Zinc & Zeffy


Zinc came to us an underweight stray who engaged in manageable resource
guarding behaviors and a dislike of other male dogs. Zeffy came to us as a
stray from the South, who was in need of treatment for mange and heartworm,
and who shortly thereafter was diagnosed with melanoma and needed a series
of surgeries and treatments. Zeffy was extremely scared and would act
aggressively with men, also exhibiting resource guarding behaviors, and was
just a hot mess of negative energy.

Although we semi-successfully integrated them, it became obvious after a
while that Zeffy's stress level was increasing. We employed a trainer who
utilized a combination of methods, including some basic aversion
techniques. This culminated in Zeffy injuring Zinc twice in two weeks, with
the second incident requiring veterinary care and a few weeks of

Whatever relationship our dogs had previously developed had now eroded.
Gates were installed; my wife and I began sleeping in different rooms with
one dog each and closed doors; Zinc was made to stay in the bedroom while
we were gone and our cats were locked in the basement for their safety. Our
entire household was on edge and we were a classic miserable animal

I found Debby's web page and reached out to her almost immediately, After a
reassuring conversation, I terminated our arrangement with the previous

Debbie's animal behavior toolbox--and now our toolbox!--is full of
potential solutions to a huge amount of concerns. We worked with
supplements and aromas, harnesses, training treats, exercises, web
resources, and more. We experimented, we worked, we played, we walked, and
we talked. The end result wasn't well trained dogs; it was happier, more
relaxed dogs that make much better choices than we have ever seen. It took
time and work (and will continue to take more time and work), but the gates
are down, the dogs sleep wherever they want, the cats have the run of the
house, we have male friends who can visit, and our dogs are learning that
they can develop positive relationships with other dogs and people that
result in a net gain for them. Most importantly, our dogs now have a
support system in place and they can and do look to us when they are unsure
or stressed in the moment.

This was an incredibly educational experience. We feel that we are now
responding to dogs that we understand, and our efforts have certainly paid
Thanks Debby!

Josh & April Hoover





I cannot thank you enough for helping to teach us how to be better dog
owners. I have had many pups in my day but none of them challenged me as
much as my little Bunsen. I consider myself lucky to have found you to help
me rise to the challenge.

I struggle to find the words to explain how just a few months ago, when
Bunsen would come to sit next to me, I would tense up not knowing what
might happen next. But today, as I sit her and type this, I have a little
bundle of fur laying on my lap snoring away. I waited 7 long years to get
my dog but it was you who gave him to me. Without your help, I am not sure
that this would have been possible.


Rebecca Hilbert and Bunsen




Delilah, our min pin-beagle mix, has made remarkable progress under Debby’s guidance. Taking her on walks used to be a fraught proposition. She would bristle, bark, and jump up at other dogs on the street, but now we’re armed with techniques to distract her and keep her focus away from passing dogs. As long as I know another dog’s around, we can mostly get past without an explosion of barking and lunging on her part. Our walks are no longer punctuated by apologies on my part as I drag Delilah past other dogs and their owners. It’s made taking her out much easier.

She was also a big puller, straining on the leash and pulling it taut. Now she walks ahead of us, but the leash isn’t fully extended, and she’ll even slow down to walk next to us (if there’s a treat to be had!). We’re still working on it, but she’s gotten much better.

Debby’s also helped us handle Delilah’s demands for attention. This is a daily battle, but we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeves now to keep her busy and manage her energetic nature. I’ve been able to avoid some of her frustrated tantrums where she chews on bedding or other verboten items.

Debby’s given us insight into why Delilah acts the way she does, and how to work with her to adjust undesirable behavior. I understand my dog better, which has helped me to appreciate her even more.

