Dog Training Burlington, VT
We are conveniently located 15 minutes from Burlington. Our training aims to improve the relationship you have with your dog. We want you and your dog to live a happy life together, enjoying the benefits you each bring to the relationship. “I got my personal dog, Gabby not because I wanted to train her for competition but because I wanted a dog to be my best friend and enjoy the little moments with. She may not know agility or tracking or have the best looking heel but she is THE best friend I could ever ask for. I’ve focused my training on helping my clients achieve the same with their dogs. A relationship where you can enjoy each other’s company no matter where you are and having the best friend you’ve always wanted that offers loads of laughter and unconditional love.”
“What makes our training different from the rest is that we get RESULTS both on and off leash. Our amazing programs are the heart of your success. We encourage you to compare our programs, lifetime support and testimonials to others because we believe in our value “- Rhonda Bilodeau, owner of Vermont Dog Pack.
If you have any questions about our training packages please fill out a training inquiry and we’ll call you as soon as possible.
Rhonda Bilodeau is a dog trainer certified in Syn Alia Training Systems (SATS); Martin Deeley’s E-Touch and Robin MacFarlane’s That’s My Dog! E-Cademy. She has been working with dogs professionally for 8 years now in the Chittenden County Area. She offers fresh and up to date training approach. She is committed to her human and furry clients success and happiness.
The “Basics” Package
• 1 three-hour session
• 1 one-hour follow-up dog training session
Does your dog love other dogs but lunges and barks when they see another dog? Want to learn more about what’s going on inside your dogs head and how you can improve your relationship? The Basics Package is for you! We work on teaching your dog the basics and also focus on teaching them how to self regulate their emotions so that they can be relaxed in any environment. We talk about what motivates your dog and how we can use that in the training to help your dog learn basic manners. We master the walk so we can change your dogs prey drive to social drive. We’ll show you how to best handle your dogs reactivity on leash. We teach the owner the importance of controlling resources (space, affection, time, food, water, people, objects, playtime) and how being your dogs leader helps in all ncetuations. We also go over all my handouts and work on an at home routine. This also includes a 1 hour follow up with Rhonda scheduled at your convenience.
This package also includes:
• Dog Psychology Handout
• Leadership Handout
• 3 months of Email / Phone / Text / Video Support
• Access into Vermont Dog Socials
*All lessons held at our training facility
The “Well Mannered Dog” Package
• 1 three-hour introduction session
• 1 two-hour follow-up dog training session
Need help with your best friend not being the best friend they can be? Does your dog run off when you call them? Does your dog pull when you’re trying to enjoy a peacefully walk with them? The Well Mannered Dog Package is geared toward friendly dogs that need some polishing. This package focuses on attentiveness outside and gets your dog started on basic manners. You’ll have a full understanding of how to use marker training, positive reinforcement and also the benefits of the electric remote collar (e-collar) and how to lay the foundation of proper e-collar training. Our e-collar training is what sets us apart from the competition as we can clearly communicate to the dogs what we do like while learning how to redirect unwanted behavior. Our balanced training has our clients achieving happier dogs and relationships faster because of the clear communication and freedom they gain. It’s a smaller version of our Perfect Pet Package and is intended for dogs with no aggression or reactivity. Rhonda helps you and your dog achieve fast positive results all while having fun during the training process!
This package also includes:
• Dogtra Remote E-Collar
• Dog Psychology Handout
• Leadership Handout
• Lupine E-Collar Strap
• E-Collar Handouts
• DVD Rental
• 6 months of Email / Phone / Text / Video Support
• Access into Vermont Dog Socials
*All lessons held at our training facility
The “Perfect Pet” Package
• 1 3-hour introduction session
• 4-6 one-hour dog training sessions
This package will get you the relationship you’re looking for with your dog! The Perfect Pet Package will get you and your dog hiking off-leash, walking peacefully downtown, socializing again with your friends and their dogs and just about anything else you’d like to do with your dog companion so you can have that perfect relationship you always wanted. Most owners who start this package could never imagine doing the things listed above but they all get there! This is THE package for your reactive, nervous, anxious or hyper dog. We love our dogs and want them to be a welcome guest wherever they go and to behave appropriately when we have guests over. Together we’ll teach your dog basic manners like no jumping on people, off furniture, waiting at the door, eliminate play biting, housebreaking, quiet on command and also basic obedience like sit, stay, down, go to a place, heel and come. Rhonda helps you and your dog achieve fast positive results all while having fun during the training process! Owners leave with a full understanding of how to help their dog in any situation and then graduate into our free group classes to practice with other dog owners in high distractions like downtown and also get to socialize their dog off leash with other dogs. In addition to positive reinforcement training, our e-collar training is what sets us apart from the competition as we can clearly communicate to the dogs what we do like while redirecting them when they choose a bad behavior. Our balanced training has our clients achieving happier dogs and relationships because of the clear communication and freedom they gain.
This package also includes:
• Dogtra Remote E-Collar
• Dog Psychology Handout
• Leadership Handout
• Lupine E-Collar Strap
• E-Collar Handouts
• DVD Rental
• Free Lifetime Email / Text / Phone / Video Support
• Free Lifetime Access to our “Freedom Collar Dog” Meet Ups for Socialization & Obedience in HIGH distractions
*All lessons held at our training facility
The 2 Week “Best Friend” Board & Train
• Dog lives with us like family for 2 weeks
• Daily training sessions
Do you want us to teach your dog how to be your Best Friend? We offer a home environment that is a relaxing and peaceful alternative to the kennel experience. Your dog will live with us like family and sleep with us in our bedroom. They will learn while having the most fun possible! We send you lots of updates because we usually work with just 1 board and train dog at a time. The program is the same as the Perfect Pet Package except I do all the work for you and you just maintain when your dog goes home. Same results just less work for the owners. You’ll receive all the same perks of the Perfect Pet Package like basic manners (off // no jumping on people // quiet on command // waiting at thresholds // eliminate play biting // housebreaking // drop items) and basic obedience (sit on command // down on command // stay on command // go to place // heel // recall). Your dog will get tons of socialization and training opportunities as we use the dogs for different trainings through out the day when clients come over for one on one lessons. Rhonda works with the remote collar to achieve reliable commands that are easily transferable over to the owners as well as lots of positive reinforcement training. This program is great for young dogs as well! Please see our testimonials of how easy it is for clients to achieve the same results as us.
