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A Pleasant Dog works to help dogs, their owners thrive

Rapidian Jenn Gavin has made dog training her career by starting a training business called A Pleasant Dog. She focuses on helping dogs and their owners learn how to excel in an urban environment.
Gavin trains a dog in front of Alexander Calder's La Grande Vitesse statue,

Gavin trains a dog in front of Alexander Calder's La Grande Vitesse statue, /Courtesy of Jenn Gavin

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/Courtesy of Jenn Gavin

Grand Rapids has a new dog training service in town called A Pleasant Dog. A Pleasant Dog is the creation of long-time dog lover and trainer, Jenn Gavin. Gavin’s goal for A Pleasant Dog is to help urban dogs and their owners thrive in a city environment. Due to having limited yard space and spending most of their time indoors, urban dogs can develop behavioral problems such as anxiety, separation anxiety and aggression problems.

“It was actually another trainer who inspired me to start A Pleasant Dog. She was helping me with my Rottweiler, and she noted the especially challenging environment a downtown neighborhood presents for dog ownership and training. There are so many people, other dogs and noises; it can be difficult for dogs to get along peacefully,” says Gavin.

Over the last 20 years, Gavin has trained dogs for therapy work, as well as rehomed and trained homeless dogs with behavior modification including aggression, fear and anxiety. She works with small and large dog breeds. Gavin decided to name her business based on the goal of her training methods and a friend's suggestion.

“My good friend Peter Jacob came up with it. My home office is on Pleasant Street, so that was where the idea sprouted. But I've always been enamored with the iconic dogs of yesteryear. I hope 'A Pleasant Dog' evokes that image. For instance, my grandmother told tales of a Chesapeake Bay Retriever called Dinah, who would walk to the general store with them and carry a can of soup home in her mouth. I want to help people and dogs have fulfilling and mutually respectful relationships. I think that is how we create nice, friendly dogs,” says Gavin.

A Pleasant Dog offers training options based on dog owners' needs. Private in-home training sessions are offered for $60 per session. Another option is “Lunch and Learn,” a program where A Pleasant Dog will come and work with a dog three times a week for $129 a week. At the end of the week, A Pleasant Dog will go over what skills the dog has learned and how the owner can use the skills with their dog.

A Pleasant Dog also offers two group classes: Puppy 101 and Adult 101. The classes are six weeks long and are held outside in locations around the city to give them urban experience. The classes have a limit of six students and cost $125.

Gavin believes her range of training programs brings something unique to West Michigan.

“I believe A Pleasant Dog is the only West Michigan training business that focuses its practice on urban dogs. More and more, we're asking our dogs to live in high density areas, stay home all day while we work, and still behave. This is achievable, but some dogs and owners need a little help to get there. Because I've lived downtown my whole adult life and worked with dogs in this environment, I think I bring a unique perspective to training dogs in this environment. The whole urban dog movement is growing in larger cities, but I don't believe it had yet come to Grand Rapids until A Pleasant Dog,” says Gavin.

A Pleasant Dog also offers vacation care for dogs in the downtown Grand Rapids area for $40 a day. The service includes two walks or playdates, meals, medical administration and additional visits with a dog in their own environment. For an additional $25 a day, A Pleasant Dog will work on any problem behaviors that the dog has while the owner is away and debrief owners when they return.

Gavin hopes A Pleasant Dog will positively affect Grand Rapids in a few ways.

“I hope to help create more well-behaved city dogs and decrease owners' frustrations with their dogs through training. With my free matching service, I hope to increase adoption rates for homeless pets in local shelters and rescues. If you're in the market for a dog (or any pet for that matter), I will help you locate a local shelter and rescue pet that fits your needs. Approximately 3-4 million pets are euthanized in U.S. shelters each year. If I can prevent this for even one animal, that makes me feel good,” says Gavin.

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