Shannon Macken




Since moving to Pittsburgh 3 years ago, our rescue dog, Mozilla, had developed a tendancy to lunge and bark at people while walking our busy streets or riding in the car. My wife and I had been trying techniques that we found online to address this but with little success. Walks were increasingly stressful for Mozilla as well as for us, as we would be constantly shortening her leash to nothing as well as practically dragging her past people we couldn't avoid.

I was impressed with Debby from the moment she met us- instead of her usual standing her ground and barking, Mozilla went right up to sniff and accept treats. Debby obviously knows the right body language to use around dogs. She explained why the things that we were trying weren't working and explained how to make Mozilla more comfortable (and this less likely to bark!) around strangers. We spent most of the session out on our very busy sidewalks as Debby helped us practice our recommendations, and she provided us with a folder of helpful information as well as personalized follow-up notes afterwards. Debby's techniques worked beautifully and best of all, were dog-focused- instead of teaching you how to "make" your dog do something, she teaches you how to help your dog make good choices. No wonder Mozilla LOVED her after just one meeting! Over the next 2 sessions, Debby helped us adjust our techniques as well as better understand dog behavior and body language and Mozilla is visibly happier and more relaxed on our walks now. We've had joggers surprise us, workmen walk right past us, kids dash by-instead of barking, Mozilla now looks to us for treats or sniffs the ground to sooth herself. I absolutely love that the solution to our problems was to find a way to make our dog happier and more secure-we are really enjoying the stronger bond with her, and I love that strangers on our walks now represent opportunities to practice helping Mozilla relax rather than stressful situations to avoid.

Stacy & Alyssa Warnick-Hesse




Chimi, Nutmeg and Snowy!

I found Debby and Pawsitive Reactions through my employer's employee assistance program and her services have made a wonderful difference in our lives. I have three dogs: 2 Chihuahuas (Chimi and Nutmeg) and a Maltese (Snowy). My Chihuahua, Nutmeg, did not like my boyfriend (Joe) at all and would bark and snap and generally be rude to him at every available opportunity. Her behavior was way out of control and I did not know what to do about it. Debby came to my house on a total of three occassions and she watched the behavior of all three dogs and made very practical suggestions for getting Nutmeg to behave better around Joe. We still have a ways to go but her behavior around him has started to improve and she is now even looking to him as a source of food! I would definitely recommend Debby's services if you are experiencing any behavioral challenges with your own dogs.

Beth Molnar



Penny & Lola!

When my husband and me adopted Lola, a special needs puppy, we really didn't know what we were getting into. Within the first month, we realized how far over over our heads we really were. Lola is a survivor of the distemper virus but it tooks it's toll on her before letting her go. Lola is blind, epileptic and has limited cognitive developement due to the virus. When we first reached out to Debby, we didn't even know what to ask for help with....it seemed like everything! Debby has taught us how to communicate with Lola (a basic bond that I will take for granted again!). The first time we got Lola into a "sit", I almost broke down into tears. Lola has come so far in our work with Debby, I am amazed at the difference just a few short months have made. When everyone else told us that Lola would never have a good quality of life, Debby gave us the hope and tools to prove them wrong. Even with all of her obstacles, Lola has proven herself to be a strong, happy, charismatic dog. But more importantly, she is a cherished member of our family.

Angela Crawford



Yogi is doing awesome. We have not tested him but we have not seen any sign of his aggression or guarding high value items. In the last few months, he seems so calm and gotten very comfortable living with us. We could have never done this without you. I know that because we were not even going about his behavior change correctly until you showed us how to do it.


Jason and Lori Martincic



Jasmine, Babe and Prince!

