Helping people develop a better understanding of their dogs is what Mikhaila Hobbs and Monique Guimond want to bring to Steamboat Springs with their new business, Dogma Canine Training.
“We can help empower people and have them gain a better understanding of their dog and their dog’s body language,” Hobbs said. “We want to teach dog owners how to communicate with their dogs and in a much healthier way.”
Guimond said she has always had a passion for working with animals, and she studied animal behavior at the University of New England. More recently she acquired her professional dog training knowledge assessed certification and is also a Fear Free certified professional.
Hobbs has spent 15 years working with and around dogs and is working toward her professional certification, which she expects to earn later this year.
“I thoroughly enjoy working with my clients to help them understand who their dog is as an individual and to coach everyone through deciphering the language barriers that humans and animals have,” Guimond said. “My focus is on creating happy and healthy relationships between people and their pets while having fun and creating a positive atmosphere.”
The two worked together at the Routt County Humane Society before coming up with the idea for their new business in November 2020. They started with individual training in January and then began offering group sessions in June.
The six-week group sessions, each designed for dogs at certain levels, are limited to 10 spots and are led by both Guimond and Hobbs.
The Basics:1.0 is a session for dogs four months and older and focuses on teaching eye contact, mat training, sits, downs, stays, hand targeting, waiting at doors and loose leash walking. The class focuses on teaching students basic skills in positive reinforcement through fear-free and force-free techniques.
Dogma also offers an Intermediate:2.0 class designed for dogs six months and older that have completed a level one class. The class focuses on teaching students eye contact, mat training, stays, passing by dogs calmly, waiting at doors/in cars and loose leash walking while adding in real life distractions.
Dogma also plans to start offering group session for puppies younger than four months in September. That four-week class is designed to help owners and dogs get off to a strong start.
“It’s holistic and science based,” Hobbs said. “We’re using methods and research that’s been done for 20 years.”
Dogma also offers individual training where Guimond and Hobbs focus on the dog’s individual needs and design the training sessions to address specific issues. The process begins with an initial consult that allows the trainers to get to know the owner and dog.
That consult usually lasts 30 minutes and costs $45. During that time, the trainer will come up with a behavior plan and determine how many sessions are needed. Additional sessions are $85 each. Dogma offers discounted package pricing for three or more sessions.
Hobbs and Guimond approach every training request holistically addressing the dog’s environment, exercise needs, health and diet.
Guimond said she had an owner who wanted their dog to walk well on a leash, but after the evaluation, she realized the dog was afraid of many things it encountered when it was on its walks.
“We can’t train your dog to walk while on the leash until we work on the fact that your dog is really fearful of a lot of things in their environment,” Guimond said. “Our job is working on getting the dog comfortable in the environment first and then practicing walking well on a leash after we’ve addressed those issues.”
She said many of the issues a dog may be having can be linked to underlying issues that owners didn’t know existed.
“We are giving people the tools to understand their dogs,” Guimond said. “For us, that is huge. Dogs are not just existing in our houses; they are not just lying there. They are constantly communicating to you, and they’re always learning.”
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.