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Your Dog's Friend

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animal Protection & Welfare, Animals

Mission: The goal of your dogs friend, inc. Is to help keep dogs out of shelters by educating and supporting their humans. We offer behavior and training advice; sponsor free workshops; run positive dog training classes; wrote and gave to adopters: "the shelter and rescue dog book;" refer dog "owners" to positive trainers, walkers and vacation care; send an e-newsletter with behavior & training articles; and maintain a website with announcements and information educating dog "owners" and professionals.

Results: In 2018: 1000 workshop attendees, 3000 students, 57,000 newsletter opens. Maddie's Grant has enabled us to start videotaping some of our workshops for broader distribution.

Target demographics: Our goal is to help keep dogs out of shelters by educating and supporting their humans. Please read "About Us" at http://yourdogsfriend.org/about-us/.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 1000 workshop participants, 2000 students, 56,000 newsletter opens

Geographic areas served: Our free workshops are mostly in Bethesda, MD and our positive classes in Rockville, MD. We have people attending both from throughout the DC metroplitan area.

Programs: Dog training classes and free seminars

Community Stories

124 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a volunteer for several dog rescues I often come across dogs who are in trouble as their humans do not know how to teach them and or address issues
For years I have reached out to Debra at yourdogsfriend who helps me or reaches out to one of her trainers who helps me to help others Their goal is always to help all so dogs do not end up in shelters where they is a risk they may be euthanized
Their website is loaded with great information and resources I share it with all Their FREE email newsletter is so helpful
Where every you live in DMV attend their free workshops right now they are online due covid

Client Served

Rating: 5

Awesome trainings, friendly & very helpful staff. Some trainers are KAREN Pryor trained.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

If you are rehabilitating a rescue, YDF has the useful resources and information to support you. This is a fantastic nonprofit organization.

Lindsey Moake R.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

If there is any dog community you’d want to be part of, Your Dog’s Friend is the place to be! I don’t even know where to begin in singing my praises and overall appreciation. This training organization truly serves the dog loving community, and goes above and beyond all expectations. Dog owners are provided endless interactive educational resources, as well as creative classes with fun and engaging instructors. Weather you can visit them in person, or if you are outside the area, they go above and beyond with helping owners find what they need through their established network of dog professionals. With manners classes, kids classes, sporty classes, free workshops, amazing videos, certified trainers, and support from veterinary behaviorists, there are always new activities and classes to choose from! I love YDF!!!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I cannot speak well enough of Your Dog's Friend. Being an owner of rescue dogs with different issues, I have found in this organization that hope that I had lost about helping my dogs with their behavior. I attended good manner classes in person and follow many talks recorded and available online. They have free workshops every week and there is room, understanding, and love for every dog. They are always available to give you a recommendation if you have a specific need. I have been supporting them because they are an important asset in our community (Montgomery County, MD)

Donor

Rating: 5

Your dog’s friend helped me with my rescue dog Every article that was sent to me. Helpful websites. I can call and ask questions. My dog has trust issues and would not walk but like 100 feet from home. Through their programs and help I have a dog that will take walks with me Thank you for your help and I hope you continue your great work

MC J.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

YDF has proven a tremendous resource for our adoption coordinators and fosters. Not only do they offer training classes, webinars and behavior-specific information, but the trainers are readily available for additional questions. Would highly recommend to anyone in the DC metro area but also those further away who are looking for free or low cost credible training advice.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

YDF is fantastic! The trainers are brilliant and super helpful. I brought my first dog there for several classes, along with my current dog. Their workshops are perfect for the community, providing a wide span of topics that are relevant for many dogs. The people are the nicest to work with and learn from. My current dog had serious anxiety issues when I first got her, and is very high energy. Without YDF, my dog would not be "comfortable in her own fur" like she is now. Their classes taught me how to handle my dog's issues and turn her into the happy dog she is today. I highly recommend YDF for anyone with a dog, or thinking about getting a dog!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Our children have attended Your Dog's Friend summer camp for kids and their dogs for several summers, and love the kind attention given them and our dog. Our children learn positive dog training skills in a warm and loving atmosphere. It's a very special bonding experience for our children and our dog that I haven't found anywhere else. It's terrific that there is a DC area nonprofit that is dedicated to positive training and skills building for dogs.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I live in a 1600 unit housing cooperative and we volunteer with a companion animal committee established by our Board of Directors to perform community education about being a responsible pet parent. In addition I volunteer with an organization in my community that won a grant for children and animal safety workshops. With both of these efforts Your Dog's Friend was willing to partner with us and provide us with resources and connect us with trainers who volunteered to help us with these efforts. In addition they provided our animal shelter with resources about common behavior problems that pet parents encounter. We also were able to refer our new adopters to YDF's workshops, helping prevent returns to the shelter. In addition I have attended a class with my Jack Russell Terrier and was extremely pleased with what I was able to accomplish with my high energy, terrier brain pup. I appreciate their rewards only training approach. I recommend YDF to others daily!

