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Teaching Tricks of the Trade

Teaching Tricks of the Trade

  • "Teaching Tricks of the Trade" originally appeared in the April 2024 "20 Under 40" issue of COMO Magazine.
Dog sitting in front of trainer at Lizzi & Roccos

Dog training at Lizzi & Rocco’s uses positive reinforcement to strengthen the human-animal bond.

Jessica Schlosser, an enthusiastic advocate for holistic approaches to addressing animal health, entered the business world with her husband in 2009, introducing their brand, Lizzi & Rocco’s, as a pet supplies store that offers high-quality, natural pet products.

In fifteen years of operation, Lizzi & Rocco’s has expanded by acquiring a second location on the north side of Columbia and by offering additional services based on their dynamic customer base and staff interest. When employee (now trainer) Jennen Herbst first proposed dog training courses, Jessica was immediately on board with bringing the idea to life.

Dog training is now available at the Green Meadows location and caters to a range of ages, skill levels, and behavioral needs. To accommodate those needs,  Schlosser and Herbst have developed a few different classes, including Margot’s Manners, the MEIA Program, and the MAC Program—all three named after Herbst’s dogs.

The Margot’s Manners group training is structured as a six-week course featuring multiple fifty-minute sessions, designed to fit both a dog’s needs and an owner’s schedule. Jessica describes this program as one that “teaches basic skills, as well as foundational skills that dog owners can build on however they want.” The program includes classes for puppies, adults, and advanced dogs. Prospective participants are advised to review the Lizzi & Rocco’s Dog Training page to access information on available class dates and times, as some sessions may have limited availability.

The MEIA Program is a behavior modification course tailored to more reactive dogs. (The Lizzi & Rocco’s crew dislikes the use of the word “aggressive.”) Short for managing emotional interactions appropriately, MEIA aims to assist pet owners in identifying their dogs’ triggers and teaching the owners effective management techniques by initiating a one-on-one approach to build trust, gradually transitioning towards a more social, “real world” environment. Similarly, the MAC Program is for dogs who struggle with confidence, which causes them to behave in ways that owners may not like. Both programs underscore Lizzi & Rocco’s commitment to fostering positive canine behavior, strengthening the human-animal bond, and working towards reducing the number of dogs going into the shelter system.

A central component of Lizzi & Rocco’s dog training is the use of positive reinforcement, rather than negative. Research indicates that heavy-handed approaches, like hitting or shock collars, are often counterproductive, causing fear in the dog and inhibiting their capacity to learn. Positive reinforcement, however, results in a higher likelihood of information retention in dogs. This includes giving treats, toys, or praise whenever the dog performs a desired behavior.

Be advised, as the owner, you will need to work alongside your dog to see maximum results.

“You will get out of the training program what you put into it,” Schlosser says. “It’s a team effort between the owner and the dog. Consistency with training at home is key. It’s also important that if the dog lives with a multitude of people that everyone is on the same page to make it a little easier for the dog to understand what the expectations are — and have fun with it.”

If you’re nervous about enrolling your furry friend in classes, whether due to age, behavior, or skill set, don’t fret. Schlosser wants you to know that training is beneficial for all dogs: “We can work with anything you bring our way, as long as you’re open to it.” 

Meia Training Dog Class Outside
Meia Training Puppy Sitting

Lizzi & Rocco’s South
550 East Green Meadows

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