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Nicole and SpiritTestimonials

"When we first got our puppy Kobe, we knew it would be a little tough with all the puppy issues, but we didn’t realize how hard it would actually be. Thank goodness for Nicole, because without her I'm afraid we might have given up a really great dog. We were really going crazy with the nipping issue as well as a few others. We have a six year old son and he was spending most of his time in his bedroom with the door closed because of our little muncher mouth. It got to the point where we were afraid he had a mean streak in him and that we might not be able to live with him. Before we made the decision I decided to bring in the "big guns" aka Nicole, to see if she could remedy the situation. It's amazing what can be done in just a couple of sessions. She assured us he didn’t have a mean bone in his body and began transforming him into the sweet natured little guy he is today. Our son now plays on the floor with him and all he does is lick him to death. What a change. Thanks, Nicole."

- Sue, Kevin & Evan Haegele, Saugus

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The dog training we are receiving has proven to be invaluable to us, not only have you trained our dog you have trained us how to be better pet owners. We look forward to each training session. You have done so much for us, we can't thank you enough for everything...I know we still have a ways to go with our English Bull Dog “Izzy” but again without you I'd be in "Doggie Therapy" and I don't know how I would have gotten thru Izzy's puppy years! Thanks Rayna! XX00

- Phyllis Rohr, Stevenson Ranch, CA

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"Nicole Wilde has proven herself to be a very effective trainer for many of our patients. She encompasses humane methods as her choice in training. Everything Nicole does is reward based with positive reinforcement. She understands canine behavior and how dogs respond the best to their human companions. Nicole’s goal is to provide your family with a four footed member that they can live with and enjoy for many years to come. I highly recommend Gentle Guidance and Nicole Wilde for all your training needs."

- Lisa A. Pope, DVM, Stevenson Ranch Veterinary Center

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Finding a dog trainer that would be knowledgeable and humane were critical factors, and we found those with Gentle Guidance. After initial discussion with Nicole Wilde, we were optimistic that we had found the right trainers. Then Rayna Barker, our assigned trainer, confirmed those hopes and more! Her professionalism, extensive knowledge of dog behavior, years of experience, and her warm, compassionate personality, were demonstrated from the first day we met! Clearly, her biggest challenge was in training us, the dog owners, and not our Siberian husky. We are very grateful to Rayna and extremely pleased with our trained dog.

- Robin & Terrence Goss, Canyon Country, CA

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Katie is a two-year-old ex-racing greyhound. The rescue I got her from warned me that she had shyness issues, and actually made me do a two week foster period in case it was too much for me to deal with. After meeting her, I agreed to take her, because I could see that there was a happy little dog hiding inside her, and I wanted to do what I could to bring that happy dog out. However, by the end of week one, I knew that I needed to have someone's help, or else I was going to have to give Katie back because of the issues I was having. And that's when I talked to Nicole, who recommended that Rayna come take a look at the situation and see what she could do.

Rayna was extremely helpful in giving me tips on how to manage Katie... when to force her to interact, when it was ok to let her have downtime, how to integrate her with my other dog and yet have "alone time" with both of them. One of the biggest issues I was facing was that Katie was terrified to go outside, and that meant housetraining problems. She helped me learn how to get Katie outside, and how to get her to come out from the corner of the bedroom where she would hide. And, to be honest, it was nice to just have someone come out and say "Yes, there's a problem, but if you do this and this, it may get better. And if that doesn't work, try this."

Now, I have a dog that is laying quietly by my chair as a I type this. One who comes running down the hallway when I ask "who wants to go outside?" She's happy running around the yard with her stuffie, and even is going on walks and now out to a group obedience class. Admittedly largely for socialization purposes right now, but you can see her confidence increasing with each class. And all because Rayna helped me get through the very rocky start that we had and keep the commitment I made when I agreed to take her. She is turning into a lovely dog, with a great personality, and I am so happy that I had Rayna to lean on so that I got to meet the dog hiding inside Katie. We still have a long journey ahead of us (I'm still at the point where I am thrilled at the fact that Katie is willing to eat in a class with a bunch of strangers and strange dogs, much less actually to do whatever we are working on), but I can see that she is making huge strides and gaining more confidence with each day.

