I deeply appreciate the kind words shared here by just a few of the many people I have worked with over the years.
Caryn and ‘Bebe’ (terrier mix) Waltham, MA
“Within a few weeks of bringing her into my home, she started coming at me when I walked by her when she was drinking or eating from a bowl or chewing a bully stick. Even though Bebe weighs only 8 pounds, she scared me and all of the advice I found online made me afraid I’d have to take her back to the rescue group. I’d already gotten bitten and I was sure that advice would put me in harm’s way. Vera changed everything for us. I now know a lot more about dog behavior. I can read Bebe much better and I know how to respond as well. Bebe has learned almost as much as I have. Vera even gave me ‘tools’ to problem solve as issues come up. Vera is an amazing dog trainer and a great teacher. I can’t thank her enough for helping me to keep Bebe!”
Walter and Otto (Bouvier des Flanders)
“We have had two prior Bouvier des Flanders before, so we knew that they are smart, manipulative and hardheaded. But Otto was in a whole new league. My relationship with this dog had deteriorated to the point that I was thinking about giving him up for adoption, and he was beginning to stiffen when I pet him, to growl and show his teeth if I persisted. This was especially true when he had been alone with my wife for a while, he would treat me as an interloper. He was beginning to distrust all male humans.
Vera watched us together, and made the observation that I was demanding too much from the poor guy, and that I had to back off a bit and give him some room. She gave us a plan for fixing the relationship, including some exercises that flew in the face of conventional wisdom about assertive dogs.
It has been weeks, and it is working very well so far. Otto is happy to see me, despite my gender. He is pretty well behaved and the objectionable assertive (not really aggressive) behavior is nearly gone.”
One year later, I received a voicemail from Walter thanking me again. Otto became a trusted member of the family.
Aimee, Ben and ‘Darla’ (yellow lab) Brighton, MA
“We came to Vera with our almost-two-year old yellow lab, Darla who was having issues with reactivity towards other dogs. Vera helped us to understand that Darla wasn’t a “bad” dog, she was fearful, and we were asking things of her that we would never consider asking of a fearful human. She has helped us to learn to read Darla. We know her limits and we know what situations she can handle. We can tell by the position of her ears or the tilt of her head what she is feeling, and we know how to respond based on those signals. Our training has strengthened our bond with Darla; her trust in us has increased monumentally. The training has helped to solidify her basic obedience skills as well.
In time, Darla’s reactivity has improved. Vera helped us to work through what seemed like an insurmountable challenge. We have specific tools and activities, and we know how to be consistent with them. Darla became a “project” of Vera’s; we never felt like we were on our own when class ended. It’s so exciting and rewarding to watch Darla make progress. We would absolutely recommend Vera, especially for work with “challenging” dogs. She has a gift. Thank you, Vera, a million times over!”
Katherine and ‘Lucky’ (Cockapoo) Brookline, MA
“…A trainer we’d worked with for only 3 days told us we’d have to euthanize our dog. That was unacceptable to us. We asked around for help and finally, a woman from Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue told us, “Call Vera Wilkinson and you won’t have to euthanize your dog.” That was 7 years ago…Vera has taught our family about more than just dog training. She helped us to work together as a team.”
Ed and ‘Bailey’ (Australian Labradoodle) Needham, MA
“Everyone loves our dog! Our friends can’t believe how good Bailey is. They’re amazed that he doesn’t jump on them when they arrive or make a pest of himself during visits. We think he’s brilliant and owe Vera Wilkinson a huge thank you!!! It wasn’t always this way though which is why we called Vera. We wanted a cooperative dog and had anything but! Bailey was only 11 weeks old and we were struggling with lots of things but especially with using the crate. He cried whenever we left him and was so crazed to get free when we came home that he scared the kids. We all had scratches and bite marks on our hands and forearms. It was exactly the opposite of what we hoped having a puppy would be.
Vera came to our house for a Puppy Jump Start session before we joined her Puppy Foundation class in Brookline. She met our entire family– Vera is great with children– and helped us rearrange a few things around the the house to help Bailey be more comfortable. We were really impressed by Vera’s ability to get Bailey to sit, lie down, walk at her side and stay. It was a miracle to us but she taught us how to do what she does and, well, he does it for us too! In her puppy class, Vera emphasizes the need for owners to be able to interrupt the puppies during play. That alone has helped enormously at the dog park. Bailey is one of the few dogs that comes when called the first time any of us calls him. We all really learned a lot about dogs from Vera and look forward to taking more classes with her. We recommend that you call her right away if you’re having trouble with your puppy or dog!”
