Paw in Hand Dog Training
Humane Training for the Family Companion Dog
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  Honored trainer makes it fun for dog and owner.
Deborah R. Meyer, Chapel Hill News, October 12, 2004; published with permission.

In July, Sandi Payne Greene and Dana Lindsey-Danner, volunteers at the Animal Protection Society of Orange County, decided to nominate Barbara Long, their mentor in dog training, for the Association of Pet Dog Trainers’ (APDT) 2004 Outstanding Trainer of the Year. APDT is the largest association of dog trainers in the world with more than 5300 members.

Lindsey-Danner had known Long for just six months through taking an APS obedience class from her, assisting her in puppy classes, and joining the APS Dog Training Program Drill Team. But she knew that Long really deserved the award because of her great skills, her generous nature of sharing her knowledge with others, her respect of others regardless of their skill level, and her sense of humor.

When Lindsey-Danner suggested to Greene that they nominate Long, Greene took the task of writing the nomination like a Labrador takes to water.

“I’ve assisted Barbara in teaching the Rally-O class out at APS and I feel like she teaches me something every day as just a part of teaching the class,” said Greene, who has known Long for five year. “She takes time to teach me in addition to teaching the individuals and the group. I feel like I should be paying for the class because I learn so much from her.”

“One of the coolest things Barbara does is to take people and their dogs out in the field, including to Franklin Street, the UNC campus and Southern Village. People on the street see us training, how well our dogs are paying attention and the methods we use, which are positive-reinforcement-reward based, rather than jerk and pop, and prong collars. A lot of people don’t train their dogs to do anything or just let them sit in their back yards. We’re obviously having a lot of fun and the dogs are too, and it brings training more out to the public.”

The week of Sept. 26, Greene, Lindsey-Danner and Long flew to Denver, Colo., to join 1,000 attendees of the annual ADPT meeting. Long was awarded the ADPT Trainer of the Year on Sept. 29.

“They read a bit of my bio while showing a photo of me,” Long said. “It’s wonderful to get recognition for something I love. I get a lot of satisfaction out of my job but it was wonderful to get the award.”

Teoti Anderson, Certified Pet Dog Trainer (CPDT) and president of the APDT, said that Long’s application stood out for her commitment to dog-friendly training, her dedicated efforts in the shelter environment, and her support of the APDT’s mission and vision.

“She’s a wonderful ambassador for our association,” Anderson said. “The APDT promotes better trainers through education. Anyone can call him or herself a dog trainer. What sets a quality trainer apart from the pack is his or her dedication to continuing education. Barbara embodies the spirit of the APDT. Year after year she attends our annual conference and studies the science of her profession. She was also the first CPDT in North Carolina. This designation is given by the Certification Council for Pet Dog Trainers to those who pass a national accredited examination.”

Long was one of the first members of APDT, which was founded in 1993.

Long has been a vibrant, local fixture since she began working for the Animal Protection Society (APS) of Orange County in 1987 and served as shelter manager there for five years. She’s a founding member of the APS Dog Training Club and to this day, though she runs her own dog training business, Paw in Hand, continues to volunteer with the APS doing assessments and temperament testing, teaching classes, coordinating continuing education seminars and coaching the drill team.

It was at the APS that Long realized how important dog training was in the lives of dogs and their owners.

“I had a Beagle named Holly since from I was 9 until I was 25. She was great. She died right before I took a job that required travel so I couldn’t have a dog. But when I left that job I got a dog first thing,” Long said. “Casey, a Brittany Spaniel, was smart but wild. Going to the APS and getting involved in dog training probably saved her life and mine.”

Pat Sanford, then head of the APS, encouraged Long to bring Casey to classes. “Pat said you bring her and we’ll help her. If I assisted with a class I got to take a free class and I kept assisting. I was learning so much about my dog and dogs in general in classes and it dovetailed with my childhood love of dogs. I would say it’s like getting religion—then you want to help other people. To get more information to other people I had to learn more,” Long said. She began taking whatever courses she could find and in 1994 joined ADPT.

Long said solving problems is a part of her nature. “So if someone has a dog that is spending most of the time in the backyard because in the house he’s wild, I can help the owner with training and a management strategy so the dog can spend more and more time with the family. I’ve changed the dog and the people’s lives and that is a huge satisfaction right there. I have a great job that is a lot of fun,” Long said.

The philosophy that guides her training is that dog training is something you do with your dog, not to your dog. “I want dogs to enjoy the training, to learn that learning is fun so for the rest of their lives they want to learn with you. I want the dogs to think that the time when they have to do the homework is the best time of the day. If the dog is enjoying themselves the people will enjoy it to,” Long said.

Where does the master go when she needs mentoring? To her first mentor, Pat Sanford, as well as to Jane Marshall, another local dog trainer also heavily involved in the APS. Long also belongs to the Carolina Trainers Forum that meets quarterly for discussion and socializing.

Long is not one for dog naps; in addition to the above activities, she and her Gordon Setter Selkie are Pet Partners with the Delta Society and visit area schools giving Responsible Pet Ownership presentations. Long is also involved with Chatham Animal Rescue and Education (CARE).

Long encourages anyone interested in dog training to join ADPT. “It is just a huge education opportunity and resource for trainers, and the public can go to its Web site and do a trainer search. But for trainers, if you’re not involved in it you’re missing a huge opportunity,” Long said.

Long is giving two free seminars at Phydeaux in Carrboro: Surviving Canine Adolescence on Oct. 19 and Babies, Kids and Dogs on Oct. 26, both at 6:30 p.m. More information on Long’s services and background can be found at www.pawinhanddogtraining.com.