Client Served

Rating: 5

This is an amazing non-profit! We were recommended to sign up for their newsletter when we fostered a few dogs about 10-15 years ago. I continued to receive their newsletters but since we didn't have a dog they were just deleted. However, we acquired our first dog in November and have used YDF ever since. We have taken three in person classes and now an online classes due to COVID-19. They are all amazing and I have been recommending YDF to friends who have recently brought dogs into their homes or even to those friends who have had dogs for many generations. If I could give 100 stars, I would!

Mj S.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

My 4 year old lab came to me via Lab Rescue. He lived his first 3 years in a domestic violence situation and easily startles. I have learned about his fears, how to help him and how to help me be a better dog parent. Thank you Your Dog's Friend for being such a great resource. Also, as an Adoption Coordinator with Lab Rescue, I refer adopters to your website and classes.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Your Dog's Friend over the years has provided me and many others with a wealth of information about raising our pets to be healthy, happy, and well-behaved family members. For many of us pets are our favorite family members. The expert speakers and very informative handouts provide significant guidance about dealing with behavior and health issues. This is all provided for free. I happily donate to this nonprofit organization well run by Ms. Debra Ekman because I want it to be around forever.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My dog living with reactivity and I have taken a couple of classes here. The instructors advocate for dogs with issues and their people to set everyone up for success!

1 Anna B.3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Your Dog's Friend has some of the best trainers and resources out there! My 16-month old dobie mix has anxiety and leash-reactivity, and both her and I have benefited from the 'Distracted Dog' and 'TAG Agility' classes. I've become much more savvy about dog behavior and about how to manage both of our stress levels. I also devour the YDF newsletter immediately when it arrives in my inbox - the advice is practical and no-bullshit! Seriously, this is an awesome organization.

Lisa M.12

Client Served

Rating: 5

I can't say enough about the wonderful workshops and classes provided by Your Dog's Friend. They've helped us learn how to communicate with our rescue pup and how to help her understand us better, too. Our dog is also reactive and without Your Dog's Friend, we would have been at a total loss on how to help her.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Your Dog's Friend is an amazing organization! Our rescue pup has anxiety problems, we've benefited a great deal from the workshops organized by Your Dog's Friend. It's remarkable that they are willing to offer such high quality workshops to the general public for free. The volunteers are wonderful as well, friendly and clearly care about dogs. Wonderful organization!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Your Dogs Friend has truly been a blessing beyond measure! When we got our cute puppy, she was cute but also quite wild!! I don't know what we would have done without Your Dogs Friend. We interviewed another training facility. They used force. We loved the fact that your Dogs Friend is a no force training institution that sets out not only to train dogs but to teach and educate owners. Half of the equation is learning how to communicate with your dog.Maggie advanced quickly and farther than we could have ever imagined. And she LOVED going to training classes. She didn't want to leave after class! I can't say enough about Your Dogs Friend. The trainers are second to none.

Client Served

Rating: 5

The workshops they offer are awesome. The recent on dog aggression expanded my understanding of how to deal with this. And the people who run Your Dog's Friend are so helpful and encouraging. I picked up their 'Help Sheet' on helping dogs who are terrified by thunderstorms. I thought I knew a lot on the subject, but there was much I had not known such as the role of static charge and the availability of shirts to mitigate that. My dog will have a less anxious summer!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Your Dogs Friend is a fabulous non profit! It has terrific positive training classes, wonderful free seminars by nationally known dog trainers and a super helpful website. My dog and I have taken many classes including Nose Sniffing and T-Touch. I have attended many seminars. All are first rate!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have had many of my dogs benefit greatly from their classes. They also offer amazing free lectures on everything from reactive dog training to nutrition. They have a free class for people who have adopted or are planning to adopt. They serve as a wonderful service for dogs and dog owners.