Geraldine and ‘Grizzly’ (Beauceron) Orange, MA
“I had a new dog, best dog in the history of the universe, but a bit of a maniac. I had experience with some dog trainers in Boston and I knew I didn’t want to go back to any of them. Grizzly was big, black and wildly exuberant in a friendly but to most people terrifying sort of way. I couldn’t bear to imagine the coercive and “dominating” methods that all the trainers I knew would use. So I walked the streets of Boston with him on a tight leash trying to dodge people before he could leap on them. Then one day he jumped on Vera and changed our lives. She was successful with Grizzly and also with me. Training and teaching people is the hardest part of her job in my opinion. Grizzly learned much faster than I did but in the end she revolutionized my interactions with animals. Using her methods I have trained my llamas to come when called and slide their heads into their halters. They stand still for shearing without any restraint (without even a rope or halter) They pick up each foot on request and allow me to trim their nails. I am teaching my alpaca to rest his head in a sling and I hope that he will stand for teeth cutting without restraint or sedation. With my 12 year-old goddaughter I am training a horse for riding without any tack. (The hardest part of this is that I have to train the child and the horse at the same time.) I have only trained one horse before, 45 years ago, in the conventional manner. The child barely knows how to ride and at first she was terrified of the spirited filly. We have reached the point that Josie can mount her horse and direct her around the ring at a walk and a trot without bridle or saddle using only subtle shifts in body weight and leg pressure. Seventy pound Josie was the first person ever to sit on Shasta’s back. Shasta has never bucked. Shasta follows Josie on foot without harness or lead rope. She picks up her feet and stands for foot trimming without restraint. She will “stay” in a field of green grass without lowering her head for a bite. Shasta has never been kicked, hit, or “broken” in any way. We have a long way to go before Shasta and Josie will be ready for the show ring but when she is Vera deserves the first blue ribbon. I have no special talent for animal training. I make lots of mistakes and any professional horse trainer would be out of business if they had to spend as much time on one horse as I have. All I have is love for my animals, perseverance and absolute faith in what Vera has taught me.”
Barbara and ‘Molly’ (Terrier Mix) Braintree, MA
“I called on Vera for help with my very nervous dog and was blown away by how much progress we made in a very short time. It was, in the end, my approach and misconceptions about dogs that contributed to my dog’s problems with people. I was trying to get her to like people by, as Vera said, pushing them on her. I wanted her to be able to go places with me so she wouldn’t have to spend so much time at home alone. The truth is that I was so embarrassed by my dog’s behavior that I was desperate and actually made matters worse for my dog. With Vera’s expert dog behavior help, I now understand what she’s telling me with her body language. More importantly, I make the necessary adjustments so that Molly is able to trust me and look to me for guidance. I strongly urge anyone with dog behavior problems to call Vera today! It took some time to get an appointment with her but the wait was well worth it. Besides, she gave me tips on what to do in several situations before I even wrote her a check. If you’ve ever questioned whether the trainer you’ve used in the past even likes dogs, there won’t be any question when you speak with Vera that dog training and behavior consulting is exactly what she should be doing for work. Vera made several home visits and after the first session, it was apparent that Molly felt safe with Vera!”
Magda and ‘Otis’ (Boykin Spaniel) Jamaica Plain, MA
“I can’t recommend Vera and her classes enough! I previously enrolled Otis in 3 other local puppy socialization classes to help overcome his shyness with other dogs. Strangely enough, Otis had little fear with dogs outside those classes, but once there he’d shut down and hardly venture beyond my feet. I didn’t know what to think. Those classes took place in very large spaces with anywhere from 8 to 20 dogs at a time, so most of the time Otis would retreat to the emptier parts of the room, while the trainers were too busy to work with Otis’ peculiar dog shyness. Well, not Vera! Vera teaches her classes in a small space with no more than 8 dogs at a time, As a result, Otis was not overwhelmed by large, raucous pack of puppies, had closer interaction with other dogs in the smaller space and received more direct guidance from Vera. In no time with Vera’s help, Otis’ confidence grew and his dog shyness has practically disappeared. Vera is a smart, highly experienced, and generous trainer. She covers a lot of ground in her classes and is an ace at tailoring solutions to any of your dog’s behavioral problems. While you learn and practice all sorts of new commands with your dog in class, Vera shares extremely useful tips with us. Otis and I always have a good time at her classes, and look forward to signing up for more!”
