Finding a skilled dog trainer is difficult. I feel fortunate to have found Janet DiPirro to help me with the training of my Golden Retriever, Luke.
Luke is my third dog. While my knowledge of dogs has grown over the years, my ability to teach my own dog more than sit, down, and maybe stay, has not grown enough that I felt competent to train him. I needed a good trainer. In Janet I found a great trainer who was able to assess my dog’s skills as well as my skills.
Dog training is a talent that grows with experience. A good dog trainer really is teaching more than sit, down, and stay. A good trainer learns your dog’s body language and then passes that knowledge onto you, the owner. A good trainer knows that each dog is different and teaches your dog with an understanding of those differences. A good dog trainer also knows that dog owners learn in different ways and helps each individual to understand how to best work with their dog.
I’ve been fortunate to have Janet work with Luke and to watch her as she works with other people and their dogs. She took the time to not only know my dog but to think through the best way to teach him. Did he need more play time? Did he need less play time? Was he confused by circumstances? Was he getting too many or too few commands? At each stage of Luke’s learning, Janet observed and came up with solutions that helped Luke, and me, to learn.
With Janet’s help Luke earned his Canine Good Citizenship certificate. To earn this certificate, Luke had to learn loose leash walking, good manners when others approached us, to handle noises and crowds, and so forth. These skills were especially important as Luke was going to be a service dog for me.
A good trainer teaches the owner as well as the dog. Janet taught me to allow Luke time to respond to the commands given. She taught Luke to walk on lead, and then taught me to trust Luke’s ability to do so rather than to use his leash as a handle to guide him.
With Janet, Luke went from a smart, funny, sometimes a little crazy, young dog to a smart, funny, lovable working dog. He became able to control himself when control was needed. While he looks to me for commands, he also has learned when he must keep himself under control. He also knows when it’s play time and he does both, work and play, with joy.
In addition to good obedience, Janet was able to teach Luke skills that help with my daily living. Watching Luke, Janet was able to adapt skills so that Luke could have success. For example: Luke carrying a bag, as a backpack or grocery bag, would be helpful for me, but was a difficult skill for Luke. Carrying a ball was easy for him. Janet determined that adding a ball to the handle of a bag gave Luke a place to grab onto so he could carry a bag with success. Luke also learned such things as “touch” to help him learn to get objects needed and to open/close doors with a nudge of his paw. After working with Janet Luke received his service dog certificate easily.
With Janet’s help I learned the importance of communication between Luke and me. I learned that there can be too little communication or, mostly in my case, too much communication. I learned to quit repeating commands and to give Luke a chance to respond. I learned to keep my expectations for Luke reasoned, but high. I learned to trust Luke.
I also learned to trust Janet. After time with Janet, Luke became more sure of himself. He grew into a dog who not only brings smiles, but brings comfort to my heart and soul.
Dog training, I think, is an art. It is not a formula. One technique does not work with all dogs. Dog training is communication: between trainer, dog, and owner. It is observing. It is learning from each dog. It is caring about the dog and the owner. Dog training, I think, is a passion, to do the right thing for each dog and each owner.
I highly recommend Janet. She has helped me to have an awesome, dependable, happy dog. She has helped to improve Luke’s life and my own.
Carly Campbell and Cody February 28, 2017
When I adopted Cody almost a year ago, I knew I had my hands full. Picking up Cody from a chaotic foster home for children, I saw that he had very little attention, time out of the house, training, or fun activities in his life. I was definitely up for the challenge, but wanted to make sure I was doing things correctly. He had most of his basic commands down;sit, stay, down and leave it. However, he had an attitude about him that I couldn’t seem to get past. He knew his commands, and seemed to be a very smart dog, but his good behaviors only came on his terms. Hiking through the woods, I would lose him from time to time which would send me into a panic. He would come when I called him, but only when he felt like it. When friends or strangers would come over to the house, he would bark like crazy and ignore me when I asked him to be quiet. When playing together, he would become mouthy and often too aggressive. If we went walking on leash in town, he would pull and be all over the place. Finally, I knew I had to do something. I needed to seek professional training because I wanted him to be better and for us to be able to communicate with each other. I enrolled Cody in doggy daycare at VCA and sought out training. We spent one hour with Janet during a private session, and also attended one of her classes. Practicing our lessons at home, I saw that Cody really enjoyed learning how to be a good dog. This in turn made me happy to have a semi well behaved dog. When January came along, I had two weeks of travel planned. Naturally, I checked VCA for boarding services and day care with perhaps some training options. After discussing the options that combined day care, boarding and even Janet taking him home, I felt confident and excited to send Cody off to school.
It was a long couple of weeks, but Janet kept me informed through texts and videos. Cody looked happy and was having a blast. It warmed my heart to know he was learning and enjoying himself and meeting new dogs and even a girlfriend. When I came home I was required to have a few appointments to learn what Cody knew. When I was stunned with how well he behaved. He listened, he sat, he stayed, he came, he walked next to me on a leash; he was a dream dog! After getting the okay to take him home, Cody and I practiced our new skills every day. We went hiking, we walked down town, we went to home depot, we played at home. When hiking, Cody stays in sight and comes immediately when called. When we are down town he stays by my side and never pulls, when meeting people or other dogs, he stays completely focused on me. He truly amazes me every day.
I cannot be more grateful for the help, guidance, and training that Janet has given to us. If it weren’t for her, we would still be struggling to work together.
With a heart full of Dog Love,
Carly Campbell Traverse City Michigan