RocketDog Training is run by me - Sarah Giammarino. I have trained dogs in Vancouver since 2003 and worked with approximately 2000 students. I am passionate about working with pet dogs, and love helping people develop strong relationships with their family dogs.
I am also passionate about dog sports like Agility, Rally-Obedience, Urban Agility, and more. My dog Vegas and I placed 4th nationally in the 2015 Canadian Agility Championships. We also compete at the highest level in the Canadian Association of Rally Obedience’s “Versatility” level. Along with the new dog, Dolly, we actively play Urban Agility and are building a sport and community, starting with the website urbanaglity.ca.
I have a lifetime of experience with animals and I integrate this into my work with dogs, including 10 years of equestrian riding and experience with Parelli horse training. I believe dogs need to work well for everyone in urban environments and I've spent volunteer time running classes for the rescue Bully Buddies, the Vancouver Animal Shelter, and Doodle meet ups. I spent time participating in the the Dogs, Parks and People strategy that the Vancouver Park Board implemented. It gathered information on how to better share park space with dog and non-dog users. (To my surprise, I found dog professionals and non-dog users had a lot of agreement points). I'd really like to build an urban agility park in Vancouver.
A broad and varied education has supported my growth as a trainer. Some of the lectures, working seminars and conferences I've seen include:
Dr. Ian Dunbar
Dr. Patricia McConnell
CAPPDT 2003 and 2005 Annual Conferences
The 2007 American Psychological Association’s Convention in San Francisco
Karen Pryor’s ClickerExpo
Nichole Wilde on the topic of separation anxiety
Various courses from the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy
You might have seen me on TV or heard me on the radio:
CBC’s Almanac with Marc Forsythe
Breakfast Television (on several occasions)
TV show, Living Vancouver
I live with my husband and two young boys in South Vancouver.
Dog trainers learn a lot from training their own dogs. Mine have taught me so much and I'm very grateful.
Dolly (4 year old female "Pit Bull" mix)
Dolly is the newest addition to team RocketDog. She was adopted from the rescue group, PB&Chi who rescued her from Los Angeles. She was born in 2015.
Dolly spent most of her life up until now on a cement patio. She has a sweet nature and is learning about playing with toys, passing other dogs on the street, her new obedience commands, and spending a lot of time getting fit for future dog sports.
I chose a "pit bull" type dog because I wanted to rescue a dog and there are many of these dogs to choose from. I looked for a 1 year old dog that was good with my kids and dogs, could stay in a crate home alone, and had a good enough body conformation to play dog sports with me. I'm having a wonderful time training her and she fits into our family so well.
Vegas (female Belgian Shepherd mix)
After a wonderfully long life with me and my family, Vegas died in August 2019. She was just shy of her 16th birthday. Vegas was an invaluable asset and teacher at RocketDog Training and I adopted her the year I started the business. She helped rehabilitate many reactive dogs and socialized quite a few puppies. Her quiet nature put dogs at ease. Vegas competed with me in National-level agility and at the versatility level in rally obedience. She dabbled in learning the sport of nosework. Vegas was adopted from the Vancouver SPCA when she was 6 months old.
TOONIE (FEMALE PORTUGUESE WATER DOG)
Toonie lived with me and my husband for the last 2 years of her life but I trained her for her elderly mom since she was a 3 month old puppy.
She was a wonderfully smart, energetic, yet frantic animal. As a puppy, she chewed holes in the walls, barked in her crate and leaped around madly when she saw another person far away in the distance. I remember taking her to a puppy class and burning through 30+ treats in the first five minutes trying to keep her under control!
I was paid to train her and I applied new methods of positive dog training I was learning. I was (very) patient and positive and she blossomed into a wonderful dog. Toonie sadly died of cancer when she was only 5 years of age. She was full of love, was wicked smart, and could go anywhere off leash.
Rocket (Male Lhasa Apso)
Rocket wasn't my first family dog, but he was the first dog I trained. I brought him home from my great aunt's miniature horse farm (where I was learning to care for and drive these horses) when I was 12 years old.
My friends and I worked on obedience and agility. I was taught how to use a choke collar to teach heeling. Rocket gradually became aggressive towards other dogs and I abandoned the choke collar for treat training as my dog liked it more and I got better results.
I was able to take him to many dog events including summers working as a camp counselor for the SPCA's daycamp program.
Rocket, my company's namesake, taught me about shaping, training methods, aggression, and we had a blast spending many summer days together working with kids. The dog you get when you are a teen can shape so much.