Meet the Calm & Collected Canine Team
Born & raised in Ottawa, Sarah Blanchette is the owner of Calm & Collected Canine. Read her story below, or get in touch!
Sarah Blanchette – Owner, Founder and Head Trainer & Behaviour Consultant
Sarah has had family dogs for as long as she can remember, but it was not until she got her own dog, a Pit Bull/Mastiff mix named Tony when she was 18 years old that she discovered her true passion and love for dogs. From the day she brought Tony home, she knew that she had a duty to fulfill and immediately started reading and watching videos to train and care for her dog. At around one year old, Tony changed from being a manageable, social pet, to barking and lunging at dogs when on a leash (known as leash reactivity). Sarah decided that she wanted to change this unwanted behaviour, so she attended behaviour modification training with him. It was during these classes that Sarah discovered how amazing, fun, and effective dog training truly is. Sarah worked extremely hard to change the way Tony thinks and acts, and during his transformation, she knew that she wanted to specialize in behaviour modification dog training herself. Tony went through an amazing transformation over the years and is now “calm and collected” on all walks and at home! Now, he is Sarah’s training assistant and together they help rehabilitate other people’s dogs.
Sarah is dedicated to helping other peoples’ dogs live in harmony with their families. She understands how dogs think and what is necessary to change their brain patterns in order to create a more positive state of mind. She even loves to train new puppies so that they don’t develop bad behaviours as they get older. Not only does Sarah love to work with dogs, but she also enjoys working with their owners. She prides herself on being understanding, compassionate, and personable with both the dog(s) and their owner(s). There is something truly special and gratifying about seeing the transformation of a relationship between an owner and their beloved pet.
As a professional dog trainer, Sarah always seeks out the most current dog training methods in the industry. Her ultimate goal is to “Train, Rehabilitate, and Succeed,” and she has a track record of doing just that.
She hopes that she can get to know you and your dog(s) sometime soon!
Talya Niederhauser – Dog Walker
From a very young age Talya was fascinated with all different types of animals. She had the privilege of caring for pets she loved at home. Whether it was cats, reptiles, rodents or fish; her parents always let her bring these crazy creatures home. She always loved dogs more than anything and of course, this was the only pet that wasn’t allowed in the house.
As she got older, she was able to do dog walks for her neighbourhood friends. Spending time with these dogs was what she looked forward to when arriving home from school. She researched different breeds, training, and care in her spare time.
While seeing her friends adopt their own dogs, Talya dreamed of the day she’d be able to do the same. She begged her mom to let her adopt from a litter of Shih Tzu pups born down the street. Instead, she was surprised with her favourite breed at the time, a 1-year-old golden retriever who was also looking for a new home. Talya used all her knowledge that she got from researching back when she was younger to help train and care for her new dog, Coco. She brought her everywhere she possibly could and taking her on walks was a huge source of happiness in Talya’s life. There was something special about exploring new places with her favourite friend.
When she turned 18, she adopted her very own dog, Cooper. This is when she got to experience what training a dog is truly like. Coco was always well behaved, as she had basic training from her previous family. On the other hand, Cooper was trouble and he tested Talya’s limits, but she wouldn’t change the experience for the world. It taught her more about adjusting expectations and how to communicate effectively with dogs. Body language and bonding experiences is what shaped their relationship.
In high school Talya lost motivation, she felt lost career wise and inevitably graduated late. She then chose to go into business marketing in college and found her footing graduating top of her class. During her time in college, she got to work in a pet store and was reminded of her passion for animal care. She learned so much more about training and the tools needed to succeed.
Once she got her job working at Pupclub doing dog walking and boarding, then running her own company, Pawhaven, she felt like she really found her place in the world. These “jobs” were something that felt like much more than just a pay check. She could build true friendships with these dogs and work with clients that appreciated the work she did for them.
Talya can’t wait to broaden her knowledge even further on dog behaviour and knows that Calm & Collected Canine is the best place to do this. She can’t wait to help more people and their best friend(s) live a happy, fulfilled life!
Val Groulx – Dog Trainer & Behaviour Consultant
Val always had a profound love for nature and animals, but when she went to her first obedience class with her family dog, she realized just how much she loved observing and trying to figure out how dogs’ brains work. At only 14 years old, she already knew she would pursue a dog training career as soon as she stepped out of her high school graduation ceremony.
