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In 2023 Blue Fawn Maine, LLC opened its doors in Waterboro, Maine. Located in the Village District of Town, BFM’s training facility is 12 minutes north of Sanford and 25 minutes west of Biddeford on Route 202.
As the successor of Finish Forward Dogs, Inc built by Shannan Hall, Blue Fawn Maine will share many of the same characteristics of its predecessor.
“Dogs do speak, but only to those who know how to listen.”
– Orhan Pamuk
Certifications, Training, and Experience
A Passion for Animal Behavior
Shannan is an experienced professional in the field of animal behavior with a deep-rooted passion for understanding and helping dogs.
Her journey began with a formal education in animal behavior, graduating Cum Laude from The University of New England with a Bachelor of Science in Psychobiology. This provided her with a solid understanding of the biological basis of behavior, cognition, learning theory, and objective observation.
Behavior Study to Certification
Driven by a desire to expand her expertise, Shannan pursued additional training through Animal Behavior College under the mentorship of Kim Vansickle. In 2006, she obtained her first certification, solidifying her skills as a professional in the field of animal behavior.
Achievements in Shelter Management and Obedience Training
Her dedication and skills caught the attention of Happy Tails Portland, where she was offered a training position. Shannan eagerly accepted and contributed to the development and implementation of the obedience and daytrain programs. Under the mentorship of Teri Robinson, she gained valuable experience in refining her training techniques.
As her career progressed, Shannan assumed full leadership of the Happy Tails program. It was during this time that she had the opportunity to develop innovative programs such as Rally Obedience and Behavior, including Maine’s only obedience program specifically tailored for pit bulls and bully breeds. Shannan’s passion for behavior modification had begun to take shape as she laid the foundation for a program aimed at helping dogs overcome their behavioral challenges.
Recognizing the underlying causes of reactivity, fear, and aggression in dogs, she developed a thorough, dialed-in program that centered on emotional self-regulation and appropriate decision-making in challenging situations. This initiative formed the basis of what would soon become the Finish Forward Dogs’ (massive) BMOD program.This program has become a hallmark of Shannan’s work, providing dogs and their owners with the tools and support they need for lasting behavior change.
The Development of Finish Forward Dogs
Shannan’s compassion and commitment to excellence is demonstrated by her continuous pursuit of knowledge and collaboration with industry leaders and animal welfare organizations at local and national levels. Throughout her career Shannan has sought inspiration from respected professionals, attending seminars and following the teachings of renowned experts such as Nicholas Dodman, Patricia McConnell, Terri Bright, Sue Sternburg, Nicole Wilde, Bob Bailey, Ian Dunbar, Michael Ellis, Terry Ryan, and many others.
Drawing from their expertise and her own experiences, Shannan built Finish Forward Dogs, Inc. (FFD) into the comprehensive dog training studio that it became, offering behavior modification, socialization, obedience training, and various dog sports and games. She is now bringing that knowledge, experience and expertise into Waterboro’s Village district with the introduction of Blue Fawn Maine!
Dogs, Family, and Professional Success
Shannan’s personal journey with dogs has included over twenty canine companions, ranging from Goldens and Spaniels to Shih Tzus, Labs and Shepherds, to name a few. Her own dogs have provided impactful experiences involving a wide variety of breeds and temperaments. From a head-strong Alaskan Malamute, a grumpy yet intellectual shepherd mix, a rascally Amstaff, a nervous, fiery and affectionate pit bull mix, and a painfully shy, yet tender American Bulldog, her early career was motivated by the desire for harmony in a multi-dog household and the knowledge to help each dog live a fulfilled life. But it was Brina who drove her to pursue a career in dog training.
