Welcome to Good Dogma!

     Founded by Lisa Ellman and bmauiandlisaased in San Luis Obispo, California, Good Dogma Obedience Training has been providing human and canine education and behavior modification since 1996.
We are committed to providing resources and positive reinforcement tools to help people establish and build successful and rewarding relationships with their canine family members. 

     Good Dogma encourages consistent effective communication techniques with your dog, leading to increased response time. We help you establish and facilitate rules and boundaries for your dog, without punishment, creating a stronger bond of trust and promoting the cessation of destructive, inappropriate behavior. Your new skills will help maintain the structure necessary to keep your pack happy and safe for many years to come.

     When people don’t make time to train and initiate leadership, dogs can become unruly and, at times, impossible to control. Unwilling or unable to address the situation, owners often relegate their dogs to the backyard, or surrender them to the pound. 

     Good Dogma helps owners realize that when human behavior changes, canine behavior changes. Contact us and get started today!

Training the Human

We call ourselves dog trainers, but the real training starts with the human. The time that your dog spends with us, whether a private lesson or group instruction, is relatively insignificant. The time that YOU spend with us is a complete learning period. After a training session with Good Dogma, you will receive individualized homework instructions to implement, reinforcing your lesson with us.

Below is a list for you, the trainer, to think about each day that you live with and train your dog:

               Always ensure that your dog’s physical/psychological needs are                        being met: Leadership, exercise, food, shelter, trust, connection.

  • Remain in the “Leadership” zone (calm and assertive) at all times – change the balance/dynamics of the relationship, let the dog know that you, the human, are in charge of the pack.
  • Your dog is always keeping tabs on your “energy” (stressed, calm, excited, nervous, etc.) and reacting to that energy. A calm dog needs a calm owner.
  • A Purebred dog is still a dog. See them as dogs, not as breeds – but do consider the special needs of the breed (eg border collies, Arctic breeds, beagles, etc.).
  • Training is “superficial”,  focus on the “big picture”. The goal is to have your dog respond to you as a leader utilizing your energy, vocalizations and body language Vs. the sound of a “command”.  Alpha dogs “train” their packs this way. It’s about energy and leadership.
  • It’s critically important to understand the way your dog thinks. We recommend books by Dr. Ian Dunbar, Jean Donaldson and Dr. Bruce Fogle. Pay attention to the dog’s body language to understand and anticipate behaviors so that you can preempt them before the fact. It’s always easier to stop a behavior before it happens than to manage it once it happens.
  • When you say, “We’ve tried everything”, think about this: did you use dog psychology or human psychology? Anger, frustration and punishment are not part of a dog’s psychology. The dog fails when the human fails.
  • Don’t make excuses for your dog’s behavior…train for new, more desirable behaviors.
  • Focus on your goal(s) for the dog, try not to get distracted by the dog’s behavior in the moment. Think long term and be patient with younger dogs.
  • Lack of structure, routine and schedule creates chaos for you, your family and the dog.

Good Dogma's Dogma

     Good Dogma offers sensible solutions to training and behavior issues. Our primary focus is owner education and guidance, offering instruction and tools that facilitate an enhanced interconnection between you and your dog. Utilizing efficient canine communication accelerates your dog’s responses to you. It is essential to understand your dog’s brain and body language to communicate and shape behavior. Inflection of your voice, and your body language, will often tell the dog more than your words do. We encourage you to use everyday as a training opportunity, addressing behavior issues by helping you differentiate between a dog problem and owner problem. Good Dogma understands that all dogs are unique individuals. We will always take your dog’s temperament and personality into consideration when training; timid, shy or subordinate dogs require different approaches than do headstrong, dominant or stubborn types. Good Dogma recognizes that every human and dog learn at their own pace, in their own way, and we work to explore what works best for you and your dog.

     We maintain that it is essential to understand whether canine misbehavior arises from nature or nurture. When you learn to recognize the difference, and understand the how and why of your dog’s behavior, your training becomes effective and even fun!

     Good Dogma does not utilize or promote any negative physical interactions between human and dog. We acknowledge that these interactions do not solve problems and, in fact, may ultimately create bigger ones. “Punishment”, especially at certain stages of canine development, has a good chance of producing trauma, leading to lifelong negative effects on the dog’s behavior.

     Good Dogma’s training philosophy emphasizes consistent positive reinforcement, distract and redirect behavior, and most of all patience. We maintain that teaching the dog what to do, what behavior is desired, and earning praise, contributes to faster conditioning of the desired behavior. 

     We provide private instruction, as well as workshops, seminars, agility and group classes that are relaxed, fun and limited in size so that we can provide every student with as much personalized attention as possible.  

                   Meet the Trainers!

Lisa Ellman  Founder/Lead Trainer

Certified AKC CGC, Trick  and Community evaluator

Member International Association of Canine Profesionals (IACP)

     My first encounter with dog training was at the age of 11. I took first place in a group class with my Doberman, Sidney. I have no idea how, the other students must have slacked off. Returning to school after a carreer in commercial production, I enrolled in Pierce College and got a part time job at a busy veterinary practice, starting as a kennel worker, then as an assistant in the treatment room.

Relocating to Texas and working as a veterinary technician, I was approached by the store manager asking if I would be interested in becoming a dog trainer. Yes!! I jumped at the opportunity to learn about the dog’s mind and help the owners understand their canines. I devoured almost every book on dog training, behavior and dog psychology on the shelves. In 1996, aftr  requests from many students, I launched Good Dogma Obedience Training

Back in San Luis Obispo, I earned a BA at Cal Poly where my senior thesis was canine development and communication. I subsequently received a teaching credential from Fresno State. I currently mentor student trainers attending Animal Behavior College.

I’ve done volunteer work with Horseback Riding for the Handicapped, the Gibbon Research Center in Valencia, and was a founding member and trainer of the Heeling Touch dog training program at San Luis Obispo Juvenile Service Center. I was also lucky enough to lead Paws For Life, a dog training program at the California Men’s Colony. I’m a monthly contributing dog info columnist for Estero Bay News and host a bimonthly dog training radio program on The Rock 97.3 here in Morro Bay.

     My home is in the charming town of Morro Bay California. I live with my four-legged child, Abby.

Vicki Ramos

Vicki Ramos has lived on the Central Coast of California since 1989. She has been passionate about dogs her entire life (since the age of 2!) and has raised many wonderful pets over the years.

After graduating from the Animal Behavior College in Northridge, California as a certified trainer, she started co-training obedience classes at Good Dogma. Lisa Ellman, founder of Good Dogma, works with the Animal Behavior College as a mentor trainer and Lisa was Vicki’s mentor during her course studies.

Aside from dog training, Vicki is an independent consultant in the community banking arena. She also spends time supporting Woods Humane Society as a “master” volunteer, working with dogs to enhance their chance of adoption into good homes. Vicki also volunteers at community outreach events to help raise awareness about the shelter and their adoption program.

Vicki lives in the quaint Village of Arroyo Grande, California with her two dogs, Roxy the Lab and Lucy the Jack Russell Terrier.

Each time I take a class, we seem to learn more.

Marie and Isabella

I really liked having my dog in a supervised group! It was so much help in socializing as well as training.

Marie M.

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