When you pick up your dog we have a 3 hour take home session to set you up for success. This program also includes 2 additional 1 hour lessons at our facility.
This package also includes:
• Dogtra Remote E-Collar
• Dog Psychology Handout
• Leadership Handout
• Lupine E-Collar Strap
• E-Collar Handouts
• DVD Rental
• Free Lifetime Email / Phone / Text / Video Support
• Free Lifetime Access to our “Freedom Collar Dog” Meet Ups for Socialization & Obedience in HIGH distractions
We were nervous about using e-collar training, and we were also concerned about whether it would be a good method for our dog, who wasn’t at all aggressive, jumpy, or difficult with other dogs, and who was still bonding with us after her trip up from the south as a rescue from one of the shelters there. Not only did the training work incredibly well (we really wanted to be able to walk off leash in the woods), but somehow the e-collar training created a turning point in her bonding with us. We were amazed at how little effort and practice it took to help Zola learn reliable recall. As part-hound, she has a big prey drive, and we wondered if we could ever have good recall with her, but she is now a great off-leash dog. Three months after training, we almost never have to use the collar, but it is there for extra security to help keep her safe. What a gift this has been! And extra thanks to you for how easy you made it, and how great you’ve been to work with. We tell people about you all the time on the trail––because a little bit of e-collar training made such a big and wonderful difference! It seemed too good to be true… but it wasn’t! Thank you so much for your help with our dog! -Emily owner of Zola
My husband and I started taking Toni to see Rhonda in April of 2015 because we were, truthfully, at the end of our ropes. Alone with us, Toni was the sweetest, most loving, perfectly behaved German Shepherd. When we added in any other distractions, we had some very frustrating problems on our hands. Our biggest issue was the fact that Toni was incredibly leash reactive. Any time we saw a dog, no matter the distance from the dog, she would start barking, lunging, and pulling on her leash. As a result, she rarely got to meet other dogs and I dreaded taking her out (I would walk her at off times to cut down on how many people and dogs we’d see). It also meant she didn’t get many fun experiences—she didn’t get to go hiking or hang out with friends’ dogs because we just couldn’t be sure how she would react. Sometimes Toni would also bark and lunge at people if they got too close to her—this prevented us from taking her to crowded places. We always considered an “escape route” when taking her out.
For about three years we worked with 100% positive reinforcement, “clicker” training with Toni. She’s not a food or toy motivated dog, and what we found with this training was that we could never get through to her when she was in “the zone.” If she saw a dog before we did, we weren’t going to get anywhere with our clicker. We might learn a “trick or two” from each different class we took, but nothing took care of her behavior or made us confident in taking her out. Truthfully, we came to Rhonda as a “last resort.”
We were initially very apprehensive about the e-collar. I was afraid it was going to make her associate dogs with a negative stimuli and make her behaviors worse, and now I realize how totally wrong we were. We started training with Rhonda and although the first session was hard (it’s hard not to be a softie with your beloved pup) we started seeing incredible results within the week. With the e-collar, we were able to communicate with Toni no matter her state of mind. We immediately saw how she was able to connect her negative behavior with the correction and within two weeks, we were walking by dogs with ZERO reaction! At our last session, Rhonda had us take Toni out, off-leash, to a local path (I was so nervous because I didn’t have the leash control to fall back on) and she was PERFECT in all her greetings. We always knew that Toni was nervous and that was the reason for her reactions, but I never knew how to get her past that. Rhonda gave us the tools we needed.
After our training package with Rhonda was done, I was still struggling with trusting Toni (it’s hard to erase three years of experience) so Rhonda kept working with me! Rhonda met with me on the trail and helped me gain more confidence. There are so many amazing things to say about Rhonda and her training, but one of the many things that sets her apart is you aren’t “done” with her when your package is done. If you need more help, she’s there.
I’m so happy to say that Toni has been having the best summer of her life! She’s making new dog friends, she’s going hiking and swimming, and she is much more relaxed and peaceful. – Lyndsay Loiselle owner of Toni
Our one year old hound mix loved hunting, sprinting, and chasing more than listening to us. On leash and off leash walks were not enjoyable for anyone; she was either pulling on the leash to pursue a squirrel or running off into the distance when we were brave enough to attempt letting her off. We were recommended by a veterinarian friend to consider e-collar training, as it had been proven successful with dogs who were bred to hunt. Rhonda is amazing. She is extremely knowledgeable, confident in what she does, and makes the experience of learning with your dog fun. With her training tools and tips (for both our dog and us!) and our own commitment and trust in our dog, we were e-collar successful beyond our imagination. It certainly took a lot of patience and practice, and at times we felt frustrated and hopeless which was why it was all that more important for Rhonda to back us up and keep on the right path. Our dog now miraculously understands her boundaries and respects them. There is a visible difference her happiness when she explores and sniffs around independently. It is absolutely an investment, and a 100% worthwhile one. -Emma Darragh owner of Callie
Blossom was adopted in January 2013 at the age of 13 months. Not much is known about her first year of life in South Carolina, other than she ended up in a shelter. She had a small tear on one ear but was otherwise a healthy, happy girl. She’s great with our cats and my, eight-year-old step-son. Blossom is the sixth adopted dog I’ve been guardian to in my adult life, four of which were also German Shepherds. My family is dog savvy and always a source of support. My mother has trained therapy dogs, my sister was a groomer and is a veterinary assistant now, and my aunt also began as a groomer, then handler, dog show photographer, agility competitor/trainer and sheep herding trainer. Dogs and their behavior are not new to me. I share this to emphasize how Rhonda’s approach is unique and so very valuable. Regardless of my experience and family support, I wanted to learn the latest in training so I enrolled in a basic obedience course with another trainer, as I have with all my dogs. This went well and we were soon hiking off leash with perfect recall around many people and dogs. She also went to daycare 2-3 days a week. She has always been cautious around strangers but dog friendly. Nearly a year later, while walking on leash in our neighborhood, a large, off leash dog charged us. This was very frightening for both of us, but we moved on. A few months later, she had four inappropriate interactions with other dogs in two weeks. Noisy but very short and no blood drawn. Varied circumstances: off leash, on leash, while pursuing a stick, etc. She also became much more nervous around strangers and strange places. She would not focus on me and would tremble in these situations. I consulted our regular vet, who found two cracked molars, which may have been causing pain. They were removed. I went back to the trainer. We did the work. We stayed away from other dogs, other than daycare, where they report she has always been good with other dogs. She continued to be ramped up and be nervous other than at home or daycare. I didn’t know how to help her and I also needed help to overcome my anxiety of her being inappropriate with another dog. Was it the charging dog? Was it the painful teeth? Was it her? Was it me? Is it a physical, emotional or behavior problem? Then we found Rhonda.
