NEW Seminar’s on the schedule!

New school year means it is time for Tara’s seminars again! All our Seminars require registration/payment prior to day/time. Please email us at  to reserve your space.


Fostering with Confidence: Saturday December 5th at 12:30pm

Learn how to foster and save a life confidently. You can help your local rescue or shelter and do so peacefully in your home.

$50 per person,  $35 per person with group of 3 or more.

Humans only, 2 hour seminar. Snacks and drinks provided.

Body Language Seminar: Saturday December 12th at 12:30pm

Your dog’s language translated for you in a 2 hour workshop, real photos and videos- no illustrations.

$50 per person, $35 per person with group of 3 or more.

Humans only seminar. Snacks and drinks provided.



Introducing Dogs properly: Saturday December 19th at 11:30am

Learn how to introduce dogs confidently and avoid pressure play between them at the same time. Calm introductions lead to long term benefits for your dogs, no pressure at the introduction, means no anxiety later.

3 hour seminar, snacks and drinks provided.

$75 per person ($100 for working team – limited to 4 teams)

Group discount of $50 per person with groups of 3 or more. Advanced reservations needed.

Please email to reserve a space in any of the above seminars.

New 6 week Classes on the schedule!

It is that time again! We have many new classes on the schedule for fall! We hope you all had a great summer, here is our line up to help get your dogs ready for the fall events in Austin.

We do not allow shock or prong collars in our classes, we teach without force! Email us at to reserve a space in any of the following:

Reactive Walkers

This course is 6 weeks and I personally designed 4 years ago. In this class I help clients gain confidence in handling their reactive dogs in public. We see huge success in this class because we teach our owners how to protect their dogs instead of correcting them constantly. Nothing is “forced”, your dog learns that you can be the calm confident and fair protector so they do not need to be concerned with protecting themselves. We teach you how to stop your dog from lunging, we teach your dog how to show avoidance, we show you how to protect yourself and your dog from aggressive dogs, and we teach you and your dog that sharing affection and high value items is possible. The course is an outdoor class that is limited to 4-6 dogs and the cost is $200 per team.  Pre-requiste for this class is a leadership session or basic obedience class through our company. 

When:  Saturday 10/31 at 10:30am    Trainer: Tara

Reactive 1 greeting other dogs

This class is a 6 week up close and personal greeting class between your dog and my pack. We teach you how to control greets and protect your dog from rude dogs and pressure. It is an outdoor class and limit 4 teams. $200 per team. Pre-requiste for this class is a leadership session or basic obedience class through our company. 

When: Saturday October 3rd at 12pm        Trainer: Tara


Basic obedience

By far our most sought after class due to the number of commands we teach! 23 commands are taught in 6 weeks. This course pretty much teaches you the basics plus extras to keep your dog constantly working and challenged. Class is limited to 4 dogs, it is held inside with AC and the cost is $180.


Saturday 10/3 at 1pm with Nicole

Sunday 10/4 at 11am with Lisa

Tuesday 10/13 at 10:30am with Tara


Intermediate obedience

This class is held indoors with a 4 dog limit and the cost is $180. This class is based on self control and focus. Our graduation test is your dog off leash, and you recall them from an out of sight position, past a plate of food and the other class dogs. Yes, this is achieved every class!

When:           Saturday 10/17 at 10am with Nicole


Triebball Basics

One of our favorite classes! Triebball is basically canine soccer and herding all in one fun sport! This can be done in your backyard or even inside with just a smaller ball! We have used this class to help owners overcome reactiveness, lack of focus, and for those high energy dogs that need to be mentally worn out. This is the secret to Tara’s herding dogs calmness. Shhh don’t tell anyone. 🙂 This is an outdoor class and costs $180

When:        Tuesday 9/29 at 9am or Saturday 10/10 at 9am with Tara

We look forward to seeing you! Remember, protect first!

Email us at to reserve your space!

Tara and the pack.

Dominance Theory training, No thank you!

For 26 years, I have consulted and worked with clients that own dogs that are either fearful, reactive, confident, resource or human aggressive. During our consultations, the owner generally states they are “alpha” to their dogs, or that they want to learn how to be an “alpha” to their dogs.

I listen to the concerns about their dogs behaviors, and generally they are similar: the dog reacts to strangers or other dogs, redirects on the owner in an excited state, guards it’s food or bones, hides under items, has severe anxiety, or shows fear aggression when corrected. After listening to the presenting problem, I normally ask, how they have become an “alpha”, or what they think an alpha truly is.

The response is usually the same, “I correct them if they don’t listen, I correct them for being ‘dominant” or I hear “An alpha is the ‘boss’ of the pack.”

My question is, when does society praise? Do we endure so much “correction” from others in our lives, that we too feel the need to correct our dogs in order to feel superior?

The corrections I have seen over the years range from physically rolling the dog, spanking the dog, using a prong or shock collar, and some tie a dog to an object and walk away. All of these so-called solutions are what we call dominance or “alpha” dog training.

