By Kierra Pixler, Managing Editor
Raised in Alaska, Belton resident Anita Twomey has quickly risen to the top of the dog training game with Dolce Vita Retrievers. With qualifying for the 2005 National Open, 2009 National Open and 2009 National Derby List, it’s apparent that she has set the standards high when it comes to her dedication for her clients and their needs.
Before getting into the dog training business, she owned and operated a landscape maintenance company in Anchorage, AK for 30 years. That led her to get her first taste for the dog training world.
“Alaska’s long winters allowed me, as a landscaper, time to explore other interests,” said Twomey. “I spent several winters in Escalon, CA learning how to train field trial retrievers and have been involved with dog training ever since. After retiring from the landscape business, I moved to Belton to grow hay and train dogs.”
While Twomey does work with the dogs, she also helps owners keep up with positive reinforcement and repetition in order to get the good behavior and training to continue once they have completed a program. Twomey uses gentle reinforcements along with rewards in the form of treats to establish a bond with each dog. She offers a variety of training programs that cater to puppies and adult dogs.
“The S.T.A.R. Puppy class is a wonderful first step in training a puppy. The program promotes Socialization, Training, Activity and Responsible ownership,” said Twomey. “It is an especially good class for people who haven’t owned a dog or haven’t had one in a while. The Obedience class I teach instructs owners how to get their dogs to walk on a loose leash, sit and lay down on command, stay and come and has a heavy emphasis on socialization of the pet. The new Urban Canine class takes the dogs out into the community and introduces them the to the sights and sound of the city. Crossing streets, walking on different surfaces found in the city. Grates, stairs, tile, carpet etc. It’s a fun class for everyone. In all of the classes we rely heavily on praise, attrition and repetition. We teach the desired behavior, praise and repeat. Repetition is the key.”
Forming friendships through training dogs has also been a perk of the job. Frances Atmar and her rescue dog came and worked with Anita ten years ago and is still a great friend. Brenda Paramore has also become a close friend.
Monica Mohammad Amin first met Anita in one of her AKC Canine Good Citizen classes. She is now an AKC CGC Evaluator and helps with many of the classes. Her son Anthony recently took a group of three dogs to a local AKC hunt test passing all three tests and eating Junior Hunter titles on two of the dogs.
“I have the honor and privilege of training dogs with her everyday,” said Amin “She teaches my 20 year old son 4 times a week how to train dogs and how to run our dogs in hunt tests. We are so fortunate and grateful that someone with her caliber of experience and training would take the time and patience to pass her love and knowledge of dog training on to us.
Training dogs can be challenging, but it appears that Twomey has found the right mix of assertiveness and using her instinctive nature when it comes to dogs.
“What impressed me most about her was how this sweet, soft spoken, tiny lady could take the leash of any wild, out of control, ill mannered dog and instantaneous, miraculously before my eyes make that same dog calm down and follow her lead and direction,” said Amin. “It happens time and time again in various classes. I always say I don’t know how she does it, but I do know how she does it. It’s her calm assertive energy that she exudes along with her years and years of experience working with hundreds and hundreds of dogs. She can read a dog like no other and know exactly how to help it with any behavior issue it may be having.”
Twomey is also an author. Her latest book “Emily Trains a Puppy”, A Childs Guide to Dog Training is told in story form. She also has a book called “Emily’s Alaskan Adventures” which follows Emily as she enjoys Alaska’s great outdoors. Both books are available through amazon.com.
If you would like more information on Dolce Vita Retrievers, please call 907-230-2865.