Niki Tudge, The Founder & President
Niki was born and raised in England but at an early age set out to fulfill her dream of seeing the world. Her career in hotel management not only provided her with the means to work and live in many different countries but it also gave her real-world business experience. In addition to business degrees from Oxford University Niki is also a qualified corporate leadership coach and trainer and she holds the prestigious Six Sigma Black Belt Certification (Six Sigma is a statistical based methodology of improving business processes by eliminating defects that impact business profitability and quality).
Niki rose quickly up the corporate ladder becoming a senior executive manager and training consultant at the some of the world’s most luxurious hotels. Wherever she worked, Niki found ways to help rehabilitate abandoned and abused animals. In Nigeria, she spearheaded a project, in cooperation with Fauna & Flora International, to rescue endangered and protected species from poachers and transition them back to their natural habitat. This project saved many orphaned chimpanzees, endangered drill monkeys and Preuss's monkeys. Niki also worked with Nigerian Police K9 units training German Shepherd puppies deemed “unsuitable” for police work so they could be adopted as family pets.
In South Africa Niki became even more interested in animal behavior and their interaction with human society. Recognizing the growing need for effective management of the animal-human relationship in an increasingly crowded society, Niki provided consultation services to animal-care facilities helping them improve their operations and training techniques. She still carries a small scar from her volunteer work with an overly affectionate lion cub orphan. More and more, Niki became convinced of the limitations and dangers of using aversive, punishing or ‘fear-based’ methods of training and she saw the huge advantages to both trainer and learner of using force-free methods.
Though her work with Africa’s native animals was fulfilling, Niki’s first love was always the family pet dog. Inspired by research on Cape Hunting Dogs, Niki set a personal goal of working with local communities and animal rescue centers to improve the relationship between families and their pets. By teaching families to communicate with their pet dogs, Niki believes the number of stray, abandoned, neglected, abused and unwanted pets can be significantly reduced.
After leaving South Africa, Niki settled in Hawaii where she recognized that the US was emerging as a world-leader in progressive force-free pet dog training. Niki began training her own pet Kelpie using only force-free methods. It was in Hawaii that Niki decided that to have an impact on the pet world and improve the human-animal relationship she should combine her passion for dogs with her professional business and teaching expertise. Niki believes that if the pet-owner could learn to truly communicate with their pets, based on the most recent scientific learning theory, unwanted pets could become a thing of the past and humans would enjoy the increased quality-of-life a pet integrated into the family provides.
Having left Hawaii and now in Florida, Niki established a full-time training center and boutique pet-care facility. It was in Florida where Niki realized that the most effective way to spread the word of the benefits of force-free training and thereby enhancing the human-pet relationship would be to teach ‘like-minded’ animal lovers how they could start their own force-free dog training and pet care business. The DogSmith was born, America's only force free dog training and pet care license. Niki’s many years of experience and unusual combination of business and dog training expertise leaves her uniquely qualified to coach and support other force-free pet industry entrepreneurs. Niki is also a faculty member of DogNostics, Career College an online educational forum for pet industry professionals.
As choices of training methods increased, availability of quick-fix gimmicks popularized by TV grew and misleading ‘entertainment-based’ training techniques became generally accepted, Niki found that it was more and more confusing for the pet owner to understand and differentiate the true foundation and efficacy of dog training and pet care methods and philosophies available. Because of this, Niki saw a need for a member forum where pet professionals committed to force-free training methods could gather to support each other and provide a resource to the pet-owning public who need an understanding of the training and care methods used for their beloved companions. The Pet Professional Guild (the Guild) is Niki’s answer to this need. The Guild is dedicated to servicing force-free Pet Professionals and the pet-owning public who want to be confident that the resources they choose adhere to a consistent training and business philosophy and ethic.
Niki’s professional credentials include; CPDT-KA, NADOI – Certified, AABP- Professional Dog Trainer, AABP- Professional Dog Behavior Consultant, Diploma Animal Behavior Technology, and Diploma Canine Behavior Science & Technology. Niki has business degrees from Oxford University in England and is a certified Six Sigma Black Belt.
Niki has also published many articles on dog training and dog behavior and her pet dog training businesses have been featured in many publications including The New York Times.