Check out our affiliate Shell Abbott, owner and trainer of Out of the Shell Dog Training, making news in Maricopa, Arizona. Shell embodies what Trip Less Trainer stands for, better connecting owners with their pets. How is your pet connection?
By Chris Swords Betts
Abbott’s German Shepherd Dogs welcomed three litters of puppies in April and is expecting another litter in June.
Business partners and community residents Shell Abbott and her mother Ranelle breed German shepherds, the second-most popular dog in the nation for several years, according to the American Kennel Club.
A German shepherd, Rumor, won the 141st Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in February, for the first time since 1987. Abbott said she didn’t watch the show, but she quickly learned of the results.
“My Facebook messenger blew up with people sending the video to me,” Abbott said.
The Abbotts, however, don’t breed conformation dogs – dogs that are shown for appearance, as in the American Kennel Club’s show.
“Mine are working dogs,” Abbott said. “Most people are looking for intelligence in a dog with good health.”
Abbott participates in at least two shows a year, favoring obedience and rally events. Most of the Abbotts’ dogs are sold as pets or service animals.
They currently have four female dogs each and two males for breeding. Abbott said her mother has been breeding German shepherds since before Abbott was born.
Because of federal regulation, Abbott said about 90 percent of their puppies are sold within Arizona. However, they do ship some dogs to their new homes. In 2006, Abbott shipped one of her dogs to Copenhagen, Denmark.
“It’s about connecting the right people with the right dogs,” Abbott said.
Abbott said much of a dog’s behavior can be predicted through its parentage.
“Anyone who comes to buy a dog from me needs to meet its mom and dad,” Abbott said. “And if they want to meet the aunts and uncles, and grandparents, they can do that, too.”
Abbott, 26, began professionally breeding and training at the age of 17. She was training and showing her dogs by age 9 through the 4-H program.
As a teenager, Abbott started rehabbing dogs with behavioral issues, and she continues today. Abbott is the trainer in the business, and holds classes for all breeds.
“I love being able to help people further that relationship,” Abbott said, “to better understand each other and have a happier relationship.
“I don’t want to train other people’s dogs,” she said. “I want them to train them. I just want to give them the tools.”
Abbott also does in-home training sessions.
“I recommend everyone do two in-home sessions across the board,” Abbott said. “You can get a good foundation with two classes.”
She said younger is better, but she has worked with dogs as old as 14.
“A lot of people want their puppy to be excited and happy all the time,” Abbott said. “But I’m trying to raise a dog, not a puppy.”
Abbott said patience is imperative
“I can’t say patience enough,” Abbott said, “because people just lack it. I still lack it. You need to realize you need to walk away when no learning is happening.”
Abbott offers words of advice to all dog owners: “You must be more consistent and persistent than your dog.”
She said bad behaviors should not be dismissed as a stage of puppyhood.
“If they’re starting to bark, cower or anything,” Abbott said, “that’s a sign it’s time to start training. They don’t grow out of it.”
While most of her trainings are in the Valley, she also travels to Tucson and surrounding states. A dog owner once flew to her from Georgia for training. Abbott also offers weekly group obedience classes.
The group classes are multi-level and free for all 4-H students and open to drop-ins for a fee. Classes are ending for the summer but will begin again in the fall. The only requirement is a rabies vaccination.
Eliah, 13, another daughter of Ranelle, is also involved in the family business. She has been training puppies since age 9, helping them socialize with other people and their littermates. Eliah begins working with the puppies the day after they’re born.