So a huge thanks to Rayna, and you can feel free to use this on your website so that other people will know what a good job she does!

- Rebecca Rice, Valencia

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"I was really hoping that training would help me with some of the problems I was having with my dog, Scooby Doo, but I am blown away by Nicole's services. I saw changes in my dog's behavior after only one lesson. On Nicole's first visit, she completely reframed the way I thought about my dog and his behavior. She immediately pointed out emotional cues my dog was giving that I had never even noticed. And the tricks she has shared with us have really helped to calm a fearful Scooby. She has also focused on what I need to do, as the owner. My dog has shown such unbelievable improvement in such a short time, as have I. I now enjoy taking Scooby out for walks and feel much more connected to him and his feelings. Nicole has been an absolute pleasure to work with. I would not trust anyone else with my dog!!"

- Courtney Dinius, Canyon Country

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Rayna, Thank you so much for all of the help that you have given me and my dogs. When I asked you to help me train my puppy pit-bull, I had no idea that it was going to have such a positive effect on my 2 year old pit-bull. With your help and guidance I now have 2 well behaved, happy dogs. People can come into my house with out being afraid of 2 “crazy, out of control” dogs. My dogs eat without aggression, they play without fighting, they sleep next to each other, and they can even have dog bones and not be afraid that the other will steal it. A much different scenario than before I called you. Thank you for teaching me how to be a better dog owner. I know that I am happier and in turn so are they. A great big thank you!!!

Love, Karen, Rex, and Roxy Karen Goldman Valencia, CA

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"So many of the clients we have referred to Nicole have come back in to the store to tell us how thrilled they are with her services. Nicole has always been pleasant and professional to deal with. She has an obvious enthusiasm for what she does and for the dogs she works with, as well as a real understanding of canine behavior. We would recommend Nicole Wilde and Gentle Guidance to anyone looking for help with their dog."

- Chris and Kathi Hoeflich, owners, Pet Supply, Santa Clarita

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Rayna worked doggie magic with our Great Dane, Paul. Not only was she great with him, but she provided us the tools to continue to build on the foundation she had already started. Thanks so much Rayna! The help you gave us will last a lifetime.

- Tom and Rebecca Sweeney, Valencia, CA

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Maya, our 11 month old Great Dane, has been a sweetheart since day one. She learned quickly but wouldn’t always respond to our requests the first time. We needed some fine tuning. Enter Nicole! The first five minutes of Maya’s first session was absolutely mind blowing. Maya loved Nicole the moment she walked through the door and not just because she had a bag full of yummy treats. Nicole has taught us, the trainers, how to be super positive in every aspect of learning and in turn we have an incredible dog that pays attention to our commands the first time!

I don’t stand much taller than Nicole, so walking Maya on the leash was quite a work out. Nicole fixed that problem too and now we are able to enjoy our daily walks leisurely.

Thanks Nicole ~ you are a miracle worker and so much fun to watch work.

- Patti and Marty Capoccia, Valencia

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"Our Lab, Sophie, was not only destructive, but wouldn't stop jumping on us, and pulled like crazy when we took her for walks. In just a few private sessions, Nicole showed us management and training techniques that totally solved all of these problems. Nicole is worth her weight in gold!"

- Mary Wright, Castaic

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A note about aggression cases: Anyone who claims to "instantly cure all types of aggression" is only suppressing the symptoms through punishment--the aggression often returns. A better, safer and more successful long-term approach is to address the underlying cause of the aggression. Although progress was seen quickly in many cases here, a dog's individual prognosis depends on many things including the dog's genetics and experience, and the intensity of the aggression. Rehabilitation may be swift or may take months to address, but in the majority of cases progress can be made.