Rhonda digs deep. She evaluates and observes the dog, the handler and the relationship. We took a group class, which taught me how to be Blossom’s advocate. To be fair but firm. She THRIVED with this discipline. Although she, (we!) made great progress, her fight or flight threshold was still too close and we needed a way to bring her focus back to me, even in situations that were very stressful for her. We learned e-collar training with Rhonda. This was a game changer. I am able to be, “annoying” enough, by gently, “tapping” the e-collar, to break her anxious focus and look to me for appropriate direction. Rhonda’s continued support, additional programs like Socials, and her passion for dogs and their success is unmatched by far! Blossom would be resigned to her home and yard if it weren’t for Rhonda’s knowledge and guidance. Thank you Rhonda!!
– Deborah Lazure owner of Blossom
When we found out we had a first child on the way we decided at that moment that we needed to get the behavior of our two boxers under control ASAP. Both are great dogs personality-wise, but neither listened terribly well, particularly when distracted/fixated on a squirrel, a ball, etc. Our 1 year old boxer was also an incredible bundle of energy (big surprise). So we called Rhonda…
We couldn’t be happier with the work Rhonda has now done with both of our dogs. We started by sending Zoe (our 1 year old) to Rhonda for the intensive two week training session. Rhonda was great in that she provided photo and video updates on a daily basis, as well as great status updates on progress and exercises they were doing. When we went to pickup Zoe she was a different dog – still full of that Boxer energy but able to be calmed very quickly on command. Her spirit and energy where all still there, but we actually had control when we needed her to relax.
Rhonda worked with us in person on commands to ensure that when we came home we could put them to use. It was very easy to transfer the skills that Zoe learned with Rhonda to our home, especially once we got comfortable with the handheld clickers for e-collars. And what a difference! When the doorbell rang previously, both dogs when running and barking to the door. With the e-collar, one bark and Zoe sat on command, which in turn calmed down the overall energy off which our older boxer Bodie (2.5 years) feeds. When someone comes in the house now the boxers no longer jump all over them to greet the visitor – they now stay in place until broken on command.
We ended up sending Bodie to Rhonda for a couple focused training sessions since we felt he didn’t need as much work as Zoe and we were much more comfortable with the e-collars. Bodie was a natural at picking up commands (he’s a natural pleaser) so now we have two dogs who are so much more easy to walk (Zoe was also a leash puller which was also resolved). We can have people come over to visit without chaos ensuing. We can eat dinner while the dogs stay in place until we’re finished. We can walk/play off leash knowing that we can get the dogs to come back reliably. The list of new freedoms goes on and on. Our investment with Rhonda was well worth it – what’s amazing is that both dogs still have their same old personalities, quirks and boxer-mischief inclinations, but we’re able to get them to relax and calm down when we need them to.
– Erin & Bob George owner of Zoe and Bodie
When I got Dexter a beautiful German Shepherd, he was 8 1/2 months old & 106 lbs. His owners were looking for a new home as they said he was becoming too much for them to handle. He had been in a house fire which forced a move to an apartment, and hit by a car, all fear inducing events in his young life. I naively thought I can fix this. Dexter was a very high energy, high guard, fearful German Shepherd who tried to control everyone in “his space” by aggression. He got along well with my 120 lb shepherd and smaller mixed breed dog but, the 1 st week he went after my sister I stopped him in time. The 3rd week he jumped and bit my dog sitter, not badly but a wake up call to me. I hired a professional trainer. We muzzled him and started socializing him in her dog classes, teaching him commands, stay, front, leave it, etc. He improved somewhat but I still felt like I had a loose canon walking by my side. He pulled me to the ground just about yanking my arm off several times during this period when someone dared to come in his bubble which was a good 100 ft in any direction. We had to put actual lattice on our truck cap windows to make sure he didn’t go through them after people, as he tried. He sounded like Cujo, people would turn and stare when we went by- Dexter just couldn’t control his fear and dominant behavior. After 6 months of training he chased after my neighbor on his 4 wheeler paying no attention to my commands leave it, come, etc. I realized this poor dog will never be free off leash and he is only 14 months old. I felt helpless. But a friend in MD who had a rescue pit bull with issues had a trainer who recommended Rhonda with VT Dog pack, she said she was excellent and trained in e-collar use. I felt like she had thrown me a life line.
Jan 7th was our 1st lesson. We signed up for the “Perfect Pet” Dog Training Package. Rhonda did a very thorough intake then she met Dexter. He came out of the car in his Cujo mode trying to eat her. Rhonda just stood quietly as he yanked me to my knees as he hit the end of the leash. She threw him a few treats and we got started. In 10 minutes she took him from me, found his working level on the e-collar and had his muzzle off! In 2 weeks there was such a dramatic difference in his emotions and barking I would do them again in a heartbeat. It has been a little over 3 months, Dexters aggression has dropped from a 10+ to around a 2. He walks by my side loose leash, Rhonda and I even took him through Church st. Muzzled but calm nary a growl! When we started coming to Rhonda I couldn’t even hear the people at the ferry tell me which lane to go in Dexter was barking and growling so loud. Now he lies quietly in the back observing the sights. Rhonda has been there encouraging me, never more then a text away when I needed advice. I know Dexter is still a work in progress, but what progress in just 3 1/2 months. So far 100 % recall. Dexter is enjoying his life much more now, and so am I and my husband. In fact the other day he said “I wouldn’t give Dexter away even for $30,000 !” Thanks Rhonda you changed our lives.
