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RapidChat: Jenn Gavin

City living is no 'walk in the park' - especially for Fido. With less room to share, and limited access to green space, it may be difficult to transition your pet into its new urban environment. But do not fret! With 'city dog and people training' as her tag line, Jenn Gavin at A Pleasant Dog will be able to set your four legged friend, and you, up for success.

City living is no 'walk in the park' - especially for Fido. With less room to share, and limited access to green space, it may be difficult to transition your pet into its new urban environment. But do not fret! With 'city dog and people training' as her tag line, Jenn Gavin at A Pleasant Dog will be able to set your four legged friend, and you, up for success.
Rapid Growth: How long has A Pleasant Dog been around?
 
Jenn Gavin: I opened A Pleasant Dog two years ago with the idea that it would especially fill a need for dog training services downtown for city dogs.
 
RG: What has changed since you first opened your business?
 
JG: it has exploded. We have added two more extraordinary trainers, a myriad of group class offerings, and have a staff of interns and admin help to meet our clients’ needs. We are even in the market for our very own stand alone space.  I'm tremendously proud of the way A Pleasant Dog has taken off.
 
RG: Do you still offer your free-matching services?
 
JG: Yes, of course. Matching shelter dogs with loving homes is important to us. For clients looking to add a rescue dog to their home, we are happy to connect them with matches currently waiting to be adopted in shelters or with rescues. We work very closely with the Kent County Animal Shelter and others for this service.
 
RG: What inspired you to be such an advocate for animals?
 
JG: I've loved dogs since I was born. I am an unapologetic dog nerd. Learning how to read dogs’ body language and teach them good behavior makes living with them easier and hopefully decreases the likelihood they will be rehomed or euthanized. Making a career of sharing this knowledge still seems almost too good to be true.
 
RG: Many of the dogs we see in shelters are Pit Bulls. What are common misconceptions that people have about these breeds – beyond that they are “aggressive” and “unsafe”.
 
JG: I'd rather discuss what's true about them. They generally score better on temperament tests than most breeds, are extremely affectionate, eager to please, and devoted to people. Some pitties have a pretty pronounced prey or toy drive, but usually games of fetch or tug  are sufficient outlets for that drive. They also generally excel in sports like agility and flyball, among others. A Pleasant Dog is even training a rescued am staff named Pumpkin to be a service dog for a young Autistic boy. As with any popular breed, indiscriminate breeding of pitbull type dogs has created health and behavioral problems in some individuals.
 
RG: Many apartment complexes abide by a restricted breed list, which includes the varieties of pitbull type (American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bulldog, Staffordshire Bull Terrier).  Is there any way to challenge and (hopefully) change that? 
 
JG: I think the restriction often stems from limitations handed down by insurers. Since breed restrictions are based on reputation and not individual experience, standards like the AKC Canine Good Citizen (“CGC”) test and title can be a good way to overcome this.  I've been working with a number of downtown developments and am happy to report that for at least one of those companies,  we have successfully applied to their insurer to allow bully and guard breeds, provided individual animals can pass the CGC test. It's a pretty big deal and should be announced soon.
 
RG: If someone who is living in an urban environment is considering getting a dog, what would be your first piece of advice to them?

JG: I tend to recommend a three prong approach for city dogs: Make sure the individual dog or breed you are considering is a good fit for city living. Invest in training your pup or adult dog with a certified professional dog trainer to make sure you and your dog have the best city manners you can! And finally, exercise exercise exercise! A tired dog is a Pleasant Dog.
 
RG: I saw that you offer ‘Wedding Handling’ as one of your services on your website. That is quite a unique offering!
 
JG: more and more couples are including their pups on their big day. Having a professional handler who knows your dog, how to pose him, and when to safely whisk him out of the way can make the wedding day Pleasant for all involved.
 
RG: Anything else interesting we should know?
 
JG: A Pleasant Dog offers private and group instruction for everything from puppy kindergarten to advanced agility and other dog sports. But I think I'm most proud of the classes we offer for dogs who don't like other dogs or people, so-called “reactive dogs.” That's where we really are able to make a difference in the quality of life of both owners and dogs.

Jenna Morton is the RapidChat correspondent for Rapid Growth Media
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