Brina, the light of Shannan’s life and her heart dog, became her commitment in her early twenties. Early training experiences led them to a variety of methodologies, lending to the development of Shannan’s personal training philosophy. Learning to harness the energy of Brina’s entirely free, utterly confident, and resilient terrier spirit, they embarked on a journey together, transitioning from behavior modification training to the competition ring. They achieved national rankings in Rally Obedience following Shannan’s founding of Finish Forward Dogs, Inc., with Brina as her impetus. Throughout their partnership, Brina played a vital role as Shannan’s business partner, aiding countless dogs through Behavior Adjustment Training (BAT) sessions leading up to her unexpected passing in 2016.
Shannan is also a dedicated mother to her three children, Adilyn, Maizey, and Maxum. Her children share her love for dogs, and ensuring the well-being of their canine companions is a family priority. Compassion, the importance of kindness, consistency and fairness are values she has instilled in her children since their early years and her kiddos regularly choose to take part in their dogs’ care and training. Shannan believes that well-trained dogs enjoy the rights of autonomy and the freedom to participate in various activities. Currently, Shannan’s family shares their home with two American Staffordshire Terriers, inspiring her latest venture, Blue Fawn Maine.
Shannan’s dogs bring her both challenges and joy, serving as a source of comfort, humor, and humility. She has achieved national-level success with her dog Willow, earning titles in rally, competition obedience, weight pull, drag racing, steeplechase, lure coursing and conformation. Willow, affectionately known as Wiz, has excelled in bike-joring and cani-cross, and she even graced the cover of In The Company of Dogs magazine. Lanco, the newest addition to Shannan’s pack, is currently undergoing foundation training in competition obedience and weight pull.
As a mother, Shannan draws parallels between learning and behavior across species. She aims to prepare her children to face life’s challenges, build their confidence, and enhance their decision-making abilities. These principles align with her approach to coaching clients as a dog trainer. Shannan provides clarity, sets expectations, and rewards appropriate decisions, gradually granting more freedom of choice as dogs and children grow and mature. When mistakes occur, she takes a step back with her clients, repairs any foundational issues, and continues moving forward together. This dance requires patience, understanding, experience, and flexibility.
“My training career developed as the product of two things – an unruly little American Staffordshire Terrier and my undergraduate studies.”
Rooted in Experience, Grounded in Morals, and Bound by Love
The Desire to Understand
The Art of Communication
My Morals and Standards
…and praise to improve positive engagement and cooperation between dog and handler. I follow the philosophy “train the dog in front of you” and adhere to LIMA (Least Invasive, Minimally Aversive) standards. I favor science-based training, but I train by feel.
My goals for every client are that they receive the highest degree of care and respect while making significant progress towards fulfilling their dogs needs and living an enriched life of enjoyment. As my role is to prepare every dog to take on life’s challenges, my job is to build their comfort in the world around them and their confidence to make appropriate decisions. My philosophies are not unlike what, as a mother, I choose in raising my children.
Well Rounded Experience
Setting Every Dog Up for Success
In my years of dog training I have worked with very tough, physically strong dogs with concerning levels of both human and dog aggression. I have been in the trenches, seen the worst of the worst, lived with fighting dogs and managed a peaceful existence. I have also spent a considerable amount of time teaching and training for higher level precision obedience and dog sports.
There is a high degree of satisfaction that comes from the resolution of aggression and reactivity, as there is in seeing clients succeed in the competition ring, but training the family dog is no less rewarding. Setting puppies and adolescent dogs up on the right foot with their newly acquired families is a task I whole-heartedly welcome and thoroughly enjoy.
From Those with Experience
We were so grateful to have found you when training our new puppy, Floyd. He is now almost 10 and everyone always comments on how well behaved he is and how he listens so well. We definitely contribute this to the training we learned at FFD. We were thrilled to find out you were opening again when we decided to get a new pup. BlueFawn opening eased my anxiety of finding the right place to train.
Shannan Hall’s kindness and understanding not only inspired and motivated me to continue growing as a trainer, I saw it inspire so many trainers who got their start at her first training facility, Finish Forward. Shannan brings out the best in her students and in her dogs, and she also knows how to create super fun dog events! I’m looking forward to making the trek to BlueFawn training!