– Melody Levison, owner of Dexter
We had our Redbone Coonhound, Rita, for 5 years before we worked with Rhonda. Rita is a rescued stray who had many issues including: running away when off leash, stealing food at every opportunity, eliminating in the house, poor leash walking skills, dog aggression when on leash, rushing the door, and excessive barking (and sometimes biting) when people visited. Soon after we got Rita, we attended a highly recommended local dog trainer’s class and enrolled in a 6 week, treat-based training course. The only thing that we learned was to teach Rita to sit. The instructor said that based on Rita’s breed and history, we would never get a solid off leash recall. She would walk next to us on leash IF we had treats in hand, but would jump and beg for the treats the entire time and become easily distracted if she saw something more interesting. They couldn’t even get Rita to lay down, let alone stay. We left feeling discouraged and frustrated at our “bad” dog!
After telling Rhonda about our issues and how little I was enjoying being a dog owner, she offered to help. In less than 4 sessions with Rhonda, Rita was no longer stealing food, eliminating indoors, or rushing the door (thanks to the “place” command), and was walking off leash with 100% recall. Our last session included an off leash walk at a popular dog walking spot, something I never thought possible with Rita. Our lives are forever changed! I can now go on dog walks with friends, take Rita to my daughters soccer games, have people over for dinner, and enjoy spending time with her. Rita is a much happier, playful, and attentive dog. Thank you so much Rhonda!
– Laura Oliver, Rita and Family
My girl Adia has been shy, submissive, fearful, and “hyper” from the moment we adopted her at 3 months old. Being my first dog, I thought these were all behaviors that would resolve as she grew into adulthood. Shortly after her first birthday, she started to become reactive on walks towards dogs she didn’t know. I was shocked and horrified. I was confused, upset, and disappointed. At the time, we were enrolled in an obedience class, which only seemed to make it worse, as she became reactive even if the other dogs looked at her. We continued to go, staying after most classes to speak with the trainer about how to handle our new situation, which involved lots of distracting with food methods. Six weeks later and we hadn’t started to see much improvement, and it had gotten to the point where I was dreading taking her for walks. I didn’t want to go one more day without a plan for resolve, and that’s when I found Rhonda.
We started out with the Basic Package, and set to go to work immediately on the program for recovery. Sure enough, the “easy” walks, structured crate time, and the “place” command, seemed to be helping! Adia was learning how to be more calm in day-to-day activities, and although I knew there was still lots of work to be done, I was finally starting to feel hopeful again. Then, to continue improving her socialization skills, we began attending the dog socials. I was thrilled that after only going a few times, Adia began playing with other dogs that she just met, for the first time in months! However, she was still very nervous most of the time, especially on-leash. That’s when we began working with Rhonda using the SATS training method. I cannot explain how grateful I am for being introduced to SATS, with all of our previous efforts as a base, this was the cherry on top.
Using SATS, Adia has learned that instead of getting the rush from being reactive, she can choose to stay calm in stressful situations, and it leads to great things (like butt sniffing)! Adia is no longer reactive on leash, she is much less nervous in general, she started to play with other dogs again, and the level of communication between the two of us is greater than I ever thought possible. So, thank you Rhonda! Thank you for involving us in the Vermont Dog Socials, teaching us the amazing world of SATS, and for your time, efforts, and understanding. You’ve helped bring the positive energy back into our lives!
– Katharine Delp owner of Adia
Two years ago I adopted a pit bull after my 13-year old lab had passed away. Rudy was a wonderful dog, but he had a lot of anxiety and fears that I had never encountered with my lab. Rudy always seemed stressed out, and he was always trying to assert himself in unhealthy ways. We spent the first year of his life going to “click and train” classes and learning positive reinforcement techniques for basic behavior. But Rudy continued to act out. He began getting reactive with other dogs he met, and he soon began getting territorial about our house, often charging the door when people would arrive, and barking incessantly at them. Because Rudy was a pit bull, many of our friends and neighbors had their doubts about him, and thought maybe we had gotten a dog we couldn’t handle. I soon began to wonder if they were right.
We began working with Rhonda and she put us on a training program which included learning to use a head halti and an e-collar to work with Rudy and his issues. I was extremely hesitant about the program at first, because it included using an e-collar to control his behavior outside. But I trusted in Rhonda, and we followed her program for 12 weeks. Within the first three weeks, I began to notice a difference in Rudy. With Rudy spending more time in the crate, he was learning to be calm. Rather than pace around the house constantly, he would lay on the floor near my feet when I took him out of the crate. He also didn’t feel the need to follow me to every single room. Soon, he learned to let me take control of situations and just relax. He began to trust that I was his leader.
I hadn’t realized how important it was for Rudy to have a strong confident leader that he could look to. I soon realized that much of Rudy’s stress was coming from my inability to be a strong, consistent leader for him. By following her crate training and halti lessons, Rudy learned to give up control to me, and I learned what Rudy needed from me.
We then began working on the e-collar training. After 2 months of e-collar training, I was finally able to enjoy walking my dog. I wasn’t getting pulled, I wasn’t fearful that he was going to snap and lunge at every dog that walked by. We are now walking and running leash free. Rudy and I are able to go on nice long hikes in the woods without even having a leash. We barely have to use the e-collar while walking, but just knowing that we have it, and can use it, has made a huge difference for us!
Rhonda has given me the ability to be a strong leader for my dog, and in turn, has given my dog a happier, less stressful life. He is now able to enjoy being a dog, without the daily anxiety he was suffering from due to not having a strong pack leader. Rhonda is amazing, and I would recommend her to anyone who is having trouble with their dog. Rhonda was my last hope for Rudy – and she has given me the wonderful dog I wanted and the best running partner I could ask for!
