Training dogs – and their ‘parents’

It would be too simple to say that Cristina Losapio is a dog trainer and consultant. She is far better-known as a true student of both human and canine behavior. 

“Sharing a beautiful connection with our dogs really comes from looking inside of ourselves and questioning everything we think we know,” she says. “If we take the time to remain patient and present, our dogs can teach us as much as we teach them.”

The path to such insights began in 2006 with Losapio pet-sitting for one family. A natural observer, she found herself fascinated by canine behavior. More families followed.

“What I saw was a lot of excitement being nurtured and tons of dogs being rewarded for physically doing what the family member wanted,” she says. “But there was such a disconnect between body and mind, and between human and dog.” 

When she took a puppy class with her first dog, a rescue named Phoebe, Losapio took a deeper dive into dog psychology. She chose to take on 300 required training hours to become a certified professional dog trainer and became an active volunteer with the SPCA of Westchester in Briarcliff Manor.

Fifteen years in, Losapio works with dogs and families through her business, Trail Dog Inc., based in New Castle. She says one of the things she helps her clients with is learning to look past the surface in order to read what a dog is really saying.

“For instance, why ask a dog to sit or lay down if the dog is standing, four paws relaxed, with a soft face, breathing slowly and giving attention. The dog’s brain is already sitting.”

Though she has worked with countless dogs, Losapio says it’s more about understanding the dog within the family. She helps her clients work to comprehend how their dog thinks, instead of relying on what they perceive he or she is thinking. For her, no dog is a lost cause. 

“Every single dog deserves a chance without judgment from the past or breed labels,” she says. “Unhealthy patterns can be refreshed with clear communication and relationships can evolve.”

When working with a family, Losapio says kids are a great part of the mix, as they are naturally curious and want to learn about their pet. In the end, when a dog and family are aligned, Losapio says it makes every step worth it.

“I love solving problems, so to me it’s just figuring out the energy of the family and implementing new patterns that blend well for everyone. When we get to the point where everyone is working together, it’s always a joyous moment.”

For more, read Cristina’s first WAG the Tail column on Page 106 and visit https://www.facebook.com/TrailDogNY/. 

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