About Us

Bailee and Denise

THE FOUNDER

Denise Smalt

"As a child my parents raised Siberian Huskies, so I grew up taking care of and playing with dogs. Thru 4-H I began training my own dogs.
At the end of my last semester in college I bought my first German Shepherd, “Koby.” I found a trainer who taught me many things about training and even personal protection training. I would drive an hour one way each week to learn as much as I could. In my mid 20’s I began breeding German Shepherds and training in both AKC Obedience and Schutzhund. I attended seminars all across the state to learn even more, many from Cornell. I was fortunate enough to work under a World Class Schutzhund Competitor and several trainers from Germany.
As we sold puppies, people asked for my help with training which led me to start teaching obedience classes.

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For several years I worked at a Vet Hospital with Dr. Vivien Surman. This allowed me to increase my knowledge even more about dogs as well as meeting new people who needed dog training.

I have been teaching Dog Obedience Classes in Upstate New York  since 1990. 

Teaching: Basic Obedience, Agility, Canine Good Citizen / Pet Therapy Classes .  

 

My Businesses included;

"Willow Creek Dog Obedience / Boarding Kennels / German Shepherds"  -  Bath, NY 14810  /  Canandaigua NY 14424

 I am a certified  AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator   

Some of my other dog related experiences include;

Cornell University Behavioral Seminars

Multiple Training Seminars, ( Including many hands-on seminars with World Competitor "Debbie Zappia" of Proformance K9, Marion NY 14505 )

Taught and Worked closely with Juli Lathrop of "The Kramer Foundation", Elmira NY ( A Non-Profit Organization rehabilitation & rehoming shelter dogs / Using Therapy Dogs to help & council Children )

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I have had the privilege to work with and help a large number of people over the past 30 years, with a variety of breeds and training issues. I am especially proud to have my daughter, Bailee Smalt by my side training with me, since she was 7 years old.  And to pass down my knowledge  and training experience to her.  She has trained 5 of her own personal dogs, training and certifying 4 of them for Canine Good Citizen and 2 of them as TDI Pet Therapy Dogs, to take them into Nursing Homes, Hospitals, and Schools.  

 

She attended many seminars thru Willow Creek including Agility/Fly Ball seminars as well as training seminars with Debbie Zappia in May 2021.

For the past 3 years she has taken over my Dog Obedience Business teaching Private Lessons, Holding Group Classes, and expanding the business to include Dog Walking and Dog / House Sitting.  She offers her clients compassion and patients to help them with their dog's training issues and needs."  

THE DAUGHTER

Bailee Smalt

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"Having a mother as a Dog Trainer,  Boarding Kennel Owner, Breeder, and with her 30+ years of dog experience, has allowed me to grow up around a variety of dogs and has given me a strong knowledge and understanding of all breeds.

 

I have been training dogs for over 17 years now, but have been "training people to train their own dogs" by myself officially for over 3 years now. I started attending my mom's Dog Classes and trained my first German Shepherd "Asha," when I was 7 years old. I began to attend more of my mothers classes, helped with the Boarding Kennel, and her Breeding Program. As Well As Starting my own Dog Walking Business. 

Over the years I have trained several of my personal dogs to become CGC and TDI Certified, allowing me to take them into nursing homes, schools and other places that allow Therapy Dogs. As well as helping other dogs achieve the same certifications. 

In the many years of doing Private Lessons and Group Classes next to my mom, helping with puppies and dogs that needed Basic Training, to working with dogs with dogs that have severe aggression and behavioral problems, I have learned a great deal of new methods and how to help those who need it.

 I am very excited to continue and expand Willow Creek in the next few years into Georgia."

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A previous student of ours, Kathleen Brown, 

"It's been close to twenty years ago now since I met Denise Smalt (Bailee's mother), then owner and operator of Willow Creek Dog Training operating in the Finger Lakes area of NY.  At that time I had been participating in AKC Obedience and Conformation events for years, and it was, frankly, a godsend to find a trainer with broad experience, intuitive sense and who also shared my own personal philosophy of balanced training.  In Denise I found a true friend and colleague in dogs.

However, this reference is for Bailee Smalt, the little girl who became her mother's right-hand in dog training over the years.  I remember Bailee not just as a helper; she was that rare child who owned and trained her own dogs, eventually passing the therapy dog test and taking them on frequent visits to people in need.  Then, as Bailee grew up it came as no surprise that she began teaching classes as an equal partner at Willow Creek, and eventually went on to teach obedience classes herself.  

Having attended Bailee's classes in Canandaigua, NY, I not only found the Willow Creek training philosophy I came to know from Denise, but Bailee has evolved the program with her own personal touch to include:  Updates on nutrition guidance, using new words and cues, updated training equipment and introducing different treats as rewards.  

The most important things to know, though, are about the person:  Bailee is exceedingly patient with both dogs and people, staying long after class has ended to help anyone in need on an individual basis.  Bailee is mature beyond her years, well-organized, always keeping students informed of changes and following through on everything she commits to.  As the last to leave, she makes certain the facility she uses is in impeccable order.  Bailee has a special way of talking to people that makes them feel confident in their ability to handle their dogs.  The manner in which she presents herself gives everyone a warm feeling of camaraderie, like we're all in this together.  Bailee's involvement in and concern for people and their dogs reaches well beyond teaching her classes.  She has been known to help place dogs in forever homes, is a strong supporter of animal shelters, and her social media postings are always full of dog training tips for everyone.  

Dogs have always been the center of Bailee Smalt's life, and there's little doubt that she will bring her lifetime of experience to the dogs and owners there in Georgia.  By providing Bailee with a space to hold obedience classes, you will also be doing a great service for your own clients and other local dog owners who will reap the benefits of her expertise.  We miss Bailee back here in NY, but it's wonderful to see the capable young woman she has become, bringing Willow Creek training to her new home."

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