Client Served

Rating: 4

We got Gracie when she was 2 years old. She was fearful and didn't understand how or why her life had changed. She had several issues that required immediate attention - walking on a leash, jumping on people and going to the bathroom in the house. The first workshop I went to was Advice for Adopters. I have since been to several more. All the workshops are free. Gracie and I did Basic Manners training a year ago. We have both improved. No matter how many dogs you've had (and I've had quite a few), you always learn new and important things. Your Dog's Friend is the best!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Your Dog’s Friend is a FANTASTIC organization, one that lives up to its name and its goal. We’ve taken two of their classes with our most recent rescue and attended numerous Saturday workshops. The classes provide practical, hands-on experience with experts. And the workshops are practical, useful, and fun. All have proved invaluable. I wish that I could have had such a wonderful resource for all of the dogs in my life.

Shebasmom

Client Served

Rating: 5

I owe YDF ongoing appreciation for all of the help, information, and stimulating classes for my rescue dog. From nose work to agility to confidence building and canine good citizen, Sheba and I have grown to be great team mates. The free workshops are jammed packed with relevant information to enable me to be a knowledgeable dog owner.

Previous Stories
2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Your Dog's Friend has enabled me to help my rescue dog blossom. I have attended many workshops (at no cost) which provided me with invaluable information and my dog and I have benefited greatly from basic manners classes, confidence building, play, nose work and canine good citizen training. My dog gets very excited when I pick up our 'go to class' bag - she loves the stimulation and it carries over from class to a wide range of locations. The trainers have all been most helpful and I greatly appreciate the positive approach to training-- it helps build a healthy relationship with my dog. For dog owners looking for guidance and training, I always tell them this is THE PLACE.

Client Served

Rating: 5

What a great group! I've taken the basic manners class with my rescue dog, Jelly. Excellent instructors and staff who take the time to help you "get-it"! Your Dog's Friend offers something for every doggy parent and pooch.

Looking forward to taking agility games and many more classes!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Wonderful resource for positive dog training! Recommend YDF to anyone needing knowledgeable, experienced, and effective trainers who care about your success. Your Dig’s Friend is simply great!

Alisa J.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Your Dog's Friend is a wonderful resource providing practical training addressing the behavioral issues that make a "bad" dog. I learned how to shape my problem dog's behavior using positive methods that work much better than punishment. YDF is helping to revolutionize the relationship between dogs and humans.

Nancy D.2

Client Served

Rating: 5

This is a great group! I go to their free classes every few weeks and every time I learn so much from some of the best in the field! I have met a Vet behaviorist, a homeopathic Vet and multiple great trainers! I have also taken several of their paid classes and I am sure I have a happier and better behaved dog thanks to them!

Michelle W.5

Client Served

Rating: 5

Your dogs friend is one of the only resources for those of us with rescued dogs that are shy or reactive and can’t afford private training! I’ve learned so much, and my furry baby loves learning and blossomed under their training classes. She will always be shy and reactive, but now I have the resources to help her safely enjoy life!

Client Served

Rating: 5

As first time dog owners with a 10 week old Australian Shepherd we realized we had no idea what we were doing! Finding Your Dog’s Friend was the BEST thing that could have happened to us. We started in the Puppy Play sessions - what a great, safe way for us and our new dog to learn about each other and the language of Dog Play. We’ve since graduated from Kindergarten, 1st grade, Platform Class and the super useful Out & About walking class and plan on trying Agility, Tricks, and Treibball in the future. The entire training staff is wonderful - they’ve offered positive, practical, no-nonsense, doable advice that works. Our puppy is now 8 months old, happy, healthy, well-rounded, and well behaved. We could not have done that without Your Dog’s Friend.

