Cláudia Estanislau explains her methods of training dogs without using violence.

Claudia told The Portugal News that she always liked animals, but dogs had a special place in her heart because of the closeness of her life to theirs. When she emigrated to England, the trainer was unable to take her dogs, as it was a challenge to find a home where they would accept animals. In this context, she embarked on volunteering and discovered that anyone could train dogs and not just the police, as was the case in Portugal.

Opening the school

After several different jobs, Cláudia decided to take her first dog training course in Canada. Still, she did not identify with "the way they trained the dogs." According to the trainer, the methods were aggressive, and she admits that she “was very bad at punishing dogs” and that she felt uncomfortable in this type of situation. After finishing the course and after a long amount of research work, she concluded that there were other, less aggressive ways to train dogs and decided to take a course with James O'Heare.

Still, in England, Cláudia Estanislau opened her canine training school “It’s All About Dogs.” The school “has no physical space”, because, according to the trainer with 15 years of experience, dogs “do not generalise spaces” like human beings. This means that the dogs will only have the behaviours that the tutors point out within their space. Taking the dogs to a school would prevent them from having certain attitudes, as the stimuli that would trigger the behaviour would not exist. In this sense, “the school was created in the light of what was studied” and “home training at home” is the path she follows.

Methods applied

In people's homes, Cláudia Estanislau trains dogds using positive reinforcement, to train the dog without violence and prevent the creation of traumas and other types of emotions that can affect the animal's entire life. During the interview, the coach made an analogy with the education of children. Over time, it was realised that hitting children at school would not guarantee better results, that in other ways, without violence, the child would be able to learn. The human brain does not work like an animal's, however, there are studies and evidence that training a dog without violence is possible and much more beneficial for the animal. It is along these lines that Cláudia follows her training, as well as all the other coaches involved in the school.

Job struggles

Despite being her dream job, the coach revealed to The Portugal News that her profession is not recognised by the government. All the coaches at the school work as “service providers” and receive their salary through green receipts. However, the course she took abroad cannot be validated in Portugal, as the profession, according to Portuguese law, does not exist. As such, anyone can pursue a career as a dog trainer, even without training and receiving a salary to do so.

Using social media

During the pandemic, Cláudia Estanislau decided to also dedicate herself to TikTok. The trainer realised that the app could be a great platform to contact future clients, while giving tips to her followers. She currently has over 35,000 followers on TikTok and posts dog training tips videos, responds to comments and goes live where she answers questions from her followers. The social network allows Cláudia to be “with the youth” while helping other people.

Social networks are always a place where comments can be negative and in Claudia's case things are no different. The coach admitted that she was already used to this type of comment even before the Internet was a tool accessible to almost the entire population. The trainer returned to Portugal with a completely different method of training animals. She was one of the first trainers to argue that violence was not the best education tool, but above all, she is a woman. Claudia was one of the first coaches “to train without punishment.” At the time, there were public forums and she revealed that she had “been discredited in every way.” Through her training method, the coach received death threats and saw her identity stolen to denigrate her image. On social media, Cláudia chooses to block people and prevent them from commenting on her posts to avoid any form of “emotional exhaustion.” However, hateful comments can confuse those who want to learn. The use of “fallacious arguments” that are easy to understand, as “they do not require great thought, as they are easier to believe”, can call into question the information transmitted by the trainer and result in misinformation.

An appeal

At the end of the interview, Cláudia Estanislau appeals to people's curiosity, because curiosity brings the will to learn. In the case of animals, the trainer says that “if someone says you can do better”, the advice should be heeded, because “mistakes are learning opportunities.”

It’s All About Dogs offers services in several parts of the country, namely, Póvoa do Varzim, Matosinhos, Porto, Santa Maria da Feira, Lisbon and Madeira Island. To contact the school, people may use the email address itsallaboutdogs@hotmail.com.