We were new volunteers to our local Shelter rescue organization when the call came on a snowy weekend in February that three Shelties were being rescued out of a desperate situation. We said that we would foster one of them. The rescue happened despite a huge snowstorm and Jasmine came into our lives: fearful, starved, dirty and broken in spirit from all the abuse and severe neglect that she had suffered. Of course, there were lots of fear-based and neglect-based behavioral problems too. We sought the help of someone experienced with fearful and reactive dogs and thank God that Debby McMullen of Pawsitive Reactions came our way. Debby gave us the tools and the knowledge to work with Jasmine so that she and our other dogs could live peacefully together. Debby's advice and working alongside us during those difficult days was truly a lifesaver for Jasmine and our family. We have recently adopted Jasmine and while she still has some issues that we continue to work on, she is happy, healthy and getting along very well with our other two Shelties and our cats. Bedtime and mealtimes are peaceful now! Thank you Debby for believing in Jasmine!

The Maruca Family



I adopted Lana as a puppy from Furkid Rescue. She came bouncing through my door and I instantly fell in love with her and knew she was the one. I remember my mom saying that she was going to be a handful but I just knew that she was meant to be with me. As mother's always prove themselves right, Lana sure was a handful. I needed to socialize her a little bit more and get her trained. Socializing has always been a hard road for us. She either really loves you or she is fearful and unsure of you. I had her to trainers, behaviorists and my vet, to work with her through her anxiey and fear. I was told that I either needed to give her up or to put her down. I was heartbroken but I was not going to give up on my girl that easy. So I contacted Furkid desperate to find other options. They put me in touch with the behaviorist that they use for all of their rescues. Our lives would be forever changed by this lady! Debby McMullen taught taught me how to see Lana's fear and anxiety through her eyes and I truly began to understand her more. My bond with Lana became stronger with those moments of learning and understanding. We still have some work to do but now that I understand her and know how to train her in situations that give her anxiety and fear, it has made me a better mother to her.

Danielle Wenzel



Jaxson, Cali & Maggie!

I wanted to say thank you so much for taking the time to work with us. You helped put my family back together when so many said that it wasn't going to be possible. I wanted to also let you know that all last week I worked at home and was able to have all of my babies all together more and they did AMAZING! Maggie even took a ball to Cali and they played like they used to. I'm sure that you can imagine how happy I was to see that again. Thank you again!

Michelle Esswein & family



Henry and Bailey and Henry and Cody!

We wanted to share our story and relate how grateful we are to Debby McMullen of Pawsitive Reactions for her transformative work with Henry (and us!). Henry came to us as a sad, abused and malnourished puppy. He was the runt of a litter of 10, rescued along with their emaciated mother by a humane officer and the police. Due to their poor condition, they were all slated to be euthanized, when rescue organizations intervened. We adopted him into our family of two other dogs, and we quickly reversed the physical effects of his neglect. Over time however, the pschological effects of his poor start in life began to manifest more and more. He had much anxiety and a lack of self-confidence. It began to affect our other two dogs. He was so afraid of strangers, of the car and of places other than our home, that even vet visits became impossible. During a complete meltdown at one vet visit, our long-time beloved and trusted veterinarian suggested that we may need to consider euthanizing him. We were not going to give up on Henry that easily! We began researching canine behavior specialists. We chose to contact Debby based on her extensive experience and expertise in working with dogs that others gave up on, her specialization in multiple dog households and her work with Animal Friends. Thankfully she agreed to take our case. We will never forget our first meeting. Debby literally showed up at our door with her back to us. She entered our home walking backwards while offering food to Henry. It was the first time that Henry did not lose all self control/growl at a stranger. We were amazed and at that point, it was clear that we had hope for helping Henry. We went into the sessions committed to the fact that WE needed training as well as Henry...that his success would depend on us. Debby was our anchor, even attending a vet visit we were anxious about for vaccinations that Henry needed. Our vet was astonished at the progress that Henry had made in such a short time. He by no means loves the vet (what dog does?) but we got through the visit smoothly with no meltdown. Debby was very attentive in addressing issues Henry has in specific situations. Every session was followed up by her email detailing the visit, her observations and suggestions and homework for the next visit as well as links to valuable resources. She made it clear she was available to be contacted between visits and encouraged us to keep her updated. In closing, we are so grateful for all that Debby has done for us. Henry is a happy and well-adjusted member of our family. We are now able to read his cues and keep him confident in any situation he may encounter.


