Laura Pakis grew up in a family that loved animals. In 2004, she turned her passion for dogs into a career, by founding Acme Canine. For years, she operated a boarding and training facility for dogs. Since retiring from the field, she’s focused her energies on education. I met Laura through the All Pet Collaborative, and I will be interviewing others in this group in the weeks ahead.
ALLISON: When did you start Acme Canine?
LAURA: In 2004, Acme Canine was created to bring professional, knowledgeable, and caring dog training to the places dogs misbehave the most…their home.
ALLISON: Tell me about your background with dogs.
LAURA: I grew up in a family that loved nature and animals. From an early age, my dad insisted I knew the proper care and handling of each animal before I could ever get the pet. I learned how to care for animals from a pet clam to rabbits, chickens, ducks, angora goats, iguana, finches, pheasants, peafowl, horned toad, turtles, parrots, crows, horse, turkeys, snakes, hamsters, rats, guinea pigs, mice, fish, doves, quail, sugar gliders, cats, and DOGS. Can you tell I love animals? I’ve used this knowledge with my pets throughout my life.
After experiencing some significant life changes and a Giant Schnauzer puppy named Woofie, I realized that my passion was in dog behavioral training. By attending National K9’s Accredited School for Dog Trainers and continuing my canine education through seminars, workshops, and reading books, I improved my training skills and knowledge. I went out on my own over 17 years ago to create a company with integrity, experience, and compassion called Acme Canine.
ALLISON: Why did you start a dog training center?
LAURA: I started a dog training center from requests from my clients to train and care for their dogs. It just seemed like the next natural step.
ALLISON: When did you decide to switch to consulting?
LAURA: Once I sold my facility I thought I would have more time to do one-on-one training, but my son and his family moved to Columbus and my husband retired, both of which changed my priorities. Back surgery kind of clenched the deal.
ALLISON: What lessons from training have you applied to your dogs?
LAURA: Consistency, fairness, repetition, praise are needed for a reliable dog. I expect this from my dogs, and they live up to my expectations.
ALLISON: Why did you start a dog training consulting service?
LAURA: Once a trainer always a trainer. It’s something in you. You enjoy helping people achieve their goals. You also have a hard time watching people struggle when you have the answer.
ALLISON: What have you learned about people from working with trainers?
LAURA: Most dog trainers are very competitive with each other. Many have strong egos. I learned how to work with this by providing them with information so they can see there are many ways to solve a problem and that whatever we share is kept confidential.
ALLISON: Why did you start Spike’s dog blog?
LAURA: I started Spike’s Dog Blog to share new techniques, products, and ideas with dog owners. I created articles for questions I regularly received from my clients, so I didn’t have to repeat myself so often. I also use Spike’s dog blog to voice my opinion on events occurring in the dog world that others need to think about, such as having dogs on the patio or hiking/dog park etiquette.
ALLISON: When did you write your first article?
LAURA: I wrote my first published article in 1971, but my first article on Spike’s Dog Blog was in 2004.
ALLISON: What research goes into your articles?
LAURA: Quite a bit of research goes into my articles. Product testing is based on actual testing by a group we call the ‘Acme Dog Testers.’ I read articles on google, talk with other trainers on Facebook groups, and ask my clients their thoughts. Most of the products I have used for years and so I know a good deal of how they wear in a daycare environment and a home.
ALLISON: What is your most popular article?
ALLISON: Why you think your blog has grown?
LAURA: I believe people want knowledgeable, helpful advice that they can trust. I work to make Spike’s Dog Blog just that.
ALLISON: What info about dogs has most surprised you?
LAURA: About five years into training dogs, I heard from my clients that they were using the same techniques I was teaching with their children, and their kids were behaving better. Then I trained a dog owned by two children psychiatrists, and they were making comments about the way I taught and putting behavioral technique names to them.
But it wasn’t until I took a course on training chickens that I saw the techniques in use for another animal It was then that I was able to relate dog training to a work environment. And talk about how a company sets rules and expectations, shares consequences for not accomplishing tasks given, provides praise when tasks are completed. Pretty cool.
ALLISON: What would you most like to see in the future for dogs?
LAURA: After traveling Europe recently, I noticed how ingrained dogs were with their society. Dogs ride public transportation, go to stores and restaurants, and do not react with other dogs or people in public.
I would like to see this in the United States, but it won’t happen until dog owners realize they need a relationship with their dog, not just a furry companion.
A friend of mine told me, “In Europe, dogs go everywhere on a leash and are well-behaved. In the US, dogs run wild in dog parks and are ill-mannered.” Pretty much sums things up.
ALLISON: Anything else?
LAURA: I am a co-host for KSCO Pet Radio in Santa Cruz, CA, every Sunday. We have guests from all over the world on the show talking about various aspects of pet care. I’ve learned a great deal from being a part of this show. http://ksco.com/shows/39596-ksco-pet-special
Thanks for this opportunity!