Noble Woof recently opened its first brick-and-mortar space at 8502 SE Stark Street after six years of providing in-home private dog training. Staff use positive reinforcement methods to cultivate good behavior and emotional enrichment in dogs. In addition to various instructor-led courses, their day training program helps reinforce at-home training with the added socialization dogs benefit from.
The owner of Noble Woof, Brie Blakeman, explained the importance of working with the base character of an animal in behavior training. “All dogs have several canine core needs that we can’t take out of them, and if we don’t satisfy those needs, we’re going to see maladaptive behavior,” said Blakeman. Dogs have a primal need to experience shredding, digging, chewing, chasing, sniffing, and social contact. Breed and a dog’s personality affect the mix of those characteristics. “We put a lot of focus on figuring out what each individual needs to have those core needs met, and we pair that with structured high-level training.”
Currently, Noble Woof offers day training for six hours, two days a week. The drop-off times are staggered to accommodate different schedules, with one day offering drop-off starting at 8 a.m. and the other day’s drop-off beginning at 10 a.m. Behavior training is the primary focus of the program. However, Blakeman expects certain clients will want to use the space to enrich their pet’s life rather than just building on previous training. “Some people, for example, used to be able to take their dog to daycare, and then they hit social maturity and could no longer tolerate that environment, but they still really need care for their dog.” Said Blakeman. In those cases, they will welcome the canine into the group, provided it remains a healthy environment for the dog.
Staff recommend consistency and ask clients to drop off pets on a set day, allowing them to match animals of similar character in small groups. “That allows us to facilitate slow and thoughtful introductions to the other dogs so that dogs who are a little more sensitive to their own kind aren’t feeling pressured to interact,” remarked Blakeman. Day training consists of up to four participants with group and individual activities. Dogs participating in day training must have had some instruction before attending. “The ideal client for day training is someone who has done private training with us or one of our approved training partners. There are a lot of great trainers in the city that use the same methodologies as we do, and it’s important that dog guardians are doing the training at home and understand the principles,” said Blakeman. That requirement ensures constant feedback with the consistency needed for long-term success.
Noble Woof offers an evolving roster of training opportunities for both the dogs and trainers. Blakeman explained that many clients only seek focused training and do not use the drop-off option. “There will, of course, be some guardians who just want to bring their dogs six times to work on a specific skill.” Those sessions occur every other week to build experience over a long period. “It’s a relationship, which means it’s going to take time for them to understand how to communicate with each other,” said Blakeman. Additionally, some behavior is environmental, and not all goals are achieved in an off-site session. Consequently, they will continue offering in-home instruction or observation through their staff or partners.
Noble Woof is located in the former Unicorn Jiu Jitsu shopfront, left vacant after that business relocated to 9220 SE Stark Street. Blakeman took over the storefront on April 1st and now shares the space with handmade BioThane leash maker Tricia Case. Case’s company, Trailblazing Tails, operates out of the back half of this location, and the two companies collaborate wherever possible. Blakeman is still painting the walls and working to place black agility flooring over the concrete floor in the main training room, but much of the base functions of the space are up and running. Future upgrades will include outdoor areas offering a smelling garden and patio area to practice tableside etiquette.
The four employees and five contract trainers at Noble Woof are committed to creating a trusted resource for improving canine behavior. Brie Blakeman and her employee working on the day training program have rescue backgrounds through work at the Oregon Humane Society. Blakeman emphasized the value of that experience when running Noble Woof. “When you work in rescue, you become really good at the management and prevention of problem behaviors, setting up a space as best you can to ensure the comfort of every individual. A rescue environment is quite hard, and there are a lot of stressed dogs who don’t know where their home is. I think people can bring their dogs here knowing that we have a deep knowledge of learning theory and behavior, but we also have a lot of applied experience working with dogs of all varieties.”
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