How long have you been training dogs? What are your credentials/education?
I have been working with dogs professionally for over 16 years now. I trained my personal dogs in Schutzhund and worked with friends dogs as a hobby for many years before making it my profession. (You can read my longer bio here.) I am a certified AKC CGC Evaluator, CDT, currently working on my Delta Therapy Dog Evaluator, and most importantly, years of working and learning from some great people. I truly feel I learned my most valuable skills while being a daycare attendant and observing how the dogs interacted and how their hierarchy was established. Nothing beats hands on knowledge and I truly have a natural gift with dogs.
What sets your training style apart from other trainers?
I take a unique approach to every dog I work with. I have a true love for dogs and understand what they need to be fully stimulated to create a content family member. I treat each dog as an individual and plan my course for that dog according to their strengths and weaknesses. I am in no way a cookie cutter trainer and pride myself in creating programs that work for each specific dog. Working with animals takes patience, love and a good understanding of how they think. Every breed of dog was designed to perform a certain job for humans. As time has gone by the needs of many breeds are no longer required. I feel it is important to incorporate their natural drive in their specific training program.
Do you just work with dogs?
Yes I only work with dogs, but I will work with dogs that are going into a cat home. I can do a cat test for dogs to see if their temperament will fit a cat home. I have also trained dogs to coexists with cats.
What is your basic philosophy on training?
I strongly believe a dog should be taught through a positive approach. Learning should be fun for the dog and something they want to do. During the learning phase exercise should be part of the daily routine. A combination of mental and physical stimulation will help the dog stay balanced. Structure and discipline also play an important role during the training process; a dog needs to understand their place in the pack. When a dog learns the core commands of obedience, positive reinforcement should slowly taper off. We must understand how to communicate with our dogs, this is when being corrective comes into play. Telling your dog to sit and being ignored is unacceptable once the dog understands the command. A slight tug of the lead, a light tap on the hind quarters could be applied while the command is repeated. I always tell people we create the dogs we own. Helping owners implement the core commands into daily life and teaching them how to communicate with their pet properly will result in a happy relationship.
How long will it take to train my dog?
I believe we are always training our dogs in some form throughout their life. In my experience 2, 4 and 6 weeks are good time frames to set the core commands into your dog and begin to build a strong foundation. A solid foundation means the core obedience commands are learned, and the dog had an understanding of the basics. If time is an issue many clients will use my structured stimulation services to help them further the development of their dog.
Do I have to be involved in the training
Owner involvement is very important during training. This does not mean the owner must be there for every session, but it does mean the owner should be involved in a session so they understand what is going on and they can be shown what to start working on at home. I train the dog and give the owner information on how to apply the commands, structure and discipline. Follow up sessions with the owner are crucial to the overall success of any training program.
What do I do about my dog that barks too much for no apparent reason?
Dogs don’t do things without a reason, the first step is to find out why the dog is barking. There are number of reasons for this; not enough exercise, not enough mental stimulation, structure in the household is lacking, etc., until I meet the owner and dog I can only speculate. This is why I always recommend a consultation and evaluation with any new client and dog.
What can you do to stop my dog from nipping or even biting people?
This is another question that requires more information. There are many factors involved here; a dogs age, when did it start?, has there been a major change at home?, was there a negative experience?, is the dog going through a developmental change? This is all speculation until I have had a chance to meet the owner and dog and see the full dynamics of the home.
Can you get my dog to accept the new baby?
In most cases I have not had any issues incorporating the addition of a new human child into the home. This depends a lot on how **humanized** the dog was before the addition of the child to the home. I speak through personal experience here. My pregnant wife started to get nervous about the 140lb Rottweiler that I owned. She started to come up with ideas about the dog going away and coming back when the baby was settled into the home. I told her that was not going to happen and that the goal was to keep the dogs daily structure unchanged. We walked into the house with our tiny baby girl and the first thing my Rottweiler did was come over and sniffed her. They stayed in and I left to give Dante his evening hike, just like I did everyday at this time. By the 3rd day Dante had a new job; guarding our daughter. He slept next to her crib every night, if he was in another room and heard her cough he would get up and check on her. Keep in mind that we were always responsible and never put our daughter or Dante in a situation where something could happen.
