When Lisa Hartman, a dog trainer and author, went looking for her own pet, she discovered Jay-J, an anti-social, aggressive 1-and-a-half-year-old Dalmatian, traumatized from a life in animal shelters. Applying her original mixture of learning theory, animal science, compassion and acceptance, Hartman’s positive methodology not only saved Jay-J’s life but helped her reshape him into a perfectly imperfect, unique, loving pet.
Luckily for dog owners everywhere, Hartman has recently shared her knowledge, methods and positive holistic approach to dog training in "Dial a Dynamite Dog." Turned off by long, jargon-filled training books and punishment-based approaches to dog training, Hartman has written an “easy, fast, dog-friendly way to train a dog,” what she calls her “Cliffs Notes to training.” This small, portable field guide provides dog owners with the tricks of the trade and proactive methods for developing a mutually positive relationship with their dogs. With helpful information on reading a dog’s behavior and signals, Hartman makes it easier for owners to understand and accept their pets.
An animal lover since her youth, Hartman observed countless trainers try and fail to train dogs with rough and forceful methods, she said. With a mission to “change animals' lives,” she began her dog-training career in Miami, volunteering at local shelters and taking courses in positive training and animal behavior at a school based on the methods pioneered by the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Academy for Dog Trainers. In 2005, she was hired as a behaviorist for the Miami Humane Society and began writing a monthly pet column for the Biscayne Times.
While working in Miami, Hartman also provided in-home dog training where she said she noticed stacks of lengthy and confusing training books at her clients' homes. Working with many Spanish- and Hebrew-speaking families, she saw the dire need for a training book in plain English.
“I think a lot of dog training books are written for other dog trainers,” Hartman said. “My goal was to make things as easy as possible, because I know people don’t want to be dog trainers; they just want a nice dog they can live with.”
“People always complain they don’t have time," she went on to say. “If you don’t have time to read this, you don’t have time for a dog.”
In August, 2010, Hartman self-published what she fondly calls “her baby,” “Dial a Dynamite Dog,” which provides tips, tricks, tools and techniques for successful dog training in a fast, easy, on-the-go style. She believes a dog owner should embrace a dog’s individual personality instead of trying to restrain it, and encourages owners to let their dogs be dogs. A dog should be man’s best friend, not his obedient servant, Hartmann said. “I hear people say ‘Something’s wrong with your dog’ or ‘You shouldn’t let your dog do that; it’s bad,’ but I say, let the dog do it if he wants.”
Hartman’s own two dogs are loaded with personality. Jay-J displays his mischievousness by pushing chairs over so he can climb to items out of his reach while Saffy, a hairless Chinese Crested, loves to run into stores along Main Street, especially , where she, “flirts with everyone in the store for more treats by jumping into their arms … She enters every room like Kramer from Seinfeld, with a big slide and hair disheveled,” Hartman said. “It’s a comedy routine if you let it, and I let it,” she said of her dogs.
Only months after releasing her first book, Hartman is already thinking about her next. She says more dog training books, a photo book and a funny book about dogs are all possibilities for the future.
“Dial a Dynamite Dog” is available at area book stores including Bookhampton in Southampton, Montauk Book Store, the Hot Spot in Manorville and the Open Book in Westhampton as well as at in Southampton and in Sag Harbor. It may also be ordered online from dialadynamitedog.com