When we first brought Maizie home, it didn’t take long for us to feel overwhelmed and frustrated. When you adopt a two-year old dog, you assume all the training is complete and that the dog is ready to go, straight “out of the box.” We quickly learned that was not the case. We adopted Maizie from a rescue group, and although she did well with her foster family, we encountered a number of challenges within our first few weeks together. Maizie displayed a growing list of fears and became quite attached to Jeri Lea, guarding her from others in the house. Maizie’s growling, lunging, and snapping told us we were going to need expert guidance if she was going to remain a member of our family. Camille Ward was just the expert we needed!
Through our conversations with Camille, we soon discovered that dogs are very much like people–affected, and sometimes wounded, emotionally and mentally, from past experiences and relationships. Camille has taught us many things including how to: develop positive relationships with Maizie, read her cues and emotions, help Maizie adjust to a new living environment (likely very different from her former homes), change learned behaviors, and most importantly change her emotions around many previously feared experiences, objects, and people. While we continue to work with Maizie on a few fears and insecurities, the changes with Maizie and our family have been profound and long-lasting. Maizie is now a full-fledged family member, enjoying positive relationships with each of us and participating in many new activities with increasing amounts of confidence and calm.
Throughout this transformation, Camille’s expertise and guidance have been critical pieces of our training arsenal. She truly understands how dogs think and react. She is a true dog “mentalist”. In addition to her extensive knowledge of animal behavior and positive training methods, Camille also shows great dedication and concern for her clients, both human and canine. She provided us with generous support via email and phone in between appointments and was quick to revise strategies based on changes within Maizie or our family, as needed. In addition to several individual sessions with Camille, we also participated in her group Family Dog Training class. We appreciated Camille’s positive methods and teaching style, and Maizie quickly grew to lover her weekly trips to class! We all continue to enjoy seeing Camille and her husband, Don, when we visit the same location for Maizie’s agility class and look forward to taking more advanced Family Dog Training classes with her in the future.
—Doug and Jeri Lea K. and Maizie, Brighton, MI
I want to thank you for all of your time, advice, and support. If it wasn’t for you, I do not think that we could have made this much progress. When you used her for a “stay” demonstration in front of the class, I almost cried. I was about to jump up and down with excitement as I watched her perform commands without wearing her calming mask and in front of dogs that she did not know.
Before you came to the rescue, we literally had run into a brick wall, and no one knew how to keep Quynn from getting overly excited. Her anxiety was not only making it difficult for her to socialize with other dogs, it was also stressing her body to such an extent that we had a hard time keeping weight on her. It was stressful to take her anywhere.
Others who I turned to for help with Quynn in the past would evaluate her and have me try out various methods for dealing with her behavior, but in the end, they all basically ended up telling me “that’s just the way that she is”. Now all of that has changed. Quynn is growing into the dog that I knew she could be.
—Alicia M. and Quynn, Ann Arbor, MI
Cara was rescued at five years of age from a puppy mill. Her only issue was neediness which accelerated five weeks after we adopted her when our senior dog died. Every time I left the house Cara would cry, become very nervous, and scratch at the door. Enter the calming and knowledgeable Camille Ward. She assured us that, with time and patience, this was a fixable problem. Followed, to the letter, the protocol that Camille gave us for Cara resulted in the miracle we were seeking. In two weeks, Cara became a secure dog who no longer cries, is nervous, or scratches the door when I leave the house.
It has been well worth the investment of time and money to see Cara become a secure dog. Our gratitude to Camille for rescuing us and Cara and for continuing to support us.
—Susan R. and Cara, Canton, MI
We rescued, Murphy, a 3.5 year old English mastiff who displayed separation anxiety when we left the home. Within the first four minutes of our departure, Murphy would wail, whine, and urinate; he was clearly distressed. Dr. Ward visited our home and spent two hours really delving into Murphy’s behavior and evaluating our home environment to come up with a treatment plan. We worked the plan daily and now have a happy and healthy dog. We can leave the house for hours without worrying about Murphy becoming stressed or destructive. Dr. Ward only needed to come to the house for one appointment, but she would have made other visits if needed. She was happy to consult with us by phone and modify the treatment plan as needed.
Had it not been for the help of Dr. Ward, we’d be in big trouble with Murphy. We now have an awesome dog and are believers in the training. Thank you so much Dr. Ward!
