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Our Philosophy

As the role of the dog has evolved from that of a working species, to one of a beloved family member, we must too think about the evolution of dog training. Gone are the days of training focused on dominance.  These ideas are outdated and there’s growing scientific data supporting the use of science-based learning principles resulting in much more effective and humane ways to train dogs.  

 

St. Pete Dog Works stands for positive based training with evidence based outcomes.  For dogs who thrive and are happy and healthy.  Our core model focuses on:

  • positive motivation to encourage behaviors (positive is not permissive)

  • training protocols based on science-based learning theory

  • replacing undesirable behaviors with more appropriate responses

  • management for success; eliminate practice of unwanted behaviors

  • a fair leadership strategy

  • clear communication system 

  • a wholistic approach where nutrition, exercise, and enrichment compliment training

  • having fun and building a relationship

 

To train a dog you need motivation, otherwise change in behavior won't happen.  Motivation comes in many forms.  We believe in using positive motivation to get desired behaviors, setting the dog up for success, and focus on relationship building.  In the event a training method is not effective, we follow the least intrusive, minimally aversive strategy out of a set of humane and effective tactics likely to succeed in achieving a training or behavior change (LIMA). 

Training Team

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Heather Morris

Founder & Trainer

Heather Morris comes to St. Petersburg from Washington, DC with 15 years experience working professionally in the pet industry.  

 

In 2010, she created Spot On Training, LLC which evolved into one of the most well-respected, successful dog training companies in the Washington, DC metro area.  Spot On Training was consistently recognized as the ‘BEST’ in the Washingtonian Magazine and The Washington City Paper by its loyal client base.  This one-woman operation quickly grew into a small team of trainers teaching group classes, speciality workshops, and puppy play in its own studio located in one of the fastest growing and most dog-friendly neighborhoods of DC.  Additionally, Spot On Training provided private training and behavior consultations in DC, Virginia, and Maryland.  Spot On Training established many relationships with other pet businesses in the area and was sold in 2016 to one of its competitors who still successfully operates and maintains its positive reputation today.  

 

Prior to the creation of Spot On Training, Heather was fortunate enough to combine her passion for food (a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America) as well as her love of dogs to create a unique business selling organic dog treats to local boutiques in the area.  It wasn’t long before her love of active, healthy dogs and her devotion to being the “best” in her field opened up a new career pathway.  This pathway led to a dog training position, a general manager position, and eventually a training director offer. 

 

Heather is a member of:

  • Certified Professional Dog Trainer- Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA)

  • Professional Member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT)

  • Dalmatian Club of America

  • Fear Free Certified Professional

 

The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers is the first national certification for dog trainers.  Heather carries a strong sense of pride in this accomplishment and nationally recognized certification and honor. Like all honors, certification in professional dog training carries responsibilities like continuing education, maintaining a code of ethics, and upholding the highest standard of training.

 

Heather lives in Old Southeast with her husband, 2 children, and her Dalmatians, Kismet and Arley.  She currently trains and competes in conformation, rally, and dock diving. 

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Debbie Welsh

Trainer

Debbie Welsh has been training dogs for over thirty years.  Her dog training world changed dramatically when positive, reward-based training was first being introduced as a more effective way of training our dogs as companions as well as for canine sports.  

 

It was an exciting time for dog trainers as we learned a better and kinder approach to communicating and training our dogs. She apprenticed with Liz Thomas, a certified trainer (CPDT) as well as attended many dog training and behavioral seminars by some of the top mentors of that era like Ian Dunbar, Jean Donaldson, Pamela Reid and Karen Pryor.  Besides teaching classes for several dog training facilities in the Washington DC area for the next 15 years, she also was very involved in rescuing, showing, breeding and training Rhodesian Ridgebacks. 

Debbie is proud to have been a founding officer of two Ridgeback organizations that are still in existence today:

  • Chesapeake Bay Area Rhodesian Ridgeback Club (CBARRC)

  • Rhodesian Ridgeback Rescue (RRRI)

 

After retiring in 2012, Debbie left the DC area and moved to St. Pete to be near her mother.  She currently resides on Lake Maggiore with her 4 Salukis and 1 Cirneco del Etna, training and/or competing in Conformation, Obedience, Rally, Agility, Lure Coursing, Tricks, and Dock Diving.

Debbie is a current member of:

  • Saluki Club of America (Associate Member) and served as the Chairman of Ways & Means for three years. 

  • Dog Training Club of St Pete, past VP and instructor of many levels of classes including puppy development,  basic obedience, conformation and rally obedience 

Debbie is an authorized Evaluator for the AKC Canine Good Citizen, STAR Puppy and Tricks Award certifications. 

Affliations

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CONTACT US

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