The Viestra Family




"Finally...hope!!! Debby McMullen just left; she came to do Ares first training/behvaior modification session. She is the FIRST dog trainer I have met that does not want to take away, hurt, or euthanize Ares and most importantly understands how bonded we are..." This is what I wrote in my "Ares Journal" on May 24, 2014 at 5:24PM. Fast forward, in justthe last four visits, Ares has made more progress than he has in the last two years, between all five trainers combined! Debby has patiently shown us how to go for walks, witout Ares getting anxious over the thought that I may not be able to handle a perceived threatening situation. We are also working on my ability to remain calm when faced with a situation that would normally be a trigger for Ares....as well as the way that I hold the leash. Through Debby, I have also discovered that even though Ares outweighs me by about 30#, I don't need a horrible prong collar to control him when he becomes reactive...which like I said, he has made amazing progress in NOT reacting!Last, but certainly not least, Ares stays home. After consulting with Debby, and ultimately, gaining the confidence and knowledge that I have her support on hand, WHENEVER I need or have needed it, I made the scary decision to add another dog to our household. That step is something I would not and could not have taken without the reassurance of knowing that I have someone who REALLY knows animal behavior! Although Ares and I have just begun this journey with Debby as our guide, I cannot even begin to put into words how thankful I am to Debby's friend Jackie, for her life-saving referral to Debby, and to Debby herself for just being her amazingly patient, intuitive, wisdom-filled self!


Kristina Mattea and Ares



Debby of Pawsitive Reactions has been the best investment for my dog, Leo! She not only has great respect for animals, but she also respects the wishes of the pet owner as well. She has, and continues, to work with me in using positive reinforcement to teach obedience to my very excited and young Lab/Coohound, as well as giving me advice on how to handle my elderly cat's adjustment to a new dog and teaching even me patience! I've learned so much about animal behavior from Debby and on those most frustrating training days, she always has a word of encouragement. She gives great instructions, complete with a written follow-up and is always ready with advice and links via email for any question that I have. Not only have I found a great trainer for Leo, but also someone that I can call a friend to us both.

Melissa Hunt



King family Bull Dogs!

Over the past 8 years, Debby has helped us in establishing peace and balance with our rescued Bulldogs. Her positive approach to training makes for both happy dogs and happy families. For us, having Debby just a phone call or email away, makes the decision to rescue another stubborn bully a simple one. Our crew is always happy to se her as well...they know she will have those delicious liver treats in her pocket!! Thank you, Debby for helping our family live in harmony! You are the best!!

Tracy King




We adopted a dog in 2006, a mixed breed Boxer/Beagle? who was about a year old. This was our first dog as adults and unfortunatly, we did some things that resulted in him having really bad seperation anxiety. In my quest for help, this was at the first point that I heard of Debby. She actually referred us to another trainer in order to get immediate help as she was scheduled out for longer than we wanted to wait. I really admired that on her part-to me, that showed more of a concern for us and the dog, than her business. We managed to work past that difficulty and I began to look for something more in the way of positive behavorial training. Debby has been a great help with a variety of things as well as follow-up questions. Our dog, Sammy is much more comfortable with situations than he was before we attended her drop-in classes.

Nicole Schapiro




I had found Debby online and asked her to come to my house and help me with my crazy dog, Chloe. This was fantastic that she does house calls because my dog is shy and timid out of the house. So she could see crazy Chloe in her full out spazz mode when people came to my house. Debby is great with animals, I love that she teaches and trains using positive methods. I didn't want someone telling me I would have to hurt my dog to get her to listen to me!! After a few minutes of Debby being at my house....Chloe was so calm, she actually went and laid in the other room. Which is unbelievable to my friends...since they refer to Chloe as "Crazy Chloe". At the end of the lesson, Debby provided me with a folder containing written information on how to get her not to jump, and to relax. Following my appointment she got in touch with me to make sure everything was going ok. I would HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend Debby for ANY dog issue. She also has a Pit Bull, so she understands those breeds first hand. She is a great trainer for anyone that LOVES their dog and cares to train them in a POSITIVE manner.

