Nikki Norris — Dog Trainer
Hi, and welcome! I’m Nikki Norris, the founder and dog trainer behind The Beloved K9. If you're reading this bio, then chances are you're looking for help with your dog. I’d love to be the one to help!
The Beloved K9 was founded on my unwavering belief that every dog deserves to become their best self. When a dog transforms from unruly, hyperactive and disobedient (or worse!) to calm, respectful and engaged, the dog’s quality of life dramatically improves. Your dog’s new behavior allows him to do things like relax while you have company, be trusted in the house, run off leash in appropriate spaces, and go anywhere with you!
An aspect of training that isn’t talked about nearly enough is that dog behavior transformations improve our human lives, too. It is stressful to have an unruly dog! You love your dog, of course, but his bad behavior creates a lot of frustration, embarrassment and anxiety for you. It’s likely also soaking up a lot of resources—financial and otherwise. Quality dog training benefits both ends of the leash by giving your dog that good-dog skill set, giving you the tools, mindset and know-how to communicate with him, and giving you both the opportunity to start over without all that drama! Quality dog training gives you a second chance to have that dog-owner bond you’ve always wanted. THAT is the kind of dog training I believe in and that’s what I do here at The Beloved K9.
My journey to train dogs professionally began over a decade ago thanks to two factors: volunteering in pit bull rescue, and owning a crazy dog who needed help. Let’s start with the rescue part. We volunteers worked so hard to get each dog as much exercise, love and engagement as we could. We also focused on training, mainly teaching basic commands through positive reinforcement (treats!). My first instinct was to expand this training program by making it more structured and intentional, but as I learned more about why dogs were having trouble getting adopted and staying adopted, I realized that a basic obedience class wasn’t going to make much of an impact. These dogs weren’t being returned because they couldn’t or wouldn’t sit for a treat or because they didn’t know tricks. They were being returned because they jumped relentlessly, or behaved only at training class but were unmanageable the rest of the time, or destroyed the house while their new owner was at work, or while out on a walk they barked and lunged like Cujo anytime they spotted another dog. In short, I realized that they didn’t need more training classes and treats, but an overall behavior transformation! Of course, at that point I didn’t know how to modify dog behavior, but it was my desire to help those dogs that motivated me to embark on the journey of learning that skill set.
The other factor that fueled my journey was my own ill-behaved dog. Let’s be fair: he was a pretty good dog… he just had some major issues that kept him from achieving “well behaved” status. Namely, he had some significant dog aggression. I didn’t know how to work with these kinds of issues yet, so I called the only dog trainer I’d heard of in my area. Long story short, she showed up and fed him so much hot dog that he puked it all up at her feet! I explained that he had a sensitive stomach and she concluded that if he can’t have hot dog then he can’t be trained (for real—you can’t make this stuff up!). I insisted on trying with some sensitive stomach treats, but she concluded a few lessons later that he would never move past his dog aggression. How she came to that conclusion after only doing basic obedience in my basement with no other dogs present, I’ll never know. We ended up managing his dog aggression by not allowing him around any other dogs. This put a serious hiccup in our lifestyle and in the lifestyle he’d grown accustomed to, but I couldn’t help but think of the dogs who had been returned to the rescue due to similar issues and I felt grateful that we were able to manage his behavior problems at all. That experience taught me two things: first, that it’s not easy to find a quality dog trainer; and second, that there is a serious need for the kind of dog training that actually produces better dog behavior in real life scenarios—not just during training class or while food is present. These lessons continue to motivate me today.
I began my formal dog behavior education with an intensive on dog psychology and behavior in Los Angeles, CA. This helped me understand why dogs do what they do and what motivates them to change. I then attended a Professional Dog Training Program on the east coast where I learned the background and science behind various methods of dog training, plus hundreds of hours of hands-on training and mentoring. This experience taught me the process of dog behavior modification and how to implement that in a home environment. At that point (2012) I started training professionally, eventually training in four different states across the country. I am and will forever be a student of dog behavior and training, always seeking to improve and learn the latest developments, so my learning has not stopped! Most recently, I attended T3: Train the Trainers, a 7-day, 80-hour, hands-on dog training seminar to learn from three of the best family dog trainers in the country.
I’ve recently relocated from Phoenix, Arizona to Charlottesville, VA to join the team at Sadie’s Rules K9 Training. The Beloved K9 has become a website dedicated to sharing free, quality dog training resources with dog owners worldwide. I hope you find these resources helpful!