—Steve and Diane S. and Murphy, Plymouth, MI
Jessie is doing very well and I am so proud of him! We are able to hand feed him, and he no longer growls if you go near his bowl while he is eating. We can even pet him when he is eating without getting a negative reaction. When delivering a treat by hand, we verbally remind him to “settle” and “gentle”. Now he is ever so gentle when taking treats that he does not even allow his teeth to touch our hands nor does he grab the treat from us. If I hold onto the treat and don’t release it to him, Jessie will just wait for me to let go. I can’t believe that he is the same dog. We cannot thank you enough for your work. It saved his life.
—Patty B. and Jessie, Milan, MI
Shanti and Neli
Camille is sensitive, knowledgeable, compassionate, and highly trained. When faced with a terribly difficult situation of escalating aggression between our two dogs, we were at a complete loss of what to do. After reaching out to Camille, she responded promptly, assessed our situation skillfully, and helped us formulate a positive solution that was best for everyone involved. We have seen remarkable results from her training plan and could not recommend her more highly. She not only served our dogs well but provided the emotional support we humans needed to effectively resolve the situation as well.
—Leigh Ann and Kim P., Ann Arbor, MI
We contacted Dr. Camille Ward to help us with Pedro, our 5-year old rat terrier. We had been fostering Pedro for almost 7 months, when his stay with us turned into a permanent adoption. Although he has stolen our hearts, he did not come without issues. He was showing signs of anxiety, and most concerning, protective aggression in our home. He had bitten a few of our guests, and we didn’t know how to handle his behavior. After the first visit with Camille, we were educated on how to temper his anxiety in positive ways. We increased his exercise significantly and learned the value of food toys. He was a happier dog almost immediately. After the second visit, we were shown tranquility exercises that decreased his anxiety even further.
The aggression was a trickier issue. Pedro’s aggression is inconsistent, which makes it very difficult to manage. Camille spent a lot of time on the phone with us, patiently talking through a variety of options. She followed up with reading materials and checked in often. Ultimately, we decided that a combination of tranquility exercises and medication was the right fit. Because of Camille, we now know Pedro’s capabilities and limitations, and our home is much more peaceful.
Camille is highly educated, knowledgeable, compassionate, and kind. We would recommend her to anyone!
We thank you again for all your knowledge and kindness!
—Linda and Greg, Ann Arbor, MI
My roommate and I adopted Wambui as a 7-month old puppy from the local Humane Society. We knew from the beginning that he was shy and slow to warm up, but as we took him home and spent more time with him, we realized that it was more serious than this. He was very fearful around new people, and it was nearly impossible to take him on walks around the neighborhood, as he would tuck his tail and cower when new people came across him on the sidewalk. When anyone would come over to our house, he would hide in his crate or close to us for several hours and act very nervous, tentative, and fearful.
We decided to contact Camille about these issues, and she came into our house and did a thorough consultation. She gave us a lot of great recommendations, including back-up plans in case our first line approaches failed. We implemented her recommendations, and we started to notice gradual improvements. Furthermore, we enrolled Wambui in her beginning training class, which we were a little nervous about at first given Wambui’s fear of people. Camille did a great job tailoring the class to Wambui and ensuring that he was not too overwhelmed around all the new dogs and people. We continued working with Wambui, and after several months time, we have noticed large improvements in his behavior. He is much more trustworthy of new people now; we can take him on walks around the neighborhood without any concerns, and he warms up to new guests much more quickly. He has some residue of his old behavior patterns, but the improvement has been so drastic that he has completely exceeded our expectations. We appreciate Camille’s patience and guidance and owe a lot of his progress to her efforts.
—Sara H. and Matt S., Ann Arbor, MI
We always knew we had a great dog… but a great dog with some ‘issues’. Camille provided us with some great tools that, while simple, really provided the keys to unlocking Orbit’s secrets. After just a few sessions with Camille, along with consistent practice using her methods, we now know we have that great dog…. WITHOUT the issues.”
Before we met Camille, we were always cautious with Orbit, whenever strangers were involved. With the tools that Camille has taught ‘US’, we’re confident that strangers are not an issue any more. Orbit is calmer and more relaxed in ‘stressful’ situations because we have methods to keep her calm… and that keeps US calm.
