Founder and owner Leah Twitchell started Canine Movement Lab after apprenticing under Kevin Behan, creator of Natural Dog Training and author of the book, “Your Dog is Your Mirror.” (Photo courtesy of Jen Grace)

SCARBOROUGH — Canine Movement Lab is a holistic dog school founded and owned by Leah Twitchell and based in Scarborough.

In her training techniques, Twitchell works directly with dog’s “natural prey drive” to tap into their “true wilderness,” Twitchell said. She shapes obedience from this “wild state of being.”

Twitchell’s philosophy is that dogs are essentially wild.

“Dogs are completely ‘in the moment’ creatures, with no separation between mind and body,” the Canine Movement Lab website reads. “Some dogs have more ‘play’ than prey drive, which means they’re more apt to seek play with other dogs. It’s still a drive that can be channeled to the owner and shaped into a bond built on trust.”

On the evening of Tuesday, July 23, Twitchell is outside with dog owners Matt Newcomb of Scarborough and Emily Bruey of South Portland, whose dogs, Chewy and Billy, are undergoing some holistic dog obedience training.

Dogs come to Twitchell’s trainings hungry, and then are hand-fed their dinner by their owners.

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“Hand feeding is the basis for all our training,” Twitchell said.

The dogs and their owners take their stations on platforms forming a circle in the grassy yard outside Tender Touch. During the session, they perform various objectives with their dogs, feeding them as they go. Together they complete circuits around the course.

Twitchell founded Canine Movement

Lab after apprenticing with Kevin Behan, the creator of Natural Dog Training.

“I started out as a client. I brought my own dogs to Kevin after reading his book, ‘Your Dog is your Mirror,’” she said. “My dogs needed behavioral rehab, and I needed a lot of help learning to manage them.”

Twitchell said the change in her dog’s behavior was profound.

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“That’s when I decided to become a dog trainer. I knew I could use this method to help others,” she said.

A core goal of Canine Movement Lab is to create an emotional connection between owner and canine. “When you help people create that connection, they can have a really fulfilling relationship with their dog,” Twitchell said.

Twitchell’s core piece of advice to dog owners? “Start the relationship off right by hand-feeding your ne puppy or newly adopted dog,” she said. “You can’t go wrong with that.”

For more information on Canine Movement Lab, visit Twitchell’s website, caninemovementlab.com. New puppy class starts Aug. 13.

Evelyn Waugh can be reached at [email protected] or 780-9026.

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