WHO WE ARE
A New Leash is owned and operated by two friends, Mary Penny and Hannah Halvorson. Together they have about 15 years of experience in the dog industry. They met in 2015 when they were both dog walkers and in-home trainers. They bonded over beer, dog park visits, and talking shop. In 2017, their individually owned businesses each hit a plateau. They couldn't grow the way they envisioned by themselves so they decided to merge their two ventures and formed A New Leash Dog Training in January of 2018.
intentionally small, client focused
Labels go around social media and conversations like "pure positive", "balanced", etc. and we have intentionally chosen not to label our training approach for a reason.
If we had to sum it up for our clients or prospective clients it is simply: "come as you are."
We are here to help - not to judge or convert.
If you've tried treats, and tools, and gadgets or haven't tried anything, have been to 100 classes or none, have had dogs your whole life or just got your very first one...
If what you're doing needs fine tuning or you don't know where to start - we will help you.
We have found that labels only guide a very small percentage of people to make a decision on where to go for training, and that too much methodology speak can actually confuse more than clarify.
We train dogs and teach people to train their dogs.
We help owners to better understand their dogs and communicate with them more clearly.
We prioritize improving your relationship with your dog over simply "getting the job done."
We encourage enthusiasm at both ends of the leash when it comes to learning new skills and solving behavior problems.
We pride ourselves on being reasonable and realistic - both in training goals and plans to achieve those goals.
We understand that dog ownership is a journey - and not a linear one, at that.
READ MORE ABOUT OUR TRAINERS AND WHAT LED THEM TO DOG TRAINING BELOW.
Though I have loved dogs (and all animals) my entire life, and had dogs as pets growing up, I got my start actually working with dogs in 2007.
I was hired at a dog daycare as an attendant. I learned a lot, and quickly, about interactions between large groups of dogs, managing dogs of all sizes and temperaments - and perhaps the most valuable, I accumulated 1,000's of hours observing dog body language and communication.
I was also able to assist in training classes that took place after hours at the daycare facility.
Though being an attendant was enjoyable, I wanted to be able to help the dogs who were not suited for group play or daycare, but who still needed an outlet. Especially when I could tell that their owners were struggling with their dog's energy and intelligence.
It was around that time that I got my first puppy of my own. Sumo was a French Bulldog - full of attitude and ready to learn. Determined to do everything right, we enrolled in a puppy class, where I caught the training bug.
OWNER, LEAD TRAINER
I graduated from Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training and Behavior in August, 2010. Unfortunately, Sumo passed away in a tragic accident before we started and was not able to be my partner through the program. Instead, I took Shooter, our other resident dog- a American Pit Bull Terrier/Border Collie mix - who happened to be afraid of everything and everyone. Sumo sparked my love for training, but I believe that Shooter made me a better trainer.
After completing Karen Pryor Academy, I opened Honest to Dog Training and Behavior in Buffalo, NY to train privately part-time. I also went on to work at another dog daycare and training facility, an indoor canine swim facility, volunteered at shelters, and attended (and continue to attend) many dog-related seminars and expos.
In addition to my work and education, I have been fortunate to have an array of different experiences working with and caring for dogs - including caring for kennels of show and performance dogs, transporting and fostering dogs for rescues, evaluating litters for placement, and living with and managing reactive and fearful dogs.
The opportunity presented itself and I moved to Minnesota in 2015 and opened my business, Love Unleashed Dog Training and Pet Care full-time. Everyone asks why I chose Minnesota and while the initial motivation was more of a series of circumstances - the strong dog community and true love for all things canine has kept me here. After meeting Hannah and working together on several projects, it became clear that the partnership would only further both of our goals and endeavors - which is how A New Leash Dog Training was born.
Other animals that I have been fortunate to experience training and working with have been: Wolves, Foxes, Coyotes, Bison, Chickens, Donkeys, Pigs and more - I embrace every opportunity to work with other species as I feel it helps me understand so much more about training and behavior. I have also been riding, training and caring for Horses for over 20 years.
I have volunteered at Como Park Zoo & Conservatory in the Primate building, and the Minnesota Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in the nurseries.
I currently have three Ibizan Hounds - Phoenix, Posy, and Meadow.
OWNER, LEAD TRAINER
Like Mary, I grew up loving all animals but found a special connection with dogs. My mother would often take me horse back riding and while she would be getting us signed up for the trail rides, I'd go off to visit with the other animals on the property. When she would find me, I was often surrounded by animals of all kinds. She would tell her friends and our family that the animals must have known I was an animal lover. I still find that I form deep relationships with animals quickly and often fall head over heels in love with dogs that don't even belong to me! This, I believe, is what contributes to making me a great dog trainer. Being empathetic in a sometimes highly emotional field has its downfalls but it also means that when I'm working with you and your dog, I am 100% dedicated to achieving success and bringing peace back into your life.
