In 2011, I met Doug and Elizabeth Simpson from Tenderfoot Training in Boulder, CO.
Oana GonzalezWith Doug and Elizabeth Simpson
from Tenderfoot Training
I was born in Romania and as far as I can remember I loved animals. Wherever I lived as an adult – whether in London, UK or in Boulder, Colorado – I always volunteered for the local Humane Society and participated in their various programs.
While volunteering I noticed that some dogs spent a very long time in the shelter (18 months-2 years). These dogs had been through many classes of obedience training (positive reinforcement training, using treats), but were still unable to walk without pulling badly, despite wearing various special devices (prong collars, pinch collars etc).
In 2011 I met Doug and Elizabeth Simpson from Tenderfoot. My husband and I had just adopted a dog from our local shelter. Young Kailash had a number of difficult behaviors that the conventional training classes were not able to change. Doug and Elizabeth had been training dogs in the Boulder-Denver area for 30 years and had an amazing reputation. They had developed their own training style – the Tenderfoot method.
Our first training session was nothing short of magical. We had severely damaged our backs trying to hold on to a Kailash turned wild beast at the sight of cats, yet after 5 minutes with Elizabeth he could co-exist peacefully, off-leash, with 7 indoor cats.
I was so impressed by the Tenderfoot Training method, by how quickly it transformed our experience with our dog from a painful to a joyful one – that I decided to train with Doug and Elizabeth to become a dog trainer.
And so in 2015 Doug and Elizabeth Simpson kindly agreed to take me on as their apprentice, on their farm that is home to 22 animals (horses, cockatoos, cats, dogs – all trained using the Tenderfoot Method, which can be used with any animal). Tenderfoot Training has its roots in something called Natural Horsemanship – a gentle yet effective method of training horses.
That’s when I found out that they were seeing and training the most difficult dogs in the Boulder-Denver area. These were dogs that other trainers had given up on, and had referred them to Tenderfoot Training as a last resort. I saw first hand how quickly these dogs were transformed – and how so much of what was considered aggressive behavior, was in fact insecurity and a lack of clear communication and leadership.
I also saw how this style of training works on any animal: whether a cockatoo, a horse or a cat and how it fosters trust and respect of boundaries between all these different creatures. I am still truly amazed at its power and feel extremely honored to have met Doug and Elizabeth and trained with them. You can read more about Tenderfoot training here: www.tenderfoottraining.com
The Tenderfoot method changes dogs at their core and creates a real relationship with them, rooted in mutual love, trust and respect. It also develops a spirit of cooperation in them - so they listen to you out of a genuine desire to please (and not because they just want that treat/toy in your hand or fear the pain of a pinch collar).