What can you do to stop my dog from lunging at people or other dogs when I’m walking him?
Let’s not start with HOW to stop this, but with WHY is your dog doing it. Some people confuse aggression with a dog that lacks proper doggie communication skills. A dog may bark and lunge while passing another dog on lead because they simply want to meet them. This leads back to the importance of the initial consultation and evaluation with the owner and dog. What the owner thinks about their dog barking at people during a walk as being protective could actually be possessive. There is a huge difference between the two; being protective of the owner is good, but being possessive is not good. You are not an item or toy that is your dogs property to be possessive of.
How do I choose a dog that’s right for me?
Picking the right dog for your household is the most important thing. I provide breed consultation and assist future dog owners on selecting a dog that will fit their lifestyle and personality. For example matching an active breed with someone that leads an active lifestyle or suggesting a breed that will be your companion through a good TV marathon. It’s important to match temperament and energy level.
Is it better to send my dog away to get trained?
It really depends on how much time the owner can put into the training when I am not working with the dog. I can have a dog that lives with me in a very structured environment that will be trained at the end of the stay. In this case it would be about teaching the owner how to apply everything the dog has learned. It is important to understand that in the end the owner must also be involved with their dogs development and implement what the dog has learned into daily life.
Won’t my dog get more exercise at daycare vs a structured hike, walk, or structured park play?
I have 12 years of experience running both small and very large facilities that offered daycare, training, and boarding. Larger set ups and the structure of this type of environment is not set up for your dog to really “play”. Dogs are not really allowed to run like they would in an outdoor setting. I do believe that a facility setting mixed in with structured outdoor activities is ok. When I take a dog out for a structured activity they are simulated both mentally and physically. A couple of hours of this type of stimulation will have a dog content for the rest of the day. Most dogs that go to daycare 5 days a week do so because they cannot be left at home alone. This could be due to many different reasons like separation anxiety, destructive behavior, or the owner doesn’t have the time to exercise the dog. Over the years clients have asked me if my dog came to work everyday with me. I would tell them no, only if he is helping me with a behavioral dog. They couldn’t believe it and would always ask “where is he, what is he doing”? My answer would always be; he is at home looking after the house and making sure everything is ok until I get home. My structured activities are designed for your dog to be well exercised and mentally stimulated so they can go home and look after things until you arrive.
My dog pulls when we walk. Can you help me with that?
Yes, I believe the walk establishes everything. If your dog is leading the walk they are most likely in charge of other things at home. The walk starts before you leave the house. Your dog should be in a calm state of mind before exiting the front door. There are many collars, harnesses, super leashes that promise the perfect walk. I’m sorry to say that in the end it’s about your dog understanding where they fall in the order of your particular household pack. I like to teach position in the beginning, without using a leash, and adding it once the dog understands where they should be while walking. Every dog is different and there are many ways to teach your dog how to walk properly. A lot of it has to do with how your dogs sees you. I have worked with dogs that walk right next to me, as soon as I pass the leash to the client the dog pulls. Working closely with the client is critical in every aspect of the training process.
What do you think of celebrity trainers like Cesar Milan, and have they raised the expectations of ‘regular’ dog owners too high?
I feel that all of the dog training shows have put false hope into people with dogs with serious behavioral issues. I have rehabilitated dogs that took 5 months and longer, people expect 3 commercial breaks and a cured dog. It has made it harder in my opinion to explain to people this isn’t TV and get ready to make a commitment if you truly want to help your dog.
Have some more questions?
You can give me a call (click here) or read more commonly asked questions and training tips on my blog here.