Kim and ‘Darby’ (Mystery Hound) Framingham, MA
“I’m thrilled to be writing this for your webpage. I literally called you right after reading through the testimonials because of what others said about you. I can confidently say that Darby would write one too if she could! When she came to live with us, it was obvious she was terrified and within a few weeks, her behavior got really scary. I was afraid she’d bite me or someone visiting. I couldn’t get her to even go outside some days. I couldn’t ‘make her’ do anything she didn’t want to. It wasn’t that I wanted to push her around, it was just that I needed her to do her business and desperately wanted her to enjoy her life with me (I’m a pretty good find!). What you taught me about being patient and the need to build her trust in me was really hard in the beginning. But, pretty quickly, she came around, just as you said, “When we stop trying to make things happen, we let things happen”. We’re still working on things but can’t imagine where we’d be without your expert advice and good counsel. Vera, I can’t thank you enough for helping me save my dog’s life – and, my sanity!”
Dave and ‘Bob’ (Labrador Retriever) Weston, MA
“Thanks, Vera! With your expert assistance (and incredible patience), Bob and I are finally on the right path! If I lose my way with him again, you’ll be the first dog trainer I call this time around. I promise. The truth is, however, that you were so thorough in educating me that we should be good to go from here on. You can count on referrals though. I’m bowled over by how much I learned about dogs from you. You literally changed my life. Bob thanks you too!”
Danielle and Ike (Labradoodle) Boston, MA
“I wish to express my relief at long last in having found Vera Wilkinson. Her tagline, ‘Practical training for every day life’ is not just a good line. Her thoughtful and sensible approach allowed me to do the work with my dog without feeling either guilty or overwhelmed. The other dog trainers I worked with either asked me to do to my dog what I am physically unable and unwilling to do, or, gave me way too much to do that I felt like a failure from the beginning. This is not to say that Vera did not make me work because she did. It’s more that she zeroed in on the issues I was having with Ike and didn’t give me more than what was necessary to change his behavior. He WAS an out of control, obnoxious monster who pulled me everywhere on leash, stole food off my counters, leapt all over visitors to my home and decided when he was ready to come to me at the park. He is now able to look to me for direction and permission and is now welcome in my family’s home – which means he no longer needs to be left in a kennel during the holdiays! In fact, he spent Thanksgiving NOT in his crate and my Dad even took him for a walk and exclaimed, ‘he’s a different dog now’! Thanks, Vera! You’re amazing!”
Michael, Tina, ‘Emma’ (Siberian Husky x Shepherd) and ‘Odo’ (Siberian Husky) Brookline, MA
“We first worked with Vera Wilkinson 10 years ago in training Emma who was dealing with fear aggression and, more recently, with Odo who was exhibiting separation distress. Her training methods have taught us how to communicate to our dogs that we are in control as to liberate them from any perceived need to be protective of us. The check in and recall exercises we learned from her have proven highly effective in helping both dogs maintain their focus on us while we’re outside and playing at the parks. We’re also happy to report that the exercises and short-term medical therapy she suggested for Odo’s separation issues have resulted in a happy dog who has learned to deal very well with our absences from home. In other words, she helped us to build confidence in our dogs, allowing them to be happy and content.”
Tonya Sakadinsky, BA, CDBC (Behavior Consulting Mentorship) Durango, CO
“My career has spanned nearly two decades as a Bureau of Animal Protection Agent for the State of Colorado Bureau of Animal Protection, as the former Director of Animal Services of La Plata County in Colorado, and most recently, as a Certified Animal Behavior Consultant through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. I have had the honor and privilege to work with many other trainers, behavior specialists, consultants, and veterinarians.
I am writing to recommend Vera Wilkinson with the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in her mentoring capabilities. She impresses me with her knowledge in training and behavior consulting, especially as it relates to multiple dog households, dogs learning to live with cats and the human emotion factor. Vera is compassionate, interactive and attentive to the needs of both the animal and the human client. More than this, she offers direction to the aspiring consultant in ways that encourage and enlighten. I was in a continuous state of inspiration while working my cases which involved Vera’s help. She helped me to see my cases clearer so I was able to help my clients understand their animal companions better. Vera helped me to create a special exercise, one I will use throughout my career in behavior consulting, to develop empathy between species in a home. After years working in the professional counseling field, I have met few who were so naturally in touch with processes going on between the heart and mind. She is a rare find in a MENTOR and I will cherish the things she taught me.
