Petpreneur Talks: Meet Aileen Stevenson
Updated: Jul 25, 2021
Let's talk dog training! This week, we're speaking with Aileen who is the wonderful lady behind The Perfect Puppy Company.
She is a true inspiration and an advocate for kind, compassionate, and ethical dog training. She also wrote a book helping expecting mums and dads introduce their dogs to their new baby.
Did you know that the arrival of a new baby is one of the top three reasons a dog is surrendered for re-homing? Or that the vast majority of dog bites to children come from their own family pet?
Aileen is the only dog trainer in Scotland with specific training on dog/child dynamics, and with her new book, she is hoping to help a worldwide audience.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your business I'm Aileen and I live just outside Glasgow with Charlie, a Romanian rescue terrier mix, and my family. I run The Perfect Puppy Company and offer one to one training and behaviour consultations for all the usual family dog issues. I specialise in working with new and expectant families to help them prepare for life juggling the demands of kids and dogs. I offer in person consultations in the Glasgow area and via Zoom for clients further afield.
How and why did you get started with your business I've had dogs since I was a teenager and always loved dabbling in training with them but never dreamed it would become my job! When Charlie joined our family it became obvious that he had some behavioural issues that I didn't know how to deal with. He was very anxious around other dogs and would lunge, bark and snap if they got too close. I sought help from a professional trainer in order to help Charlie and I was soon blown away by the power of positive reinforcement training.
I could see the real difference it was making to Charlie and I wanted to learn more. I started reading, attending seminars and workshops, then conferences and then studying for accredited qualifications. It was still pretty much a hobby until my previous employer announced a restructuring exercise which would allow me to leave my job with a financial cushion. I wasn't happy in that job and decided it was now or never!
So I made the leap and decided to devote my time to more studying and set up my business and see what happened. And here I am! I'm now a Certified Training Partner with the Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training & Behaviour, a member of the Institute of Modern Dog Trainers and a Family Paws Licensed Educator.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
The thing I love most is helping people understand their dogs better. Helping them understand that their dog is behaving as they do for a reason and not because they are stubborn or 'bad'. It's hugely satisfying to help clients see things in terms of building a mutually rewarding relationship where our dogs' needs are taken into account as much as our convenience. Seeing the happiness and relief on people's faces when they start to work as a team with their dog instead of in conflict never gets old. And it goes without saying that it's a joy to work with a huge variety of wonderful dogs. I think it's often overlooked that dogs exhibiting challenging behaviours are often stressed themselves. My job isn't just to change their behaviour it's also to change how they feel. I love seeing the moment they 'get it' and it's immensely satisfying to know I've played a part in making their lives better.
What makes you so passionate about working with dogs? Dogs add so much to our lives and they ask so little in return. But so many dogs are misunderstood and I want to do as much as I can to help people understand the dogs they live with just a little bit better. To see them as individuals in their own right, with their own like & dislikes which deserve to be taken into account. With their own species specific needs that deserve to be met. So much training still centres around control and obedience and seems to be more about the human ego than taking the dog's needs into consideration. I work as hard as I can to help people consider the bigger picture and see that dog training should be about more than sit and stay. It should also be about partnership and your dog's overall wellbeing.
What made you decide to concentrate on babies and dogs?
I decided to specialise in kids and dogs as it seemed like a good fit for me as a mum of two (I have two teenage girls) and a professional dog trainer. My children have grown up around dogs all their lives and I have seen first hand how much kids benefit from a good relationship with a family dog. They can learn so much about empathy, kindness, responsibility and more by living with and caring for a dog. But I also see many dogs who are expected to tolerate a lot from the children they live with so I'm really passionate about teaching children how to behave around dogs to keep everyone - kids and dogs - happy and safe.
Do you have any exciting plans for the future? I've just published my first book, Dogs, Bumps & Babies: Preparing Your Dog For Life With Your Baby, which I'm really excited about. Pregnancy and the arrival a new baby are two common reasons that dogs are surrendered for re-homing but that can often be avoided with a little preparation in advance. I really hope the book will help expectant dog owners think about the changes ahead for their dog and give them the information they need to make the transition from dog parents to parents with a dog as stress free as possible.
What would be your number 1 top tip for dog owners? It's hard to choose just one! But here's a really simple way to make your dog's walks more relaxed and more satisfying - take your dog for a sniff, not a walk. Slow down, use as long a lead as you safely can for the environment you're in and let them sniff. We rush through life and we often rush our dogs too. A walk shouldn't only be about physical exercise but also about investigating the environment and just 'being'. A slow, sniffy walk is incredibly satisfying and tiring for most dogs.
How can people find your business and where can we find you on the interwebs? People can find me online on -
my website at www.theperfectpuppycompany.co.uk
Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/theperfectpuppycompany
Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/theperfectpuppycompany/