The experience of being underestimated at a young age is nothing new to Libby Rockaway. Maybe that’s why she understands puppies so well. At just 17 years old, the young entrepreneur is a professional dog trainer, business owner, and now a published author.
The teen from Nicholsville, Kentucky says that many people underestimate the ability of their puppies, but truly they can expect a lot more from them. She says many folks don’t realize that even when you first bring a puppy home at 8 weeks old it is more than capable of beginning behavioral training.
Her business is what she calls a “puppy prep program.” She trains puppies for buyers before they even take them home, so they are already adapted to the home environment and have a good jump start on learning. In fact, Rockaway has trained over 40 puppies alone for one breeder in her hometown.
Kathy Burgess, the breeder that Rockaway works for, says the girl’s age doesn’t bother her because she is more than capable of doing the job. When Burgess realized that clients would hesitate to hire Rockaway when they realized how old she was, she encouraged the teen to produce a video for each client instead of revealing her age.
According to Burgess, once clients see what Rockaway does and how she accomplishes it, they only want her because they see what an amazing job she does training the puppies. The young girl became interested in dog training 8 years ago while working with the Jessamine County 4-H Dog Club. She started her puppy training business, Libby’s Loving Leashes, as a freshman in high school.
Alongside running her business, Rockaway has also hosted four Kids and Canines camps for children 6-8 years old at her family’s farm. She also still continues to work with the 4-H Dog Club as their main trainer and as a peer trainer to help other kids as well.
Another big accomplishment for Rockaway happened recently when she self-published a puppy training guide for young people entitled Puppy Steps. She wrote the book during an independent study period in her senior year of high school at Trinity Christian Academy.
The book combines the techniques of three main training methods. It is complete with visuals of Rockaway performing training commands, graphics and illustrations, and adorable photos of puppies. Puppy Steps contains an index of commands for every day during the first two weeks of training, additional activities to engage the dog, and an equipment list of fundamentals needed for a puppy.
The book is based on her experiences training dogs for Burgess, who she dedicated the book to. The book is designed to be an easy read for children, but the information in it is suitable for novice adult trainers as well.