It’s a Friday morning, and Geralyn Kelly has nine of her favorite students lined up on a large TV screen for a Zoom.
“The first thing I want to talk about is the word I never want you to use. Can anybody tell me what that word is?” says Geralyn to the screen when someone on the top panel chimes in.
“Yes, Michelle,” Geralyn responds, with a smile. “It is ‘no,’ absolutely. Patience is the most important thing you need when you’re training your dog.”
Geralyn runs Elite Canine Dog Training and has worked with dogs for 18 years.
Over that time, she’s discovered the hardest ones to train are:
“The people,” she says with a laugh. “Having the people understand that the dogs are not doing things to upset you, they’re just doing them because they don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing. So, I usually will tell people, concentrate on what you want them to do. So, make sure you’re telling them when they’re being good dogs.”
Despite all those years in dog training, Geralyn didn’t know what she would do when the statewide stay-at-home order went into place.
“No, I was terrified,” she says.
She has moved her sessions online and, on this day, is talking to a group of eight students and their owners about the basics of training.
“Dogs have what they consider a 3-second memory. It doesn’t mean they forget everything after three seconds, it means they’re living for the moment,” she says. “So, that means there’s no such thing as an after-the-fact reprimand.”
She’s worried about what might happen to these dogs’ training regime if the stay-at-home order isn’t lifted soon.
Geralyn pulls me close to the screen and point at one of the families and their pet there.
“You see, up on the television, on the top, right corner – you see Willie?” she says. “Willie is nervous, he’s a nervous dog. And when he started in class with me, he wouldn’t let me touch him.
“Now, he’s confined and all that is probably just flushed down the toilet. So, this is my concern is the socialization side of the younger dog. I’m afraid that there’s going to be a spike in the shelter surrenders.”
To make sure her all of her students have a chance to continue her training, Geralyn has had to be creative.
“They can do a payment plan for the group class if they’re short on money which a lot of people are, right now. Or, they can do a drop-in,” she says. “They can pick a class and what sounds good to them, like week two is inappropriate behavior and come-when-called – that’s important to a lot of people – they can just do that class, if they want. Or they can do private, just me and them.”
See Geralyn in action, doing her class online in this edition of the Small Business Spotlight.