How we got started:
Lauren Heafy studied early childhood education and family services. Her first job outside of her family of entrepreneurs was in childcare. She proceeded to start her career at Head Start where she worked with 3 and 4 year-olds as a teacher. In that role Lauren often was assigned some of the most challenging students because of her track record of helping them become productive members of the classroom. Where many teachers might have had the child survive the school year, under Lauren’s structure, they would thrive. One of Lauren’s many gifts was her ability to adjust the curriculum for the students in that years class and that day’s weather. Lauren would go on to have a customized role helping various classrooms develop strategies for these difficult students and eventually she would go on to a different field as a 911-dispatcher where her emotional control would shine in a whole new arena. The knowledge and skills Lauren brought to the table for children were instrumental in developing our philosophies and strategies around training dogs. In fact, most behavior modification overlaps so much that we find these are not just the same strategies used in dogs and children, but we find similarities folks who train horses and autism therapists. Behavior modification is not a new science, it is an incredibly old and well proven one that shares fundamental cornerstones across various industries.
Bryan Heafy studied finance in college and took a specific interest in the psychology of the stock market. Behavioral economics became a driving force in how he would approach assignments and investing for the student run portfolio. He started his career as an underwriter where he would help customize plan designs for international embassies and consulates across the world manage their care and plan costs. After learning as much as he could from Lauren and attending some dog training seminars with some of the leaders in the industry, he would eventually leave insurance to become a full time Dad and dog trainer.
The Knotty Dog started off as a business that made knotted durable fleece toys using the same box knots Bryan and Lauren had learned at summer camp in the 90’s using “gimp”. It wasn’t long before we had started the business that we had to put down an aggressive 11 month old American Pit Bull that we had adopted from a shelter just 4 months before. After using multiple trainers and having success only with obedience but not with our relationship, we ultimately needed to stop getting bit within our home and felt that the kindest thing to do was to euthanize. In an effort to find silver lining to such a tragedy, we were determined to learn how to bridge the gap between what we had failed to implement and what would have saved that dog. What we learned was that our relationship with that dog included far too much freedom and affection and that we did not know how to utilize a prong collar properly within our home or how to use an e-collar at all. What we have come to find is that most dogs even without aggression made stark improvements with these relationship adjustments and the use of a combination of consequence and well timed reward. This is how we found ourselves at the heart of a growing business where we get to pursue our passion of helping people and their dogs live the best life they can TOGETHER.