10 August 2023

Griffith's first ever dog training academy poised for early 2024 opening

| Oliver Jacques
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Close-up of woman and dog

Mobile dog trainer Racheal Romeo is opening up her own academy. Photo: Rogue Paws Photography.

Griffith’s first ever dog training academy is now fully approved and set to be open to the public in early 2024.

Mobile dog therapist and trainer Racheal Romeo and her husband Michael have commenced building the facility on three acres of land they purchased on Overs Road, near Bunnings.

The academy will offer both group and private dog obedience training for all levels, as well as rehabilitation for injured dogs, therapy for behavioural issues and a doggy gym.

“We started this project five years ago,” Ms Romeo said. “I’ve had three kids since then … it’s been a learning experience for my husband and I, he’s also a builder and we found building a commercial premise is very different from a residential one. There’s a lot of paperwork, but we’ve finally got it all done.

“We’ve done the fencing ourselves, fully funded by us. It’s been a big sacrifice in terms of costs but we believe Griffith needs this and it will be an asset to the community and that’s motivated us to push through the speed bumps.”

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Ms Romeo is the owner of Riverina K9 Services and travels around the region to support and train pets in their home, as well as provide online programs. She’s also qualified in myotherapy, a specialised physical treatment to ease and rehabilitate injuries and soft tissue damage. She originally studied visual arts but having her own pets led to a career change.

“When I had my own two dogs, they started having some behavioural issues,” Ms Romeo said. “I found a professional that had a certain approach that worked and changed my life with my dog and their lives. I went all in and decided to get professionally accredited.

“Being able to support and guide people in how to best support their dogs in terms of responsible ownership is a key priority of mine.”

Skylar running alongside dog

Racheal’s dog-loving daughter Skylar was born after Racheal started planning the academy. Photo: Rogue Paws Photography.

One unconventional aspect of myotherapy is dry needling – inserting a small, thin needle into the skin to stimulate trigger points and relieve knots and tension.

“Not all approaches suit every dog, some dogs don’t want to be touched, so we’ll use a hands-off approach … some dogs are super tolerant, once they feel the physical pressure and that it’s helping they feel happy … I do a lot of red light therapy, I do needling, I work with a couple of different complementary therapies, depending on what the animal needs,” Ms Romeo said. “I use a mind-body approach … to get them back into balance.”

Opening her own physical facility – called Riverina K9 Academy – will take her business to the next level.

“We hope to open it in early 2024, if all goes well … we’ll have group glasses, all levels of obedience from puppies to advanced and we’ll have our own puppy preschool and we’ll have a clinic and doggy gym,” Ms Romeo said. “We’ll have the full setup.”

At present, Griffith residents need to take their pets to Wagga, Albury or Leeton to access a similar facility.

A building plan

The plan for Riverina K9 Academy. Photo: Supplied.

Ms Romeo said that before the new academy opened people could get in touch to see how she could help via her mobile and online services.

“I’ll come and assess your dog at home and work out a strategy with the owner in terms of the best next step,” Ms Romeo said.

“Training a dog is like building a house, you need to put a lot of time into your planning and make sure your foundation is strong … people can come to me with advanced skills they want to learn.

“You might see a dog do a trick on YouTube and ask, ‘How did that dog get that beer from the fridge?’ The dog has learnt that skill in incremental stages; there are five different skills in that one skill. The dog has learnt each of them and linked them together.”

More information on Riverina K9 Services can be found on its website.

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