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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014

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In Kids & Family

Jennifer Digate: Milwaukee's "dog whisperer."

Wild Canine gently transforms pests to pets


A lot of people are fond of dogs, but Jennifer Digate -- the owner of the dog training business "Wild Canine" -- has a special connection with these four-legged friends.

"What I appreciate the most about dogs is that we co-evolved with them and that makes us more similar than different," says Digate, 37. "I love that they are born able to read our body language and watch our faces for cues. I appreciate how forgiving they are of our mistakes."

Wild Canine's tagline is "training the canine brain" which accurately describes Digate's work.

"All my training practices are based completely in sound learning theory /science," she says. "I have an extensive knowledge of canine ethology -- body language and behavior -- and have 10 years experience helping dogs learn new ways to interact with their environment."

Digate teaches puppy classes at Central Bark in Mequon and she makes in-home behavior consultations for fearful, reactive and aggressive dogs. She also offers professional help for caregivers with new puppies, advice for dog selection and temperament testing for shelters an rescue groups.

Group classes range from $105 to $205, depending on the length of the class. The duration of the classes range, too, from 30 to 55 minutes.

In-home, 70-minute behavior consultations are $125 or $150 for aggression prevention training. In many situations, in-home training is more successful and / or convenient for pets and their caregivers.

"Anxious or fearful animals often learn better in their own environments," says Digate. "Sometimes people with busy schedules simply want someone to come in-home to work at their convenience."

In 1997, Digate started training her family dogs. Later, she started working for the Wisconsin Humane Society in multiple roles, including as a class instructor. In 2004, Digate started Wild Canine. It was difficult for her to juggle both jobs.

"I was so busy I had to make a choice about which path I wanted to continue on, so I chose training / behavior, although it was a difficult choice," she says.

Digate adopted her first dog at the age of 9. She researched breeds and picked a cairn terrier named "Mac" for her family, which ended up being a great fit. Today, she often brings her dog -- 6-year-old cattle/corgi mix, Piper -- with her on location.

Today, Digate has years of success under her belt and she feels fortunate to be able to work in a field that she truly loves.

"I adore all animals and do train other species, but the bond between people and their dogs is unique - emotionally and biologically," says Digate. "This has been my passion and my only job for the last seven years."


Talkbacks

MHall | Feb. 22, 2010 at 11:10 a.m. (report)

Excellent trainer. She really knows what she is doing and is very good with the dogs. I used her in the home and for classes and will use her again. She makes it easy.

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LisaRockyCooper | Feb. 9, 2010 at 8:28 a.m. (report)

Jen is an excellent trainer! My dogs have taken several classes with her and I have learned so much from her. Her method of positive reinforcement training has helped me turn my dogs into happy, well-behaved dogs that are a joy to live with. I would highly recommend Jen for anyone interested in becoming a better dog owner. You get out of your dog what you put into them, and Jen can show you how to make your dog be the best he/she can be.

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liontigerbear | Feb. 8, 2010 at 11:12 p.m. (report)

i have hired Jen in the past and will again in the future. Her ability to quickly grasp the dynamics of my dog and family gave me great comfort. she understands the difficulty of having a dog with issues and her warm style offers much to people and animals of any age. i wouldn't hesitate to recommend her, especially if you have seen other trainers who have given up on your dog for whatever reason or if other techniques have failed.

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