Her family bred their Australian Shepherd and keep one merle female for themselves. Though, when Val saw her dog Chubby come from the litter, it was love at first sight. She knew she had to keep him for herself, so long as she could convince her mom. She promised that she would work hard to give him the best life, her mom agreed and she’s kept her end of the deal and then some.
Years later and Chubby has already helped countless dogs find their confidence. Val has a true passion for helping the dog’s who need her the most, building them up to their full potential. She has dedicated herself to learning all that she can about dogs, so that she can save as many as she can. She believes in second chances for people and dogs and that it’s never too late to put in the work to better your relationship with your dog. As she started her career, she found a love for working with fearful dogs, especially “Potcakes”. Their survivalist instincts can be challenging, but that’s why she’s drawn to them. She loves to see the progress as they discover that the world is not the scary place they once thought it was. Seeing a glimpse of their personality shine through, as she gains their trust and starts to build a relationship with them is truly the best feeling that keeps Val loving what she does.
Val understands how to listen to concerns, offer endless support and caters her approach to the needs of the dog and their families. At the end of the day she wants happy people, happy dogs and happy households. She can’t wait to make the perfect training plan for your family!
Ray Harrison – Dog Trainer & Behaviour Consultant
Ray always had a lifelong passion for animals, owning and petsitting a variety of pets since childhood. He rescued injured and orphaned animals, which he quickly brought to professionals who could care for them skillfully. His family taught him to observe the wild and plant life, and awakened a passion for foraging, photography, and painting of the beauty that surrounds us in Canada.
Initially drawn to the helping professions, Ray was educated in behaviourism and training methods, and then acquired a Bachelor of Psychology. Working with vulnerable human beings, he saw the difference pets make in the lives of their owners, and worked hard to help human clients be able to stay with and care for their pets. Keeping together a family – human and furry – who have often lost so much, became a key objective for Ray in his dealings with animals and their owners.
Seeking his true calling, he travelled Canada and the United States, volunteering in wildlife research and conferences, and wintered in our far north. This path led Ray to the pet care and rescue sector. After periods of employment with the Ontario SPCA and the Ottawa Humane Society, he has joined the Calm & Collected Canine team.
Ray has a special affection for giant breeds and dogs with physical disabilities and is thorough and a skilled listener to both owners and dogs concerns. His aim in training is to allow you and your pet to have more freedom, connection, and confidence as a team. Consent, trust, and consistency are guiding principles of his work.
Tyra Niederhauser – Dog Walker
Ever since Tyra was 5 years old there were always family dogs running around her home. She loved to go on adventures with her first dog, Coco. Long daily hikes and weekend swims quickly became a favourite part of her routine.
When Tyra turned 16 she started working part time at a local dog kennel. She was excited to finally have a job that she truly enjoyed going to. She always looked forward to the weekend because she knew she would get to see all of her puppy friends. During her time there she greatly expanded her knowledge on all things “dog”. She learned a ton about dog body language, specifically how groups of dogs interact with each other. She had to supervise groups of up to 30 dogs at a time, advocate for the unsure dogs and watch for escalating dog interactions to prevent any incidents. She learned about bathing and nail clipping, as well as how to clean and dress wounds. She learned about handling aggressive dogs and giving medications.
Soon after beginning her kennel technician job Tyra adopted a dog of her own, a Husky/Doberman cross puppy named Franky. Finally Tyra had a pet that was completely her responsibility. Franky lacked confidence and it was a worry that she would grow up to be anxious or aggressive/reactive. It was important to Tyra that Franky was properly socialized, so she worked hard to ensure Franky improved her independence and confidence. Her hard work paid off and Franky is now a model citizen.
When Tyra was 17 her sister, Talya, began offering group pack walks. Tyra would often join in on the pack walks to continue her education and to just enjoy the dog’s company. She became Talya’s virtual assistant and boarded some of Talya’s dog walking client’s. In 2022 Talya joined the Calm & Collected team. Now Tyra joins the team too and can’t wait to get to know you and your dog(s)!
“I only have positive things to say about Sarah and her training skills and adaptability skills when it comes to dog’s behaviours and how to work with them and correct them. She customizes every session to the dog’s needs and interests and always makes sure everyone (dog included) is on the same page. Teddy and I really enjoyed our sessions with Sarah, and she was very attentive, and helped me solve Teddy’s fears and other little issues I had with him! I would recommend her to anyone, and I am excited to work with her again in the future!”