Chelsea Bugielski



Gracie, Lola & Roxie!

Debby walked into a house of chaos. Our new English Bulldog puppy had turned things upside down to the point where we were not sure we could keep her. Among other things, there were brutal fights with our other two dogs, complete with bloodshed. Debby came with knowledge, insight, patience, tools, compassion and intelligence and taught us all how to find a happy household. Our "rude" insecure Lola is now a sweetie, and our two other dogs have learned patience and acceptance. Things aren't always perfect but now we have lots of skills to handle those situations with confidence and a positive manner. All three dogs love her visits. Our home is much more peaceful, and we would not dream of giving up our Lola, thanks to Debby! We couldn't be more grateful!

Mark and Jocelyn Steele



Gozer, Sally and Miss Maia

Debby has been a lifesaver for my two dogs and me. Last fall my boyfriend and I adopted a little puppy that turned out to be quite the handful. She was hyper, somewhat stranger wary and dog reactive. Taking her on a walk was unbelievably difficult and frustrating. However, thanks to Debbty and Pawsitive Reactions, I am happy to report that we can get her calm and under control. She was so relaxed recently that during a full moon week, she politely greeted another dog on a leash and also let a stranger pet her. Debby also gave me some tips to keep my older dog under control and my cat, who becomes very stressed when we leave the house. Now my household thrives with happy pets. Thanks so much Debby for teaching us to patiently control our chaos.

Anna Elder




Buster is a Husky/American FoxHound Mix, adopted by us in early June 2012. His origional owner wasn't able to care for him any longer due to health problems. Buster was fostered for a few months in a multi-dog household. Then came to live with us. In his 2 short years, Buster had been in three homes. He seemed to adjust quickly to us and other human family members...but the other dogs in the family were another story! We tried a few "interventions" on our own with no success. My husband and I as well as Buster were extremely stressed each time another dog came into our house. Buster would be noticably anxious, barking, whining and just plain upset. In early July, I called Animal Friends for help (although Buster was not an Animal Friends dogs, I was familiar with them from our last dog, Buddy, who died in February). I met Debby at Animal Friends in July and the rest is history! We arranged for Debby to work with Buster and us (my husband and I) at our home. Debby helped us in so many ways! Many of Buster's behaviors were based in his insecurites and fear. Debby pointed these things out to us and helped us to work with our dog to ease his fears. She reinforced the importance of the reward system and positive feedback for Buster's good behaviors....no matter how small or large! We are still working on all the things that Debby taught us, including spending time with the other family pooches. Buster is making great gains...thanks to Debby! She was extremely patient and kind....with all of us! Debby consistantly looks at the positive side of training. Debby gave us written information to review from session to session. She also emailed a summary of the things that we did during Buster's training session including links to products, toys, etc. that Debby felt would be helpful for Buster. We feel blessed to have met and worked with Debby!

Joanne and Bill Jeffcoat




As first time dog owner, our family called on Debby to help us with our Papillon puppy, Piper. We didn't understand our dog, and how she was trying to communicate with us. Debby changed all that for the better. Debbby's wonderful personality, understanding of dogs, and clear love of her work transformed our relationship with our pet. She is so kind, understanding and definitely takes a customized approach to training. But most imortantly, Debby consistantly goes above and beyond the scheduled sessions in our home. When Piper was sick, Debby offered advice, referrals and reassurance--all things I needed as a new dog owner. She clearly does not see her job as work, but as a passion and love for animals. It shows in every session, email and phone call. Thank you, Debby, for being such an important part of our love for our pet.


Kelli Pritchard and family


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