Prior to being referred to Rayna, we had used 2 other trainers and interviewed many others. We would explain the aggressive tendencies of our Italian Mastiffs and all the trainers said the same thing, "the dogs needed a firm handler". After a few sessions of the “firm handling” our male mastiff seemed to be getting worse and more often aggressive towards dogs and even some people. Fast forward to today and 7 months after working with Rayna and we now have dogs we take on daily walks, runs, and out when we have visitors. Rayna earned our respect by earning the trust and love of our dogs! We had erroneously believed our male mastiff would never be able to be trusted around people, but we have no doubts that he can now—thanks to Rayna. She taught us to create a positive environment through gentle handling and to be patient with the dogs. During those periods of patience, she showed us how to read the dogs’ body language to know whether they were comfortable or not, or feeling aggressive or not. In addition, Rayna was always open to our ideas and suggestions on situations we wanted to train in—at the dog park, at home, in our neighborhood, with guests in our house, and even socializing with her own dogs. She gave us creative and practical exercises we could replicate on a daily basis to enhance the dogs’ progress. In addition to training, Rayna was well-informed on a number of other topics from food to toys to vet visits. She has a great rapport with big reactive dogs and we will forever be grateful for her help in creating a peaceful home filled with mastiffs.

- Marcy and Alan Calnan, Valencia, CA

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"In the beginning of May my husband and I found ourselves to be the new parents of a 5 year old German Shepherd dog. We had visited him twice before agreeing to adopt him from a home where his master had died two years earlier. He had since been kept in a kennel in the back yard and had contact with the family for about ten minutes twice a day when he was fed and when he was brought into the house to sleep… tied to a piece of furniture.

When we got him home we soon found out that being removed from the only home he had known had had its effect on him. One time during a play session he mistook a movement of play to be a move to take one of his toys. He protected his toy by biting right through my husband’s hand and, since he has been protection trained, he would not let go even as my six foot three husband stood up.

We decided to get help and asked around. One name came up several times… Nicole and Gentle Guidance. I had a long conversation with Nicole over the phone and we set up at time to meet for an evaluation of Bear (now named Boo Boo Bear to lighten up the name). A few days later while I was waiting in the veterinarian’s office in came Nicole. We had never met before but she smiled at me as she went by, saying hi to Boo Boo as she passed. Suddenly she stopped and turned around and asked, "Is this Bear?" Just from our phone conversation and my description of Bear she was able to recognize him when seeing him for the first time. I thought, 'This is a woman that pays attention. This is the woman I want to help us work with Bear.'

I have had dogs most of my life but I’ve always had them since puppyhood so I was not able to read Bear's very different behavior. Nicole was not only able to befriend Bear right away but was also able to point out subtle behaviors indicating Bear's discomfort with certain of our behaviors during the very first session.

From then on she would give us exercises to work on until the next session until now we have a loving, affectionate dog. He still guards the house and us but he no longer sees us as the enemy, he sees us as family."

- Charles and Belinda (last name withheld by request)

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My wife Patty and I wanted to save a dog so we rescued an 8 month old 130 lb. female Great Dane/Lab named Shana. Previously we had a Great Dane Named Claudia who was the sweetest dog in the world. At the rescue Shana was very playful and nice. When we got Shana home from the rescue she immediately growled at our neighbor. Over the next few weeks she nipped 3 people while in our home (always biting them on the butt as they were leaving). Shana's problem was beyond my skills in training dogs.

One trainer who advertises on the radio (no names) told me that we either had to put her down or be prepared to spend at least $4000. My wife Patty and I were crushed. We had quickly developed a strong bond with Shana. It turned out that Shana had a fear/aggression behavioral problem with people (she loves other dogs).

We chose to work with Nicole Wilde who was highly recommended. Nicole helped us understand what was going through Shana's mind. She broke down Shana's behavior's and helped us to identify her trigger points. I believe that Shana had been abused. We had a lot of work ahead of us. Nicole trained us how to train Shana. It seemed so simple once it was explained to us.

At first it was difficult to see any change. And then slowly Shana began to turn around. Once she was moving in the right direction she began to gain momentum. We carefully controlled all Shana's experiences with people. Over the last 6-8 months Shana has gained leaps and bounds. Outside of our house most people would not even know that Shana ever had a problem and she is doing better and better in our home.

