Yvonne & Rodney and their German Shepherds Tippy & Remmy

First, some background info:  About eighteen years ago, when I got my first German Shepherd puppy, I tried Don’s class after trying four other trainers.  She was a tough puppy to train for a first-time owner.  We eventually succeeded in training her (you can see a picture of her balancing a tennis ball on her nose on the mural at TK Canine Training Centre), but I knew I could do better with my next dog.  In July 2017, my husband and I brought our then newly adopted 6.5-year-old and 7-month-old German Shepherds to training with Don because working with him had worked the first time – and yes, we got two dogs in the span of three months.  We’ve completed all the courses at TK Training (beginner, intermediate, advanced, agility) to great success and our dogs are often complimented on their calm and obedient behaviour, even though it wasn’t like that at the beginning.

Don’s lessons are private and are different from other trainers.  His methods are step-by-step and clear.  He does not use treats for obedience training and there is no group training.  He emphasizes not only obedience but the care of the dog emotionally, physically, and mentally.  Because he worked with us one-on-one, we were able to address specific issues with each dog.  Our older, stubborn German Shepherd had been previously Schutzhund trained in German but had to re-learn the commands with us as new owners and in English.  Our younger German Shepherd had issues with other dogs in addition to barking.   Don showed us how to use words and the prong collar properly so that our communication with them was clear, and he taught us how to understand our dogs’ behaviour in their actions and reactions.  We used a lot of positive verbal reinforcement and praise.
We also signed up for the socialization classes that are held once a week.  These classes are conducted in a safe environment which allowed for our dogs to become accustomed to other dogs (at first on-leash, then off) in polite, respectful ways.  We attended the lessons and two socialization classes (rain, shine, and snow) once a week each – a total of 6 hours for each dog for a year. Even though we have now completed our private lessons, we still attend two hours of socialization each week.
One year later after the last of private lessons, we can say that our dogs are confident, well-behaved citizens of whom we are proud to be the parents and are comfortable taking out.  The biggest improvement we have seen is in our younger German Shepherd who has done a complete 180 degrees in his behaviour.  Those who know him remember his start to socialization class was lunging, growling, barking, and snarling.  At the Special Events’ Parties that Don hosts for his socialization classes, our younger German Shepherd mingled up to fifty dogs of varying sizes with no aggression whatsoever.
Without Don’s training (and training of us), Tippy and Remmy wouldn’t be the dogs that they are today.  We now take them to other courses like agility, scent work, and swimming in a pool, knowing that we have the confidence to handle them, and knowing that the dogs know our expectations and have the confidence to know how to behave.   In the last two months on a whim, we took him to the breed-specific Western Regionals Conformation Show and the Canadian Nationals (where he came first in both shows!), and we are happy to say that he tolerated all the other dogs at the competition where he was focused on his task, and didn’t lunge or show aggression to other dogs.  Even the judge and the handler loved him!
We speak highly of Don and highly recommend his training centre.  Our goal was to have our dogs to be safe, well-behaved citizens in the community and at home.  It was important that we committed to the time (in class and at home), effort, and cost of training them, and you will need to do the same if you want the same.  There is no better reward than having obedient dogs as part of our family, and Don played a huge part in getting us there.  The most important points that we will always remember from our private training with Don is to ask questions, that a prong collar is a tool (not a weapon), that verbal praise and physical petting go a long way, that there’s always room for improvement, and that consistency and timing is EVERYTHING.
Thank you, Don, for your expertise and patience!