To further discuss Vera’s numerous attributes, I can be reached at www.preparedanimalcompanion.com. I look forward to such an opportunity.”
Donna and ‘Andrew’ (Standard Poodle) Brookline, MA
“This is a long overdue letter most highly recommending Vera Wilkinson. I met her not long after I bought my (adult) standard poodle, Andrew. Someone with more dog savvy would have known right away that Andrew was going to be trouble, but I didn’t. I just thought he was nervous because he was in a new environment. Anyway, I live in a condo, and about the worst dog for a condo is a barker with separation anxiety. Even though I had a walker, he barked the whole day through. I came home from work with notes posted by very unhappy residents of the building. It was a stressful time.
I had seen Vera’s sign in the window of the daycare near my house and called. She made an appointment right away. Vera spent time and effort teaching me about my dog, offering concrete ways of dealing with him, and supporting me throughout the process. It was apparent that Vera was genuinely concerned for Andrew’s welfare. She called to check in, to offer an idea of something that might help.
With time, following Vera’s advice, Andrew came around. He is a pleasure. I can go out for several hours without him barking his brains out. Anyone who has had a dog like this will know what a relief that is. I don’t have any more notes from unhappy neighbors. In fact, I just met a couple who moved into the building recently. They told me they never hear him. Often, as I walk Andrew down the street, I meet other dog owners who have availed themselves of Vera’s services. We are all happy clients. I can say with honesty, that Vera’s work is a labor of love. She truly cares about animals and it shows. Her expertise has allowed me to keep my dog and I can’t thank her enough.”
Lynne and ‘Riley’ (Cattle Dog Mix) Boston, MA
“I adopted a little cattle dog mix 2 years ago and I’ve never regretted a moment. That’s not to say it hasn’t had its challenges, like the time I woke up at 2 am to find him staring at me from the side of the bed. That was the first week. He doesn’t do that anymore, partly because he now sleeps on the bed, but also because he knows he’s found someone who will love him no matter what.
When Riley first arrived home with me, he was pretty sick… and he was so scared and shutdown emotionally, I never heard him bark until about the 3rd week. Once he got to feeling better, then all his fears of mistreatment took over. Never towards me, but he was terrified of strangers, especially men and children. All joggers and skateboarders were the devil incarnate. He’d lunge without warning to the end of the leash at passersby and barked furiously. His fears were terrible and he tried to be just as terrifying to protect himself. I was surprised and worried, too. This wasn’t what I’d expected, but I never once thought of taking him back or giving up on him.
My first dog that was mine, all mine was an English Bull Terrier. She looked exactly like Spuds MacKenzie. I loved her dearly, raised her from a pup. She was never abused, but she never liked people very much and only one other dog, another bull terrier who lived around the corner. I took her to traditional obedience classes for a long time. She did very well with that, but it never changed her attitude. Problem was that she was so cute, people were always coming up to her and trying to put their faces right in hers. Not a good idea. We learned to cope though. What I remember was how isolating it was to always be trying to head off people from getting too close. And people will always say, ‘my dog’s friendly’, but they never seem to hear it when you say, ‘mine is not!’ She passed away 4 years ago after a terrible illness.
It took me 2 years before I was ready for another dog. And when I was, I thought ‘this one will be different’. So you can imagine my unhappy surprise when Riley came out of his shell as a ferocious man-eater. But I was very fortunate. I met a woman (now a dear friend) at the dog park who took one look at Riley and pronounced ‘farm dog’ as he stood straining at the leash trying to take a piece out of her jacket. She followed with ‘you have to call Vera’. Not only did I have to, but she made sure I had Vera’s number and her own and told me she’d let Vera know I would be calling. Well, with an intro like that I had to call. Vera Wilkinson is a first class dog trainer! She uses clicker training and positive reinforcement and that has made all the difference.
This method of training is particularly powerful for cattle dogs and dogs that are smarter than the average dog. Clicker training is fun and easy to learn. It seems like a game to your dog and they really, really pay attention because they know if they do a reward is coming. In the beginning, I met with Vera only 2 times for about an hour each time. We walked together all over our neighborhood and she showed me real time how to handle all the challenges we were encountering on a daily basis. These are simple techniques repeated over and over. But they are very effective. People in my neighborhood come up to me all the time to tell me how well Riley’s doing. They are amazed because they remember those first few weeks. Now, he asks for a pat from total strangers and we walk around our city neighborhood with him off leash.
