Michael Badial likens dog training to martial arts.
“There’s another being you’re trying to control,” said Badial, co-owner along with girlfriend Jamie Rhoads of Horsham-based Best Paw Forward Inc. “We’re here to show you what you’re doing that’s causing problems.”
The 2,000-square-foot Maple Avenue business opened on Oct. 1 as an outgrowth of five years of dog training that Badial and Rhoads had been doing primarily in client’s homes.
Rhoads, of Hatboro, said the second-floor former construction space that the couple has partially equipped with rubber matting for agility training and other classes is “just the next step” in enabling them to reach more people.
Badial, who grew up with dogs in the house and (unsuccessfully) tried using chokes and prongs to train his pets, had to evolve in his thinking and understanding of man’s best friend before being able to break through that man vs. dog barrier.
Part of that understanding developed while Badial was working as a meter reader. In that profession, Badial said dogs attacked him daily while trying to protect their turf.
“It was thrilling,” Badial said, showing two fingers that severely injured during one of the attacks. “You see they don’t want to kill you.”
That greater understanding of four-legged friends, coupled with three mentor trainers and his work in a Langhorne boarding kennel environment helped Badial “progress through methodology” to obtain positive dog training results.
Badial shared that a Collie who was about to be put down for tearing out the eye of a chihuaha was able to be reformed after three sessions.
“He doesn’t want to fight,” Badial said of the dog, adding that following the last session, the Collie was able to ignore other dogs sitting beside him.
While some clients shy away from bringing aggressive dogs for lessons, Rhoads and Badial said those are their favorite type of animals to work with.
“It’s the problem solving,” Rhoads said. “Seeing the dog happier.”
Rhoads said she is seeking behavior certification through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, but points out that, unlike accounting, her first career, dog trainers are not required to complete specific courses or training.
Calling certification the "gravy on top," Gloria Aceti, owner and president of the nonprofit organization, Focus on Homeless Animals, said in her 14 years heading up the group, she learned everything about dogs “hands on.”
“It’s something you either have or you don’t,” said Aceti, who has worked with Badial and Rhoads through her organization. “Jamie and Michael have an innate understanding of dog behavior. They know when to approach the dog and not to approach the dog. Experience has a lot to do with it.”
And, like martial arts, Badial said success does not come solely from training, or controlling the dog. Proper pet handling maneuvers play an integral role too.
“It’s not on the dog,” Badial said. “It’s on you.”
To learn more
Best Paw Forward Inc. is located in the second floor portion of 328 Maple Ave., in Horsham. The business offers a variety of classes, including those on puppy socialization, manners, some designated for rescue dogs, reactive dogs and more. For more information, call 1-888-437-5245, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or click here for the business' Web site.