Dominance or “alpha” dog training is purely based on fear and pain, with the use of prong collars, shock collars, “alpha rolls”, abandonment and physical punishment to get the behavior the human would like. The problem is, with pain and fear the behavior we would like is not really going to happen. You are going to achieve fear, anxiety, lack of trust, and a dog that needs to protect itself from you, or the variables that caused the corrections in the first place.

With pain and fear, you will be successful in making your dog an omega (the “punching bag” of the pack) in front of other dogs and people. This will make a dog try to display their strength even more to avoid being viewed as weak. You will also achieve increased reactiveness, and a dog with a high frustration level. This in turn results in a dog that shows extreme anxiety, and destruction of their surroundings (or sometimes themselves).

If you were to observe a natural pack of stray domestic dogs, there is no full mouth biting for corrections, they are not inflicting pain on each other while they are walking together, and they are not attacking each other when another dog comes into sight. They are working together to protect each other, period.

Spanking, prong collars, shock collars, rolling dogs, and thinking “a dog needs to understand you can take their life away” are not training techniques, they are fear and pain causing techniques used by humans that like to project their thoughts on canine behavior.

Most times, dominance or train with pain trainers will explain the dog is aggressive because they are “power hungry”; when in fact they are not fighting for rank, they are fighting to survive. Survival is achieved with a strong protector in charge, not an unstable, confrontational one.

Protective/positive based training, is all about teaching your dog that you can protect them, and that you recognize they did an awesome job. You show your dog his successes, repeat those successes, and build on his trust and confidence that you are a fair and understanding protector. This tells your dog you are not looking to make them an omega, you are not asking for “submission or fear”, but rather you welcome them to make mistakes, let them learn from them, and praise them for their success.

Protective/positive based training teaches your dog exactly what you are looking for; there is no guessing on their end, it is clear through praise and reward.

That reward can be anything, verbal praise, affection, playtime, massage, and yes treats. There is nothing wrong with using treats to pay a dog for doing a job well done. For those that feel treats should not be used, I ask you to work free of charge. You obviously do not need to be paid either, except with praise. Makes sense if this is what your belief is.

So, when someone asks you what an “alpha” would do, or how they should become an alpha, tell them; “they would protect their pack with loyalty and dignity”. Dominance training is human, not canine.


Protect first.


Tara Stermer and the pack


Caution, electric shock therapy ahead.

The last couple of months, I have been contacted by several new clients with human aggressive dogs. Now this is not that surprising because I specialize in aggression cases, but the cases are unfortunately leading back to improper handling from professionals in the canine behavior field. I will not name names, or businesses and the point of this article is to educate owners of the potential danger of some training techniques being used.
The following are real case files from owners that I have recently had. The only thing that was changed is the names, the rest of the material are the owners own encounters.

I had been hired to help a gentleman with his dog “G”, a 10 pound 2.5 yr old mix breed. His presenting problem was constant barking and nipping at other dogs & at people.
The barking started at 1.5 yrs old and the owner sought obedience training to curb it. The barking did not stop, but instead the dog started nipping at people.
During the consult, each time the owner touched the dog it would show extreme signs of stress, yawning, lip licking, stress shakes/scratches. The tail would tuck with any touch.
The gentleman was not threatening, heavy handed or quick in his movements; he was very gentle and kind. The entire hour the dog reacted this way, so I questioned the owner if he showed these signs at home and he admitted that he did. The owner said he had been a very “chill, laid back” kind of dog until a year ago.
I continued the consult and asked him what commands the dog knows. There was a brief pause, and the owner looked down at his little friend and started petting him. He explained to me that he does not perform his commands very well, but his reaction looked like that of guilt not disappointment. So I asked how the commands were taught. He explained that they used an “e-collar” on him and he felt awful because the dog would scream and cry with every command given….
The owner now has a dog that used to be friendly and laid back, but with a little help from a professional, it is begun defending itself from humans and is even stressed by it’s own owners touch.
I am not quite sure why anyone would put an e-collar on a dog to teach it basic obedience, what is the human race thinking when we do these things? Don’t you think if a dog screams and cries, there may be a problem??
I have a large dog pack; with patience and training I have taught my dogs how to be off leash, and do distance commands, yes with patience and training- not shock therapy. I have deaf dogs, they recall without shock therapy as well. They use their noses, sad to think we lost our creativity and have become this lazy in the field of dog training.
Have we become so caught up in how fast we can do things, that we forget a little thing called compassion? I am appalled that someone could be this cruel and call him or herself a trainer.
The very same trainer thought it was a good idea to use an e collar on a defensive German Shepard that already had trust issues. Sadly the poor dog was wearing a muzzle and could not defend itself, although he tried. They had been out walking while the owner watched, after a few minutes the dog turned and tried to bite the trainer. What was said next gives me chills,
Trainer to owner: “Not sure why that one bothered him, I had already used the collar about 20 times.” Really? The dog had the patience for 20 tones (tones is what they want you to believe it is), and finally lost it on you and you are confused as to why? Really???
Ok let me give you the same scenario but with you, cause after all, if you think it is not going to hurt your dog in anyway, you should be fine with my little experiment.
For one full day please place the same e collar on your neck. Forget your thigh like so many trainers tell you. The collar is placed in the neck, where their jugular is. (Some trainers even tell you to “shave” the neck so they can feel it more).
Place it on your neck right over your jugular and fasten it so it is tight enough not to slip. Set it to the low setting and tell me the “tone” does not bother you.
Now with every step- hit the tone, but remind yourself how awesome you are for taking the tone. “Good human”.
Before you sit, tone yourself. Before you eat, tone yourself. If you are not happy with the tones at this point give yourself a better treat, maybe chocolate. There ya go all better right?
Now, if you speak out of turn, or how any frustration to another human- remember crank it up and tone yourself. If you tone yourself the amount of times you tone your dog, (which obviously you cannot do) and by the end of the day you feel no stress, no headache, no pain; call me. I would love to do it again but with me holding the remote. I may not be as nice as you though. Screaming and crying after all, is acceptable.

