Exclusive Interview With Laura De La Cruz

Today we’d like to introduce you to Laura De La Cruz.

It’s an honor to speak with you today. Why don’t you give us some details about you and your story. How did you get to where you are today?

I started the Leash Up Dog Training program almost a decade ago based on the concept of working with dogs who were part of a family. This concept of “coaching” encouraged people to help their dogs reach their potential as part of the family, not part of a dog pack. I created the Herding Puppy Head Start program in 2020 based on that experience and my fifteen years of herding experience as a competitor, trainer, and judge. As a graduate of the Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training & Behavior, I incorporated concepts of shaping into the in order to help develop the skills necessary for a good herding dog. The Herding Puppy Head Start program (www.herdingpuppyheadstart.com) is an online puppy class that started in 2020 and has attracted participants from across the nation. It is a herding foundation course without livestock so doing it via Zoom has worked out very well. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

I’m sure your success has not come easily. What challenges have you had to overcome along the way?

There have been many challenges along the way, particularly as I have tried to incorporate more positive training (coaching) methods into my herding lessons. I received pushback from some people who still believe the outdated and discredited idea of training dogs based on “pack” mentality. I also work diligently to improve my skills. Shifting my way of speaking, for example, from using the word “command” to the word “cue” and from using “training” to “coaching” has been a process. It has made me a better coach for both people and dogs. As I became more positive, my success in coaching and judging increased.

Let’s talk about the work you do. What do you specialize in and why should someone work with you over the competition?

My specialty is helping people learn to herd with their dogs – by building a trust relationship between the two that allows them to be successful both in competition and at home. I help people learn to love their dogs the way they are and be supportive of their dog’s efforts. I have a reputation as a judge for being extremely supportive of people just entering the sport. Herding is one of the most difficult dog sports there is and failure is common at the beginning. People often drop out after a competition because they felt so inept. My encouragement at competitions empowers new people to continue and become successful. The people and dogs I work with feel the same way.

What’s your best piece of advice for readers who desire to find success in their life?

The success you earn is worth more than the success you are given. Enjoy the journey and trust your dog!

Speaking of success, what does the word mean to you?

Success for me means doing better each time because there is always room for improvement!

What’s next for you?

I keep getting asked to do a follow-up to the Herding Puppy Head Start program. So I’m looking to create the next level of training for herding puppies.

Finally, how can people connect with you if they want to learn more?

I can be reached via the website: www.herdingpuppyheadstart.com

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