I strongly recommend that you train your dog using the clicker training method. I also recommend that you avoid the Cesar Milan style ‘alpha dog’ type of training with a cattle dog. They’re too smart for that. You don’t need to show them who’s boss. They LOVE to learn. Just put it in the right context and they will lap it up. After we’d gotten our behavioral issues ironed out, I started Riley in agility classes with Vera. He adores it and he’s an ace at it. We just do if for fun. He can run through tunnels, jump hurdles, weave through poles, and lie on a table for five seconds and come out laughing!”
Harold and ‘Spencer’ (Bouvier Des Flandres) West Roxbury, MA
“When I called Vera Wilkinson for help with Spencer, then an 8 month old rascal, I had no idea what the process of fixing my relationship with my dog would look like. Looking back, I was very much a rookie dog owner, even though he was my third dog! I now realize that I was just lucky all those years because I truly knew very little about dogs. It was no wonder that Spencer and I were at odds in almost all of our interactions- he destroyed many of my valuable belongings; jumped all over everyone and everything; nearly pulled me over several times as well as into traffic trying to get to a dog on the opposite side of the street and did not have time off leash because he would not come back to me. I considered returning him to the breeder but was too embarrassed to do so. Likewise, there was no way I was going to join a group class. A neighbor handed me Vera’s card saying, “Call her. She’ll come here to help you get things on track with Spencer. She won’t judge you or hurt your dog.”
My education began. Having emailed Vera, she sent me to several websites, including her own, to learn about dog behavior; gave me a list of books to read and met with us two weeks later. She gave me instructions on how to teach him to sit so I could get some control before she came to my home. And, for the first time, he didn’t jump all over my guest. For a few minutes, he tried to get her attention but Vera has an amazing ability totally ignore all such attempts. When he became calm some twenty minutes later, she rewarded him with just the right amount of attention to keep him relaxed. This was an eye opening experience.
It hit me that I had been doing exactly the opposite of what Spencer needed in every situation in which we were having problems, which felt like all the time. Over several in-home training sessions and real world classes (yes, I dared to join a group class!), Spencer and I have become pretty good friends. We thoroughly enjoy one another’s company and take long off leash walks with friends and their dogs every day… Thanks to Vera!”
Valerie and ‘Mandy’ (German Shepherd Dog) Brookline, MA
“Vera Wilkinson has been an integral part of our DOG FAMILY. We have Sparky, an eleven year old Labrador retriever and Mandy, a one and a half year old German Shepherd. We heard about Vera from many different people at the dog park last year when we began taking Mandy there. We had already tried group lessons elsewhere when we called Vera. We were happy we found her because we’re so busy that we needed the one on one attention working with us and the dogs in our home. From her first visit, a calm came over the dogs, the children and us. WE learned a lot because she is not your typical ‘dog trainer’.
She started with our children and taught them some very important lessons and responsibilities about being dog owners. She taught them wonderful ways to have FUN while TRAINING our then puppy, Mandy. They had their clicker training gear on before Vera arrived, clickers on lanyards, treat pouches and whistles- all excited to ‘play train’ Mandy. The cutest game was hide-n-seek. The children hid in the yard, called Mandy’s name, she would find them and then ‘sit’ for a treat. Vera taught that training could be fun for all of us.
In owning multiple dogs, Vera taught me how important it is to be ‘the leader’. I grew up with two shepherd mixes and a Doberman who were all amazing but Mandy is the smartest dog I’ve ever known. She can somehow predict my next move and know exactly what I expect from her. Of course, being an adolescent, she doesn’t always WANT to do what I ask but when I remember to use my voice and body ‘language’ as Vera taught me, I become firm in my delivery and Mandy ‘obeys’. Vera teaches people that you can get what you want from your dog by using your voice and body correctly and that there isn’t a need to be physical with dogs.
Vera was also a blessing because she noticed something in our Mandy that would have gone unnoticed, at least until her next vet appointment that would not have been for a few more months. One evening, she remarked that Mandy walked and sat awkwardly. That week, we noticed that when Mandy ran, her hind legs hopped like a bunny. The following week, Vera said it again and suggested we not wait until our next vet appointment but to get an orthopedic examination right away. Mandy has HIP DYSPLASIA and will have BOTH hips replaced when she is old enough. For now though, we manage her pain and give her supplements that will help her to be as healthy as possible before surgery.