I cannot say enough about Nicole. Her professionalism, flexibility and understanding of animals is incredible. She helped us achieve our goal to save a dog (we found out later that Shana had been adopted and returned twice). I feel that I will always have to keep an eye on Shana. The damage that was done to her as a puppy will probably leave a scar for many years if not the rest of her life. Nicole doesn't give you a magic pill. You have put in a lot of work, but Nicole guides you in the right direction. I can't thank her enough.

- Brian & Patty Sweeney, Castaic

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"When we heard of separation anxiety for dogs we never thought it would be a problem with our little basset hound Droopy. Unfortunately, due to our change in work schedule, our little 7 month old started barking for hours on end. At one point we received a note on our door by our downstairs neighbor telling us he had been barking for 5 hours straight!! One of the main reasons why we contacted Nicole was because if we were not able to keep Droopy from barking, we would have had to give him up because of the Home Owners Association!!!

We are happy to report that after just ONE session with Nicole, we have a very quiet and happy Droopy! No complaints from the downstairs neighbor or the HOA. WOOHOO!!! We highly recommend Nicole to everyone who has asked us about what to do with a dog who has separation anxiety. Give them Prozac... NO!! Give them a session with Nicole!"

Thank you so very much :)

- Lara Zadurian & Wesley Murphy, Santa Clarita

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Rayna was the first person we looked to when we began having problems with our newly adopted dog. Through her wealth of knowledge, patience, and caring nature we were able to fix our issues while strengthening our bond with our dog. Working with Rayna has truly made a difference in our lives!

- Henry and Kelly Garay, Valencia

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"Nicole of Gentle Guidance Training has been a wonderful help to the rescued Goldens in the Santa Clarita area. Even after being to group classes, which is a must with the Foundation, you still need that one-on-one instructor to tweak that one little thing that comes up, before it becomes a problem -- and Nicole is the one that does it the best. She knows how the dogs think, and humans too. She is very patient with both dogs and people, and has been able to handle every issue we have thrown her way. We have had excellent feedback from our adopters. Gentle Guidance is the only company I will refer to in the Santa Clarita Valley!"

- Janna Smith, Golden Retriever Rescue Foundation

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In July of this year, I adopted a 2 year old male Lhasa Apso from a rescue group. He was the cutest thing with a huge personality - I thought I had the perfect dog! I knew nothing of the breed, and grew fearful when a few groomers were leery of my new pet because they could be nippy. I also wondered why would anyone give up this totally precious dog?

One day he got into the pantry closet that had his dry dog food, as I approached the door he started to growl at me guarding his beloved food. He became a demon - I finally was able to pry him away - but I immediately thought "I'm not going to deal with this!" After another similar incident I called Nicole.

After spending some time with Nicole she reassured me that this could be reversed, and to both of our surprise sooner rather than later. She stressed leadership, along with strategies to address his guarding tendencies. She recommended sits, downs and stays so there was no confusion as to who was the boss. I did follow her instructions and Ti did become a very obedient pet.

The Jackpot came only 3 weeks after I started with Nicole - I came in the house and Ti was on a chair - as I approached he started growling and lunging towards me. I could see he had the bag of treats I store in my pocket and had carelessly left in a place accessible to him. I assumed the leadership role and told him to get in his bed (he goes here when we eat) much to my surprise he did! He dropped the bag and immediately did what I asked.

I feel empowered at this point, I have it under control -- thanks to Nicole!

- JoAnne Robertson, Valencia

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"The many clients I have referred to Nicole have been very satisfied with her services!"

- Pedro Cisneros, DVM, V.I.P. Veterinary Services

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"I had worked with a trainer before who used choke chains and even wanted to put an electric shock collar on my Cocker, Mitzi. After that, I was a little apprehensive about trainers in general. Mitzi is a shelter rescue and has always been fearful, and I didn’t want to make her worse. But as soon as I saw Nicole and Mitzi together, I knew there was nothing to worry about. I’ve never seen Mitzi take to someone so quickly, and it was obvious that Nicole is a real dog-lover. We worked through Mitzi’s problems together, and I learned a lot about both dog and human body language. It’s really helped Mitzi to become less fearful in general. I would refer anyone to Nicole, and I know Mitzi would agree."

