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Hi! I’m Mary and I am the founder and owner of FullFocusK9. I didn't always live in Georgia, I was actually born in Romania, and adopted by an amazing family. I’ve always had a deep love for animals and my mother blessed me with being able to work with animals at an early age. I was the odd ball of my very 'techy' family and was always finding animals to play with or adopt.
I started riding horses as early as 3 years old and owned my own horse by age 12. I learned early on how much work went into owning animals, but because of my passion for it, I loved the responsibility. Working alongside horses and farm animals has prepared me for my career with other animals as well, such as dogs. I have competed with horses and my dogs, managed horse farms, trained horses, taught summer camps, and trained barn dogs.
I’ve had dogs my entire life and was always at the animal shelter or bringing dogs home. I'm 'that girl' at outings or family functions that can be seen petting the dog. PS: tell your dog I said hi!
Initially, I set out to be a veterinarian but after a year of being enrolled in a pre-vet program at Berry College, I realized I was more interested in the psychology of behavior in animals, than the medicine.
I’ve always had a deep interest in K9 handlers and police dogs so I transferred and completed my Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice from Kennesaw State University. This is when I adopted my German Shepherd, Caesar, who changed my life forever (more below).
While I had set out to become a K9 officer, there were no open positions in the foreseeable future. I was a police officer for 2 years and it was an amazing experience I'll never forget. I enjoyed law enforcement deeply, but I wanted to pursue what I am most passionate about, training dogs.
Now that I have been professionally training dogs for 5 or so years, I have found a niche that I specifically enjoy - Behavior Cases. They almost always have the most rewarding turn around and most are misunderstood. All of our trainers have our favorite dogs to train but thats not to say that we aren't skilled at training any type of dog.
I took a position with a major dog training company, which helped me in many ways, but always knew I wanted my own business.
I am always open to learning new ways of training dogs and have learned from some of the best. I've attended two trainers retreats at ValorK9Academy and have learned a lot. I also studied under two very well know dog trainers at PatriotK9 to whom I am very grateful. I learned a lot by watching them work with clients and various types of dogs.
Now, after working with hundreds of dogs and their owners and gaining over 5 years of professional experience, I bring knowledge in how to build a better bond, a more focused dog, and reliable training outcomes.
My goal for starting this business is to create happier families with their furry loved ones and how to get clients to better understand their dogs. Not only does this make for a smoother home life but it also can really open up so many opportunities for clients such as spreading what they've learned to other people who are struggling with their dogs!
Caesar is my 6 year old German Shepherd, heart and soul dog, and the inspiration to my career. I had always wanted a German Shepherd and when I saw Caesar, I was immediately drawn to him. He continuously proves to me how amazing dogs can be. Caesar is a dual purpose dog. He is not only the demo dog for FullFocusK9, and sport dog, but also my personal Service Dog.
Through our experiences, I was able to meet people who have taught me the art and talent of dog sports. More importantly, I was able to become part of a great community and compete in various dog sports.
Together, Caesar and I hold over 10 titles in various dog sports including Dock Diving, Lure Coursing, Obedience, Tricks and Bite work with Protection Sports of America (PSA), Internationale Gebrauchshund Pruefund (IGP - previously known as Schutzhund), as well as Working Dog of America (WDA).
Having competed in many different avenues, I have a new respect for dog training. The sport world is definitely different from the pet obedience world, but it has taught me so much. I have learned to apply a lot of what I've learned from competing into dog training.
In addition to Caesar, I also have a German Shepherd named Davina and their son Kane!
Davina is primarily my sport dog but also helps teach board and train dogs proper communication. She accompanies Caesar when I go out to do demonstrations. Sit pretty are their favorite things to show off to people!
Kane is an excellent all around social dog. He knows when dogs want to be left alone but can also really help those nervous and insecure dogs come out of their shells!
All of my dogs, including my two cats Monkey & Noah, play a role in being helpers for FullFocusK9.
At FullFocusK9 we use balanced training methods. You won’t find a one size fits all dog program here because we believe that every dog is different but the way a dog learns remains consistent. Being balanced means we are skilled in every aspect of dog training whether that’s rewarding the dog or providing corrections when necessary. We do not just ignore the negative behaviors, we work through them and make it a positive experience.
We believe engagement, structure and clear communication is key. When you first get a dog, these are things you need to implement to set the tone and set the dog up for success. Foundation is key in any relationship but especially with your dog, which is why we ensure they have a solid foundation by using positive reinforcement and operant conditioning, to teach or reinforce known cues or behaviors.
All of our training programs focus on confidence building, realistic expectations and consistent rewards. If a dog is food motivated, they will work for their dinner during training! If a dog isn't as food motivated, we will try to find an appropriate training treat. Some dogs love human praise and affection which can also be a reward for them.
