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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 dog owners. 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; and maintain a website with announcements and information educating dog owners and professionals.

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: 745 workshop participants, 1700 students

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 seminars

Community Stories

87 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

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!