Dog trainer Emily Fisher wanted to be a veterinarian when she was young but she went on to earn a degree in cultural studies from Trent University in Peterborough.
“Cultural studies are totally unrelated to dog studies but very good for critical thinking,” said Fisher. “This is mostly what I have done since I graduated in 2008. I registered the business in 2009.”
Fisher is the owner of Scratch & Sniff Canine Services on Southgate Drive where she offers private training and behaviour consulting as well as group class dog training.
“Group classes and private training are kind of the two main categories,” she said. “Private training is primarily geared towards dogs that need specific help and owners that need specific help - reactivity, fear, aggression, that type of thing. Some of that can be accomodated in a group class but you don’t need to teach your dog how to lay down if your dog is trying to bite everyone that comes into your house.”
She got a dog when she was eight years old and has always had an affinity for animals and nature.
“I am from Toronto but I rode horses all through my childhood and I want to be out in the woods more than I want to be in the downtown core,” she said.
She developed an interest in dog behaviour working with her partners dog.
“My partners dog had a bite history and a lot of it was having that lived experience of how if you do things wrong with your dog it can make things much worse,” she said. “We went to a trainer who used different methods than I do now and saw the escalation of things getting worse.”
After university she got a job at a vet clinic.
“It was interesting work because it was an emergency clinic and there was some pretty horrific stuff that came through there,” she said. “I decided I was more interested in the behaviour side of it. When I left the vet clinic I started dog walking and then I was working as an apprentice and assistant at a dog training school in Toronto.”
She went on to be a head trainer at another dog training school before moving to Guelph.
“I moved to Guelph because I’d had enough of the big city,” she said. “It was getting harder and harder to find places to walk the groups of dogs in Toronto. It’s nice to visit but I don’t think I could live in Toronto again.
She opened Scratch & Sniff Canine Services in 2012 on Chapel Lane downtown.
“It was a good place to get started but I needed more outdoor space for the dogs,” said Fisher. “I moved to this location Nov 1 of 2018.”
The new space has allowed her to expand her services and slowly grow the business.
“I am happy in this space right now,” said Fisher. “Longer term I would like a bigger space if there is more demand for the sport classes. That’s way down the road. I want to stay small and personal. I love doing the hands on part and having the consistent communication with people.”