PRAISE FOR PACKFIT
Kimberly Artley is a godsend. We reached out to her after our dog had attacked our elderly cat and we weren’t sure what we could do to ensure it never happened again. At six years old Daisy could sit, lay down, roll over and understood the all-important “leave it” command…but we couldn’t figure out how to calm her down, how to get her to stop howling whenever we left our house, or to stop barking at anyone who visited. Most importantly we had no idea how to break her cycle of obsession when it came to our cat. A cat (believe it or not) that didn’t try to provoke the dog or really show any interest in her but was the victim of her sudden outbursts. How can we create a safe space for our cat without giving up on our dog?
When I reached out to Kimberly via email, I sat back thinking I would probably get a response in the next day or two…wrong. She responded within the hour, and it wasn’t some kind of canned “thank you so much for reaching out” response, it was an actual “I’m a person and I’m going to fix this” response. An instantly calming response that let me know she understood where I was coming from, recognized my fear and that time was of the essence. We immediately booked an Initial Behavioral Assessment and Consultation (I.B.A.C.).
The two-hour session that we had with Kimberly was amazing in that right away she could recognize where the deep-rooted issues were with our dog, as well as the deep-rooted issues in how we had learned to treat dogs in general. In our past we both had well adjusted, rather large doofy dogs who were happy to just lie on the floor and wag their tail whenever someone walked by. Daisy, on the other hand, is a high-energy speck that’s probably smarter than a fifth grader. Simply hugging away the neuroses wasn’t going to work, and it showed in her behavior.
We opted for the Stay and Learn program so that Kimberly could rebuild Daisy’s foundation. Two weeks of doggy boot camp where we feared Daisy would wreak havoc inside the Casa de Artley. Wrong again. Kimberly sent us constant photos and videos showcasing our dog walking calmly on the leash rather than pulling. Sitting down next to another dog without snarling or nipping. Being walked by a child without having a total meltdown. Kimberly sent me a video of Daisy sitting down, calmly minding her own business while the dreaded vacuum cleaner was being run in the same room. Seeing our dog behave like this in such a short time gave us such hope that inside that tiny little weirdo was a well-adjusted little weirdo just waiting to get out.
Her methods don’t just include the dog either. She has worked closely with us, answering all of our texts and emails with patience and informative guidance. Kimberly has been our best investment and I cannot recommend her enough. She has done what we thought was impossible: taken away a timid, obsessive dog and returned a confident, calm dog that no longer thinks our cat is the devil himself. She’s taken the hope we had for a happy fur-family and made it into a reality. A reality that involves work from us but work that we’re more than happy to put in based on the return we’re getting.
Our experience with Packfit was truly enlightening and transformative. I did quite a bit of research and interviewed multiple dog trainers in the DMV area before deciding to seek out Packfit for help. I knew enough about dog training, or handling (whatever you want to call it) to be dangerous, but I could not find a trainer that sat right with my gut. When I asked about others’ training approaches, I wasn’t sold – so many offered what seemed like bandaid methods. I could tell my dog and I had a deeper problem, and reached the limits of my own knowledge. Although obviously important, all the obedience training was mere mechanics. I couldn’t understand why my dog had morphed into a reactive, aggressive dog, but she sure knew how to ‘sit’, ‘stay’ and had fantastic recall. As our situation snowballed from frustration and miscommunication, I knew I was sending my dog all the wrong signals, but I did not know how to fix it.
Packfit’s holistic approach to “dog training” was something I immediately trusted and wanted to know more about. When we initially met with Kim to discuss options, I already felt so much relief and we hadn’t even started working with the dog yet. Kim is confident, grounded, and extremely knowledgeable – all of which was evident within the first few minutes of talking with her. Kim genuinely reassured us that our dog’s reactive/aggressive behavior could be changed.