– Laurie Noyes owner of Rudy
I adopted Thai at the age of 4 months. I couldn’t wait to take him everywhere with me family gatherings, hiking, long walks through town, well all of those dreams quickly went out the window, until we found Rhonda! We had been through two trainers before we were lucky enough to find Rhonda. One trainer stuck us in the hall, away from all other dogs because Thai would bark the entire class. The second trainer informed me Thai would just never be a dog who could socialize with other dogs. I was crushed to say the least. When we met Rhonda Thai was not able to even walk by a dog on a leash without trying to drag me to attack it. His recall consisted of leaving a long line on him and crossing my fingers he at least did not take off. In the house he would spin in circles chasing nothing, just spin and spin. Dog beds were nonexistent in our house hold, after purchasing 10+ dog beds which all were destroyed I had given up.
After completing Rhonda’s E collar 1 on 1 class our lives completely changed! She pairs food motivation with the E collar like you would never believe. With the structure Rhonda had me implement the spinning and dog bed destroying was eliminated. 100% off leash recall was achieved thanks to Rhonda. Yes 100% recall this includes if dogs, skateboards, bikes, people, or the entire works are around. Rhonda went above and beyond with me and my dog and did not stop there. She knew I was still struggling with Thai’s doggie social skills. She offered for us both to go out with her to her dog camp. Which was one of the best experiences ever. I went from dreading even seeing another dog to watching my dog play off leash with 10 other dogs. Rhonda offers continuing support in so many ways from her group classes to Vermont Dog Socials and is always willing to help. Thanks to Rhonda and Vermont Dog Pack Thai now has a foster sister with zero aggression toward her.
The drastic change I saw in my dog Thai through Rhonda’s training changed my life in many ways. I now am proud to say I have zero concern with Thai when he is off leash. Seeing the difference in Thai and the change it made in our everyday life I wanted to learn more. Rhonda has been letting me mentor her for the last year and I am working on becoming a dog trainer. Thanks to Rhonda I will be starting my own Dog Camp thanks to her informative videos. I can not say enough good things about Rhonda as a person and a dog trainer. Her teaching style is informative and produces results.
– Mandy Imburgio owner of Thai
We adopted our boxer Bella when she was about 7 months old. Within a few months she started exhibiting reactive behaviors–barking at bicycles passing by, lunging towards people walking around us, barking/chasing people if off leash etc. The reactivity was mostly towards people until she had a negative interaction with a dog at the dog park (she approached the dog and it growled and snapped at her). After that time she was not trusting of other dogs and became visibly uncomfortable and reactive towards any dog she did not know. For fear of being yelled at by the people she barked at or her getting into a fight with another dog, we stopped taking Bella to public places. This was excruciating for me because I wanted a dog to join me in my outdoor activities: hiking, swimming etc. After trying trying to solve her problem myself and even hiring another trainer, Bella’s reactivity showed no improvement and I had accepted the fact that Bella had to be a “home dog”.
In a final/desperate attempt to get Bella’s behaviors under control, I contacted Rhonda. She was quick to get back to me and set up an evaluation. After meeting Bella, testing her with another dog and seeing her behaviors, she recommended the “Well Mannered Dog” package and was confident that Bella could behave appropriately in social situations. Obviously I was skeptical at first, but after one session I actually started to believe I could have the dog I always wanted. Bella took to the E-collar right away. Rhonda was direct, patient and extremely informative, taking time to thoroughly explain her methods in conjunction with Bella’s behaviors. During Bella’s reactivity she showed us how to redirect her attention and have her “think” instead of react. She was always available through texting for support/answer questions we had while practicing on our own. After just a couple of weeks we started taking Bella into environments that she used to blow up at and she showed incredible improvement. With a reminder from the E-collar, she didn’t bark at the person walking down the road or growl at the man at the dump.
We continued to follow Rhonda’s directions and by the time we officially finished the training (about 6 six weeks) Bella was a different dog in a GREAT way. A few weeks post training, she is still doing great. Overall, she is more relaxed. She still has her boxer exuberance, but the frantic energy is almost gone. I now take Bella hiking off leash and to the park on a regular basis–no more hiding for us! She acclimates to new people in a fraction of the time it used to take and doesn’t panic in new situations, she looks to us for direction. We even went downtown the other day and she didn’t bark at anyone!! She spends far less time staring out the window for things to bark at and more time relaxing and playing with her toys. Her anxiety has decreased so much, we do not need to crate her when we are not home (she has destroyed furniture in the past).
I cannot recommend Rhonda enough. Her skills/knowledge far exceeded our expectations. She has helped us achieve what I honestly didn’t think was possible–I have a social dog again! Thanks for everything Rhonda!
–Phoebe Cole owner of Bella
Rhonda helped me so much with my dog Mason. When I first got him he was a sweetheart and slowly things started to change. He started off by barking at people whenever they were within 5 feet of us and soon it got so bad we couldn’t walk down the street if someone was on the other side of it. He would bark, growl, lunge and try to attack them. He was also horrible around dogs, when on leash he would lose his mind if he saw another dog, it could have been in the house and Mason would drag me as close as possible so he could bark and growl at it. It got so bad that if I saw another person or dog coming our way I would turn around and run as fast as I could back to our house. I went through some other training with Mason, primarily using treats to create distractions for him and show him that other people and dogs brought good things but that did nothing to help us and the longer the problems went on the worse it became. He was terrible on a leash, he would drag me around, and jump at cars, he had no recall to speak of and if he was off leash and a person was around he would herd them and bark until I was able to pull him away. If there was another dog around he would attack them. That’s when I found Rhonda.
