All of Pat Miller's 'children' are of the four-legged variety

April 05, 2005|by JANET HEIM

Editor's note - There are a lot of people you see around town that you recognize, but don't know anything about. People like...

Pat Miller

Age - 53.

Occupation - Professional dog trainer and published author.

Hometown - Mequon, Wisc. - just north of Milwaukee; now lives in Fairplay.

Where would you see Miller? - If it hadn't been for having to pass organic chemistry in college, Miller might be a vet now. Instead, she found other ways to enhance the lives of animals, especially dogs and horses.

Miller began her career as a horse trainer, then worked as a humane law enforcement officer with the Marin Humane Society in Marin County, Calif.,. from 1980 to 1996, before starting her own business.


As owner of Peaceable Paws Dog and Puppy Training and Peaceable Pastures horse boarding - located on the Millers' 80-acre property in Fairplay - the goal is "to foster harmony between human and non-human animals." Her classes are geared toward family dog training, focusing on manners and real life behaviors, rather than competitive training.

She compares a six-week training class to kindergarten - a good start but no where near a complete education. Miller said that the actual training happens at home.

"People actively train their dogs for years - just to be a good companion, well behaved and reliable," she said. She now offers classes to teach dogs search and rescue techniques, so they'll be trained to find missing pets.

It was after Miller earned an associate's degree in administration of justice and a B.S. in business administration that she gained the confidence and skills to start her own business, she said.

Miller is part of a growing community of trainers using positive methods for dog training. As the author of two books - "The Power of Positive Dog Training" and "The Positive Perspective" Miller is able to share her techniques far and wide.

She switched her techniques after one of her dogs, whom she loved dearly, hid under the deck from Miller when she saw the training equipment come out. Miller was training her dog for competition and although they had reached the third level, they stopped training altogether until Miller discovered positive training techniques.

She said her first book has been one of's top 10 best selling dog training books since 2000.

In addition, Miller is the training editor for "The Whole Dog Journal," writes a monthly column for Dog Fancy magazine and for "Your Dog," a publication of Tufts University and is a member and past president of Association of Pet Dog Trainers.

She currently has three apprentices - two from Annapolis and one from New York City - as well as a Japanese intern that she is teaching her methods to.

Miller was born in Springfield, Ill., and spent her childhood years in Illinois, Ohio and Wisconsin. She lived in California for 25 years, then lived in Chattanooga, Tenn., before moving to Hagerstown - her husband's birthplace - almost a year ago.

She and her husband, Paul, have been married 18 years. He is executive director of the Humane Society of Washington County.

Hobbies - "Everything I do really relates to animals," said Miller, who added that all of her "children" have four legs. The Millers have four dogs, two cats, four horses and board 13 horses.

She enjoys hiking with their dogs on their 80-acre property and likes antique shopping with her husband.

Miller said that more and more communities are creating dog parks, fenced areas where its safe for dog owners to do recreational activities with their pets. While it usually takes three to five years from the initial planning for a community dog park to become a reality, she is considering creating a private dog park on her property.

What does Miller like best about Washington County? - "I like the animal ethic in the community, the sense that animals are family members and owners have a responsibility to provide for them adequately," Miller said.

Miller likes being in a somewhat rural area that is close to larger cities. Her business draws clients from Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

"I love that we were able to find a place to live that accommodates our love for the country and animals," she said. "It's close enough to support the business, far enough to support my passions."

If you know anyone in the community who might make an interesting Our Town feature, contact Janet Heim at 301-733-5131, ext. 2024 or e-mail

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