Dear David
April 13, 2009
     Please excuse this lengthy testimonial. But my wife and I feel so strongly about your training that we want to share it with whoever may come across it when researching a dog trainer.  We hope that this will make a difference for those dog owners out there looking to take their dog to another level of obedience and good manners before they waste their money. As you know, we live in Rhode Island and only learned about your services through your web page. After pouring over your testimonials and speaking with you over the phone, we took the chance and enrolled our 10 month old German shepherd dog, Cyrus, in your three week board and train program.  Even though we live 3 hours away we had little choice but to reform Cyrus or get rid of him.

   Prior to coming to you, we enrolled him in puppy kindergarten classes, tried to socialize him with other dogs in the neighborhood, and walked him at least twice a day.  By the time he reached 9 months old, however, he was out of control – nipping anyone who came near him, pulling on his leash, and frankly frightening our kids and my wife.. Walking him became a miserable experience as he would run after anything that moved. People would see him and cross the street just to avoid him. Our puppy was now becoming an 80 pound liability.  My wife lost interest in being with him and the kids no longer found joy in his company.    

     We worked with two trainers who were great when he was a much younger and smaller dog. But we soon realized that clicker training and food motivation was actually making him worse as he grew much larger and more confident in himself. Furthermore, neither trainer was able to address the issues of nipping and jumping on people. One trainer told us that this was only teething and that he would "outgrow it". The other diagnosed it as dominance but was unable to stop it. He had us switch his leash to an adjustable harness, but this was only a Band-Aid as Cyrus would revert back to his nipping as soon as we took it off.  He simply did not respect us as his leaders.
   After two trainers we were fed up and questioning our decision to get a dog. The kids, however, grew attached to the dog and we wanted to try one more trainer before making the difficult choice to get rid of him or give him away to someone who could control him.

    After speaking with you on the phone for about an hour or so my wife and I just knew that you would be the last trainer we would need. There was something about your insight into our situation, easy going manner and deep knowledge of dogs and experience that was very obvious. In fact we did not even bother to ask you for references as you made a strong impression on us immediately. Nothing in your approach over the phone or webpage spoke of empty advertising and false promises. You leveled with us and asked us to keep an open mind.

    We did not make your work easy: we specifically asked if you could make him walk on heel with and without a leash, end the nipping once and for all, and have hi m sit in his place until commanded to do otherwise. Hey, you asked what we wanted and we gave you our wish list. Truth be told – we would have been happy if we got half of what we asked for. The results, however, exceeded our expectations and we want to make sure tha t anyone reading this knows that you exist and that it is possible to have a well mannered dog no matter the breed and size. And if you can control this powerful breed, anything is possible.

  Although Cyrus was away for several weeks your frequent emails and pictures made it much easier for all of us. You obviously know how hard it is for a family to be away from their dog – even when he is a handful!
  After one week I returned to your house, per your request, to train with you and Cyrus. I could not believe my eyes. Cyrus was calm and, for the first time, looked like he was looking for commands rather than giving them! I did not realize he had an attitude before until I saw him relaxed and ready to please.  His respect for you and me was obvious.  
 
    After only one week you had him walking by your side like Velcro. He listened to everything you asked. You had him going to his “place” on command, no matter the level of distraction.  I could not believe it. The real test, however, came when you placed food distractions on the floor and had other dogs walking around him – he never budged unless you gave him the command.  The best part was he was happy to serve. It was obvious that he feels more comfortable as a dog and not the boss of the family.

   I was stunned to say the least.  The best part is your ability to teach us and to explain why Cyrus was now the dog we always wanted. Your patience and generosity about your training always left us knowing that we could confidently do the same thing.  After the second week, the kids (9 and 7 years old) were able to walk and control him. The original reason why we wanted a family dog was now a reality.

    Yesterday was a great day for our family.  For the first time each of us walked Cyrus at a heel on a two mile hike. The greatest gift was watching Cyrus walking at a perfect, loose-leashed heel next to each of our boys ... both of whom he outweighs!  The looks of joy and empowerment on their faces were priceless!  Other people on the trail could hardly believe their eyes.  Our 7 year-old is the one who wanted the dog, and he finally had the dog he'd wanted!  After that we took him to Home Depot with me and the entire family. Jordan, our 9 year old, walked him with the leash slung over his shoulder the entire time and Cyrus just happily followed him everywhere. The leash was so loose that it might as well have not been there at all. People were amazed. Almost everyone stopped and looked and wanted to say hello and pet Cyrus. My wife shopped the entire time in peace and the boys and I just took turns walking Cyrus throughout the store. It was a great, great time for everyone. So once we returned, my wife gardened with Cyrus happily in his "place" command. Meanwhile the boys ran around playing soccer. Cyrus just sat there the entire time, happy to rest and watch. It was truly amazing. You would have been proud.

 

    Cyrus is still the way he left your training facility only now he is much happier and well mannered. We took Cyrus on a 2 mile hike this morning. The boys each took turns on heel. Cyrus was amazing. He was listening, not pulling on the leash or protesting -- and believe me, I was looking for signs of protest. I did not see him yawn once or challenge our children.  We took some pretty amazing pictures. I'll have to send them to you. In a few days I will start to film some footage of our training together with the boys so others can see for themselves.

   So every member of this household, including Cyrus, joins me in thanking you for a total life transformation – in more than one sense of the term. We now want to continue our training at whatever level you think is appropriate. In hindsight we really wish we had made a "before and after" video -- but who knew?

All the best, 
Khalil, Cressida, Jordan, John Owen, and Cyrus

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