Angelina Alberro who owns Unleashed K9 Training started working with animals as a kid. Later she became a kennel technician, a veterinary technician, and a professional animal trainer. She’s worked with American Canine Training, Birds and Beasts, and the Lied Animal Foundation.
"My goal is to educate and help people understand their dogs a little better," Alberro said in an interview.
Sometimes obedience training can make a big difference.
"’Leave it’ can be a life-saving term," she said. "If your dog doesn’t know ‘leave it,’ how are you going to tell them to leave that cat alone before it crosses the street and gets hit by a car?"
She can help with a number of behavioral problems like nipping, growling, aggression, and other signs of fear or anxiety. Nuisance barking, chewing, and jumping can also be addressed. It’s largely about timing, and being careful with reinforcement.
"Dogs repeat rewarded behavior. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like what they’re doing. If they’re getting any kind of attention for what they’re doing, they’re going to repeat it."
Alberro often gets compared to Cesar Millan, TV’s “Dog Whisperer," but there are differences to her approach.
"He’s more playing the alpha dog," she said, "Whereas I’m more into gaining the dog’s trust and respect through obedience. Then the dog can understand that I am in control.
”The difference between Cesar Millan and myself is that I believe in building respect from your dog through a high communication level of understanding each other. I believe 100% in Caesar’s ‘rules, discipline, then affection’ theory in order to create the understanding of you being the pack leader.
”Although submitting a dog by pinning them to the ground to ‘respect’ the owner does work, people misunderstand his efforts and do not understand canine body language and the importance on ‘timing.’”
Alberro says that people don’t understand the timing of when to react and when to let off of the dog and sometimes can create an even scarier situation for themselves. If you let go of the dog too soon, you can create a dog that in turn thinks they won the fight, which only makes future incidents worse. By pinning the dog down too long after the dog’s body language show they have clearly submitted you can create a reaction from the dog with its "fight or flight" instinct that happens when an animal feels trapped when already showing submission. All of this takes years of studying and experience in handling many different dogs and situations. She said that people try to copy what Cesar does and wonder why they aren’t getting results.
She said, “It is my job to show how people can regain control over even the most difficult dogs through consistency and patience. It is not easy to ask an 80-year-old woman to ‘pin’ her German shepherd into submission for lashing out at a stranger. There are more peaceful ways to get the message across through what I call ‘life rewards’ to rebalance dogs into understanding they are not in charge of the house.”
Alberro offers group classes throughout the year for obedience, and agility and private at-home training, and behavior modification boot camps for dogs with severe aggression and other behavior problems.
One of her goals is to stop dogs from getting shot for roaming out of boredom and/or not being fixed.
Another is to show canine body language to a better extent so people can recognize a dog they should or shouldn’t approach.
She said, “I want to break the misconception that the younger the pup the better. Pups being taken away from mom before a minimum of 10 weeks is a recipe for behavior problems such as fear or many different types of aggression, such as fear-based, dominance-based, territory-based, pain-based etc.
”A lot of the behavior problems root back to how young they were when given away to someone who knows little about canine learning stages or canine body language.”
People tell her, " I don’t understand. I’ve had the dog since they were 6 weeks old. Why do they not like people? I take them everywhere!"
She explains that it all stems back to the fact that dogs speak dog, not English. So people need to study their language better and teach English to their dogs as well.
Alberro offers two options for group classes. There is a five-week course and a 12-month course. The five-week course is recommended for older dogs and meets for one hour once a week, typically on the same day and at the same time. For puppies and younger dogs, Alberro recommends the yearlong course, which meets once a month on a more flexible basis.
"A lot of people choose that option because they’re too busy and sometimes they can’t commit to the five-week course," Alberro said.
Alberro also plans to start an agility class later this year, possibly in mid-November. To contact her call 707-499-7073 or email her at Lv702dogs@yahoo.com.
REDWOOD TIMES PHOTO BY DAVE BROOKSHER
Alberro teaches a dog the "down" command by coaxing it under her knee with a treat.