Client Served

Rating: 5

We love Your Dog's Friend! The instructors check in with each family and dog at the start of each lesson. They can read Annie (how she responds to different cues) - our dog - and help make sure the classes are as productive as possible. They offer insightful advice and make the classes fun for the folks that come with the dog. I really suggest that you try them first. We went to two other puppy kindergartens first - and tried this one last on the advice of our vet - and our Vet was totally spot on. This place is wonderful.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I cannot stress how amazing this group is. We adopted a year old Akita and went through basic manners and reactive dog training. The instructors are so knowledgeable and helpful but more importantly, they really support you!! They believe in what they do and I wouldn't have made it through without them. I cannot recommend any training facility higher, they truly were there for me and my dog at every step, even after graduating. Love this place and the trainers.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This is a super place to get positive training tips for your dog. It's great to have a resource that you can depend on to always use positive reinforcement. I have not been able to actually go to their location but I have benefited from their articles and podcasts. They reach a wide audience by having their information accessible two people who cannot make it into their location. Definitely enjoy reading and learning from them

megslp88

Client Served

Rating: 5

We brought our dog to Your Dog's Friend for basic training classes and really enjoyed it. The trainers were extremely knowledgeable and always willing to answer our questions about the skills or any other issues we were having. Shortly after, we rescued our other dog who had severe separation anxiety. I sent our trainer a panicked email and she wrote back that same night with a lengthy and personalized response filled with ideas, strategies and support. I can't say enough good things about this organization and would highly recommend them to anyone!

Nancy K.1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Your Dog's Friend is based in Maryland; I live in Columbus, Ohio, and volunteer at the Franklin County Dog Shelter. I have followed them on Facebook and used their resource page for years. Specifically, I have often referred to their recommended reading list and their "Before You Adopt" page. Recently, the group started streaming some of their workshops on Facebook--providing a wonderful educational opportunity to a vast audience. I only wish we had a similar group here in Ohio.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Your Dogs Friend is awesome! My dog and I have attended many classes. All the instructors emphasize positive training and are patient and understanding. There is also a wonderful website which provides loads of great information. I love all the free seminars given by sone of the best dog trainers in the field.

Elizabeth T.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Your Dog’s Friend has changed my family’s life for the better. My husband and I rescued Ally when she was 12 weeks old. We took her to another dog school on several recommendations. It made her fearful and aggressive. We found Your Dog’s Friend and they taught us the RIGHT way to train her. Her demeanor, behavior, and overall life changed so much. Family members noticed, neighbors stopped us on the street to compliment her, it was amazing. Your Dog’s Friend is still there for us whenever we have a question or concern. We will always recommend them and wish we had found them first.

Client Served

Rating: 5

When we adopted our dog as a puppy four years ago, the shelter recommended Your Dog’s Friend (YDF) as a resource. I will be forever grateful for that advice. We have learned and benefited from--and had fun at--every single class at YDF, ranging from puppy kindergarten to TTouch to agility. Each teacher has been knowledgeable, caring, and supportive. In addition, the free workshops consistently provide useful information.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

YDF has become and essential organization in the area. The classes that are offered and the workshops that are presented are of great quality and content. I frequently attend the workshops because of the great contents and speakers. I have also taken my dogs to classes at YDF, especially puppies for the sake of socialization in a supervised environment. I also offer classes and summer camps for kids and their dogs at YDF. This is a way of teaching the next generation of dog owners. We get them off to the right start in their dog training endeavor and help them build a respectful relationship with their canine companions.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Your Dog's Friend is a fabulous resource to people involved with dogs. I recommend them to all dog owners. Anyone can benefit from their vast knowledge and expertise of dogs and dog behaviors. Their level of care and concern about your dog and the issues faced is phenomenal. Your dog is as important to them as their own dog. All training is positive reinforcement. No old school, mean, barbaric choke chains, yelling or demeaning techniques are used. From the free workshops to group classes-in person or online everyone is friendly, welcoming and helpful.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Whenever I meet people who are seeking training for their dogs, I always and immediately refer them to Your Dog's Friend. I took my two Jack Russells here for puppy kindergarten and puppy first grade. We also did a nose work class when they were older. I plan to bring them here for more classes.
My instructors taught me how to train my dogs using positive reinforcement and gave me helpful tools and tips for practicing at home. My dogs loved coming to Your Dog's Friend! They knew it was a happy place with trainers who cared about them.
I was able to take my knowledge with me to continue my training and take it to the next level into trick training. The positive rules still apply and I have Your Dog's Friend to thank for showing me the ropes right from the beginning. However, it's never too late! If you've found a place that isn't using positive methods for training, you should seriously think about switching to Your Dog's Friend!