Once the dog has a solid foundation and understanding or desired behaviors that have been taught, we reinforce the cues with training collars such as slip leads, prong collars, and/or e-collars. This is to ensure the dog is reliable in public, off-leash, and around major distractions. The use of tools are used for non-compliance once the dog has the foundation and understanding; we do not use the tools to teach a behavior or cue.
We never train by fear or intimidation, and we always put the dogs best interest first. Our training methods create a strong relationship between you and your dog and set you up for a lifetime of happiness and adventures!
Our assistant trainers have been carefully selected to show the same ambition and passion as Mary does. All of our trainers attended an internship with Mary personally and had to "graduate" before starting to train dogs. All of our trainers use the same balanced methods and have a slew of information as well. We guarantee that the results would be the same with our assistant trainers as it would be with Mary.
Hi! I’m Justine! Since I was a little girl I knew that working with animals was what I wanted to do. At 20 years old I got my first dog, Cam, and shortly after I began working working at a doggy daycare and stayed for the next 4 years. In my time working in the daycare industry I became more aware of behavior issues that can be caused within its environment. During this time I also began getting more invested in Cam’s training as she had become insecure and reactive. It took a lot of patience, time, research, support, and consistency but Cam is now my demo dog and helps with other reactive dogs that come through. We also do sports: bikejoring, Coursing, FCATs, and dabble in bitework as another outlet. I’d definitely have to say that working with insecure, reactive, and fearful dogs is probably my favorite. Watching a dog blossom in to the best version of themselves and also seeing the confidence their owner gains from watching their dog’s improvement is beyond rewarding. Every dog that I get to form a bond with that comes and trains with me stays with me someway after they leave and I love to use my experiences with past dogs to help with present and future dogs. There’s seriously nothing that I’d rather be doing. I’m constantly learning, loving, teaching, and living my dream.
My name is Heather! I’ve always been an avid animal lover since I was very young, but I wasn’t able to get my first companion until I was 24 and moved out of my parents. Ever since then, I’ve consistently caught my self being a nerd about dogs and always did my own research and reading up on how to understand and build better structured relationships with these insanely wonderful and intelligent canine creatures — but most importantly, relaying what I know to others so they can also better their bonds with their fuzzy best friends as well. My entire lifestyle has changed ever since entering the dog world and I love working with them. They are all so unique and have their own little quirks, and it makes me happy when we are able to understand them and let them thrive! I am super excited to be part of the FullFocusK9 team!
Hey! I’m Elizabeth (Liz)! I am an avid animal lover and have always had multiple pets growing up. I originally was in school to become a veterinarian and during that time I worked at a few doggy daycare’s. I absolutely loved being surrounded by dogs everyday. While I was in school I began to realize I liked the medical side of animals, but I wanted to explore all possible paths. This led me to my internship with FullFocusK9 and learning/teaching with Mary and Justine. During my internship I realized there was nothing better than working with dogs and seeing their transformations. My favorite type of dogs to work with is easily fearful/anxious or young puppies. I love to help owners grow and build a strong relationship with their dogs!!
Hey! I’m Emily! I’ve been an animal lover ever since I could remember, specifically dogs and horses! I’ve always dreamed of working with animals full time. When I was 14-16, I started working summer horse camps. I got my first official job when I turned 18 working at Pet Supermarket for 2 years. Then I started at Hollywood Feed, a holistic retail pet store. I worked in pet retail and customer service for 4 years. I found myself constantly helping clients with my dog training knowledge and expertise which made me want to do it professionally. I eventually started to intern under Mary and learned to train dogs more professionally.
My passion for dog training started very early on. I got my very first dog, Roxy, at 10 years old, and then eventually Bo, who got me into training and dog sports. I started dock diving with him and in just a few months he earned his Masters title. About 7 months ago, I got my German Shepherd puppy Vendetta, who I plan to compete with in disc, dock diving and other dog sports.
Hi, I’m Aleina! Dogs have been my number one passion since I can remember. At 12 I started getting involved with AKC obedience training and search and rescue organizations with our family German Shepherd. When I was 15 I rescued my own German Shepherd and trained her in Rally Obedience.
I discovered my love for dog psychology and behavior when I trained my personal dogs and when I graduated high school, started the course to become a Veterinarian. After a year of school, I decided the medical route was not where I wanted to be. After I graduated from college, I bought my first working line German Shepherd, Caspian, and through him I have finally taken my passion and knowledge for dog training professionally at FullFocus K9! Bringing understanding and empowerment to people through their dogs is so incredible to see. I strive to help every dog live a balanced, fulfilled life by teaching their owners how to communicate with them in every aspect of life!