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Meet Jennifer Mann of L.A. School for Dogs

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Mann.

Jennifer, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Today, friends lovingly claim I am saving the world, one dog-family at a time, but it wasn’t always the case.  Born and raised in Los Angeles, I came from a celebrity background.  My mom and dad are Lori Nelson (1950’s starlet of the big screen), and Johnny Mann (of the Johnny Mann Singers).   I was a shy and quiet youngster and found solace spending non-verbal time mostly with dogs and occasionally horses too.  I had to be so grown up at such a young age, and it was a relief to be around animals where we understood each other without having to talk.  I was drawn to stray, and shy dogs and I studied them trying to learn what they were trying to tell me. I was determined to earn their trust and communicate my intent in a way they could understand.  I was always bringing home stray dogs in effort to save them from some frightful end.  I kept busy teaching them tricks or nursing their emotional wounds. I was never fearful of animals no matter how big or menacing they appeared. Perhaps it was because I grew up with two wolf-sized dogs. “Moose” and “Hoss” were German Shepherd, Husky mixes. I was just a toddler when, in their exuberance they would push me around and knock me down, and so I learned to just push them right back!  Although I didn’t know it yet, this was the beginnings of my learning about how to communicate with dogs.  Early on it became clear that speaking on behalf of man’s best friend was my calling.

Still life happens and playing with dogs wasn’t a reputable career back then. I did my stints in acting and singing, and then careers in sound editing and real estate.  Dogs continued to be a hobby and part time gig along the way until the great recession of 2008.  At that time I made a choice to follow my heart and my instincts back to dog training and reopened Good Dog, Bad Dog K9 Academy in the valley.  I also conducted dog training classes for PetSmart. In 2010, an opportunity to train at The Olde Towne School for Dogs in Alexandria, Virginia was presented to me!  I jumped at the chance to learn from a family who had been training and running a dog business in the heart of the city for more than 40 years!  Their success and recognition of my talents gave me the confidence I needed to believe I could make a living doing what I loved!

My passion for saving dogs was finally realized by keeping them in their homes by fixing problems through training!  Upon returning to Los Angeles, I re-branded “Good-Dog, Bad-Dog K9 Academy” as L.A. School for Dogs in Westlake Village to better reflect the positive approach and upscale nature of the school.  To this day over one thousand dogs graduate my programs each year.  In 2017, I launched Mann’s Best Friend Online Dog Training courses in order to reach people anywhere in the world with my do-it-yourself programs and principles.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I started my Proven Three-Week Program in the garage of a home I was renting. My budget was small and I struggled to find commercial or industrial space to rent because for some reason, building owners saw dogs as a bigger hazard than storing flammable liquids!  As luck would have it, I finally found a location adjacent to a park and a neighborhood with a plethora of distractions perfect for training dogs!  It continues to be home to our school to this very day. Another big struggle is finding and grooming good dog trainers!

L.A. School for Dogs – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
With a lifetime of experience, I bring forth a mashup of the best of the best techniques which has become the exclusive method of L.A. School for Dogs.  Because no two dogs or families are the same, we are able to customize our approach based on the individual dog and their family.  

Our most popular program is our “in house” Proven Three Week Program taught entirely outside in the real world.  The location of our school is unique and provides the ideal environment to get superior results quickly. We do the training for families during the day and their dogs get to be home at night and on weekends.  Parents take an hour lesson at the end of each week effectively beginning the transfer of new behaviors as soon as day five!  I joke that we train to be “Starbucks ready”.

What are you most proud of?
I am proud to have become such an integral part of this community.  People see us out training every day and have come to trust and value our expertise.  I love the feeling that comes from over-delivering.  Every customer is surprised at what we are able to accomplish and immensely grateful.  

Having an animal in the home that has pushed a family to the breaking point is a challenge brought to me almost daily.  I find myself playing psychologist first, then dog trainer, and ultimately oftentimes friend.  I realize we are saving dogs who may be days away from being given up, but we are also saving families!  I sometimes wonder about their fate had I continued down my old path rather than getting back in touch with my innate gifts.  Perhaps they would have gotten help elsewhere…or would they?

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
It has proven difficult to replicate myself, and as a small business I don’t have enough hours in the day. So, success would be a work-life balance!  But I think most importantly, success to me is knowing that I am doing what I was always meant to do.  And I am contributing to society in a meaningful way.  I have offered up my skills to the world, and they have been met with a resounding “yes”!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
The Original “Lassie”

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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