Working with Rhonda is the best thing that could have happened to Mason or myself. We started some work with the halti because I was a little bit nervous about using an e-collar. The halti helped with the leash handling skills on my part but did nothing for Mason’s aggression and that’s when Rhonda suggested using the e-collar. Within 1 week of using the ecollar Mason was calmly healing at my side, a week after that he was working on his recall and doing great. About a month after that Rhonda had us walk on Church Street, it was terrifying, but Mason did incredibly. I would have never dreamed I could take him into public, let alone on Church Street but he did it. We are 6 months out of training and with a lot of hard work and time spent training him, Mason now has perfect recall, he is playing happily with other dogs without incident and I can now take him with me to places like the Burlington Farmers Market without worrying that he will lunge or bark at another person. Going into training I just wanted Mason to be reliable off leash and to be able to walk calmly by other dogs and people without me having to worry to much. My expectations were blown out of the water, I can now take him wherever I go and I don’t have to worry. He will sit calmly in public places and is even to preform down stay’s when there are a million things going on around us. I can now enjoy my time with Mason and he is finally a calm, happy and confident dog.
– Cristina Piergentili owner of Mason
We rescued Charlie when he was 4 months old. He was a high energy pup, not entirely the right fit for two inherently lazy people. We went to two dog schools and he did okay. He had a hard time focusing with other dogs around. A few months after his last obedience class his behavior started to worsen at home. While my dog Charlie was always a lovable boy, he had a hard time relaxing and would be downright embarrassing when guests came to our home. He could not help himself from barking and jumping at them trying to get in their faces. He was also impossible to walk as he would pull the entire time, would bark incessantly and try to jump when strangers walked by or if dogs were around. While I loved him and would never put him up for adoption, I was having buyers remorse. I had heard about Rhonda and her incredible abilities through friends and the web. I talked to Rhonda on the phone and told her my concerns about Charlie. She immediately told me why he was acting the way he was and that she could help me. I felt comforted and hopeful.
We talked about doing the two week best friend package as I believed that my husband and I could not do this on our own. The week before he went to Rhonda’s he ran away from me on a hike. I was terrified and didn’t know what to do. Eventually he came back, but had hurt himself and had to go to the vet. We were ready for Rhonda! Rhonda worked so hard to make my husband and I feel comfortable leaving our dog. She even would send us videos and pictures most of the days that he was gone. When we finally went to pick him up I was nervous. Would we be able to be as successful as she had been with Charlie?
Since the best friend package, I can say our lives have changed entirely. Charlie listens to us, he comes when we call him, he walks well on a leash and we run with him. Best of all we can take him to my mom’s house or other people’s homes and not worry that he is going to get into their food or chase their animals. He no longer runs to the door when people knock or ring the bell, and he greats both strangers and friends politely. I cannot say enough about Rhonda’s services and we are so grateful that she came into our lives.
– Dave Lowry and Andrea Solomon owner of Charlie
“Before working with Rhonda we weren’t able to take our dog places because he would pull when on the leash and was easily distracted. After just a few weeks of e-collar training he walks great on the leash and follows commands. Best of all, we can take him hiking and in the woods and he can run around off-leash without us having to worry about him running off. People we meet are always amazed at how well behaved he is. We’re now able to take our dog anywhere with us. The e-collar has given him much more freedom and made him a happier dog”.
-Sharon Lasko owner of Raleigh
“Before owning my puppy Hank, I was well aware that for our long term relationship to be enjoyable he would have to be properly trained. After doing a lot of research, I reached out to Rhonda before Hank was born to learn more about our training options. We decided that the Best Friend package would be a perfect fit for us, especially since she tailored it to Hanks younger age. I had been told by many people that the earlier someone can start working with Hank the better and easier it would be. Rhonda was not just “someone” to Hank or myself because she turned my puppy into my true best friend by eliminating the stress of his lack of manners. Rhonda developed a strong bond with Hank that was communicated to me via her great little videos and pictures of his progress. This not only made me feel comfortable in her having him for two weeks, but also reassured me that Hank was getting trained in a successful and caring way.
Before Hank went to Rhonda he was a “selective listener” and I never felt comfortable having him off leash. Hank also knew very few commands and was hard to travel with since he jumped up on every person he met. When I went to pick Hank up I was blown away by how much he learned! He knew how to sit, place, lay down, walk off leash, and play with dogs in a much more polite way. One of my concerns was my own ability to be able to work with Hank. Rhonda takes the time to not only thoroughly explain everything, but also has you practice working with your newly trained pet till you feel confident in using the e-collar properly. This is a huge and sometimes overlooked step and what makes Rhonda’s training program so sustainable for the long term success of the dogs she works with. I travel frequently and since it is easy to bring Hank with me now I never have to worry about him coming with. One of the best compliments I receive on a regular basis is how well behaved Hank is and how he great he listens, we owe this to Rhonda.
Rhonda truly cares for each dog she works with and I’m sure Hank would agree that this is what makes her so special.” -Victoria Hone owner of Hank
“We decided to send our 10-year-old yellow lab to Rhonda’s Board and Train program after she came so highly recommended by several friends, and we were not at all disappointed. Our dog Willow has always been anxious around other dogs and would often be unfriendly which made walking her very stressful. Rhonda was immediately reassuring and gave us hope that even our older dog could be helped. While Willow was with her for the 3 weeks, Rhonda sent us videos of Willow’s progress (we loved seeing her happily playing and swimming with other dogs), and when we brought Willow home, she had been well cared for and we could see so much progress.
Some people might be reluctant about using the e-collar, but we have found that it is the only thing that has truly enabled us to train Willow so she can be safe and happy. She learned very quickly what the sensations meant, and we don’t feel it is hurting her, but rather helping her so much.
Lastly, Rhonda’s lifetime support is phenomenal. She is available by text, email or phone and has even come to our home to support our further training Willow. Thank you Rhonda, for your wisdom and passion for helping dogs and their owners be the best they can be”. -Sarah Spink owner of Willow
When my dog Jackson was about a year old I started noticing he would get very reactive when we were on walks. His reactivity was mostly toward dogs at first but slowly progressed to people as well. I probably couldn’t tell you the exact moment when it happened but I remember thinking at the time that it was just a “thing” he was doing. He was fine off-leash and regularly goes to camp with Off the Porch Dog Camp. Although I had had plenty of dogs prior to Jackson, I was very new to leash reactivity. I read tons of articles online and thought I had figured out how to manage his behavior which mostly included avoiding all dogs, cats, people, and children when we were on walks. That was all fine and dandy until I wanted to go somewhere public such as Church Street or the Waterfront. In addition to his leash reactivity Jackson was starting to react to people coming into our house as well. He would hear the door open and immediately lunge off the couch and run to the door. He would bark and snarl and jump although never actually bit anyone. I can only imagine what the person standing in the doorway felt with a greeting like that.