I first became interested in training when I brought home my first dog, Amos. He was three years old, trusting, smart, and confident. He loved learning new skills and enjoyed spending time with me no matter what we were doing. It was through training him that I learned about clicker training and instantly felt that training dogs was what I was supposed to be doing with my life. I started by reading and watching everything I could get my hands on about body language, learning theory, and behavior modification.
I fell absolutely in love.
I left my job working at a children's book publisher as a client services representative and got a job as a receptionist at an animal hospital. I needed to be around animals. While I was there I started teaching myself even more about stress and fear in dogs and was instantly able to experience what I was learning about while watching the dogs dealing with the stress of being at the vet. I did what I could to ease the stress of the dogs and owners while I was there but was limited in what I could do being that I wasn't hired to train dogs. I desperately wanted to help owners better understand their dogs' behavior so both they and their dogs could find some relief from stress and frustration. It was after about 6 months of working there that I decided to actively pursue dog training as a career.
I began volunteering my time with dogs in foster homes throughout the Twin Cities. I gained a lot of hands on experience with both the dogs at the animal hospital and with the dogs in rescues in a very short amount of time. I focused my work on dogs that were struggling to get adopted because of behavioral issues and on dogs that were on the verge of being surrendered or euthanized. I had connections with a few local rescues who would suggest working with me when an owner would call inquiring about relinquishing their dog. Many times I successfully avoided having dogs surrendered by helping rebuild the relationship between the owner and the dog.
I started my business Loyal Friend Dog Training in 2015, starting with just private training on the weekends and evenings while still working at the animal hospital. I've been training and walking full time since Fall of 2016.
In February of 2016, I met the dog that changed my life and really made me the trainer I am today. Finn was a Rat Terrier mix who was a patient at the animal hospital. After a few bite incidents at home, his owners felt they needed to euthanize him. I stepped in and offered to take him home. His owners were relieved to find an solution that kept him alive and relinquished ownership. Finn had severe resource guarding issues among many other things. His primary reaction to anything that caused him stress was to lash out and attack. I took quite the beating from him for many months before we started to see any semblance of progress. Unfortunately, after nearly two years of behavior modification, medication, and management Finn was still not mentally stable or showing enough progress to be considered safe. Though he had moments of fleeting joy, he was not a happy dog. We made the difficult decision to say goodbye to him in Fall of 2017. He taught me very valuable lessons about living with aggressive and fearful dogs. I will forever give credit and thanks to him for making me the trainer I am today.
I also took in Roxy from a similar situation where she had bitten a guest in her home and was going to be euthanized at the animal hospital. Though she is incredibly reactive towards strangers, she is a warm and loving dog. Unlike Finn, Roxy's brain is healthy enough and has the ability to make progress with behavior modification. She has been doing great since we brought her home June of 2016. Because of both Roxy and Finn, I've discovered I truly enjoy working with dogs with behavioral issues like reactivity, fearfulness, and aggression.
Ollie is my Lab/Staffy mix who was surrendered to me from a dog walking client after they got him as a puppy. He hit adolescence like a derailed train and threw his owners for a loop. They asked me to assist in rehoming him and he decided he wanted to live here with us forever. He's still a knucklehead but is very smart and loving. He greets every new person like they are his long lost best friend and I enjoy seeing the delight he brings to people with his antics.
Atticus came to me in April of 2018, from a client surrender as well. He is a German Shepherd, Boxer mix who his former family found running loose in their neighborhood. When no one claimed him, they decided he could live with him and hired me to help with his training. He's a very smart, energetic dog and after a few months with him, they were struggling to keep up with him. They surrendered him to me so he could live with dogs more his speed and train for sports with me!
I brought home my first performance prospect, Kamikaze Von Dem Bauernhof, in September of 2018, a working line German Shepherd. Yes, that's five dogs! I like a full house! She and I will train primarily for a protection sport called Mondioring but we will dabble in Dock Diving, Barn Hunt, and Nose Work.
I acquired my sixth dog, Bauer, a Jagdterrier in the Spring of 2019. He was adopted from the local Humane Society as a mixed breed by a nice family. They ran a DNA test on him and discovered he wasn't mixed at all. Jagdterriers don't do well as pet dogs and now they understood why they were struggling to keep up with him! They reached out to us to see if we knew of anyone who would be able to take him and give him the life he needs to be happy. I have always admired the breed from afar and after meeting him, knew I wanted the Tasmanian Devil in my life. He's been a rollercoaster to work with so far but I enjoy a challenge! Once we get his dog reactivity under control, I think he will enjoy sports like Barn Hunt, Earth Dog, and Dock Diving.