During her long recovery process, I am sure that much of the obedience will go by the wayside. But I am confident that everything I learned from Vera will help me keep Mandy from injuring herself because she knows how to ‘down stay’ with many distractions and so much more. I know that I can call Vera with questions at any time and she will give me the help I need. I have highly recommended Vera to all my friends and they have been so happy that they made the call!”
Danny and ‘Murphy’ (Beagle) Brookline, MA
“I was referred to Vera Wilkinson from a few people at the dog park. I had been jaded and quite skeptical after trying two other trainers with no success. One of my main goals was to have Murphy, my beagle, come to me when called. I was about to give up and blame it on his stubborn breed, when after only one class with Vera, he learned the command. Two years later, Murphy and I still train with Vera for advanced classes and agility training. I highly recommend her!”
Ellen and ‘Dylan’ (Pembroke welsh Corgi) Brookline, MA
Dylan gets the first word in —
“Ellen and I have been clients of Vera Wilkinson’s for the past 8 years. I found Vera by word of mouth. Other dogs I talked with said they were impressed with Vera’s ability to communicate on a personal level with the owners. Since this skill is vital in training owners I immediately signed Ellen up for classes. While we all know that each dog is different- it is not always apparent that each owner has different traits that need to be addressed. Vera has steadfastly tried to correct Ellen’s faults and while Ellen still has issues, it is our good fortune to have Vera as a constant in our lives.”
Ellen has something to say–
“While Dylan has admired Vera’s work with challenged owners, I have been impressed with her work with challenged dogs. I recommended Vera to a number of friends who adopted dogs with moderate to severe behavioral issues. These issues include biting and extreme antisocial behavior. Vera’s work with the owners and dogs was outstanding. The dogs responded to her firm but compassionate training and are now members in good standing in the dog community. Perhaps most important in the process: she helped owners understand that it was their vigilance and attention to their dog’s behavior that would yield good results.”
Dan and ‘Ollie’ (German Shepherd Dog) Newton, MA
“Ollie is my four and a half year old German Shepherd. He and I met Vera Wilkinson in Brookline where my folks live. While home for the summer from school, I worked with Vera privately doing basic obedience when Ollie was still an adolescent. I was so thankful to have met her because I was uncomfortable with what I had been told by several GSD specialty trainers. Like them, my breeder also recommended using a prong collar in the beginning stages of training and then, to ‘tighten’ up with an electronic collar later to prepare for Schutzhund competition.
Since the first series of private lessons I did with Vera, I have been in contact with her many times for advice, as issues come up. She has been a resource to me as I find my way in the dog world. I have benefited greatly from her guidance and knowledge, and, in spite of others’ insistence that I must use their tools and methods, I have not (and will not) put a collar on that would cause him pain. What I do have is a solid relationship with a great dog who will do anything I ask of and can teach him. We are a team, whether we’re working or hanging out. The best part of all is that I AM my dog’s best friend.”
Robin and ‘Milo’ (Rat Terrier mix) Cambridge, MA
“We got Milo when he was a year old. He was a runaway with no training whatsoever- just unbounded terrier energy, somewhat reminiscent of Warner Brothers’ Tasmanian Devil. Within one session with Vera I was able to calm him when needed, get his attention, and best of all, put away the prong collar for good. Vera gives owners the tools to communicate with their dogs in a way that is natural, positive and fun.”
Sheri and ‘Guapy’ (Chihuahua) Brookline, MA
“Vera Wilkinson has been (and continues to be) a great help to me and my Chihuahua, El Guapo. Her in home training and behavior consultations are very helpful because she can see your dog in his home environment and how you are with him. When she first came in to my place, Guapy jumped all over her just as he did to everyone else. We sat in the living room, and he jumped on the couch and then on me. He didn’t jump on Vera again. She showed me how to block his advances to give Guapy a clear ‘picture’ of the rules that show him that I’m in charge. I followed through on her advice and saw a major difference in his behavior. He was visibly more relaxed within minutes.
Vera is great. She really listens and has wonderful advice to help get any issue you’re having with your dog quickly under control. She taught Guapy the ‘leave it’ and ‘off’ command in less than ten minutes. This is very helpful when I drop something and don’t want Guapy to snatch it up and run. She also helped me to stop him from diving at the pant legs of any runner (or walker) that passes us on the street. It took about a week, then it was no longer a problem.
