THE DOG WHISPERER
By Kelli Robinson | Photography by Gayle Shomer
Posted: Friday, Aug. 31, 2012
Fran Iwanicki, owner of Lake Norman Dog Training, says the biggest misconception concerning her business is that the process is about the dog. The biggest challenge I face is dealing with the complexities of human nature.
In other words, dog training is really about people.
Iwanicki operates Lake Norman Dog Training out of her Statesville home, but trains canines and their owners at various locations throughout the Lake Norman area. In-home sessions comprise the bulk of her business, during which she works with families to help make their dogs follow basic commands. But Iwanicki also does individual training sessions in parks, vets offices and even grooming studios, all aimed at correcting behaviors exhibited in those particular settings.
Prior to opening her business, Iwanicki used her people-training capacities in the corporate world, having worked as a trainer and curriculum developer for 15 years. But her connection with animals, specifically those in need, began as a child. Even as a young girl, I was always drawn to anything with fur that had issues. When I visited friends who had horses, I was curious about the one hiding at the back of his stall. I wanted to know why he was afraid and how I could help him.
When working in the corporate world, Iwanicki offered her animal-training knowledge free of charge to friends and family. Word began to spread, and she found herself travelling long weekends across the country to offer training services (travel expenses paid by the clients).
I was earning a salary in my office job, but was happiest on the road training dogs, she says. After a brief stint doing training classes for a national retail pet store, I decided to take the plunge and open my own business.
While shes taken college courses in animal behavior and psychology, Iwanicki believes her innate intuition and observational skills are they keys to her success as a trainer and give her insight into how animals operate. Were just scratching the surface of what animals are capable of doing.
Iwanickis approach uses rewards and praises to modify and elicit positive behavior. This process is about creating relationships between the dog and its family, she explains. Training helps a dog feel safe and respect its leader, which helps strengthen the bond between a dog and its owners.
Recently, Iwanicki began working with humane societies in the Charlotte metro area, training dogs whose bad manners or aggressive behaviors prevent them from getting adopted. Regardless of whether someone spends $2,500 at a breeder or $100 at a shelter, a good dog is worth all the money in the world, she says.For more information go to www.lakenormandogtraining.com