Client Served

Rating: 5

My dog Dani and I just completed the Reactive Dog class which lasted 8 weeks. The instructor
and coaches were all outstanding. In addition to using positive reinforcement techniques for
training dogs, they also used positive reinforcement techniques for we humans. That is to
say, there was never criticism, only positive feedback and then ideas on how to improve on
the lessons we were taught. Given that we were all starting out with reactive dogs, every
precaution was taken by our instructor to ensure the safety of all. The techniques we learned
for distracting our dogs when other dogs appear unexpectedly on the scene are successful
for me and my dog. And my own confidence in walking my dog increased measurably
because now I have tools to help us both. When possible I attend the special seminars
offered on many relevant topics and always take home useful information for me and my dog. Signing up for classes on the web site is easy and efficient. I was particularly impressed
with how the waiting list worked so efficiently when a space for the class we wanted
became available. I tell everyone I know who has a dog about Your Dog's Friend. Blessings to
Debra Ekman for her vision, creativity. perseverance and stamina to make YDG a vital
and meaningful organization. And blessings to the talented and dedicated trainers /coaches who are so knowledgeable and have years of experience they bring to each and every
class. YDF has made a substantial difference in our lives together and we are forever
grateful. Thank you. Peace to all, Lacey G and Dani(short for Danielle).

Client Served

Rating: 5

If there were more than 5 Stars, I would award them to Your Dog's Friend! Their mission to help people and dogs so that dogs don't end up in shelters is terrific. Their classes with only positive rewards and free workshops are marvelous. I have taken many classes and attended many workshops, and the teachers and speakers are incredibly wonderful. Whenever my dog sees our teacher, Sarah, she is ecstatic and can't wait to say hello to her! Because of a long work day, I hadn't had a dog in 25 years, but retirement provided the opportunity for me to adopt a rescue. Being able to go to Your Dog's Friend for classes and workshops haa been invaluable. And to top it off, they are incredibly efficient -- it is so easy to sign up for classes and receive notifications of upcoming classes you would like to attend. I recommend them highly to you!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

As a first time dog owner, I had (well, still have) a lot to learn about dogs. As such, I have taken several of Your Dog's Friend's adult classes as well as taken my dog to training at their facility. All the classes are top notch and have been tremendously helpful. Further, the resources they provide on their website and email newsletters are great whenever I need answers for dog-related questions. I highly regard this nonprofit and think they are an amazing resource for dog lovers everywhere (not just in our community).

judidash

Client Served

Rating: 5

I can't imagine what I would have done without the skilled, caring and devoted trainers at Your Dog's Friend. My little rescue hound puppy, Shayna, loved both the socializing with other puppies and training parts of each class, as did I. And -- this is huge -- when I broke my ankle just a month into classes, I was able to arrange at-home training (extra cost but worth every penny) and guidance in getting extra support for walking and gallavanting in good hands while I was confined to a wheelchair. Classes are limited to strictly manageable sizes, even though they could have doubled enrollment if they weren't so conscientious. Every minute of the puppy socializing is closely supervised by the trainer and assistants, so pups are playing with others of a similar energy level, so all feel and are safe. I feel so lucky to have found YDF, which also offers free supportive lectures to bolster our skills and security as adopters. They really want every puppy to succeed and every adopter to succeed -- which translates into happy loving forever homes.

Client Served

Rating: 5

We adopted a border collie mix last fall from a local rescue group. For the first couple of weeks he was fine, then he began exhibiting reactive behavior to strangers, other dogs, trucks, you name it. I contacted Your Dog's Friend by email and almost immediately received loads of helpful information. Besides notifying me about very good workshops for reactive dogs (which were attended by dozens of other dog owners), Debra and others provided advice and instruction that I could use immediately and that really made a difference. They've provided information sheets, emails, regular notifications about workshops. This is a wonderful, proactive group that has real expertise.

Client Served

Rating: 5

What a great value at a low cost. Fantastic staff who genuinely care for dogs. Sarah Stoycos provided enthusiasm and great advice for Russell , my Boston and I. We originally signed up for a class that did not work out for us because of the time. They were happy to put me in another class that worked out better. They are very flexible and accommodating too. Thank you!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Your Dogs Friend is one of the best non-profit organizations who help dog owners learn positive reinforcement in training their dog. YourDogsFriend encourage families to participate in training so everyone can learn the correct ways in teaching the dog appropriate behaviors. Plus free workshops to new adopters, holistic care, nutrition and much more. On the web site one can find a list of positive dog trainers, groomers, books, organizations who can help with vet bills and recommended web sites that also provide valuable information on training, etc.