She gives you hope that it is possible for your dog to be well behaved, when you learn the right way to communicate with them. I remember one night when taking an obedience course with her. There was a family with an out of control labradoodle puppy. They were exhausted by him-he wouldn’t listen and pulled hard on the leash. He was CRAZY. They just couldn’t get him to do any of the exercises. But, when Vera took him by the leash, he immediately walked right at her side and when she stopped, he sat. It was as if he was a perfectly trained dog. Pretty incredible. His people were stunned, and asked Vera if she would come live with them!
My dog used to be a devil too. He listens to me now and has learned a lot. I can tell him to drop something he shouldn’t have. When I’m eating my dinner, he sits nicely rather than hassling me for it or jumping on me. He sits, lies down and even begs- on command, with a hand signal, and, even in Spanish! On walks, he trots nicely by my side. He comes on command every time. At the park, he runs to me at full gallop even from the other side of the field! It’s very cute!
Vera’s methods are very effective and Guapy became a well behaved dog in a very short period of time. It wasn’t that hard or frustrating for either of us because it was fun! Vera gives you simple and easy exercises to practice daily. She is an educator. If you want to learn more, she will give you book, organization and website recommendations on whatever dog training interest you might have. The classes are excellent, but for specific problems, the one-on-one attention and focus of the in home consultation is fantastic. Vera can and will help you to change your relationship with your dog!”
Sally and ‘Selby’ (Labradoodle) Brookline, MA
“Our dog, Selby, is four years old and since I’d heard glowing reports of Vera’s training from other dog owners over the years, I signed up for a refresher course. I was nervous because I expected to be chastised for having trained Selby all wrong, but, I was pleasantly surprised. Vera not only understands dogs–she understands dog owners! I like her positive, reward-oriented, and flexible attitude towards dog training. My only complaint is that I have so much homework to do if I want to accomplish what I set out to do. I don’t see why Selby should get all the treats, so after today’s training session, I ‘treated’ myself to a hot fudge sundae, and told myself, “Good, Sally!”
Mark, Tama and ‘Boris Badanov’ (Newfoundland) Brookline, MA
A Newfie puppy goes from ‘0’ to 55 pounds or so in 18 weeks! Without Vera’s help we’d have a big, out of control baby instead of a lovely boy who is learning at a comfortable and happy pace. Click and treat is working for Boris and for us. Thanks Vera!” – Tama
“I think this was an excellent class and I learned a lot about human to dog and dog to dog communication. I highly recommend this class. Vera Wilkinson is extremely helpful, not only in class but via email summaries.” – Mark
Riley and ‘Rufus’ (Labradoodle) Arlington, MA
Vera’s AGILITY class was a great way to kill two birds with one stone. I was looking for a way to keep in practice with obedience, and advanced obedience classes are hard to find. I’m also always looking for ways to give Rufus stimulation, exercise and fun. Agility did all that at one time. Vera has very practical methods for getting dogs past their initial nervousness around the equipment, and to the point where they look forward to using it.”
Simone and ‘Freckles’ (Border collie cross) Brookline, MA
“When I first adopted Freckles, she was so fearful she could not leave the house to take a walk. Though she bonded with me immediately, her limited exposure to people and other dogs made her afraid almost all of the time. Vera Wilkinson gave me immediate things I could do for Freckles to ease her into a new kind of life. Using the bond that my dog and I shared, Vera showed me how to read her signals and respect what she was telling me through her body language. It was a slow and deliberate process, but Vera was supportive and available throughout. Now, a year later, Freckles is the best behaved dog at the park! She is joyous and playful with other dogs, and continues to learn to trust people. Freckles is also doing agility training, something I could not have imagined when she came to me. I recommend Vera highly, and do so all the time at the dog park!”
Linda and ‘Oliver’ (Portuguese Water Dog) Brookline, MA
“Having just had to separate from my eight year old dog who had a history of aggressive behavior problems, I was eager to start over with a new puppy. Concerned that my training skills might be lacking, I was determined to find and work with a trainer who shared my belief in positive behavioral methods and understood the importance of having a well-behaved dog. I wanted to find someone that I could work with throughout my new dog’s life so that if problems came up again, I would have a resource to turn to. Fortunately, I ran into Vera Wilkinson at a local pet store just as Oliver arrived.