– Sarah M.
” Choosing Sarah as a trainer for my 9 month old malamute puppy was the best decision I have made for myself, my dog and our relationship. This was my first dog, and despite doing my research, I found myself overwhelmed with the amount of work I soon learned this dog would need. Her breed is stubborn, but it didn’t help that she was a rescue and so I don’t know what the first 9 months of her life entailed. We did private lessons with Sarah who was so patient with both of us. The biggest thing Sarah taught me was how to effectively communicate with my dog what I expected of her. Within a few short weeks, she was no longer pulling on leash towards other dogs, she was no longer food guarding with humans (and doing significantly better around other animals) and most importantly has learned confidence – which has allowed her to be significantly less anxious when I’m not around. Overall, I have the best relationship with my dog, now that we have a solid base I know there’s nothing we couldn’t accomplish together, and I couldn’t thank Sarah enough for that.”
– Marissa L.
“After numerous attempts at trying to find help for my dog reactive girl, Athena, and being told countless times that there’s no hope.. I found Sarah. Sarah helped me understand why my dog behaves the way she does and how I should be reacting to it. Sarah began training me, because it isn’t always the dog who needs training..most times it is the owners too. Sarah was able to introduce me to different tools to see which Athena responded to the best, tools I wouldn’t have used otherwise. She gave me the confidence to advocate for my dog and know how to respond to different scenarios appropriately. I am forever thankful for the training, support, and knowledge passed onto me from Sarah, because of her Athena and I have continued on with more intensive training and will continue to do so to keep her mind in a healthy and happy state! Thank you Sarah, for helping me and Athena start the journey into a happy and healthy life!”
” Our experience with Sarah has been genuinely life changing. We decided to sign up to six weeks of training with Sarah a few months after we had finished basic obedience training with our husky. While our dog has a beautiful temperament, she is super willful and we were struggling to get her to come, walk nicely on lead and to obey commands (after she had decided she was no longer interested and ESPECIALLY if other dogs were around – forget it). Through the training program, Sarah took the time to understand our dog and to teach us the tools we needed to create solid boundaries and strong communication. Our dog now sits calmly on place while we cook and eat, knows that downtime means relaxing, listens and obeys commands (even when she would prefer to be investigating another dog/smell/noise/treat) and walks by our side on leash. Our dog boarded with Sarah when we went on holiday for two weeks. We both felt so comfortable leaving her in Sarah’s hands, as our dog is totally bonded to her and loves to spend time and learn with her. Sarah sent us daily updates and went above and beyond to train our dog with the e-collar, taking the time to adapt her approach to best suit our dog and taking her on long walks and even for activities to find out how to best reward her for all her learning. The result has been completely life changing, our dog comes when called – even when there are other dogs around and she would much prefer to keep playing. It means we can trust her off leash, completely changing our weekends and relationship with her for the better. We can’t recommend Sarah highly enough, and our dog certainly couldn’t love her more.“
” We sought help from Sarah about a week after we adopted our dog Bronson. Bronson was a stray in Manitoba. He was very reactive to dogs while on leash, he would pull for the entire walk and would bark and lunge at every squirrel or rabbit we saw. We were quickly overwhelmed with his behaviours. Sarah provided us with tools and guidance. She was patient and understanding, and always went above and beyond. Today, a year after we’ve adopted Bronson, we are able to walk past dogs without him reacting, he heels when walking and has also made a lot of progress with squirrels. Sarah gave us the tools to become confident dog owners.”
– Michelle M.
"Knowing our guy Gus and his challenges, we were quite nervous about having him spend time away from us at his board and train. But from day one, our concerns were wiped away. Sarah made the transition as easy as possible for us. While all that was very important, it paled in comparison to the work she did with Gus. Sarah put in so much time and energy learning how best to communicate with him, and trust me that is saying a lot (basenji attitude). Sharing that knowledge with us has been invaluable. Upon returning home, Sarah set us up with a solid plan and helped us tremendously with establishing new boundaries. Gus is a much more fulfilled and respectful dog because of Sarah. Thank you, Sarah!"
– Grace & Sarah