I started following some other stories about dogs that had gone to Rhonda for training and heard about their success but was still hesitant myself. I thought because I was able to “manage” Jackson’s behavior that he didn’t really need training. I thought that I could do the training myself but what I hadn’t realized is that I had already lost my credibility with him. He knew that there was no real consequence if he didn’t follow my command right away. Most importantly, he didn’t look to me for guidance like he would have if I had been a strong leader- he felt he needed to react. I kept making excuses like “he doesn’t bite people or dogs, only reacts”. Of course as doggie parents we tend to try to justify our dog’s behaviors and not always admit how unhealthy they really are. It would have been a grave mistake of me to wait until Jackson actually bit someone or attacked another dog before doing the training.
Jackson did a two week board and train with Rhonda where they worked on not reacting to guests coming into the house and also his leash reactivity. When he was with Rhonda he wasn’t stuck in a crate all day or secluded from other dogs or people. Instead he got to meet visitors (after he learned not to react of course), went for walks around Burlington and Winooski, played with another dog who was also in training, and went to camp with Rhonda and made another dozen doggie friends. With Rhonda’s guidance he got to learn how to handle tough situations and learn that he doesn’t need to react. Rhonda sent me pictures and videos of his progress and I’m sure he had more fun there doing training then he did most days at home!
After the two weeks Rhonda worked with my husband and me on how to use the e-collar and gave us some “going home” instructions. She helped give us confidence we needed to be good leaders for him. We were a little skeptical of the e-collar at first but after testing it on ourselves (at the highest levels!) and seeing how he didn’t react to it in a negative way, we felt confident using it as our training tool.
The big thing we noticed when we got home was how quickly he followed our commands. Prior to his training we would tell him to get off the couch or stop barking but he didn’t take us seriously. We had lost all credibility because we would have to walk across the room to make him stop or sometimes if he listened the 3rd or 4th time we would call it good. That isn’t how a dog should respond when given a command! It may not seem like a big deal at home but if we had been in a dangerous situation following that command could be life or death.
We still have some training to do because we keep falling out of practice but regardless I now have a dog who LISTENS! We can take him for walks and go downtown because we know that he will respond to us and listen to us. I also think that it has brought my husband and Jackson closer together. Prior to training my husband didn’t want to take him places because he was such a hassle. Now they can enjoy each other’s company without the extra stress and worry.
I thought I knew a lot about dogs prior to meeting Rhonda but I have learned so much in the past year. When I was younger I had two dogs that would attack each other on a regular basis but I had no idea there was a solution. Any behavior can be changed – you don’t have to deal with a dog that barks, jumps, doesn’t come when called, and the list goes on. Rhonda lives for these dogs and loves helping them and their owners live fun lives together.
– Stephanie Hull owner of Jackson
I got Cooper when he was 10 months old; he had been in two previous homes and was a very anxious dog. He would bark at the littlest noise and at anyone who came into the house. For 10 months I worked with him and while he improved somewhat inside the house, his anxiety outside continued to worsen. If Cooper saw a person or dog outside he would bark and lunge so hard he would work his way out of his harness, luckily that is when a coworker recommended Rhonda. After a single training session with Rhonda, Cooper became a different dog. She trained me on the proper way to use an e collar. We taught him commands and what we did want him to do instead of barking. She explained that his adrenaline level would shoot up so fast that he needed something to interrupt that behavior and focus him back on me. It was amazing the difference I saw in him in three weeks. The first time I went to see Rhonda, while talking to her about his problems I needed to put him in her dog’s crate because he would not stop barking at her, three weeks later when we went back for our second training session, he barked for about 20 seconds, then laid down and relaxed – the difference was amazing! I can now bring Cooper outside and not worry that he is going to go crazy if we see a person or another dog, it is not only his anxiety that has decreased but mine as well. Thanks Rhonda!
– Kathy Fraser owner of Cooper
I contacted Rhonda because I wanted to start training our 80-lb hound-mix pup Arlo with an e-collar for off-leash hikes. He was about a year and a half old at the time, and despite my persistent leash training efforts, he was still pulling a lot. With his size, strength, and exuberance, our walks weren’t much fun for either of us. He wasn’t getting the exercise he needed, and my back and shoulders were suffering. He also had some minor aggression issues, jumped up a lot, and had an aversion to most collars and harnesses. His recall wasn’t reliable and I was worried about him scaring and/or hurting people and other dogs. We met Rhonda at her house for 2 sessions, and within a few weeks Arlo and I were hiking in the woods together without a leash! It’s been a real game changer to have that level of freedom – a major life improvement. The e-collar training has made a big difference in his behavior overall as well. He respects me more and I have more confidence. Rhonda has been fantastic to work with. I really appreciate her easy going, straight forward style. She has a great sense of humor, and is clearly devoted to helping dogs and people have better, happier lives together. I would highly recommend Rhonda to anyone struggling with their dog’s behavior.
–Willa Davidian owner of Arlo
Before bringing Cecil for his Perfect Pet Package we had gotten to a point where we felt really limited by his behaviors. His barking and posturing scared people coming into our home, as well as people and dog owners out on the street or on the trail. We knew even before working with Rhonda that these behaviors came from a place of insecurity, but she was the first person to show us how to help Cecil feel more secure and work on those behaviors in a concrete way. Now we walk easily around our neighborhood with him, and his ability to respond to commands off leash is truly impressive to everyone who knows him. The biggest gift we have gotten from our work with Rhonda is that now our friends and family get to enjoy the dog my husband and I have known and loved all along.
