Although I have always been crazy about all animals, especially dogs, I first became seriously involved in dog training in 1996 when I found an abandoned puppy and decided to take him to classes. I discovered that I had an affinity for working with dogs and after a short time I began assisting the instructor with new class members who needed a little extra help. Soon I was instructing classes and reading as much as possible about dog training and “psychology” in my spare time.
As my knowledge and experience increased, I decided to consolidate my skills by obtaining a formal qualification in the field. I enrolled for the basic behaviour course run by Ethology Consultancy and went on to obtain “best practice” in their advanced canine behaviour course. I also qualified as a Hills Veterinary Nutrition Adviser, Level One, and completed a Certificate in Early Canine Development from the Faculty of Veterinary Science at University of Pretoria.
However, I soon realised that my studies so far had just scratched the surface and there was so much more to learn! Hungry for a more concrete knowledge of exactly what was happening on a physiological and emotional level during training and behaviour modification, I went on to complete the Diploma in the Practical Aspects of Companion Animal Behaviour and Training (DipCABT Advanced Diploma - OCN UK) through the Centre of Applied Pet Ethology (COAPE) with distinction. Studying through COAPE was the best decision I could have made - the knowledge I gained was invaluable and I am very honoured to have been given the opportunity to join the COAPE SA lecture team and am thoroughly enjoying teaching students enrolled in the EMRA Advanced Diploma, who are as passionate about dogs and the study of animal behaviour as I am.
In 2009 I opened Kommetjie Canine College, a training school offering everything from puppy socialisation to advanced classes, Canine Good Citizen and Trick training. At KCC I am assisted by two COAPE SA diplomats, Inge Buchner and JP Smith. Because we all adhere to the same high ethical standards expected of all COAPE behaviourists and trainers, we are able to provide a personal, professional and compassionate service to all our clients and their dogs. At KCC we believe that a thorough knowledge of learning theory is vital. We are also convinced that animals have rich emotional lives, that all behaviour is driven by emotion and that understanding this is key to changing behaviour for the better.
I have a special interest in the benefits that dogs bring to us as humans and currently serve on the advisory panel for Pets as Therapy. For several years as a PAT volunteer I visited a home for the elderly and a school for children with special needs with my rescued Rottie crossbreed, Emily. I have also tried to assist where possible with rescue and shelter work and from 2010 to 2014 I acted as the consultant behaviourist for TEARS, assessing all adult dogs admitted to the shelter, instructing basic Canine Good Citizen classes for the kennel assistants and resident dogs and training the volunteers in the “Open Paw” dog rehabilitation programme.
I am passionate about promoting the important place of dogs in our changing society and preserving the rights of dog owners to enjoy the companionship of their dogs in public places and during recreation. As a committee member and current acting chair of Friends of the Dog Walkers I am involved in negotiating with Table Mountain National Park to ensure that dog owners continue to be allowed to walk and hike with their dogs in all the areas where we have traditionally done so for generations.
Although I love working with all breeds (and mixed breeds), Rottweilers are my passion. I served on the committee of Cape Rottweiler Club from March 2011 until March 2019, oversaw their training programme for several years and served as the puppy, home obedience and advanced class instructor at various times. After many years of Sundays at the club, I have chosen to step aside this year in order to have more time to get outdoors and hike with my husband and our dogs.
I also assist Friend of the Rottweiler Re-home and Rescue in an advisory capacity.
I am a Practitioner Member of the COAPE Association of Pet Behaviourists and Trainers (CABPT SA) as well as an ICAN (International Companion Animal Network) certified Animal Behaviourist.
My first love is still training and working with my own dogs and I spend as much time as I can working with our two Rottweilers, Rosie and Cruz, in Rally Freestyle Elements, Working trials, Canine Freestyle and various Trick Dog titles. I also devote some time to clicker training the horse who I have been riding for a few years and have tremendous fun teaching him new skills and building his confidence. Working with another species in this way is an amazing experience and opportunity. I hope to see positive reinforcement eventually become the mainstream form of training in the horse world.