Client Served

Rating: 5

YDF has been an invaluable source of information and support for me and my dog Max. Adopted at an early age, he has always had fear based issues resulting in dog and people reactivity. No amount of training seemed to help and then I learned about positive training and Your Dog's Friend. The YDF website alone provides a large amount of information and is very user friendly. I have taken advantage of MANY of the YDF free workshops all of which have had knowledgeable presenters. I have learned a lot about how to work with my challenging dog. I have also attended TTouch classes with Max and now have another tool in my toolbox to use! If every person thinking about dog ownership would visit the YDF website first, they would be ahead of the game. The fact that all this valuable information is provided at no cost to the public is terrific. YDF provides a great service for people and their dogs everywhere!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Hi everyone! Your Dogs Friend (YDF) offers a wonderful service to young or adopted dogs - like me. Debra and her team of trainers and coaches are all about helping owners learn to work with their dogs, especially dogs with behavior challenges. My folks turned to YDF and their class for Reactive Dogs, because when I was a one-year old adopted dog, I could do great things in the house, but could not focus when there were distractions or we were outside. My folks really like the way the classes are organized and working in the YDF training facility is safe and supportive, for all of us. Turns out, everything is exciting to me, even entering the training facility, but in class I learned my folks can be even more exciting. We were able to practice our skills, with great coaching, and we have learned to be partners. As a result of our training at YDF, I am not just the dog on the other end of the leash. We have learned fun ways for me to use nervous energy and our walks hold "surprises" that I am willing to work for. (Most days!) Mom and Dad are teaching me new stuff every day so I will be able to be a great ambassador for my breed rescue.

We are so glad we found Your Dog's Friend.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have taken several classes with Your Dog's Friend, utilized free workshops and resources from them, and volunteer-coached one class series. The organization does a tremendous service to the community, preventing dump-backs to shelters through the education of dog owners in a way that promotes a healthy, trusting relationship between dog and owner. As a client served, I have benefitted greatly from the classes which are very hands-on and customized to client needs. Everyone I have worked with has been dedicated to the organization's mission, friendly, and knowledgeable. My dog enjoys the classes and I feel that they have all helped me reinforce the bond I have with him.

My (so far) short experience volunteering with the organization has also been positive and has made me feel even more a part of the mission of the organization. Many of the other volunteers also started off as a client and later decided to coach. I think this speaks to the strong level of community engagement at Your Dog's Friend.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I can't ever repay this non-profit for the valuable life changing knowledge they have so freely imparted upon me. I am exactly the person that this organization was created to help and I am grateful every day for the opportunity and resources that have been provided to me.

Though I come from a long line of pet owners (horses, dogs, cats and rodents) without exaggeration I can say we knew nothing about what the needs of the animals were or how they learned.

Because of the high caliber of guest speakers and the range of experience they bring to the workshop participants, we are equipped to help our animal family be the best they can be. Even though the workshops themselves are free, I would easily invest $100 a session, and depart knowing every single penny of that fee would pay for itself ten times over, in less stress, less time trying outdated and dangerous training methods, in searching through tombs of information on pet care or problem behaviors and how to correct them. After every single workshop both the guest speakers and volunteer staff stay afterwards to answer every last question!

I have learned to read, interpret and understand a dogs body language. To understand the subtle differences in a dogs behavior: the difference between a tolerant dog from one that's is screaming STOP. If only it's human caretaker recognized the signs, the visiting grandchild might not get bitten and the dog removed permanently from the family. I can read the signs of when a dog wants to be approached and when the dog is really not comfortable and wants no part of this confrontation.

I am particularly grateful for understanding that when my dog desperately needs me to intervene or needs a change that her growl is her way of communicating to me, that fear or anxiety. I wouldn't think of correcting my dog now for growling, after learning from experienced handlers that the dogs is simply seeking my help, I would thank her for telling me that something is bothering her and as a responsible owner I need to take the next time of correcting the situation, or removing ourselves to a safer place. This is a win, win situation for everyone.

Until attending a workshop orchestrated by YourDogsFriend I never paid any attention to how intimidating it could be to a dog for someone much taller than they and a stranger at that - to reach down and touch the dog on the head! I would never have known, if it weren't for the guest speaker Debra brought in and that challenged the participants to participate in the 'experience'. What a learning opportunity that was for the 50 or 60 people in attendance. Everyone had an ah hah moment!