Vera has a wealth of information about virtually every aspect of canine behavior. Oliver and I (along with occasional other members of my family) attended an initial puppy class with Vera, stayed on for a series of “teen” classes and then moved on to a session of agility workshops. We all thoroughly enjoyed our time at class and were easily able to use the skills we learned in our day-to-day interactions with Oliver. Vera has also worked with me independently on specific problems, including counter-surfing, leash-walking and most recently, persistent barking. Her advice has been direct, thoughtful and always helpful. Vera is committed to her work in a unique and powerful way. She is responsive and caring and I feel confident that Oliver and I have found the training partner we need to have a happy life together.”
Lisa, Joe, Rosie, Carly and ‘Maggie’ (Yellow Labrador Retriever) Natick, MA
“Vera Wilkinson is an absolutely wonderful teacher- she has a very special way with dogs and people! She never raises her voice and encourages owners to respect their dogs and dogs to respect their owners. Maggie benefited greatly from Vera’s skills and wisdom as did our entire family. We were fortunate to have Vera over for two private training sessions to help with the ‘puppy crazies’. She gave us useful information on socialization, using the crate, housetraining, and nipping. Vera has a different approach to dealing with a puppy’s nipping. We learned how to teach Maggie to ‘touch’ her nose to our hands so to replace the nipping with a behavior that would help us then and in the future. When we took Vera’s puppy foundation class, we used the ‘touch’ exercise with Maggie to help with leash walking practice as well as building positive associations to human hands reaching for her. Throughout the class, Vera’s training methods demonstrated her love for dogs and working with people and their dogs. We highly recommend her to dog owners who are serious about training their dogs AND, doing so with dog friendly, positive methods.”
Barbara and ‘Dyce’ (West Highland Terrier) Brookline, MA
“I heard about Vera Wilkinson from a neighbor with a new puppy and decided to attend the puppy class with my then two month old Westie. Vera is a marvelous trainer and translator of canine behavior and signals. Not only did my puppy learn civility, but I acquired knowledge of dogs and their language and behavior which stands me in good stead.
Vera uses the clicker method which is very effective and easily adaptable to a variety of situations. Her dogs and owners learn to be on the same page so that they can happily live together and enjoy the synergy which is the reason we all have dogs in our lives. She is a marvelous resource in and out of the classroom. I cannot begin to extol her virtues and the efficacy of her teaching methods enough. Training is an essential building block to the dog/human relationship and Vera does it magnificently.”
Sarah and ‘Keeper’ (Portuguese Water Dog) Boston, MA
“My dog began taking a puppy foundation class with Vera Wilkinson when she was five months old and it’s been wonderful for both of us. Instead of getting stuck in a cycle of pulling and yelling, I’ve learned strategies for teaching my dog what I want from her in ways she can understand and even enjoy. I know that my dog is safer and happier as a result of the training- both of us have less stress and more trust for one another. The classes rank right up there with vet shots and check-ups as an investment in her quality of life.”
Gary and ‘Ellie’ (Giant Schnauzer) Brookline, MA
“Last summer, Ellie, a three year old Giant Schnauzer with excellent Schutzhund lineage came to live with me. She barked at every new dog or person she met and snapped defensively when other dogs approached her while she was on lead. Dog-aggressive behavior became a worrisome possibility. Vera Wilkinson was an old friend who had helped me with previous Giant Schnauzers and she was there for me now. Her clicker training was able to turn Ellie around within three months. Ellie became a dog who could run off lead and encounter dogs of all sizes without any worry. The transformation far surpassed what I expected. It would not have been possible without Vera Wilkinson and her gentle and effective way of teaching dogs and their people and her willingness and ability to seek out the circumstances where her training could be practiced to its best advantage.”
Suzy and ‘Elvis’ (Vizla) Brookline, MA
“Vera Wilkinson has helped me immensely in training my dog, Elvis. Or should I say, she did a great job training me! Since I got him when he was only a couple months old, I did not want to make any mistakes. The clicker training was great, her technique of positive reinforcement is definitely preferred- no choke collars, etc. She helped me in my leash walking and gave me great guidance in reinforcements. More recently, Vera saved me when Elvis started having separation anxiety due to my job and more travel. She gave me specific activities to work on, and Elvis is great now, whether I leave for ten minutes or for a work day. Elvis would not be the dog he is today without Vera’s guidance and dog expertise!”