|Darah Williams, Founder of Underdog K-9 Academy|
Cincy Chic: What inspired your initiative “Making Cincinnati a Dog Savvy City”?
Darah Williams, Founder of Underdog K-9 Academy: As an animal lover and advocate, I am blessed to have turned my passion into a career. The inspiration for the initiative, “Making Cincinnati a Dog Savvy City” stems from my goal, which is to reach out to the masses, train, educate, advocate and create understanding between humans and their canines – helping owners and their four-legged family members live harmonious and purposeful lives together.
As a professional dog trainer, I see how the communication between the canine and human is not in sync. In order for dogs to listen to their owner, they first need to see their human as the pack leader. More often than not, dog owners need help in understanding how to do this.
On the same note, Cincinnati is in the midst of revamping the city, and the fact that dogs are a major part of our society, culture and being, it is only befitting to include a dog savvy city which is a growing trend in cities across the nation.
Cincy Chic: What do you hope to accomplish with your initiative?
Williams: My passion and hope with “Making Cincinnati a Dog Savvy City” are to:
1. Reach out to the masses and help dog owners understand the canine and pack behavior so they can become effective pack leaders.
2. Educate and show how dogs of all personality types and most ages can be trained to be good pack members.
3. Equip dog owners with the tools they need to be dog savvy, specifically, by addressing a wide variety of educational topics, such as how challenging dog behaviors and issues can be resolved, how to effectively socialize your dog, understanding the psychology of how your dog learns and how to teach them in simplistic way, which in essence speeds their learning process, why altering the tone of your voice is a powerful tool in getting the most positive response from your dog, how to ensure the safety of children around dogs, why dog bites rarely come out of the blue and how to avoid them from happening, why/how the owners’ and dog’s energy affects how it responds to people, other animals and objects, how to change the humans’ energy for the dog and understanding how empowering it is and understanding what messages humans send to their dog and how the dog perceives it.
4. Lessen the number of dogs that make Cincinnati’s shelters so full by promoting the importance of training. The majority of dogs in shelters have never been trained, resulting in many owners surrendering their dogs to the shelter because of behavioral problems that could have been prevented with training.
5. Help make the co-existence of human and canine harmonious.
Cincy Chic: How are you working toward reaching your goal?
Williams: Currently I am training and educating owners and their dogs through my dog training services. This great dog training service includes tips on how to better control your dog’s behavior, providing social interaction skills, desensitization (making dogs less reactive) to our human world and all that is in it. I teach humans on how to gain respect from their furry pack member and improve the bond by teaching the human pack leadership qualities. In offering a broad spectrum of training services and resources, such as basic and advanced obedience training – both in-home and group trainings: Off Leash Training Puppy Development and House Training, E-Collar Training, Behavior Modification, Agility Training, Scent Detection, Tracking, Soft Mouth Retrieval, Dog Hygiene and Health Awareness and Assistance Dog Training, the priceless bond gained between human and dog is rewarding to me as a trainer, and of course, to the humans that I get to help in achieving those goals.
During 2014, I will be continuing by taking this training (my passion) in teaching to larger groups of people by participating in community service events and activities. For example, beginning in April, I’ll be facilitating informational sessions for the public at Washington Park’s Yappy Hour washingtonpark.org, participating in Run Fur Rescues charity event and the Cincinnati Petopolis event at the Duke Energy Convention Center.
I’m also reaching out to the media, to every dog owner and to public figures that will assist me in achieving my dream of a dog savvy city. Imagine you’re able to take your dog to work, restaurants, cafes, private and public stores, more dog events, more dog friendly hotels, etc. The sky is the limit. Oprah says to “Dream Big,” and, as a hopeless optimist, I see big things and am dedicated, committed and determined to see great things for dogs and their humans!
In addition, I write a monthly article for the Animal Ark Pet Resort’s newsletter that offers helpful information and tips for dog owners, such as The Proper & Safe Way to Greet Another Dog, The Proper Use of Body Language & Tone of Voice to Effectively Communicate with Your Dog and How to Administer Oral Medications to Your Dog.
Cincy Chic: What are some accomplishments you’ve seen with the initiative?
Williams: In training and educating owners and their dogs via my dog training services, I get to help owners in guiding their canines with clear, effective communication where their dogs work solely for their praise, which makes the human the value system. I help owners remove the complexities in human communication and break it down to simple terms that dogs understand. I also help humans to extinguish behavioral issues that their pups have acquired. I strive on and create platforms for owners and their dogs to succeed. I work with dogs of all personality types and have helped many. I help the owner understand canine pack behavior so they can become an effective pack leader. As a result, their dogs have acquired effective socialization skills and the owner has become more dog savvy.
Some of my accomplishments thus far include:
1. acquiring my certification as a “Canine Good Citizenship Evaluator.” This AKC program was designed to promote responsible pet ownership and encourage dog owners to teach their dogs good manners. My training has helped dogs to be well-behaved and calm in any situation.
2. In 2013, I was honored to see 102 dogs graduate from my group training program.
3. I worked with, trained, rehabilitated and found homes for dogs that have been abused, neglected or were considered “throw-aways.” One dog I worked with is now re-homed and has earned the honor of being a working, scent detection/drug sniffing dog. His life is truly transformed.
It’s rewarding to see how well the owners and dogs that go through my training classes progress. Owners gain confidence, and the canine gains clarity, commands, restraint and respect for their leader. I get a lot of client referrals by word of mouth from those that have gone through my program – for that I’m very thankful. Although I’m currently training and educating individuals and small groups, I’m eager to reach out to the masses to help make dog owners savvy and better pack leaders for their dogs, hence opening doors for a more enriched environment that consists of stable dogs and rightful confident owners.
Cincy Chic: Is there anything new on the horizon for you?
Williams: Yes, I was asked to be a guest speaker at Yappy Hour at Washington Park, will be participating with a vendor booth at the Cincinnati Petopolis pet event, participating in Run Fur Rescues charity event and more upcoming private and group training classes. I’ve partnered with a former police officer, and we are starting a scent detection business (On-Point Canine Detection LLC) in the Spring – and, I am very excited about that direction. We specialize in drug, bomb and bedbug detection. As the detection canine agency grows, we will continue to add scents to suit the public and private business sector’s demands. Also, I plan to be the first Black professional female dog trainer to have a television show, so I can reach a large audience to train, educate, advocate and create understanding between humans and canines. I’m committed to start a dog sanctuary, helping to end animal neglect and suffering, by taking the dogs deemed “unfit for society,” rehabilitating and training them, to make them adoptable without behavioral issues that may have been acquired.
Cincy Chic: Where can readers go to learn more?
Williams: Visit Underdog K-9 Academy’s website www.underdogk-9.com or our Facebook page to learn about the initiative, class offerings and more. For more information on group trainings, visit The Animal Ark Pet Resort’s website.