Sandy Lewis grew frustrated when her adopted American bulldog mix wouldn’t walk on a leash.
Lewis needed help, so she contacted Renée Lamoureux of Follow Me Dog Training LLC.
“I had Renée come out, and within a couple of lessons my dog was a totally different dog. My dog listens and walks perfectly on a leash,” said Lewis, who lives in Chesterfield County. “Renée is really great about being able to read the dog and understand what the dog will respond to. She really gets it.”
An International Association of Canine Professionals Certified Dog Trainer, Lamoureux started her Henrico County-based business in October 2007. Her services include a puppy class for young dogs 7 to 16 weeks old, basic obedience and off-leash obedience training, and behavioral and problem-solving techniques.
Lamoureux is trained and specializes in remote collar training. She also helps out with house training and treadmill training.
She also can provide board and train services as well as pre-baby consultations that talk about how to bring a new baby into a home with a pet dog.
“Most people are looking for basic training in their teenage dog, which is showing behavioral issues,” Lamoureux said. “I help the dog become a better member of the family.”
Her clients pay an average of $900 to $1,000 for a full obedience and behavior program. After completion, they can take their dogs to group classes, which are held in different parks and neighborhoods.
Follow Me Dog Training has increased from an average of 45 clients a year to 100 a year, she said.
“This is my 10th year, and to have made it this far is great,” Lamoureux said, noting that during the recession her business actually grew. “In today’s society, people treat dogs more like family members. The pet business is one of the businesses that never took a hit during the recession.”
Lamoureux started her career with a pet-sitting business in college. She went through her first dog training school in 1996 at the National K9 Learning Center in Ohio and worked with other dog trainers in Kentucky before founding her first dog training business in Washington, D.C., in 1997.
Before moving to Henrico, she worked as the head trainer for That’s My Dog! Inc. in the Midwest where she taught dog trainers and their local clientele.
A friend encouraged her to start a dog training business here. “He and his wife told me that no one else in Richmond had this type of dog training business,” she said.
One of her first priorities was to establish a solid web presence that would attract clients.
One of her proudest accomplishments is participating in the MS Walk with her clients and her dogs Leinie, a Belgian Malinois, and Frappy, a mixed breed. The team of walkers has increased from three people with their dogs to about 30 people.
“We now have the largest team of dogs at the walk,” she said.
She believes it’s important that a person finds a dog that is a good match. Her hardest job is telling pet owners that the dog they are thinking about is not a good match for the family.
“For me, it’s important that you have quality of life for everyone. You need to have the experience of enjoying life with your dog,” she said.
Sandy Appelman of Richmond went through three different trainers for his two Labrador retrievers before he found Lamoureux.
“Nothing worked before Renée,” he said. “Our yellow Lab puppy wouldn’t walk on a leash, and in five minutes she had him walking on a leash. We were sold after five minutes.”
A lot of the work Lamoureux did was to “train us in the consistency of what you do with the dogs and the commands,” Appelman said. “She was amazing. We now have in our eyes two perfect dogs that are obedient and polite. I think the dogs love that we trained them.”