- Elaine Nichols

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"It’s amazing how much Gentle Guidance has been able to help the dogs I’ve adopted out, and helped them to stay in their new homes. Nicole is a real miracle worker!"

- Jackie Hilton, Hilton Rescue

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Dear Nicole, Thank you so much for taking the time to come and help me to help my dog, Husker. He is such a loving and obedient dog. I would not have been so ready to say that prior to your visit, although I knew he was capable of obedience, I just did not know how to tap into that ability of his. You pointed out so perfectly what he was in need of and how I could, pretty easily, meet that need. Also, thank you for the tips on how to give him great nutritional benefits from his food and treats. He loves his kong and I enjoy the time it gives me to do something in which he cannot be a part of (i.e. having guests that don't like dogs....) and to know that it is good for him physically is such a benefit to my peace of mind.

Husker loves his walks and play time and home life is better than ever. Thank you so much for all you've taught us. I have already given your name to friends of mine which have wanted help in this same area. I know you have already been a help and I appreciate that I can recommend you and know that you will respond in the same efficient manner in which you did to me.

I wish all the best to you and your furry friends!!!

God Bless,

- Mari Meyer, Valencia

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"I have two-year-old and four-year-old sons. My six month old Lhasa mix, Chloe, would nip them. It really scared my younger one, and I felt helpless. The kids love the dog and I didn’t want to get rid of her. Nicole not only showed me how to stop Chloe’s nipping, but worked with the kids to teach them what to do, too. She was great with all of us, and we’re all a lot happier now."

- Denise (last name withheld), Saugus

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"Nicole Wilde has her own ideals and philosophies in training. Her methods create a stress-free environment, which leads more dogs to succeed. Her gentle and kind approach makes training fun for both the dog and the owner. We highly recommend her to all our clients who have any kind of issues that they need help in resolving."

- Dr. N.A. Mansour, DVM, Evergreen Animal Hospital

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Dear Nicole, I just wanted to tell you how happy I am with the training that you have given to my three Pit/Rottie/Lab mixes, Lexie, Max and Rocky. They were so fear aggressive toward people and other dogs, and after just three short weeks I was able to take them outside.

I am so pleased, I just can not say enough good things about your training methods and my family has definitely noticed a difference in my dogs as well. I know this is not something that will be accomplished overnight, and you are so patient with me and the dogs it has really meant a lot to me.

Sincerely,

- Lynette Lowe, Canyon Country

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"Over the past year I have become concerned about the increasing aggressiveness of my dear Catahoula/Chow mix, Beaudry. He was becoming so protective of me that I wasn't able to take him on walks because he would scare people with his barking. He even started snapping at me if I picked up one of his bones or touched his food. My husband and I tried to curb this emerging behavior by taking Beau to a trainer. After three months of choke training he sat and layed down and stayed, but his aggression increased. I called the behavioralist at the Pasadena Humane Society, where we had adopted Beau, for suggestions. She advised us to call Nicole at Gentle Guidance. Nicole taught us how to use positive reinforcement to change Beau's behavior and within a few weeks I was able to take Beau on walks with no problems and touch his food without having to worry about him snapping at me. Nicole gave us practical, positive exercises that have addressed the specific problems we were having, but that also seem to be raising Beau's confidence. I used to worry that his aggression might keep increasing, but Nicole was able to identify his problems and then give us the tools that we need to combat it. Thank you Gentle Guidance!"

- Melissa Mertens

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Dear Nicole: I wanted to thank you for everything you've done for Toby. He's becoming such a wonderful little puppy because of all your training tips, as well as having a lot of fun along the way. I know the training he has now will make him a happier dog for the rest of his life. Years ago, when I had my first Westie (maybe 1984 or so) the trainer used a choke chain, which seemed so cruel to me. It worked, but I have always regretted putting Duffy through that. Your reward method is so humane and civilized, and gets even better results.

So, Nicole, you have our appreciation for your patience and your kindness. I know Toby loves you and looks forward to seeing you again.

Thanks,

- Harriet Braun