And positive training or clicker training, why on earth would I do that! Duh, just pull on the leash to make the dog slow down or sit. Well let me tell you what I (I mean Miss Daisy, a GSP rescue of about 18-24 months) has accomplished in about five months time using the clicker method, I was introduced to during one of the workshops.

The standard sit, down, shake, come. Yep she does all that.

She also spins to the left, spins to the right, walks a circle around me, both ways! she does the army crawl, she does a high five and a two pawed high five! she practices her bow for when she meets royalty and she knows how to give the best butterfly kisses! She can walk a raised 10" platform (at 80 lbs) can turn on it and walk backwards as well. She can dance with me using her front paws and legs, she can stand like a circus elephant on a platform and she can put her paw on the can that has the treats, no matter how much you switch them around!

All these tricks and more are due to the experienced trainers and guest speakers that continuously empower me to provide the best for my dog.

I know what I'm speaking of because I have utilized the free workshops for myself. I have attended training sessions with my dog at the training facility and I do intend to attend many more.

I appreciate the many resources and handouts that are printed for workshop participants and are available to us free of charge. I have often grabbed handouts for my neighbors and of course I share my excitement with everyone. Because I always share what I've learned in a workshop or the dogs accomplishments, I've even become a small resource for others.

Oh did I mention these workshops are held twice a month, in a location where everything must be carried in, setup and dismantled after each session. The dedication and commitment these volunteers have made to the animals is beyond measure.

To Debra Ekman, all the giving volunteers, the trainers and guest speakers "You have made a difference in the lives of animals" and it goes further for me because "you have made a difference in my life too"!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer as well as a (lost) pet tracker, along with my tracking dog, Leah. The resources offered by Your Dog's Friend, from the documents on their website to their free seminars, have vastly broadened and improved my knowledge of dogs, especially because they offer lectures on specific topics rather than just general knowledge. I learned an amazing amount from them before I was a certified professional, continue to do so now that I am certified, and refer all of my clients to their resources.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Your Dog's Friend has been wonderful for my family and our dog Maddie. Maddie is very reactive to both people and other dogs. Taking her for walks was extremely unpleasant for her, us, and the people we met along the way.
I searched and searched the internet to find a way to better train and manage her. I hated all the ads for choke collars, shock collars, and the like.
Then I came across Your Dog's Friend website. I read many of the articles they had on the site. I went to an introductory class. I learned that Maddie's behavior wasn't so unusual.
That was about 10 months ago. Since then we have taken two classes. I am able to manage Maddie so much better now and I also know how to minimize the stressors that cause her to react. Your Dog's Friend has been a lifesaver for all of us!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I had taken several classes with my pup five years ago at Your Dog's Friend. Debra and Michelle are both amazing and warm-hearted dog-lovers. This week, I had a situation and needed advice/help. Michelle cancelled an appointment to come take care of my dog's issue. She explained to me that what I thought was a ferocious beast was a frightened dog who had gone through many upheavals. And her seeming aggression was fear. Oh, and so what if she didn't have tons of dog friends. She has me! Michelle added fun to our day. Debra's Newsletters are full of advice and important information. They're the best!

Client Served

Rating: 4

YDF is terrific, not only for in-person classes and their (mostly free) seminars and lectures, but their periodic emails with informative articles. I always recommend them to our friends with dogs, both local and farther afield, at least to sign up for the emails so they get the benefit of the articles. Their classes have really good instructors and we have learned a lot of skills throughout the classes that help us help our dog be happy and well-behaved. Their mission of supporting all dog-owners, but especially adopters, is so needed with to help dogs fit into their homes and stay out of shelters! So often, simply having the correct training technique (instead of outdated methods or common myths) can make all the difference between a family keeping a dog or giving it up. YDF does a great job to try to ensure more dogs stay in their homes!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I LOVE this place! I believe I first learned about it through the PGSPCA, but then other people who shared my love of dogs started referring me, some of them even teaching classes. I've been to multiple free seminars, some TTouch classes, and a nosework class. My only 'gripe' is that they are so far away from me (I live in Bowie). I desperately wish we had such a place here in Bowie.

The owner of this nonprofit is meticulous in her careful screening of teachers and speakers. All of it is excellent information, up-to-date and strictly positive. If I could give this place 6 stars, I would!