– Jillian Kirby owner of Cecil
Milford is a mixed breed that I rescued from All Breed Rescue in Burlington. Soon after he acclimated to my house, he developed some real aggression issues toward both people and other dogs. I tried to deal with it but really didn’t have any idea what to do and it got worse and worse until he finally bit my neighbor. The bite was significant and I was seriously considering euthanasia for Milford because of his unpredictability. This was really tough for me as I am quite fond of Milford and really believed that he was a good dog. So I started inquiring about someone who understood dog behavior and could help me decide what was best. One of the people suggested was Rhonda Bilodeau. From the first conversation, it was obvious that Rhonda was a capable and compassionate dog trainer. During our initial phone conversations, Rhonda clearly felt Milford was reacting out of fear and that the behaviors could be corrected.
I had already started Milford on an e-collar, but I didn’t know how to correct the aggression. Rhonda took the time to build my confidence in her approach via a few phone calls before I agreed to meet with her. During the first meeting, she did a thorough assessment of Milford and was able to spot some triggers that were more obvious than I expected and I left feeling much better about being able to help Milford understand what was acceptable and more importantly, that I could help build his confidence. Since the initial meeting, Rhonda has help Milford and I learn each other and develop a trusting relationship. This isn’t to say that Milford is ready for any situation but rather that I now understand what to watch for and how to preempt potential tough situations in a positive way. In many ways, Rhonda helped me save Milford.
I truly appreciate Rhonda’s approach and her “bed side manner” with Milford and with me. She has consistently offered new insight into work through issues and the methods work with all of my dogs. I also appreciate that Rhonda is always willing to talk about issues with any of my dogs. She is truly devoted to helping all dogs and their owners. She continues to help by hosting Freedom Collar Walks, where any of her clients can come work with her and with each other. These are offered free to any client and they really do help. The dog socials that Rhonda co-hosts are yet another avenue where dogs who don’t understand acceptable social behavior can learn to be more relaxed and better four-legged citizens.
Milford continues to progress and this is due in large part to the focused guidance Rhonda continues to offer both of us. Rhonda is truly great to work with and I highly recommend her with every chance I have. I am truly impressed with her approach and with her continued desire to improve her own methods. In the last year that I’ve known her, she has consistently offered fresh approaches to working with my dogs. She is always looking for other trainers who she can learn from and all of this is just so she can hone her own skills and help more and more dogs.
– Jeff Robinson owner of Milford
Rhonda is a true “dog whisperer”. I knew our 9 month old golden retriever Simon was an intelligent dog with a lot of potential. When he exhibited what I would call extreme anxiety around the invisible fence and during a group obedience class, I knew I needed expert help in training this dog. After a long phone conversation with Rhonda and she thought Simon would do best with a 2 week board and train. There was a magical transformation in Simon during these 2 weeks!! His anxiety was completely gone…and in it’s place a confidence and responsiveness that even I could work with going forward! It is difficult to find words to describe how the relationship between Simon and his humans has deepened as a result of his time with Rhonda. Rhonda has extensive knowledge and education about dog behavior and training, and she also has a naturally calm, optimistic and confident manner; these abilities enable her to bring out the best in any dog. I highly recommend her for any training needs you may have!
– Andrea Hildebrand owner of Simon
Rhonda has shown us a completely different way to interact with our very crazy, highly adrenalized dog, Coco. I adopted her as a puppy so I know she has always had behavior issues. We went to two series of puppy trainings, obedience training & finally as a last resort, a two week long boot camp. She was VERY mouthy, sassy, aggressive, prey driven (she is part hound) and totally disinterested in living in our environment under anything but her rules. At the time, we were in Atlanta and she always got along with other dogs.
When we moved to Vermont, her dynamic totally changed where she was calmer around people but became very dog aggressive. I videoed some of her behavior for the vet and he said that he had never seen anything like it so, she was put on clomipramine. Even though I had spent a lot of money on previous training, we decided that we wanted to give it one more try. I interviewed a number of trainers but when I talked to Rhonda, I knew we had our fit. Her methods teach a dog how to self regulate their emotions so that they can be relaxed in any environment.
After just a few sessions with Rhonda we started to see dramatic improvements in Coco’s behavior. With a few simple techniques that Rhonda taught us we are now able to interact in our neighborhood with much greater ease and comfort. We are grateful for Rhonda’s support and for the dramatic improvements we are seeing in Coco as a result. Thank you, Rhonda!
– Laura & Laurie owner of Coco
We have a wonderful, energetic and vivacious big puppy. Her unruliness sometimes got in the way of our enjoying her and that was sad. Rhonda took her for two weeks when we were out of town and she came back transformed. She is happy and playful and she listens to us and obeys all of our very reasonable and necessary commands. This not only enhances our relationship with our dog, but it is essential for her safety as well. And Rhonda’s approach and personality are so cheerful, loving and smart that we had complete confidence in her. We knew when we entrusted her with our dog, that the puppy was in the best possible hands. The cost is well worth it – it’s an investment in a life long positive and loving relationship with the canine member of the family.
– Andrea Bayer owner of Malia
Like a lot of people when I first got blue I thought I could do most of the training myself and I did a lot, but with him being a border collie husky mix he was extremely smart as well as stubborn. I knew he wanted to be off leash and run but it just wasn’t working out on my own. Working with Rhonda in Vermont dog pack got him exactly where he needed to be and is definitely the best investment I could have made. The freedom collar gives blue freedom while keeping me confident that he will listen no matter what and be safe. The one on one training that was designed specifically for my dog was the only way to go. Blue is happier and I don’t have any worries with him off leash now!
– Sarah St. Gelias owner of Bleu
When I came to Rhonda, I felt like I had tried everything. I had read books, bought videos, taken training classes and worked with a one-on-one trainer. Yet I couldn’t break my dog Moby of his bad habits – lunging at other dogs when on leash, barking in the car if we would even drive by another dog and going crazy barking when someone came to the door. Now Moby sits calmly in his “place” when someone comes over, walks nicely on leash when passing other dogs, and is quiet and calm in the car. The freedom dog collar meet ups and socials have been amazing to help us practice getting comfortable around other dogs in a safe environment. And Rhonda is always there for support when I have a question or problem. I highly recommend Rhonda, she is amazing!
– Jill Meneilley owner of Moby