Up coming seminars

Up Coming Seminars- all seminars are people only please.

Body Language Seminar                                                                                                           November 17, 10:30am                              2.5 hour                       $50 

A large majority of people mistakenly read certain cues as affection or fear, and some warning signs often go unheeded. This typically leads to an injury to the human resulting in possible death for the dog. 

This seminar covers how a dog communicates, including the subtle signs that could lead to potentially dangerous situations. We break down different stances, eye contact, actions and myths with real photographs and dogs for easier understanding. 

Our goal is to reduce the number of bite incidents, and help our colleagues and dogs understand each other without frustration. 

*All the photos during the seminar have been taken from cases I have personally worked with or my own pack members.


Fostering Seminar                                                                                                                    December 1st,  10:30am                            1.5 hours                        $50 

  Thinking of fostering but not sure how to introduce a new dog? Maybe you already foster, but would like things to go a bit more smoothly. This seminar is designed to show you how it can be done!

Mutli-Dog Households                                                                                                              December 8th, 11am                                  1.5 hours                      $ 50

  Feeling overwhelmed? Maybe you are experiencing pack fights or scuffles? Let me show you how to have peace in your pack. All of my dogs came to me with aggression or reactiveness, and they all live peacefully together. It can be done.


Understanding Deaf, Blind and Deaf & Blind dogs: training, adopting and enjoying them.         December 15th, 11 am                                3 hours                         $75

 A seminar to teach you how to communicate with your disabled dog, this is based on my experience working with them. Real life pictures, and demo of how these amazing dogs live, love and learn, just like every other dog. They deserve a chance and I can show you how to rely on their other senses, regardless if they born this way or developed it at an older age.

Agility for special needs dogs? Absolutely!

  People ask me all the time if special needs dogs (deaf, blind and deaf-blind dogs), can lead a normal life.  Shelters rarely put them up for adoption, breeders tend to kill them at a young age (although this is never admitted), and rescues tend to have very strict limitations for any potential adopters, if they even do take one on. My question is, why? Why not give them a chance to lead a normal life?  I own special needs dogs, and I have been training them without any issues for many years.

Why would it shock or amaze anyone that a dog that cannot hear or see could do agility? Why do people think it is impossible to teach obedience to them? They adapt and can be conditioned, just like their seeing and hearing brothers and sisters. Other dogs do not see them any differently and I strongly believe we need to learn from our canine loved ones.

In April of 2012, I was asked if Charlie, a deaf-blind dog, could enroll in our basic agility class. Of course I said yes! I have fought for, and stood behind my deaf dogs for years.  I would never deny an owner or their dog, the right to reach their full potential.

A colleague of mine asked me how I would teach a deaf-blind dog agility; my answer was, “he has a nose, I will use it.”  It is the first thing a dog relies on, and their most powerful sense. If we teach dogs how to find the slightest traces of drugs that are masked by other scents, or people lost for days; why not use it to train them in other ways too.

So Charlie enrolled in our basic agility class with four other classmates that could see and hear. We taught him how to maneuver the obstacles by different scents; carefully thought out as to what effect they would have on the dog (relaxing, exciting, non-offensive).  He performed all of the equipment and learned them at the same pace as his classmates.

His owner asked if I would consider doing an all special needs agility class, so again I said of course. I love all dogs and when I decided to get into this field, it was to help all of them; so why would I exclude special needs from any activities? I know my deaf boxer Flinn and my deaf-blind dog Gaia have no idea they have a disability. They adapt, as should we.

Fast-forward to July 2012 and I had my first all special needs agility class starting, three deaf-blind dogs, and one bilateral deaf dog.  I could not have been happier to see how involved the owners were and how much the dogs enjoyed the class.  On August 4th, in just 6 short weeks, the class graduated. A very special moment for the dogs, the owners, myself and hopefully for the special needs dogs sitting in shelters waiting to be adopted.

Below is a picture of the graduating class, I am very proud of all of them and I look forward to getting more information out there in hopes that others will do the same. Open your classes and doors to our special needs, adopt them out, let them lead the normal lives they deserve to have.


Congratulations Flinn, Boomer, Charlie and Lucy. ( And their parents for giving them this opportunity!)

Painting by Stephanie Conrad of The Pet Studio- ( I will cherish it, thank you)

For more information about how to train your special needs pet, please email

hugs to your furbabies,