- Associated Press - Sunday, May 3, 2015

FAIRPLAY, Md. (AP) - Down a long lane surrounded by fields, the blue roof of a farmhouse marks a quiet place in Washington County that has made an impact across the globe.

The fields surrounding Peaceable Paws are scattered with strategically placed training materials, and if you are lucky, Pat Miller’s miniature horse, Olivia, might come near the fence to greet you.

While her love for animals has a far-reaching impact, it is her dog-training techniques that most recently won her national recognition with Dog Fancy, a monthly publication for those involved in the dog world, including owners and breeders.

In celebration of the magazine’s 45th anniversary, Dog Fancy published a collector’s edition in March and named “45 People who have Changed the Dog World.”

“I got a copy of Dog Fancy magazine in the mail,” Miller said. “I thought, ‘Oh, how interesting. I wonder who those people are.’ Lo and behold, there was my name in the middle of the list.”

There was no cover letter attached with the March 2015 issue of the magazine or any other notice to let Miller know she was in the magazine.

Miller still does not know exactly why she was chosen as someone who made such an impact on the dog world, but she has a few guesses that come from her background.

After working for 20 years in animal shelters, Miller left to start her dog-training business. Her training methods, however, were different than what the dog community was used to.

Miller said it was a time when training methods were transitioning from the old methods of using choke chains or punishing techniques in order to instill obedience. As trainers moved on to more positive methods, Miller quickly jumped onboard.

“Not only do (positive methods) work as well as the old-fashioned methods, but there are many cases in which (they) produce a far better outcome,” Miller said.

Those methods included praising dogs, using toys and treats, Miller said.

In 2001, Miller’s first book was published.

“The Power of Positive Dog Training,” served as an explanation of why many trainers felt that positive training methods surpassed the older ones. She said the book also served as a guide to other trainers.

Since that year, Miller has written five more books, with the most recent being published last year. Her books have been published in three languages.

While her books have gone worldwide, it could also be her training classes that have left such a mark on the dog world. Miller said trainers and students come from all around the world - Japan, United Arab Emirates, Sweden, Brazil and Australia, to name a few.

“Those are trainers or people who are volunteering for rescue groups or shelter staff who want to be able to take the information back with them,” Miller said.

While it is not quite universally recognized, students also are able to earn a Pat Miller Certification after taking part in a minimum of three of her training academies. The certification is known in the dog-training world and carries some significance, she said.

Since the time Miller left the animal shelter in California, her teaching and training methods have reached around the world.

After she left the shelter, Miller worried she wouldn’t be able to help her community anymore.

“I really felt like I was having an impact beyond the county and beyond the walls of our own shelter,” Miller said, explaining that shelter staff often was sent throughout the state to help animals when disasters struck. They also were invited to speak at conferences about their jobs.

Her career move, however, only expanded her impact on the animal world.

“I look back now at how ironic that was because now I do have a reach that goes far beyond the four walls of the training center here,” Miller said.

Her reach to find her perfect life, however, is as close as her front yard. Miller works with her animals and her husband, Paul, on their farm at Peaceable Paws in Fairplay.

“Having it all right here on the farm, and being able to do it, it’s my dream,” she said.


Information from: The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown, Md., https://www.herald-mail.com

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