After meeting us and our dog, Kim recommended private sessions and her online course. I was thrilled with her recommendation, because I really wanted to work through these challenges with my dog and in our home/neighborhood. I’ll admit, there was a part of me that thought paying to work one-on-one with a private dog trainer might be too expensive. However, I just can’t stress enough how important this investment was. Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t even blink an eye at signing up to train with Packfit. I can’t think of another purchase that I have made that has given me more bang for my buck! The results are remarkable – the knowledge, understanding, confidence, and balance in my home, in my pack, was a direct result of Packfit’s guidance. We were so lucky to find Packfit and have the opportunity to learn from Kim. Above all else, our dog and relationship with our dog is happy, healthy, and balanced.
For those who are researching for the right trainer, here is a list of the behaviors we were seeing gradually worsen over time in our dog: leash reactivity, fear of children, fear of tight spaces, freezing up during walks, pulling on the leash, barking out the window of our home, barking in the back yard. These eventually snowballed into: fear of all strangers, aggression toward kids, protecting our home, snapping at kids and strangers, snapping at our cat, snapping at other dogs, guarding her food bowl/chew bones, barking at everything. The thing is, we started training and “socializing” our puppy at 10 weeks. We “worked” with her every day. We thought we had checked all the boxes. But very gradually, our nice little puppy turned into a gremlin. We were so frustrated and blind-sided – we thought we had done everything we were supposed to do. Turns out, so many of her behavioral issues were rooted in our human behavior and lack of understanding. There is so much information out there on how to train your dog, but so much of it is misleading.
The combination of Packfit’s online course, the private sessions with Kim, and Kim’s book “My Dog, My Buddha” provided the comprehensive and holistic approach that is needed to genuinely understand dog needs and behavior, and to align the relationship between you and your dog. In other words, to make your pack fit. Each component (the course, book, and sessions) was equally necessary to bring it all together. First, the online course provides extensive information about all aspects of the animal you are trying to share a home with. These lessons lay the foundation to better understand the root of your dog’s behavior and your dog’s need. The knowledge gained from the online course not only helped me understand my current dog, but gives me so much confidence in my ability to understand our future pups as well. I’ll carry those lessons with me for a lifetime.
Kim’s book, “My Dog, My Buddha” hones in on the human aspect of the pack equation, or as she says, the human end of the leash. This book genuinely improved my life and my dog’s life in so many ways. The book is organized in short, easy to read lessons. The very structure of the book allows you to read one or a few lessons and then walk away, giving you the break to really stop and reflect. Often, I would read just one lesson and then spend days pondering my self-improvement. This book is positive, realistic, inspiring, and in some ways was a wake-up call for me. The book was not overwhelming, cheesy, or intimidating. I have already re-visited it and will likely continue to re-read lessons.
Our private sessions with Kim were incredible. Kim shows up ready to teach, and is genuinely present in every interaction. She is a realistic person, and doesn’t judge or shame. The sessions were entirely customized to fit us and our dog. In each session, we gradually pulled apart layers of behavioral issues and worked them out as we went.
After each session, Kim followed up with a detailed explanation of what we worked on and why, and then gave us “homework” to work on daily. While we practiced our “homework” we would send Kim videos of our progress and she would provide immediate feedback. In addition, we could contact Kim at any time to ask questions – which was amazing! Kim is always, always responsive and professional. She has been there with us and for us every single step of the way. She genuinely cares about us and our dog and wants us to succeed. Her actions speak to this, plain and simple.
Working with what I believed at the time to be a reactive/aggressive dog made me nervous. I had convinced myself, prior to finding Packfit, that my dog was so reactive that I could never trust her to walk by other dogs, some people, and kids. I would cross the street to avoid other dogs and people, which was proving to be quite difficult in a city, and was frustrating me and the dog more. During our sessions with Kim, she created a safe space for me to challenge myself, regain trust in my dog and confidence in myself while working in the exact situations I had come to fear. Even after just 3 sessions our dog was an entirely different dog and our home was at peace.
Among the wealth of knowledge gained, quite simply put – we learned how to meet our dog’s needs. It turns out that reactivity/aggression was actually our dog’s cry for help. We learned what it truly means to have a socialized dog, versus what we had been misled to believe “socialization” meant. We were speaking a language our dog didn’t understand, and/or telling our dog things we didn’t understand at the time. We gained awareness of how our actions and energy (body language, emotions, tone of voice), subtle or not, directly influence our dog’s behavior. We now understand that our dog looks to us for leadership, and we know how to step up and be a consistent pack leader.