—Stephen and Kathleen W., Ann Arbor, MI
We contacted Dr. Camille Ward and About Dogs LLC after both of us were bitten by our recently-adopted adult German shepherd dog, Molly. During our first consultation, Camille provided insight into Molly’s behavior and gave us specific exercises to build a positive relationship with our dog. Camille Ward shared her knowledge and experience in animal behavior in a way that was easy for us to understand and use. Within a month, Molly went from growling when we gave her a food bowl to playing an interactive game during mealtimes, which was fun for all of us. After three consultations, we were able to approach Molly with a full food bowl, and she would back up and sit. This behavior exceeded our expectations of both Molly and About Dogs LLC.
Before we chose About Dogs LLC, we researched other local dog trainers. After a lot of discussion about the pros and cons of each trainer, the thing that compelled us to use Camille was her academic background. The fact that Dr. Ward is an animal behaviorist was the deal maker for us.
We recommend Dr. Camille Ward and About Dogs LLC to anyone wishing to improve their relationship with their dog.
—Diana B. & Joe G., Brighton, MI
Our initial consultation with Dr. Ward occurred on the eve of a road trip I was taking with Sasha, a rescue dog my husband and I had adopted only a few weeks earlier. A suddenly infirmed family member on the East Coast needed my help caring for our seven young nieces and nephews, aged 10 months to 7 years. Generously accommodating my last-minute request for the meeting, Dr. Ward must have sensed my serious apprehension about the trip: I was a first-time pet owner; Sasha didn’t seem fond of car rides; and most important, she was untested around kids. In fact, little was known of Sasha’s history except that she’d recently suffered multiple painful bone fractures throughout her body. Before that, her first 5-or-so years were likely spent in a small cage outdoors at a rural “puppy mill,” where she’d been continually bred.
In retrospect, Dr. Ward’s initial “read” on Sasha was spot on. She sensed a history of trauma, but believed Sasha had a great, very gentle and submissive temperament; was resilient and highly food motivated; and could learn quickly. After our initial two-hour meeting, I hit the road optimistically armed with practical strategies to keep Sasha, and everyone, safe and calm in new and unfamiliar environments. At Dr. Ward’s kind insistence, we also kept her contact information close at hand, “just in case.”
Since that initial consultation six months ago (and twice monthly sessions since then), Sasha’s progress (and ours!) has been tremendous. Dr. Ward’s ability to “think on her feet” and adapt various methods to a dog’s individual circumstances has meant that no obstacle or setback we’ve encountered thus far has been insurmountable. For example, she devised and then refined a strategy for handling overnight trips to the home of our cousins in Chicago, where Sasha had multiple indoor “accidents” and on one occasion accidentally bit off part of an antique wooden chair leg while playing at my feet with the family’s friendly, energetic boxer during dinnertime. Our most recent visit was (thankfully) uneventful, our success achieved by sticking to Camille’s advice—which emphasized always keeping a leash handy and using it often when indoors; taking Sasha outside hourly to relieve herself; and having her sit alone on her “place” (a comfortable, portable mat), positioned away from furniture, with a favorite toy or bone during family meals.
Camille has been no less than a godsend. Her exceptional techniques and, just as important, her extraordinary ability to motivate and inspire humans and canines alike, have transformed us and helped us to maximize our quality of life together as a family. Recently, while enjoying a stroll through one of our favorite nature trails, I ran into to an acquaintance whom we hadn’t seen since shortly after we’d adopted Sasha. Observing a thrilled and confident Sasha, who was enjoying an off-leash romp, and me, successfully calling her back to my side amidst numerous temptations, she said, “I just have to tell you that the change in Sasha from the last time I saw you guys is amazing! She looks like she’s gone from a scared, quiet senior to a reinvigorated puppy who’s fully in tune with her owner and thoroughly enjoying life. What happened?!” I thought for just a second, and then said with a smile, “Two words: Camille Ward.”
—Cris and Josh C., Ann Arbor, MI
I just wanted to thank you for the strategies to get Finn to stop barking. His demand barking has stopped almost completely. After four timeouts, he completely got the picture. Success! And we’ve been working on his territorial barking, which has significantly diminished. Our relationship is back to what it was. I’m convinced that the good foundation we acquired from your obedience classes, the strategies you gave me, and consistency are what did it.
—Delia D., Ann Arbor, MI