Dog Days

Raquel Bastian’s Cottonwood Creek K9…

With a wagging tail and a desire to please their owners, most canines are eager to obey commands. But for those four-legged friends who are a bit more stubborn, dog training can prove to be a tad tedious and necessitate a little expertise.

Raquel Bastian, owner of Cottonwood Creek K9, a unique board and train program, passionately teaches dogs to sit, stay, heel and obey. All dogs, puppies especially, can be destructive to homes and personal items through chewing, potty accidents and general rowdiness. Bastian jovially refers to a young dog as “a two-year-old child in a fur body.” Younger dogs’ energy levels can leave a puppy parent stunned and desperate for a solution.

Raised on a ranch in Springville with a variety of animals, as a child Bastian was responsible for helping care for their brood of pets, from cows and chickens to a donkey and cats. Her six Queensland heelers helped her work the ranch and sparked her passion for dogs. The country life gave Bastian a feeling of ease with both farm and domestic animals.
Bastian’s mom was always drawn to stray and injured animals, often bringing home hurting dogs and cats, only to nurse them back to health and adopt them into the family. As Bastian watched and learned from her mom, a compassion for broken animals took root. Today, Bastian volunteers with Valley Oak SPCA rehabilitating dogs who have significant trauma and anxiety. Bastian recognizes that a unique approach is required for canines from difficult places, and she uses her talent to restore their trust.

In the world of dog training, there are various schools of thought on what works best to instill obedience. Bastian has been in the field for more than five years and has honed her craft.

Focusing on training with leashes and treats, Bastian encourages constant praise for the dogs. But there are some canines who push the limits and need a different approach. Trained and certified in using an E-Collar, Bastian has been successful in giving her more stubborn doggy students the boundaries they are craving. The E-Collar uses muscle stimulation, different from a shock collar, that gives dogs a tapping sensation, helping the dog learn to listen to the commands. Using an E-Collar in conjunction with treats and a leash creates content, obedient dogs. Bastian will never use a technique that will harm a dog. Aggressive animals are not a candidate for the boarding school, as animal and trainer safety are of utmost importance.

Through years of hands-on training and expertise development, Bastian specializes in a variety of techniques to find the perfect path to dog obedience. “I have to find what works for that dog. There is not one correct way to train a dog. Some breeds catch on and easily go with the flow. Dogs make mistakes and have to learn from them,” Bastian says. Treat training works well with motivated dogs; poodle breeds and golden retrievers are often more compliant and eager to obey. But not every breed will listen, especially when distracted by an enticing cat or car chase. Certain breeds can be naturally more stubborn: cattle breeds, huskies and boxers have a more defiant streak; but any dog can be recalcitrant, no matter the breed, requiring a different process for training.

Located in Visalia, Bastian offers one- and two-week programs resembling an intense one-on-one doggy camp where canines are boarded and immersed in training. Not only does consistency ensure better results, but Bastian is able to connect with the dog in a way that allows her to see if the animal has issues of anxiety, trauma or dietary concerns. Bastian adjusts her approach based on what the owners want and the dog needs, conditioning the dog to understand commands. Once the canine is trained, the owner is then taught the proper commands and handling techniques. “The dog wants to please you,” Bastian says. “I teach people how to praise good behavior all the time, then it starts becoming a more peaceful home.”

Cottonwood Creek K9 is family owned and operated. Bastian, along with her husband and two daughters, take full responsibility for the training and care of the dogs. Although only one canine student is trained per week, the facility also boards multiple dogs for vacationing pet owners. The family team keeps dogs happy and thriving while away from their person.

The ideal age for formal training begins when the dog is around seven months old and is able to focus on more advanced commands. Dogs six months and younger are too easily distracted. Bastian recommends crate training for puppies to help develop consistency, expectations and successful potty training. “A lot of people need to puppy-proof their house and understand that puppies need attention,” Bastian says. Once trained, dogs are happy to please their humans, but life-changing events such as moving or divorce can disrupt a dog’s behavior. If a former student of Cottonwood Creek K9 needs a little help due to behavioral changes, Bastian is happy to help the dog and owner with a refresher course.

The training and attention dogs receive at Cottonwood Creek K9 is focused and holistic. Pet owners walk away with a happy dog and greater insight. Bastian teaches the owners how to better understand their dog’s purpose and capabilities. Not all dogs are retrievers, some dogs will naturally desire to work and others are content with a leisurely life in small spaces. No matter the breed or circumstance, students of Cottonwood Creek K9 graduate with the skills to sit, stay, heel and happily obey.

Cottonwood Creek K9 • (559) 429-2444

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