Socialization and Behavioral Consulting

Well-behaved dogs on a rock
Have you just adopted a rescue animal from your local shelter? Are you finding that your dog is untrustworthy, over-excited, fearful or even aggressive when meeting other dogs or people? Is it difficult to control your dog on-leash when others come into sight? Do you feel that your dog can't be trusted off-leash?

We can help teach your dog to socialize and become trustworthy on and off-leash in a number of controlled ways including with custom-selected, well-balanced and seasoned dogs in our safe and private dog park; with people and other triggers in an in-town setting; and at your home where entrenched patterns exist. Using this variety of dogs and settings, we can customize our approach to best serve the special needs of you and your dog. Well-behaved dogs on a rock

The goal of our incremental dog socialization program is to teach dogs how to greet other dogs and interact positively, moving through attainable stages to ensure success at every step. Our ambassador dogs can help put your dog at ease and model communication and negotiation skills never established or buried through trauma and isolation.

We simultaneously work with owners in multiple settings to develop necessary leadership and communication skills. When you are calm, confident, consistent and clear, you will help provide a foundation for your dog's success. And when your dog can exercise its innate desire to interact with others and run off-leash, your dog and you can move forward on a joyful path.


Testimonials for Behavior and Socialization Consulting Sessions

Leslie and I learned about Lee Ann through Leverett Connects and what a lucky break for us and our high energy Labrador pup. Lee Ann is the dog whisperer! She is unique in my experience working with several trainers. Lee Ann is a great observer who quickly interprets dog and human behavior. She is the first trainer that has taught & trained me as a dog handler. Lee Ann developed a working plan that is sensitive to handler/dog growth and change. We are thrilled.

-Paul and Leslie Fisette, Leverett, MA

I have never been so thrilled to write a testimonial. I came to Lee Ann with my 3 year old rescue dog, a Pit bull mix, Lucy, after working with a another dog trainer and taking several classes at a local training center. When we initially adopted Lucy from the Dakin, she was calm and sweet with humans and other dogs. After about 6 months, she became dog reactive, started viciously barking at the door and at anyone who came into our yard and had nipped at several people including our immediate neighbors. If I hadn’t fallen so in love with her sweet side, I would have tried to give her back to the shelter. A friend recommended Lee Ann and after an assessment, Lee Ann was very clear with me that while positive training alone can work for some dogs it wouldn’t work for Lucy’s breed. Lee Ann immediately and patiently started teaching me how to correct Lucy’s unacceptable behaviors and the importance of reinforcing whenever Lucy was able to stay in a calm state. Lucy learned much quicker than I did. After one or two sessions with Lee Ann she was able to sit quietly at the door while I let humans in. In a matter of months, Lucy went from not being able to be near another dog and jumping on joggers to walking calmly on a leash and greeting new dogs at the dog park. I have learned how to assure Lucy that I am in charge.

It is so obvious to me that Lee Ann spends a great deal of time thinking about an individualized behavioral rehabilitation plan and carefully making modifications as necessary. She is great at communicating after each session, sending photos, answering questions and responding thoughtfully to questions by email or phone. Lucy now attends weekly pack walks, enjoys extended stays with Lee Ann and Stuart and has made many dog friends. We are both still learning and improving and each time we drive up to Barking Birch Farm, Lucy’s tail wags excitedly I smile with gratitude.

-Robyn Miller, Amherst MA

Lee Ann and Stuart, I've just been watching the videos again with tears in my eyes, happy tears. It is so wonderful to see Mack wagging that stubby tail, that tail that had part removed because of stress induced happy tail in the shelter. And to see him even just a little bit becoming part of a family pack, it just means so much to me.

-Marianne Reiff, Pelham MA

I call what Lee Ann does "dog magic." We've had our boxer/pit bull rescue dog mix, Mack, for just over two years, and around us he is the biggest sweetie you can imagine. However, when he's on a walk on leash in our neighborhood and meets another dog, he alerts immediately and wants to go jump on the other dog. I mean, REALLY wants to. If the other dog responds by barking or advancing toward him (or is just on a walk coming toward him) he starts lunging and working himself into a frenzy. And a 70-pound frenzy is not a happy sight. He's also triggered sometimes by small kids.

