort to help get them noticed and adopted quicker. I have done a number of photo-shoots with a number of dogs with her, and her sociability, calm energy, and understanding mind help greatly in getting the dogs settled and into the position where they are able to focus on the task.

Leslie Murphy from Hound Tales Inn is always willing to lend a hand to a dog in need. Rescuing senior beagles herself, helping misunderstood dogs is her forte and taking in suitable fosters from any organization who needs help is what Leslie does. Apart from that, Leslie runs a great dog daycare on her property, allowing any breed without prejudice, basing her decisions to deny or send home a dog on temperament alone. Having pitbulls of my own and having run a pitbull rescue, Leslie has never refused one of my own dogs nor taking in a foster that was suited to her environment.

Thank you so much for taking some time out of your day to talk about Unleashed Potential, Camellia! Is there anything else you'd like to add or talk about?

Thank you!!!