We had the good fortune of connecting with Alexandra Bassett and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alexandra, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I felt held back by the confines of how the company I worked for before was being run, plus I had ethical conflicts with how they operated, which made it difficult to maintain a healthy relationship with management. So, I decided to start my own company that reflected my own values and that has been very liberating, albeit hard work. Dog Savvy Los Angeles is a positive, game-based, dog & puppy training company that offers force-free and holistic solutions to a variety of behavior problems, and because we are forthright about all of this on our website, we end up attracting really lovely, compassionate clientele that are on board with what we offer from the get-go. It’s amazing!
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Dog Savvy Los Angeles specializes in positive, game-based, dog & puppy training and solving problem dog behaviors using force-free and holistic methods. We strive to make learning fun in order to help build a loving, trusting bond between our clients and their canine companions, so having good social skills and being personable is a prerequisite for being a trainer at our company.
We also strive to coach our puppy clients in understanding how their dog or puppy learns and how to implement Susan Garrett’s “Positive is not Permissive” approach to dog training because we feel it’s important to help people understand the role they play in their dog or puppy’s development. We really provide our clients with an education and ongoing support while they work with us to help them to train their dogs.
Unfortunately, we are living in times where what I consider to be archaic methods of dog training–-known as aversion/compulsion training where force, pain, and intimidation are used in conjunction with aversive equipment like e-collars and choke chains-–are still pretty prevalent. The use of force in dog training is totally unnecessary, and the trainers who promote this approach, which is rooted in the pack leader theory, a bogus theory on how dogs think and organize themselves that has been disproved by tons of research since it was first published in 1948, are really doing their clients and their dogs a big disservice. Dogs are man’s best friend, afterall, correct? And they should be treated as such.
Many people who have a dog with behavior issues feel hopeless when they first reach out to us because they’ve met with other trainers in the past who either told them they have a bad dog or who treated them with disrespect, or both. Frankly, some of the things my clients have told me other trainers have told them to do to their dogs shocks and angers me and I wonder how these so-called trainers can sleep at night.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
My favorite things about Los Angeles are the diversity, history, and nature, plus the fact that it is so dog-friendly here. So my idea of a good time may differ from others, since I’m always looking for a way to include my dog.
I live in Echo Park, so my idea of fun would be to stop by any of the dog-friendly coffee shops like Bloom & Plume on Temple Ave, Laveta on Glendale Blvd or Stories on Sunset Blvd, either before or after a hike in Elysian Park. Laveta serves amazing, fresh cooked waffles and a crazy good breakfast plate, so chilling on their patio is a great way to start the day. Bloom & Plume is a coffee shop that mixes cool merch with gorgeous flower arrangements, an upbeat atmosphere, and avocado toast, and I love their cozy sidewalk seating that gets locals talking to each other. Stories doubles as a quirky bookstore and cafe that serves delicious sandwiches – it has a fun, creative, almost punk rock atmosphere with an enclosed, dog-friendly patio in the back that I love.
Elysian Park is a magical place, in my opinion, where I can bring my dog on a variety of hiking trails or find a beautiful picnic spot with incredible views to just hang out and soak in some nature. It even has a disc golf course, which I view as a fun, non-competitive way to hang out with friends since being bad at it is kind of the point, in my book – so hanging in the park really can be a whole day affair, if someone wishes.
I really love driving up the Pacific Coast Highway to sight see and spend time in the Topanga/Malibu area. There is an amazing, informal, “fish shack” with a dog-friendly patio in the back that I love called Reel Inn that sits right across from a state beach. There is an upscale wine bar next door, too, so if you feel like soaking up some sun, grabbing a bite to eat, and kicking back with some wine, you can definitely make a whole day of it just hanging out right there. Plus, Malibu has tons of fun eateries and state beaches all up and down the coastline, so it’s fun and easy to explore there.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Honestly, it’s been a lonely road until recently. Dog trainers in Los Angeles are a funny bunch – they are very protective of the knowledge and skills they have and tend to be very guarded about sharing information with each other. My biggest inspiration and motivation to keep going has come from the books and videos of the people I consider my mentors: Susan Garrett, Patricia McConnell, Pat Miller, Dr. Sophia Yin, Andrea Arden, and Grisha Stewart.
In the past year, I have been able to hire a couple of employees, and they, currently, are my biggest inspiration since they are very receptive to learning how to implement force-free and holistic methods of dog training, which makes me feel hopeful that the methodology that we use will eventually become more widespread and commonplace (over the more popular, “quick fix” methods that use force and intimidation to train dogs.) So if I were to give a shout out, it would be to them: Thank you, Aly Wolf, Lydia Hunter, and Karla Navas!
Aileen Duffy & Alexander Garbin