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Laura Perkins is the owner of Perkins Animal Behavior Consulting and the Training and Behavior Coordinator for Clackamas County Dog Services.

 

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Laura and Libby

Perkins has loved animals since she was a child, and started training dogs in 4-H when she was 8 years old. As she developed her skills, she grew to love the process of training along with the teamwork that grew from it. By the end of high school, Perkins was teaching 4-H classes and feeling the rewards of showing others how to enjoy training with their dogs.

One of Perkins’ favorite memories is of obtaining her first agility title with her first dog, Libby. Libby was very accurate, but not very fast for an agility dog, and the two had been working towards a novice title for over a year (as there weren’t many trials in the area). The day of their first outdoor trial, there was a thunderstorm that delayed the trial and left the field a muddy mess. Most of the dogs competing were slipping, sliding, and missing obstacles because of the mud, but Libby got through the obstacle without a hitch. Perkins says, “I, however, fell halfway through and was covered in mud. She simply waited for me to get up so we could finish. And she got her title that day!  I was so proud of my careful, eager to please dog.”

After completing her Bachelor’s in animal science, Perkins’ passion pulled her in a different direction from her original plan of being a veterinarian, and she continued on to receive a Masters of Science in Behavior Analysis. During her graduate studies, she had the unique opportunity to volunteer for an exotic animal sanctuary with her lab partner. “I had the opportunity to work with lemurs, macaws, and coatimundi.  After crate training a coati (whose reinforcers were mealworms delivered by tweezers!), crate training my puppy was easy!”

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Coati 

With all this experience and education under her belt, Perkins decided it was time to start her own business, Perkins Animal Behavior Consulting, where she gets do some of her favorite work, using a gentle approach to help build behaviors that promote a happy partnership between dog and family. She is especially passionate about using a gentle approach in her training, and helping people recognize when their dog is stressed, afraid, happy, or relaxed. Visiting with clients and their dogs after training is done, and seeing the positive results of their work is very rewarding for her.

As Training and Behavior Coordinator for Clackamas County Dog Services, Perkins has a broad impact, working with dogs, volunteers, and new adopters. She works hands-on training resident dogs, and teaches volunteers how to improve the welfare of the dogs in the shelter using training and enrichment:

Outside of work, Perkins enjoys nature and family - gardening, spending time working on her fish tank, taking walks in nature, and spending time with her husband.

When asked how her work connects with the mission of Animal Community Talks, Perkins shared: “I especially like the principle ‘start from a place of respect.’ Information is so accessible now that sometimes sorting through it is overwhelming. I find that most people are trying their best to do the right thing for their pets or their clients and they need support in accomplishing that. My goal is always to approach a new client with support and encouragement, regardless of whether I agree with the choices they have made for their pet.”