When dog trainer Maren Bruun and her husband decided to leave their town of Squamish, initially they were not sure where they were going to move to. However, one weekend visiting friends in Powell River was all it took for them to fall in love with the city and decide to settle there for their new life.
The move did not mean retirement for Bruun, an experienced dog trainer recognized by the BC SPCA AnimalKind program in 2019 and owner of Paw in Hand. On the contrary, her love of dog training, plus experience with different breed types and behaviours meant she certainly wanted to continue helping guardians and their dogs in her new community. Bruun says, “I moved to Powell River in August 2021 with my husband and three dogs. I took some time to settle into our new home and get to know the community. Making sure that my own three dogs (two seniors who are blind, deaf and anxious, and one energetic youngster) did well with the transition was very important to me. With the new calendar year, we were all settled, and the time came to start helping other dogs and their people again. It was a natural next step.”
With the arrival of Paw in Hand comes the first BC SPCA AnimalKind accredited training company in Powell River, which, according to Nicole Fenwick, manager, research and standards for the BC SPCA, has a positive effect on animal welfare for dogs in the region. “AnimalKind accredited companies like Paw in Hand use evidence-based, humane training that makes the animal-human bond stronger, instead of outdated techniques that can cause harm to dogs,” says Fenwick.
The BC SPCA created the AnimalKind accreditation program to help dog guardians find dog trainers who use science-based training methods and are committed to high animal welfare. Brunn says, “The dog training industry is ever-evolving, and there are countless different certifications that a dog trainer can work towards. AnimalKind has some of the highest standards, and the BC SPCA is an organization that people trust. It’s important to me to promote kind methods of training to the public.”
Brunn explains her approach to training as a partnership between dog and their guardian; she says “side by side and Paw in Hand,” referring to her company’s name. Bruun likes to explain dog behaviour to her human clients in a way they understand it and helps them identify what is needed to promote positive change. “With Paw in Hand, dog guardians in the region can be confident that their training needs will be met with compassion, from a science-based, humane perspective,” says Fenwick.
The impact of Bruun’s work is starting to show results, as she is already helping dogs in the community. “I’ve been hanging out at the BC SPCA local branch and helping the staff with some of the dogs up for adoption. Lily had a few challenging behaviours and had been in care for quite a while. She made some good progress to be put up for adoption and just found the perfect home this week. I hope to see her out and about in the community!”, says Bruun.
The BC SPCA launched the first set of AnimalKind standards – for wildlife and rodent control companies – in 2018. Through a partnership with the UBC Animal Welfare Program, the BC SPCA, Vancouver Foundation, and the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies provided funding to establish the program. AnimalKind standards for dog training – the second set of standards developed, were launched in January 2019.
Learn more about AnimalKind accreditation, what to look for in a trainer, or find a trainer near you at animalkind.ca.