Kori Hall, a certified dog behavioral trainer, engages in touch therapy with Aurora, a rescue mutt that suffers from anxiety. (Laura Guido / Whidbey News-Times)

Kori Hall, a certified dog behavioral trainer, engages in touch therapy with Aurora, a rescue mutt that suffers from anxiety. (Laura Guido / Whidbey News-Times)

Mutts get special treatment at doggy daycare in Oak Harbor

“Some people call me a hippy dog trainer,” says owner Kori Hall.

OAK HARBOR — Kori’s Muttley Crew is defined by controlled chaos.

Owner Kori Hall does everything she can to keep things in order at her recently opened cage-free “doggy daycare” and boarding facility on Goldie Road, but dogs are still dogs. She has seven years of behavioral training experience and she requires all of her employees to have at least five years’ handling experience.

“You need to be able to read the dog before the dog reacts,” Hall said.

Monday morning, all of Hall’s “furry kids” had seemingly endless energy. Easton, a congenial lab, nabbed this reporter’s notebook and bounded off. Roxie, a stout pitbull, stuck close to Hall and boxed out the other muttley crew members who also wanted to give the trainer some love.

The 6,000 square-foot facility has an open garage door that leads to a 1,200 square-foot “yard.” The green artificial grass has a drain field underneath and is cleaned and sanitized every night, Hall said. There are two cameras outside and one inside that can be remotely accessed by the fur babies’ parents at any time.

Kori Hall keeps things in order at her recently opened “doggy daycare” and boarding facility. (Laura Guido / Whidbey News-Times)

Kori Hall keeps things in order at her recently opened “doggy daycare” and boarding facility. (Laura Guido / Whidbey News-Times)

Charlie Beau, a Vizsla, who was the first member of the muttley crew, bounced around the yard and acted like “he owns the place.” He often had one of the many available toys in his mouth.

Hall reveled in the chaos, but she and her employee Jessica Osborne managed to deescalate situations if needed and positively reinforced good behavior. Hall said she only works with positive reinforcement, especially because she deals with a lot of dogs who have been abused or neglected in their past.

She considers each of her daycare doggies “kids,” and treats them like “part of the family.”

Kori Hall, owner of Kori’s Muttley Crew, plays with her “furry kids” at her new doggy daycare in Oak Harbor. (Laura Guido / Whidbey News-Times)

Kori Hall, owner of Kori’s Muttley Crew, plays with her “furry kids” at her new doggy daycare in Oak Harbor. (Laura Guido / Whidbey News-Times)

“Being able to work with kids like this, that might be a little misunderstood, is what my whole life is about,” she said.

Hall uses touch therapy for 10 minutes a day, four times a day on dogs that have behavioral issues. One of her special cases is Aurora, a bouncy mutt that is usually separated from the others because of her severe anxiety. Aurora has a tendency to bite when she gets scared, but Hall is working to change that.

She led the mutt, whom the employees lovingly refer to as their “jumping bean” into a small room. She turned on soothing music, which she said the dogs respond to. Hall gently told Aurora to sit and lay down, which the dog did. Hall rubbed pressure points on Aurora’s paws and stroked her back and face. The dog, who had been jittery and jumping on the counter moments before, lay in front of Hall calmly.

Kori Hall, a certified dog behavioral trainer, engages in touch therapy with Aurora, a rescue mutt that suffers from anxiety. (Laura Guido / Whidbey News-Times)

Kori Hall, a certified dog behavioral trainer, engages in touch therapy with Aurora, a rescue mutt that suffers from anxiety. (Laura Guido / Whidbey News-Times)

A couple of times, Aurora got nervous, barred her teeth and acted as if she were going to bite Hall. Undaunted, Hall would then stroke the pup’s face and quietly say no until the dog calmed down.

“Some people call me a hippy dog trainer,” Hall said with a laugh. “But that’s what works for me.”

She and her husband have four rescue dogs at home. Her own furry “kids” comprised Hall’s first “muttley crew,” she said. Opening the dog care facility was just a way to expand her crew.

Hall said she’s always had a soft spot for “the weird ones” that she works with. She said those dogs’ problematic behavior is usually driven by fear or anxiety, and she loves being able to teach those dogs they don’t have to be fearful.

“That’s my whole life purpose,” Hall said.

“To speak for the kids that can’t speak for themselves.”

This story originally appeared in the Whidbey News-Times, a sibling paper of The Daily Herald.

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