Packfit holds true to its very name. Packfit’s holistic approach recognizes the uniqueness in every dog and human, allows you to carefully pull apart and understand the reason behind your dog’s behavior, and guides the human end of the leash into leadership and balance, allowing your pack to truly fit together.
We chose the two week stay and learn program (that includes a very informative online course) after going back and forth a lot because we knew we needed a lot of help and a lot of groundwork laid for us. While waiting for the stay and learn to begin (and during), Kimberly was ALWAYS available via phone and email whenever we had a question. She would send very detailed responses that helped more than any website or article did. She also helped many times when I would be losing hope. She reassured me that everything will be ok and we could get this under control. Well, Kimberly has had Gus for 8 days now and WOW are we amazed with the progress he has made. We have received many many many videos (I call them mini lessons) of Gus showing what he has accomplished. For example, I used to avoid bringing him outside and on long walks because he would be distracted by anything and everything (jumping, biting, running). Kimberly sent a video of Gus sitting outside without holding his leash while running and jumping around him and he stayed the entire time. Never in a million years would I think Gus would make this much progress in such a short period of time. This is only one example of the many areas she has worked on and improved majorly. Although we miss Gus a great deal, we know how much this is benefitting him. I can assure you that Packfit is the way to go. The best of the best to work with your beloved fur babies 🙂. I can’t thank Kimberly enough!
After out initial IBAC, Kimberly emailed us and broke down what we could with Finn. We opted for the Stay and Learn. While it was an expensive investment for us, we knew that we and Finn deserved a more balanced and calmer existence. Kimberly has an arsenal of knowledge for dogs and humans. She listens to your concerns, questions, and thoughts about everything. She was in contact every day with videos, pictures, and thoughts about how Finn was doing. It was such a joy watching Finn progress as much as he did. Before, he was an active young dog, who never settled down. He was always on the go. While, we know he is still a puppy (toddler) she worked with him to channel his puppy energy through structured walks, duration work, and nurturing calm. All I can say is, WOW! While Finn will continue to test us, he is significantly calmer and will listen and follow through. She set an amazing foundation for us to work with and we can only see him get even more awesome!
The sessions we had were not only incredibly helpful, but fun. Kimberly was an absolute pleasure to work with and the change in Bonny’s behavior is amazing.
Many thanks to Kimberly!
We thought he would grow out of his nervousness. He did not. Finally, long overdue, we made the decision to seek assistance from a professional. Our goal was to decrease Oliver’s anxiety.
We searched for trainers, we requested recommendations from friends, we combed through websites. We found PACKFIT. We loved the mission and vision of Kimberly’s business. We thought her philosophies would be a great match for Oliver.
PACKFIT changed our lives! Kimberly took the time to understand our situation, Oliver’s needs, and our desires. Kimberly kindly reminded us that we needed to be the leaders Oliver was asking us to be. She taught us the language Oliver was speaking. She gave us the tools to meet Oliver’s needs, in turn, increasing his quality of life.
Oliver is a completely different dog now, and I must say, we are completely different dog parents. Our home, once filled with an anxious tone, is now Oliver’s soft place to land. It is our calm spot in our busy world.
This is all because Kimberly came into our lives.
Now our work begins on how to be consistent, set boundaries and step up to our roles. When I saw Dino walk around our neighborhood with Kimberly at drop-off, I literally started crying happy tears. I no longer feel helpless and instead feel empowered!
Thank you so much, Kimberly. You’ve truly changed our lives!
Relief and quality of life starts here.
From the PACKFIT Blog
Whether we're creating a boundary, giving a cue or command, setting a parameter, or reinforcing a rule, "following through" is a crucial and necessary component to our success and effectiveness in our relations with our dogs. Following through blends direction and...read more
There are a billion distractions in the world, especially nowadays. One of the best ways to say "I love you" is to offer our energy, time, and dedicated attention. Turning the TV off. Putting down the video game controller. Closing the laptop. And, for the love of all...read more