Lee Ann has been teaching him that he's not the one that has to deal with every possible danger; that's the job of the person walking him. And she's been teaching me how to communicate to him that I've got it and he's OK, whatever challenges arise. In just a few lessons, I'm seeing a huge change in Mack when he's with her, and I'm learning from her to support that change when I'm on my own with him. He's much happier when he recognizes he can be the Beta instead of feeling that he has to be in charge. I'm deeply grateful for her gentle wisdom.

-John Reiff, Pelham MA

A Picture is Worth 1000 Words
-Sheryl Sadler-Twyon, Montague
Successful Dog/Cat Integration with animals that couldn't share the same living space

I met Lee Ann walking with her daycare pack of dogs on a trail in Leverett while I was trying to restrain Luna, our two year old rescue dog, from jumping wildly. Later, I called up Lee Ann about working with Luna to alter her out of control greeting behavior. Even our little grandchildren were worried about entering our house. I was becoming as anxious as Luna was, anticipating her unpredictable behavior.

Lee Ann spent a couple of sessions just getting to know Luna and then decided upon a way to proceed. She determined that Luna would do better off leash, so began using a remote collar and including her on walks with the other dogs. Lee Ann and the other dogs taught Luna how to behave better, how to greet and interact with other dogs and people. Now Luna is more controlled, calmer, more responsive to commands and, in general, happier.

Lee Ann has an amazing understanding of dogs. What I appreciate about her is that she individualizes her approach to dog training. There is not one way of doing things that fits all dogs. She understands dog behavior and knows dogs' gestures and language. Not only did Lee Ann help Luna to behave more positively, but she helped me to know how to better interact and communicate with our dog.

-Judith Inglese, Leverett MA

To put it short and sweet, Lee Ann Warner is a miracle worker, as far as we are concerned. After adopting our husky/shepherd/something else from a life of hell, we tried numerous dog trainers to help us get our sweet dog with issues to be happier, better behaved and more social. They all told us we would have to live with certain difficult behaviors, probably due to Brandi's history of abuse and neglect. When we met Lee Ann everything changed. The impact was immediate. Lee Ann identified the issues and helped us develop ways of dealing with Brandi that are easy for us and Brandi. Whatever questions we have, Lee Ann has the right strategy. She has a calm and wonderful way of communicating and is a pleasure to know and work with.

-Laurie & Niels Christiansen, Amherst, MA

I have an adorable little Malshi (Maltese/Shitzu mix) with a fun, loving, interesting temperament and personality, a real cutie. Problem for Oscar and I was that we weren’t able to go out on a walk and see a person, animal or car without him totally freaking out and barking like a madman. I read and read and tried so many different things to no avail. Then one day I saw a posting at Deerfield Veterinary Clinic for Lee Ann and Barking Birch Farm mentioning ‘behavioral’ problems. The rest is history.

What an amazing woman and a family that supports her efforts at Barking Birch. Instantly you could feel the calm and confidence the oozes from Lee Ann to the animals she’s brought in, the love of them and importantly for us the understanding she has of what makes them tick, us tick and how to make that blend together to produce a solution for a happy, workable home for our pets.

I now know how to help Oscar be in the ’state’ as we walk along and how to present myself to these occasions and set us both up for success. Honestly, if you love your pet but have some unmanageable aspects to your lives together, do yourself and your pet a huge favor and visit LeeAnn and family at Barking Birch!!

P.S. Oscar now visits Barking Birch for his weekly playtime with other dogs and loves the interaction with the ‘pack’ and with Lee Ann. Long walks in the woods, play time, nap time, snack time...lots of good stuff and comes home exhausted! When we drive up to Barking Birch he starts whining and crying to get out of the car he’s so excited.

-Linda Spencer, Greenfield, MA

Lee Ann is a dog whisperer who can read your dog's body language and mind set perfectly. When our dog began taking off in the woods chasing deer or following particularly enticing scents and ignoring our recalls, Lee Ann helped us to consistently maintain control and ensure her safety. She worked with us in the woods to train both of us: me in my tone of voice and timing; our dog in her understanding of the signal and expectations. She also helped tremendously by teaching me to observe and interpret our dog's body language to be able to anticipate when she was likely to attempt to take off. We also worked with Lee Ann when our dog began to growl in close confines with other dogs. Lee Ann determined that she was attempting to protect me from the other dogs. I needed to show her that I was in control of the situation (the alpha), that she could relax and trust me to protect her. The amazing thing is that she was able to diagnose and resolve both issues by training both me and my dog in only 1-2 sessions each. My dog totally trusts and responds to Lee Ann's requests instantly. I highly recommend Lee Ann for any of your behavioral or obedience problems.

