Lisa Mullinax, CPDT-KSA is the brains behind 4Paws University and the owner of Mullinax Dog Behavior Lisa is a crossover trainer, whose very up-close and personal experience led her to force-free training.
We are so excited to feature Lisa in our Trainer Spotlight because her educational posters and thoughtful discussions regarding dogs and behavior have been instrumental in helping the force-free revolution move forward!
YPBY: What led you to a career as a dog trainer?
Lisa Mullinax: It started 15 years ago when my dog, Mac, put a neighbor in the hospital. It was one of those perfect storm situations: a dog taken from the litter too soon, not socialized, trained badly (shock collar), and a teenager who didn’t know how to greet dogs appropriately. The result was over 50 stitches and two plastic surgeries…and I almost lost my dog. I was incredibly lucky that he was returned to me, which gave me the chance to seek better training methods. Flipping through the phone book, I happened to call a trainer who used positive methods, began working with her, apprenticed under her, and, finally, under her guidance, began teaching others what I had learned. She encouraged me to keep learning from others through books, seminars, webinars and more.
YPBY: Tell us a bit about your services.
Lisa Mullinax: I offer private lessons for everything from basic training issues to severe behavior problems. I specialize in fear and aggression.
Since the majority of changing dog behavior is reliant on teaching the dog owner, this year I am starting a seminar series on behavior problems, starting in May with a seminar on fear and aggression, which I am proud to present with my good friend and highly-esteemed colleague Vicki Ronchette. We didn’t realize it at the time, but we scheduled the seminar for the first day of Dog Bite Prevention Week! (May 18).
I also offer phone and Skype consultations for dog trainers living outside my area. I donate my time to non-profit rescue groups who need behavior advice to help their foster dogs become more adoptable and help with behavior evaluations and sometimes transport, when needed.
YPBY: What methods do you use?
Lisa Mullinax: Clicker training.
YPBY: Why do you choose to train using force-free methods?
Lisa Mullinax: Over the years, I used just about every method of training out there, including prong collars, corrections on flat collars, alpha rolls, shock collars, scruff grabs, body pressure, verbal corrections, etc. And after working with over 3,500 dogs and 150 different breeds, I’ve seen methods based in punishment cause more problems than they solve. Force-free methods – specifically clicker training – are the most adaptable to each individual dog and behavior.
YPBY: What sets you apart from other trainers?
Lisa Mullinax: I’ve experienced every dog owner’s worst nightmare, their dog attacking an innocent person. I know what it is like to live with and love a dog that is capable of real damage. It is because of that experience that I can relate to owners of potentially dangerous dogs and help them protect their dog and those around them. In a way, everything I do is to make up for the many mistakes I made with Mac and to honor his memory by helping others avoid those mistakes.
YPBY: How do you define success with a client?
Lisa Mullinax: When I see their relationship change with their dog from a struggle for control to one of mutual respect and cooperation. One of the best compliments I ever received was when a client said, “I never saw my dog as an individual before today.”
YPBY: What do you most want your clients coming away from your classes knowing?
Lisa Mullinax: Teaching sit, down, come, or heel is the easy part – it’s just a bunch of recipes. But when a client understands how their dog perceives the world and how to set their dog up to be successful, THAT is what helps them achieve the level of training that creates a well-behaved dog.
We are thrilled to shine the Spotlight on Lisa Mullinax, Sacramento Dog Behavior and 4Paws University. Though her business is based in Sacramento, Ca., through the 4Paws University Facebook page and through her business website at 4Paws University, Lisa is helping spread the force-free message around the world. We are so pleased to call her colleague and friend. Especially since, like us, she understands that animal learning is not breed specific.