Client Served

Rating: 5

A wonderful organization with terrific trainers. They helped me with my rescue doggie and are always great with suggestions and information. Nice facility and a most important mission to help the community learn and understand about their dogs for a better relationship.

bharagan

Client Served

Rating: 5

I've attended a number of workshops and training sessions thanks to this nonprofit. I am a better, more knowledgeable dog owner as a result. They are consistently professional and imaginative in their offerings.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have brought my dogs to several classes at Your Dog's Friend. They us very positive training methods and are great instructors.

I have also attended some of their free seminars and have learned a lot from them and enjoyed them.

Training helps dogs stay in their homes and out of shelters and they offer a reasonably priced program.

5

Client Served

Rating: 5

Your Dog's Friend offers services that are very necessary and help our world and society be a better place for both animals and people. This organization has found its niche, and provides important services to the public with a positive and unique perspective and approach. I personally have benefited tremendously from their educational services and have in turn been able to share that knowledge with countless others to the benefit of dogs and people in the mid-atlantic region. I have been able to use their services in connection with my volunteer work with other charitable organizations that rescue dogs, my volunteer work providing a foster home for nearly 100 rescued dogs and puppies, and my own dogs, friends, and neighbors.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

If you live with a dog, you'll find many ways to use Your Dog's Friend in Rockville, MD. YDF offers training classes ranging from puppy socialization to advanced pet training, including pet level agility and the fun new sport of K-9 Nosework. YDF hand picks top trainers who use rewards based methods only. YDF's web page offers lots of information that benefits new and experienced dog people. Best of all, the free workshops scheduled throughout the year on many weekends cover a wide range of topics ranging from training, health, managing problem dog behaviors and responsible dog parenting. This place should be cloned and found in every community. Hats off to Debra Ekman who puts her heart and soul into this non-profit.

Previous Stories
1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Your Dog's Friend is dedicated to supporting dog owners so their pets can be lifetime companions. All dog training classes are taught by professional trainers committed to science based, positive training methods. In addition to group classes, Your Dog's Friend hosts free workshops with speakers talking on a wide array of topics of interest to the dog owner. This grass-roots non-profit that just gets better every year.

1 Linda361

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I can't say enough good things about Your Dog's Friend! I have attended many of the FREE, yes, FREE, seminars on a variety of dog related topics and a monthly seminar aimed at new dog parents. The seminars are open to the public. All one needs to do is sign up. No gimmicks, no pressure to purchase anything; just positive, practical ideas and methods to help adopters and dog families. The speakers are professionals who are well versed in their areas of expertise. They always include time for questions and even stay after the program is over to answer personal questions. I also enjoy the email newsletters that come out every few weeks. They are informative, positive and practical. YDF offers a wide variety of classes from basic manners to fun and games.

I participated in a program called Foster Dog Alliance for many months. That program was truly a life saver for me and my foster dog!!! She came to me frantic, fearful and dog reactive. Although I had worked with many different dogs in a variety of volunteer capacities, including 21 other foster dogs, I didn't know how to reach this dog. With the assistance of the wonderful trainers we were able to find positive methods that worked for her. After fostering her for over 11 months, and seeing her returned from a failed adoption, we decided to adopt her. I continue to have contact with the trainers if I have questions. Although we have not conquered all of her issues and fears we continue to work with her using the methods and fun games that we learned in class. She is so much more relaxed, fits nicely in our family and we are delighted to have her. I could not have done this without the assistance of the Foster Dog Alliance.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have been so impressed with Your Dog’s Friend from day one—this non-profit is truly dedicated to keeping dogs out of shelters and about educating owners using positive training methods. It doesn’t get any better than this!
I have attended numerous “free” lectures at Your Dog’s Friend and have been amazed at the quality of the speakers and of the variety of topics all so relevant to pet dog owners. Each and every time I have come home with helpful kernels of information. The Shelter and Rescue Dog Book, written by Debra Ekman, is handed out free at all of these occasions and at other events. This is a gem of book and covers everything a pet dog owner should know and it includes tons of helpful references.
I have attended an Adopters Workshop offered monthly by Your Dog’s Friend. The room was full of dog owners who had question after question---the presenter, a dog trainer, answered every question and more! This non-profit works so hard to educate owners about dogs. This year my dog and I took a triebball class at the center---the instructor was highly qualified, the class was structured and so much fun that I am signing up for a follow-on class.
Running an exceptional non-profit like Your Dog’s Friend takes a village of dedicated staff and volunteers. This requires 100% dedication and tons and tons of work! Your Dog’s Friend ROCKS!