Debbi McArthur IACP-CDT

CEO & Founder of Prairieburn K9 Academy Ltd

Located on 8 acres in Macdonald just outside of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.

I have been involved in dogs all my life and felt I always had a special connection with them.  Before becoming a full time dog trainer, I trained and competed in obedience as well as conformation with many dogs receiving championships.  It was exciting but I felt like there was something missing.  I was seeing a disconnect in the foundation of the relationship as a whole between the human and K9 from the dog’s perspective in day to day life outside of the show ring.

I saw so many families having struggles living with their dog “I can’t walk my dog – he pulls me on leash – I walk my dog at 4am when no one is around – he reacts to everything”, “he jumps up all the time – I can’t have people over – I’m feeling like a prisoner in my own home”, and I wanted to help.  I knew if these owners didn’t get help their dog was going to end up being given away, dropped off at a shelter, or worse.  The families loved their dog but just didn’t know what to do.

That is when I realized my purpose.  Help families live in harmony with their dog through education to keep dogs in the home.  Shelters are overflowing and rescues are being buried alive in an avalanche of dogs being dropped off or returned.  I knew stopping the avalanche was impossible but if I could make an impact I would be helping.  That’s when I decided I would dedicate my career to helping families.

When I decided to become a dog trainer full time, I wanted to become certified and researched schools all over Canada and the United States that I could possibly attend.  I quickly learned that the Government does not recognize dog training as a certified profession (like a doctor, dentist…) which meant anyone could become a “Certified” dog trainer by just paying money and taking an online course without ever having worked with a dog.  How was I going to help families without training with someone 1 on 1 or handling dogs to gain experience?

I felt defeated and had to decide that if I was going to make a real impact with my purpose of helping families I was going to have to go down a different path of learning than other trainers but had no idea where to start.

That’s when I stumbled upon Training Cesar’s Way at the Dog Psychology Centre in Santa Clarita, California where you could attend a 5 day course working 1 on 1 training with Cesar Millan who’s philosophies made sense to me and worked well with my own personal dogs.  I decided that I would invest my business start up on knowledge and experience over certification.  It was in May of 2013 on my 40th birthday when I first met Cesar.  What a great way to spend my birthday!

Training at the DPC with Cesar opened up many doors for me to meet and work with dog trainers from all over the world.  It was through Cesar that I met my friend, mentor and world renowned trainer, Heather Beck of K9 Lifeline.  I trained with Heather 1 on 1 at her facility in Draper, Utah in 2014 learning how to work with difficult dogs, how to properly socialize and rehabilitate dogs as well as how to use e-touch (ecollars) to create a positive, fun experience for owners and give freedom to their dogs.

Since 2013 I have worked with over 2500 dogs from happy go luckies to reactive cases.  By working with so many dogs I am seeing patterns of behaviour, why dogs do what they do, what is lacking in the relationship between owner and dog that is preventing success, and how to bridge the gap between the two species – Dog and human.

Every dog teaches us something new and education never ends.  I believe in bettering ourselves through learning and experience not only in dogs but with other species as well.  Training with Rick Quinn in a Horsemanship Clinic who trained with Buck Brannaman was a great experience for me to see how our philosophies and training approach with dogs crosses over to other species.

I am a professional member of the International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP) and have earned my CDT title.  I am also a member of The Canadian Association of Pet Dog Trainers, Canadian Kennel Club, Portage Kennel Club, German Shepherd Club of Manitoba, and German Shepherd Club of Canada.

I still breed and show my top quality German Shepherds through Longburn German Shepherds for conformation and family companions.

I will forever be grateful for the support and knowledge that I have learned in the psychology of dogs and how to create harmony between human and K9 through Heather and Cesar.