Hi, my name is Harley Harrington and I have been training dogs for over forty years. Born and raised in Carleton County New Brunswick Canada.
I am 5th generation hunter,trapper,and Jack of all trades.
I’ve had a dog for a companion since I was 10 years old., and began raising Blue German Shepherd’s in 1976 and have worked hard to develop of system of reward based, positive reinforcement training that will work for any dog with any problem, and I have helped many people up and down the St.John River Valley and I hope to help you as well.
If you have a problem you might find the answer you need in my blog posts, and you can always contact me using the contact form below, and get a free copy of my report on how to have a well-trained dog in 4 easy steps.
I am always reachable and it is my goal to help you reach your dog training goals.
Let’s be Facebook friends…send me a friend request…after all… a stranger is just a friend I haven’t met yet…
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I appreciate you visiting my site, have a good day, and good luck.
I debated for several days on how much I should tell you about myself.
It seems that my introduction is a bit lacking in background information, and really tells you nothing about why you should even consider listening to one word I have to say.
Come..gather around and let me tell you how for the first 48 years of my life.. not once did I think about training dogs as a means for making a living,,in fact training dogs was as normal to me as breathing..I never gave it a second thought.
I was raised on a 100 acre farm in Cloverdale, Carlton County New Brunswick, with my Grandmother and two of her boys, Fenton and Eldon. My Father had moved to Bridgewater Maine to build his new tucking company, and was not able to take me with him. He would come and visit regularly, and each summer I went and stayed with him.
For the first 8 years of my life I was sheltered from what my Grandmother called the messiness of living off the land with what you grew and hunted,.it was not for children to experience, and rightly so.. there was no money to go to town and buy milk..we had 14 Holstein cows for that..and for the first 14 years of my life I never ate a hot dog, or french fry except on special occasions when we would travel to Mars Hill Maine to visit relatives..if there was any money to spare Eldon always made sure I was treated well. At home we all ate Beef,Pork,Chicken,Fish,Deer,Moose daily… all of which was hunted and killed by the men in my family.
We grew a huge garden that was filled with all the vegetables that we would need to keep us healthy and strong. My Grandmother and I spent a lot of time together weeding that garden.
Now back to my story…being male in a family of hunters and trappers, it soon became apparent to me that it was expected.. that one day I would step up and learn how to provide for my family.
Then came the fall of my eighth year,.. It was time to slaughter the farm animals that we had raised all summer, to make sure the family had lot’s to eat during the long winter..one night at supper about a week before… my Uncle Eldon said,. ” Harley Edison, I need your help next weekend when we kill the pigs….” That was it.. he didn’t say another word about it.
I looked and Grandmother half expecting her to say, “Eldon, he’s too young for that messiness”, but she just looked like she was going to cry, and didn’t say a word.
I knew then.. that it was time… I was on my own… my man training had begun.
Two years later when I was ten.. it was my turn to get the 22 rifle ready and take care of the messiness, up until then my job was to help Eldon and Fenton in any way they asked, for example,
It was my job to keep the axes and knives sharp at all times..to hold the mash can to lure the pigs out of their pens..and to clean up after the messiness was over.
Now you might think things like this would traumatized me.. but when you are raised not knowing any other way..well that’s all I knew,.. and it was the way things were,.not only in my family but for many other family’s who lived and worked in our farming community.
I think Eldon knew that I was different,..even before he began my man training he suspected that I would be a challenge..
I was always going against the mold.. a rebel without a clue…
for example there was a lot of grass snakes where we lived and when ever Eldon or Fenton saw one they would grab a shovel or club or some kind,..and well..you would think they were killing a crocodile..there was beating and thrashing and swearing..and by the time they were done there was nothing left of the poor snake except the memory…at least I didn’t have to cut the grass there..it would be a month before it grew back…it looked like a flying saucer landed there..
One day they spied me playing with one, I had it in my hands and was trying to put it in a box to take up to my room..Eldon said,” Put that damn thing down before it bites you”..”Kill it!”..
I said “No!”, “I am not going to kill it, it didn’t do nothing to me.” ..and I promptly let it go,..placing myself between it and Eldon to ensure he made it to the long grass..Eldon just huffed,” You want to leave those things alone..don’t play with them, I’m telling you now.” Eldon was all man rough and tough but when it came to me he couldn’t be to hard, I knew he loved me.
