About Kerri Hark
I have devoted my life to studying and discovering how dogs communicate, how they perceive us, and why they do the things they do. I believe what makes me unique as a trainer is that I enjoy working with PEOPLE. A lot of the frustrations people have about their dogs stem from their perspective. I take pleasure in talking with people about what a dog's behavior means and assuring them that there is not a power struggle going on. Meeting and working with new families every week is fun and exciting.
My background is in the service industry. I was a waitress for years, then I received my degree in Hospitality Management from UMASS, Amherst. I managed a few prestigious restaurants hotels before I realized that I really was good at this job, but I really didn't like working in the service industry.
I eventually quit the restaurant business and started working in the animal field. I started at the very bottom...scooping poop in a dog kennel. I moved up through the ranks over the years. I became a veterinary technician, an intake counsellor for one of the world's largest animal rescue organizations, and I've managed both animal hospitals and shelters all over the country. I was also fortunate enough to participate in the extensive animal rescue operation that took place in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
I had a wonderful and exciting time expanding my knowledge and understanding dogs though my experiences in different organizations. I loved knowing that, almost daily, I was genuinely making a difference in the life of animals. Jobs in the animal care and rescue field are not glamourous. There are a lot of heartbreaking situations you can't control. One of these particular situation involved a young, rambunctious, athletic, over-eager pit bull mix who was surrendered to the shelter where I worked. The rest of the staff was so frustrated by his antics, they refused to give him a name. The day he was slated for euthanasia, I begged the shelter to let me take him. He became known as Buddy.
Taking on Buddy opened up a whole new chapter in my life. Managing his behavior was frustrating, frightening, and heartbreaking, but gaining an understanding of his behavior became a marvelously rewarding quest. I have since built my knowledge and expertise on the foundation that Buddy provided me. I decided to go into business for myself in 2009, and I have now been helping owners and their families for over eight years. I can relate to what it is like to feel helpless and to have a dog who is creating tension within a family, or with neighbors or friends.
I began reading books and articles about the science of dog behavior. I attended training demonstrations, and talked to dog behaviorists. I executed a lot of what I learned with my own dogs, and in doing so, I developed a safe and effective walking technique, and other unique games and exercises including "magic wand training", the "eat your name game", and the "kite game. All of these are variations on a number of behavioral theories, and utilize my extensive knowledge of canine psychology, physiology, and perception. The funny thing is, that as I studied for the CPDT-KA (Certified Pet Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed) exam, I found that there were scientific names for what I thought were my unique and original techniques.
I don't take people's dog to "boot camp". I integrate the dog's training into their life and routine. I provide a relationship of support and understanding. I help them to bring out the best in your dog.
My brain is full. Check out my post-session stimulation hangover... So sweet!