MEET THE TRAINERS
SHADE WHITESEL - Owner / Head Trainer
At age four, I told anyone who would listen that I was going to
grow up to be a “dog-trainer” (so my mother tells me)
After begging for and finally obtaining a Samoyed mix, I proceeded
to subject my neighbors and family to “trick” shows
where Sunflower jumped through hula hoops, over bushes and caught
Frisbees. Growing up, along with earning a BA in English, I always
spent time in dog-related fields: caring for dogs in a humane society,
working as a veterinary technician, and grooming dogs for ten years.
In 1994, I finally came full circle and established “Shade’s
Dog Training”. Along the way, I also became involved in the
demanding German sport of Schutzhund, which consists of tracking,
obedience and protection work. Intensive and precise, trainers take
2-5 years to train a dog to the highest level, Schutzhund 3, and
the majority of dogs fail to reach that level of expertise. I have
trained two of my dogs to the elusive Sch. 3, obtaining numerous
high scores in all three phases, including two perfect 100s.
train dogs to bite for my hobby, I feel like I know how to train
a client’s dogs NOT to bite in every day life. This knowledge
led quite naturally into dealing with dog aggression, both towards
people and towards other dogs. Because dog aggression lends itself
to understanding what the dog is thinking and feeling, and also
to prevention of the behavior in the first place, I started offering
group pet classes to help people start puppies and rescue dogs off
on the right paw. I’ve always been very interested in the
behavioral science of things and specifically, why a dog acts a
certain way. Dogs are pack animals and everything they learn reflects
those instincts. Positive reinforcement breaks down when the dog
thinks that she is manipulating you for the treat, not the other
way around. If you are not a clear leader to your dog, she thinks
You should come when She calls! This behavioral aspect is apparent
in my group classes when I teach you how to be a benevolent pack
leader by teaching your dog to think and reinforcing the behavior
you like and find acceptable.
reinforcement method led into training competition obedience classes
when people noticed the results I obtained on my own dogs. I find
the same theories work in competitive obedience. Many people think
that you need compulsion to obtain a reliable performance in the
ring or the obedience field. Usually, I find this a case of “blaming
the dog” when the handler should actually look at their own
training methods. Usually, the dog has not been proofed against
distractions enough and is only confused, instead of actively disobeying
I am committed
to finding a non force method in the teaching phase in order to
be fair to the relationship we have with our companions. After all,
the dog did not choose the sport. He would probably rather be hiking!
LEANNE STEVENS - Assistant Trainer
I started training dogs in the mid 1970’s with my first dog “Bluegrass” an Old English Sheepdog. Eventually I obtained his CDX (Companion Dog Excellent) in AKC competition.
A few years later I had Bearded Collies-once again competing in AKC-this time in conformation, obedience and herding as well. I also taught obedience classes in the Portland area-lots of fun for me!I enjoy working with people and love watching the dogs progress.
Lots has changed since the 70’s-I started with a choke chain and leash and used mainly correction with food reward. Now training methods have evolved to be much more positive-no more choke chains and very little correction.
So my last 2 dogs (German Shepherds) have been trained using positive reinforcement and it is much more enjoyable! Cedar has his CD (Companion Dog) and his CGC (Canine Good Citizen) title. He is also a certified therapy dog. Guinness is a youngster getting ready to compete and I have high hopes that he will do really well.
I have been working with Shade for 7 years now and am loving it!
LYNNE STEELE - Assistant Trainer
Growing up around pet dogs that were well loved, but not always well behaved, my first dog training class was a revelation on many levels. I found, using Shade’s methods, that I could teach my dog behaviors without yelling, endless repetitions of commands or empty threats.
Watching my German Shepherd puppy, Bernie, responding to Shade’s positive reinforcement methods hooked me completely on dog training. Five years later Bernie and I have earned two AKC titles (Ralley Novice and Companion Dog) and are working on her Ralley Advanced and Open titles.
I am also currently teaching Shade’s Beginning Obedience classes in the Kingston area, and soon will be teaching the Advanced Beginner classes as well.
I am constantly working to further my understanding of the human/canine bond. I do this through reading, attending continuing education seminars, and working closely with my mentor, Shade.