I went on to bring home a hawk,a ground hog..and if that mother coyote hadn’t showed up…I would have had a coyote pup…I couldn’t stop myself from wanting to interact with animals…
My defiance and rebel ways didn’t end there it showed up again on the day I was to shoot the pig..
I went through the motions right up until I had the gun pointed at the pig… and I knew it would be a clean shot…but something clicked in me… and it became clear to me that killing .. while necessary to the success of my family… and.. I knew that if I had to do it to survive I could.. I chose in that moment to make the decision to never kill anything unless I was starving.. if there was any other way I would take that route before I would cause harm to any living thing..
I handed the rifle to Eldon and I walked away…
Later that night I over-heard him talking with Grandmother..he said, ” Mother that boy is in a class all by himself.”, I don’t know what to do with him. She responded,”Just let him be, he’s not like you that way,. he loves animals and has a tender heart, don’t break it.”
I was never asked or expected to be responsible for the messiness ever again,.. but I knew that on some level, Eldon was disappointed… that I was not more like him.. and I tried to make him happy… I walked with him and helped when he went trapping and helped to set the traps and skin the beavers, otters, bobcats,lynx, fishers, and many other fur-bearing animals that Eldon enjoyed harvesting to help add to our bottom line.. he was an excellent provider.
Now don’t get me wrong.. I love meat I eat it almost every day… and I really do love animals..I think they are delicious…Just don’t ask me to be at the front end of getting the burger to the plate…but I know this to be true..if the world crashed tomorrow and we were thrown back 100 years… me and mine would be just fine.
Now if you’re not already bored out of your skull… I will get into why you should listen to me when it comes to understanding your dogs and how to manage their behavior,,without hitting,yelling, tossing them on their side or back, or any of that messiness.
We always had two dogs in the yard for as long as I can remember. One was trained to protect our family and farm and the other was trained to work the animals,,things like bringing in the cows, and herding tasks. Harness them up and they would help pull a sled full of fire wood. Dogs were an asset to the farm and held in high regard. However my Uncle was of the old school way of thinking..that in order for your dog to mind.. you had to be hard on it..”spare the rod, spoil the dog so to speak”… if the dog growled at the family they were in for a tuning..nothing that would injure them physically but too rough for my liking… I was not allowed to play with the dogs because Eldon said that would ruin them..they would get soft and would be of no use to us anymore.
So at the age of 10 I went to the livestock sale with my neighbor Page Briggs, and brought home my first puppy,.. Tiny, she was an Australian Shepard cross..and man was she smart..I had to hide her for the first few days..up the road under an old abandoned house.. I was a little concerned about what Eldon was going to say about my defiance of his wishes… I went undetected until one evening after supper I went up the road to play with my puppy and I lost track of the time.. it was getting dark and I should have been home a long time ago.. I was just heading out from under the house when I heard someone call my name….” Harley Edison!”..followed by “Where are you?”..I could hear the fear and anxiety in my Uncle’s voice and I thought about crawling back under the house and staying there.
But I was sure they would find me in time and I figured I had better come out cause my Grandmother was probably crying her eyes out… worried sick that I had fallen into the stream, or was lying in the ditch hurt…
So everything came out about the puppy..there was talk of giving it away..and talk of me running away with the puppy..and finally Eldon said,” If you want the damn thing,. you had better take care of it.. and I did, I trained her to do many things like, count…yes you can teach dogs to count,..
She turned out to be the best cow herder we ever had,. I swear.. she would sit by the barn door and as the cows came in she would nod at each one..and.. if even one of those cows was not there, she took off like a bolt of lightning and in no time she had gone into the pasture and found that cow, and brought her back to the barn,, this I did not teach her..she just did…it was in her nature to herd.. I just gave her the opportunity and some simple guidance.
To pay money for a dog back then was un-heard of… but I was offered big money…( a hundred bucks)… by a couple of local farmers but I refused to sell..how could you sell your heart?
She died in my arms at the age of 13..outside of the death of my family members…this was the saddest day of my life… I will never forget Tiny…she was a great little dog..( I get choked up just remembering her…seems like only yesterday….
