Marble Surface

About Me

My Name is Denise Westrum. I grew up on a small farm just East of Watertown, SD. Growing up on a farm put me around different animals my entire life. We always had the cows, the cats, and always a dog. Even as a child, I would've told you that I was going to work with animals when I grew up. My love of all animals may stem back to my childhood, but I have always had a special connection to my dog. I received my GED then graduated from National American University with an Associates degree of Business Administration. My husband and I met in 2008 and married in 2012. During this time we had our beloved Bandit until 2014. He was a German short-haired pointer/St. Bernard, 125 lb. lap dog. We adopted our yellow lab, Grace, as a friend for Bandit and lost her in July 2020 at the ripe age of 15. After Bandit passed, we adopted Jake from our local shelter. He was a very energetic pit bull who's only care in the world was where his squeaker ball was. I only wish I knew half of what I know now since he had resource aggression and extreme reactivity toward other dogs. Jake passed from a brain tumor in 2019. We found our black lab, Duke, when he was a 75lb, 7 month-old puppy. He is the type of dog that NEEDS a job and absolutely loves to work. We started training him to do a variety of things including hunting pheasants, shut the door, and to pick things up for me when I drop them. I truly enjoyed figuring out how to communicate with him and teach him. I finally realized that I should follow my passion and become a dog trainer. That is when I decided to create My Furry Friends K-9 Training.

I graduated with honors from Animal Behavior College and strive to continue my education with additional certifications and keeping up with the most recent research and developments in dog training. I work with dogs of all size, breed, and age (yes, old dogs can learn new tricks😊). Group classes are available for obedience training, as well as private sessions for obedience, behavior problem-solving, trick training, agility, and more. In addition to assisting owners with their furry friends, I help train local shelter dogs to assist in their adoption to their forever homes. My mission is to help improve the lives of as many dogs as I possibly can.

Training Philosophies

Using the Humane Hierarchy ensures that your dog's mental, physical, and nutritional needs are being fulfilled in order to allow your dog to learn new behaviors and modify existing ones. This philosophy includes the scientific behavioral principles of operant conditioning and the LIMA approach. The LIMA(least intrusive, minimally aversive) approach emphasizes building relationships between dog and owner teams by using positive interactions, rewards, and consistency.

Concept training uses a game-based approach that shapes your dog's brain and influences their personality. Your dog's brain is made up of many different concepts, and all those concepts together create their individual personalities. Concepts may include optimism, focus, calmness, and self-control. By playing games that focus on certain concepts, you can teach your dog how to deal with the day-to-day life distractions and better equip them to choose correct behaviors on their own.
 

Certifications

ABCDT : Animal Behavior College Certified Dog Trainer (ABCDT Certificate)

Member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers

Working towards certifications from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers