Cora Wittekind: Dog Trainer to the Stars
With some of today’s hottest celebrities as her clients, it’s no doubt why Cora Wittekind has been called (on more than one occasion) a “dog trainer to the stars.” An average day for Cora could involve hopping on a private jet with one of today’s biggest actresses and her pups, flying to London for a private consultation, or perhaps dropping in backstage to visit the frontman of one of today’s most iconic bands – who just happens to be one of the very first clients of her company of over 5 years, Prestigious Pooch.
But beyond the LA glitz and glamorous names, Cora’s logic behind her success is quite simple: she doesn’t just train dogs; she is training the owners too. Her role as a Canine Behavioral Specialist is to facilitate trust between her clients and their furry companions.
Today, Cora is arguably one of LA’s most in-demand dog trainers. But her love of animals and desire to devote her life to their emotional and physical wellbeing is no recent phenomenon. Growing up outside Seattle, Cora’s passion for animal welfare was encouraged early on by her mother who worked as a veterinarian technician. She took an active role in wildlife rescue from a young age, and with the support of her family, would regularly seek out stray and unwanted dogs, rehabilitate them and coordinate their adoption. There was never a doubt for Cora, even at this early stage, that she would devote her life and career to encouraging the physical and mental wellbeing of all animals.
After finishing her education at The Academy of Canine Behavior in Bothell, Washington, Cora worked as the head trainer at The Downtown Dog Lounge in Seattle. It wasn’t before long, however, that California came knocking at the door. After one client flew her down to Palm Springs to give swimming lessons to their furry companion, Cora decide it was time to make the move to LA and accepted an offer from the Paradise Ranch Pet Resort in Sun Valley. It might be said that weather also had something to do with it…
Though her location had changed, Cora continued in her lifelong passion for assisting animals in the most need, spearheading a program called Escape To Paradise. With the financial support of the Ranch, Cora visited high kill shelters around the LA area to seek out dogs in need – some of which were on the verge of being euthanized, but more often than not who were also highly adoptable. Through the program, she would train and socialize these dogs, and then find them suitable forever homes – always offering free training for life.
One day while at work, she answered a phone call and found herself talking at length to Steven Tyler about his two new adopted pups. Tyler was so comfortable with Cora’s style and knowledge that he would go on to become one of her first clients when she decided to found Presigious Pooch.
Her collaboration with Patrick Mahaney – one of the top veterinarians in LA – also proved mutually beneficial. Patrick and Cora see eye-to-eye when it came to the relationship between training and health. They both are firm believers in the value that quality, fresh, wholesome food can make to a pets overall demeanour and happiness. It is no accident that many of both Cora and Patrick’s most elite clients choose Lucky Dog Cuisine as the best food for their pups.
It’s easy to talk to Cora. She is relaxed, thoughtful, and encouraging. Her explanation as to the reason behind her success is quite logical: it’s hard to find a person who is a people-person as well as a dog-person. Cora fits the bill on both fronts. And because of this, she has become a trusted confidant for her clients, and been uniquely able to repair the sometimes fractured relationship they have with their pup, a situation that could ended in abandonment or worse. Such was the case with one of her clients who adopted a Shiba Inu. As frequent travellers, they wanted their dog to accompany them seamlessly as they moved around the globe, not realizing that this breed can have a tendency towards stubbornness, as well as other traits that could be incongruent with their lifestyle. As their puppy matured, he would get protective of his space and was prone to biting when he felt threatened.
Because of this behaviour, it was a distinct possibility that her client could be forced out of their building if they refused to get rid of their dog. They asked Cora to come to their home in London, England to provide whatever assistance possible. It was because his owners were willing to act as partners with Cora in the training process, that the story has a happy ending. Though he will likely need life long training, this little pup was able to stay with his family, and they were able to successfully integrate him into their lifestyle.
It seems this simple idea is the key to raising a happy dog: partnership. Cora is not able to take a dog for an intensive training program and deliver him or her back to their owners “fixed” of all behavioural issues – no one could do that. Success means there must be a partnership and a building of trust between the dog and it’s owners. And this is where Cora’s strengths lie. She is able to work with some of the most high profile of clients – within their personal space – and gain their trust in her methods and knowledge.
When it comes to “partnership” and Cora’s training philosophy, it is impossible not to mention the influence of Alice. Alice was more than Cora’s dog; she was also her business partner. She influenced the logo for Prestigious Pooch, and as Cora says, taught her more about human nature than any human could ever do. Alice worked side by side with Cora to train potential therapy dogs for the organization Alliance of Therapy Dogs Inc, and was able to communicate with candidates “dog-to-dog”. At the time of writing this article, Alice had recently passed away after a long battle with cancer. Her impact on those who knew her cannot be understated. We at Lucky Dog Cuisine dedicate this article to you, Alice. Thank you for being a teacher to us all.
We here at Lucky Dog Cuisine are thrilled to announce that Cora has recently been named as our Brand Ambassador! Cora and Prestigious Pooch are on Instagram at the handle: @prestigouspooch