Dog Trainer. Coach. Author. Workshop and Seminar Leader.
Creator of The Cognitive Dog Training System
Founder of Dancing Hearts Holistic Learning Center
Kathy Kawalec is passionate about helping people and their dogs be brilliant together…in life, dog sports, agility, herding, competition…anything and everything! It all starts with teaching PEOPLE to be the kind of trainer dogs can really understand.
Kathy says enthusiastically:
There never needs to be a ‘power struggle’ between people and their dogs. Dogs just want to know what pleases us — because when we are pleased, they are happy!
Confused, worried and frustrated dog lovers are drawn to Kathy’s eager optimism for finding solutions to their struggles. Clients love her humor and compassion, realizing that she is their strongest advocate and biggest fan. They feel heard and understood and they trust her open, honest and kind guidance.
Making the Connection for People and their Dogs
Among Kathy’s strongest gifts is her ability to identify and solve dog behavior and performance issues, AND to teach her clients to use her system to do the same! Her intuitive and right-on insights transform a rocky relationship between a person and their dog every time. Many struggles can be traced to a breakdown in communication or misunderstood intentions, and Kathy is a specialist in clearing the channels so good communication can flow again.
Can you imagine the pleasure of being able to walk your well-mannered dog anywhere? Or teaching your herding dog to be an awesome sheepdog using Kathy’s positive, collaborative method? How about being able to call your dog anytime, and she eagerly runs toward you as fast as she can? Just imagine that amazing feeling as you come off a great run…the partnership, the skill, the handling…it is an incredible experience that everyone who performs or competes with their dog loves to have.
Having a beautiful partnership starts with teaching a dog’s person how to understand and properly communicate with their dog. Kathy’s clients learn to see struggles and challenges from their dog’s perspective, and they learn how to remedy those struggles by being a competent collaborator with their dog.
When we ‘speak’ clearly in our dog’s natural language and listen carefully to our dog’s feedback, powerful understanding between us and our dog is possible. Communicating in this way makes training simple and fun…and makes us a trainer our dog really understands.”
A Mission of Love
A lifelong love affair with animals and more than 35 years of training and showing horses and dogs has presented Kathy with her fair share of failed attempts and struggles to ‘get it right’. Discovering ways around these obstacles has opened up pathways that would not have been possible otherwise. These challenges led Kathy to become an expert in dog behavior, positive training, a ‘holistic approach’ to everything, the human-animal bond, the mind-body connection, communicating with animals and so much more.
Always an eager learner and seeker…sharing her knowledge and experience with others and helping to make the world a better place for dogs and their people, is what excites Kathy and what motivates her to be an ambassador for kind, compassionate, loving and effective dog training.
She is not afraid to calmly and firmly stand as an advocate against any type of training that is based on dominance or (she can’t stand the thought) methods that use force or devices like prong collars, choke collars or ecollars. “Using these types of abusive methods and devices and calling it ‘training’ clearly shows lack of imagination on the part of the ‘trainer’ and is simply a lazy and poor substitute for real, heart-centered, partnership-driven training”, Kathy admonishes.
Better results, a great relationship and a happy dog is what is possible when we approach training with an open mind and an open heart.
Whether working one-on-one with a client in person or on the phone…or teaching intimate workshops…or presenting to larger groups — discerning people who love dogs rave about the inspiring, practical and proven strategies they take away. Helping people create a clear and personalized roadmap that leads them to the success that they have dreamed of is what brings Kathy the most joy…and what really lights her up!
Sharing her knowledge with herding enthusiasts, Kathy hopes that her success at training multiple border collies to be world-class sheepdogs, including those she’s bred and raised and those she’s rescued as adults, will inspire many to abandon the ‘old ways’ and commit to train their herding dogs with her collaborative methods that feel great to both dogs and people!!
Some interesting things about Kathy:
• When she was 5 years old and just home from a hospital stay for asthma, she opened the gift her Aunt brought her, found a beautiful doll, then looked up and innocently expressed her disappointment: “oh, I thought you would bring me a puppy.”
• As long as she can remember, Kathy brought home stray animals from her Chicago neighborhood streets. One of the most memorable was when Kathy was about 11, she brought home a young mix she named ‘Baby’. Little did she know that Baby was pregnant with 15 puppies that she would help whelp, raise and find homes for.
• Kathy so loved horses and wanted one of her own as a young woman. She worked two part time jobs, in addition to her full time job, so she could afford to buy a horse and board it at a stable near the forest preserves. ‘Colorado’, a beautiful red chestnut gelding, was her first horse and they rode many 100’s of (mostly joyful) miles together. That was just the start of her love affair with horses.
• Most people get a chuckle out of this fact: Kathy’s sheltie picked her husband. Yep, Joe was the one and only person the shy and reserved Haley had eagerly walked right up to and allowed to pet her up to that point in her young life. When Kathy pondered how serious this relationship with Joe should get, she remembered how much Haley liked Joe from their first meeting, and figured that such a sensitive dog couldn’t possibly be wrong. (BTW: Haley was right. 18 years later, Kathy and Joe are still happily married).
“Kathy, You have an excellent ability to analyze problems and find solutions that work for a particular dog. I like how you respect these dogs for the amazing creatures they are. After watching Lucy yesterday in awe at how gracefully she handled a bolting sheep I realize how much I would have missed out on if it wasn’t for you and your positive approach. Thank You!”
-Rich K., Illinois
“I hope you already know this, but you have made such a difference in my life and the lives of my dogs – hard to put into words. I am blessed that we have crossed paths and cherish the relationship we have developed. I cannot believe the things I have learned and I hear your voice often in my head giving me the encouragement to forge ahead. Thanks for being who you are!”
-Tresa L., Wisconsin
“Kathy, You’re amazing! You are a wealth of knowledge, and your approach to training is inspiring. I wish I could devise some small space craft or something… that could enter your mind (and heart), and spend a few weeks exploring. I could learn sooooooo much. I’ve learned a great deal already. Thank you so much.”
-Rina K., California
“Kathy, All Carla and I can say is WOW!!!! What a great weekend we had out at your farm. Thank you for the excellent instruction and information. Not only were our dogs enriched, but our lives were enriched also. Carla and I felt comfortable learning in the environment you created. You have a beautiful farm and home, wonderful Border Collies, and a very amazing style of teaching. Again, all we can say is WOW!!! What an amazing weekend!!!!”
-Marc and Carla F., Illinois