-Peggy Brownell, Leverett, MA

We were seeking a dog trainer to assist us in training our 2 yr old golden Percy Jones. We loved him dearly but we had become frustrated with a few issues: 1) when off leash he was no longer coming back to us in any kind of timely way and had developed a game of coming close and then scooting off just as we were about to releash him and 2) pulling on the leash to the point that we were worried he was going to, at some point, hurt us. We are not “spring chickens” and so we needed him to be trained around these two issues. (Maybe I should be saying ‘we needed to be trained’ around these two issues!)

After a brief phone conversation we made an appointment to have Lee Ann meet Percy and us. We immediately felt at ease in this first encounter when Lee Ann asked some clearly pointed questions in a very friendly and professional way. Why were we not using a Gentle Leader? Good question! Percy then met one of her dogs and Lee Ann observed how he responded and interacted and explained some things to us about his mannerisms. She was also very encouraging and to our relief she thought Percy would respond very well to some clear training with a “Training Collar.”

The trainings were very successful. Each session was followed by a clear report about what how he had responded. The third session we joined Lee Ann and she “trained” us about how to use the collar device. She was very supportive of our learning curve and understood that we needed to be completely comfortable with its use. Percy was responding quickly and easily and we were very amazed, pleased, and relieved that we were once again going to be able to have our dog off leash and feel totally comfortable that he would respond to our “come Percy!”

We were most impressed with Lee Ann’s knowledge about canine behavior and the nuances of our particular dog. After only a few sessions, we were on our own with Percy. We faithfully use the training collar each time we take him for an outing off leash. He is responding beautifully just to our verbal commands and we rarely have to use the collar devise at all. Percy attends two outings a week at Barking Birch and he (and we) couldn’t be happier that we discovered Lee Ann and the wonderful outings at Barking Birch Farm!

-Barbara White & Deborah Snow, Montague, MA

Our shepherd-mix dog came on a transport from Rescue Dogs in Alabama. We loved her right away, but we were seriously out of our depth. We never had a "complicated" dog before. Finding Lee Ann was an incredible stroke of luck for us. We all needed to learn our roles in the household to help Cleo settle in and feel comfortable within the boundaries of acceptable behavior. We also needed to learn how the dog was interpreting our commands and moods, and how we were seriously confusing her much of the time and this was making her anxious. Lee Ann worked with all of us on all these early mischief behaviors, even though many of them I had half-believed we were struck with for the duration. Lee Ann's training to "leave it" with the cat has been hugely successful, and the cat can't thank her enough! We also all had to learn the fundamentals of walking politely on the leash, NOT freaking out when we came across other dogs, and that Cleo could greet people without jumping on them and meet small dogs without trying to bully them. I also trusted Lee Ann explicitly in the big step of letting Cleo run and play off-leash for the first time. This was something that was really important to us, but we were afraid to try it on our own. Cleo also needed to learn how to socialize appropriately with other dogs. It was an amazing thing to watch Lee Ann get in there with a pack of dogs, with her quiet but firm authority, instinctively reading the moods of the dogs; knowing when one needs a timeout and one needs a break and another needs to revisit a lesson. Mostly, I think we needed to be taught the imbalance between our uncertain expectations and authority and Cleo's need for guidance. Lee Ann has so many times helped me to break down the situation, look at all the factors, and then individualized the lessons to fit me and my dog.

-Margaret Simmons, Shutesbury, MA

I am so grateful to Lee Ann for her behavioral help with my little rescue terrier Forest. With her steady, caring but firm guidance she is not only helping him reach his potential as a more balanced dog, but helping me to be the right person for my dog.

-Jewell, Shutesbury, MA

We first brought our puppy to Barking Birch as a seven month old. It was the best thing we could have done for our dog and our family. Lee Ann has generously shared her insight and knowledge with us as she kindly "trains" us humans so we can do well by our dog. Jasper has learned excellent behavior through Lee Ann's careful, strong, but gentle guidance as well as from the other dogs under her care. Follow our lead. You won't regret it!

-Chris, Carol, Robin and our dog, Jasper, Amherst, MA