I have no pictures of her but this one is identical to what she looked like…
After she died I went on to own and train 9 more dogs in my 54 years..3 of the 9 lived to be over 10 and died of natural causes at peace at home with me.. one died in a car accident, and one was stolen from me as a puppy.. right out of my own yard… 2 I gave to other family members…and the last two are still with me today..
Lola is my Blue Blood Shepard and trained to guard me and mine, and Bullwinkle, a Rottweiler cross, that’s trained to just be a good boy…
Here is a picture of Lola and Bullwinkle with my Uncle Fenton, he is 80 years young and still active..a little hard of hearing but hey it goes with the territory of getting old..my Uncle Eldon is no longer with us…and like me he didn’t like having his picture taken much..but I know there’s one here somewhere and when I find it I will post it here…
I worked at a lot of different jobs over the years and dog training was never in my mind,. until one day in 2008,.. my son Dustin was watching a show called “The Dog Whisperer”, he yelled to me from the living room,”Hey Dad check this guy out, he’s doing pretty much the same thing with dog’s as you do and he’s getting rich”, then he laughed.
I was immediately interested in what this guy was doing.. I watched a few shows and I could tell right away that this guy was old school, he kicked and hit dogs, and alpha rolled them to make them submissive.
Oh sure,,he called it a “touch”, but all I saw was a bully that forced his will onto innocent dogs who were doing nothing but trying to survive and cope in a domesticated world with no one to teach them how.
I began to think about what I had seen on T.V… and although I had helped a few of my neighbors and family train their dogs I never realized that there were so many people out there that were in trouble because of their dogs bad behavior and had nowhere to turn., and good dog trainers are very hard to find..
I knew I could get the dog to behave right because I took the time to train them properly,. and always used positive reward based training to teach my dogs to think for themselves and have choices..about how to behave in a way that was conducive to having a happy life.
I never hit, kicked or yelled at my dogs or had any need for leashes, chains or kennels… they lived with me in my home as fully participating members of the family.
So I decided to go into partnership with my son, and we started our first dog training business..we started out training dogs how to come,sit,stay,down,,the basics of obedience..we also took on dogs with behavioral problems like aggression,fear, anxiety, obsession…and had great success with helping these dogs…until..we took them back to the owners.. with in a week or so they were writing or calling me… telling me that the dog was great for a couple of days and then… they don’t know what happened… but the dog now seems to be worse.
I was… to say the least…discouraged..how could I justify taking people’s money only to have them tell me the dog ended up worse off then before I got involved.
I knew it wasn’t me,,the dogs were fine when they were with me,.it sure as heck wasn’t the dogs fault..it is never the dogs fault..then it dawned on me..it’s the owners who are making the mistakes when I bring the dog back they are not prepared to manage their dogs behavior in a way that worked..
So I changed my methods and approach.. I no longer consider myself just a dog trainer… I’m a people trainer..
Now when I am called to help someone, I ask them what their biggest problem is…and then show them that their dog can be the way they want it to…I get a real kick out of walking into someones place and having them tell me that their dog pulls them down the street and lunges and barks at every dog, kid on a skate board, ect… and they are sure they are never going to change… but within 30 minutes I am walking their dog on a completely loose leash.. and the look on their face is priceless.
The rest of my two-hour training session is spent teaching the owners on what they must do after I leave in order to have the same results as me.. and I provide two weeks of after training support,,to make sure the training sticks and they have the best chance for success..
my passion is to help people keep their dogs in their homes where they belong.. and not in a shelter or worse..
Now 6 years later I am still doing what I love to do, my son has moved on to bigger and better things and has a family of his own,. and I am proud of the man he has become..he’s a chip of the ole block.
Well that’s all folks..that’s me in a nut shell.. I don’t have a long list of educational credentials that say you should listen to me,.. all I have is my lifetime of experience of being successful in teaching dogs how to cope in this crazy world we live in, and a growing list of dog owners.. whose lives I changed for the better… the day I showed them how to manage their unruly dogs behavior..and I know I can help you too..all you have to do is ask.
Take care of your family’s and your dogs…they depend on you to set the example…