After four years training, walking and sitting Revelstoke’s four-legged population, Revy K9 founder and owner Marika Koncek says she still finds herself adapting to her job on a day-to-day basis.
Whether it be through evolution of techniques and exercises, or teaching patience in what can be a long haul for dog owners, time is a major factor in the dog training world according to Koncek.
“Dog training and being a dog trainer is a lifelong thing. You’re always learning, it’s not like something that once you know it, that’s the end,” says Koncek. “You’re always learning, adapting, changing.”
Koncek founded Revy K9 in 2014 after personally struggling with her own difficult dog in years prior.
Sierra, a Rottweiler-shepard mix, was adopted in 2012 from the SPCA in Canmore, Alta. by Koncek. Despite sessions with several trainers, Koncek says no one could help her solve the issues Sierra faced, leading Koncek to take matters into her own hands.
After attending several classes, both online and in person, Koncek says she felt obligated to help not only her own dog, but others as well.
Though Sierra has since passed away, Koncek says the lessons she learned from previously being in the same situation many of her client are in today has been an invaluable experience to her as a trainer.
“Dog trainers who haven’t owned a dog like that just don’t really know what it feels like to be on the other end of that leash and to be that owner,” says Koncek.
While dog training was never a life-long dream of Koncek’s, her decision to pursue the career in the field came as a combination of having obtained the knowledge from her own experiences and from seeing an opportunity to fill a gap in the Revelstoke business world
“When you move to Revelstoke, you’re like ‘How can I make this work as a life? I don’t want to work casual jobs for the rest of my life, how can I make a life here?’” says Koncek, adding her thought process on taking up training full-time. “This is a good opportunity and I enjoy it, so why not make it work?”
Though Koncek works individually with dogs, she says a common misconception amongst owners is that the solution to their dog’s issues lies solely on the trainer.
In reality, as Koncek explains, a major onus lies upon owners as well, as training happens far beyond session work.
“I do get a lot of people asking me ‘How do you train the dogs?’ or ‘Where do you train the dogs?’ and it’s like, no it’s not me. The dog owners train their dogs, I don’t do it,” explains Koncek. “And it’s important for people to understand that, especially when they’re looking into dog training, that it’s hard work for them — they’ve got to do the work too. Otherwise it doesn’t work.”
While Koncek says she previously followed a similar teaching structure as the trainers she learned under, often luring pets into behaviours then rewarding them, she has since found a positive approach to be a better method for teaching dogs good behaviour.
“I’m still following the same scientific principles of how dogs learn, but the exercises the I teach and the way that I teach them have changed significantly,” says Koncek of her teaching evolution.
Under her current approach, Koncek allows dogs to first naturally exhibit a desired behaviour, such as sitting or making eye-contact with their owner, then rewards the dog for the behaviour.
By doing so, Koncek says dogs will repeat the good behaviour while feeling more confident and empowered than if the action had been forced on them.
“We’ve got to find ways to make training more fun so that the dog actually wants to do it,” says Koncek.”Confidence is really important. If they enjoy it, then their confidence builds, and then they’re more willing to do more for you in the future and it just opens up your possibilities really.”
While teaching a dog new behaviours can often take months or even years to see major result, Koncek says dog owners shouldn’t get discouraged by not seeing immediate results from their pets.
“People have a big misunderstanding of how long it actually takes to train a dog, so I think they get frustrated quite early and give up. And that’s sad, because if I didn’t find the right information, I could have given up early too” says Koncek of her own experience. “It’s hard to see the big picture until you get there, and then you look back and you’re like ‘Wow, it took us a year but we’re really making progress now.’”
To learn more about Revy K9 and the services Koncek offers, visit http://www.revelstokedogtraining.com/