Michelle Cogle – Dog Trainer

Michelle Cogle, Michigan Dog Training, Plymouth, Michigan, Dog Trainer


On June 11, 2017 Michelle Cogle was promoted from Assistant Dog Trainer to Dog Trainer at Michigan Dog Training in Plymouth, Michigan. She successfully completed MDT’s Dog Trainer program and passed comprehensive written and practical exams with high scores.

Michelle joined the MDT team in 2017. Previously, she trained mobility service dogs at West Virginia University.  We are very proud of her hard work, dedication and accomplishment.  Congratulations Michelle.

Rosebud -SDIT earns Adv. CGC

Michigan Dog Training, Plymouth, Michigan, Service Dog, Service Dog in Training, Mobility Service Dog, Advanced Canine Good Citizen, Advanced CGC, Community Canine Good Citizen

On February 25, 2017, Rosebud a Golden Retriever and her handler Laura-Jean Siggens of Ann Arbor, Michigan earned the American Kennel Club Advanced Canine Good Citizen title at Michigan Dog Training (MDT) in Plymouth, Michigan.

Rosebud is is participating in MDT’s Train Your Own Service Dog (TYOSD) program as a Mobility Service Dog. The TYOSD consists of 24 private and group class lessons and prepares dogs to become a Service Dog. Congratulations to Rosebud and Laura-Jean!

Dash a SDIT earns Urban CGC

Michigan Dog Training, Urban CGC, Urban Canine Good Citizen, Service Dog in Training, Service Dog, Diabetic Alert Dog

On the cold wintery day of January 25, 2017, Dash a Golden Doodle earned the American Kennel Club Urban Canine Good Citizen title. The testing was done by Michael Burkey of Michigan Dog Training in downtown Plymouth. Dash passed with flying colors heeling amongst distractions of people seeking warmth in the Panera Bread restaurant, disregarding walkers and joggers on city streets, sitting beforehand and calmly crossing city streets, loading and unloading from a vehicle under control, disregarding trash left on the sidewalk, transversing open back metal grated stairs and more.

Michigan Dog Training, Urban Canine Good Citizen, CGC, Urban CGC, Service Dog in Training, Service Dog, Diabetic Alert Dog, Michigan Dog Training

Down stay at a restaurant

Dash and her owner Shannon Inglis of Lake Orion, Michigan are participating in MDT’s Train Your Own Service Dog (TYOSD) Diabetic Alert Dog program which consists of 24 private and group lessons to gain public access obedience skills and to be able to alert when Shannon’s blood sugar goes low. They are doing an outstanding job and Dash has already alerted to Shannon’s lows in real world settings.

Congratulations Dash and Shannon!


Teach your dog to Stand

Teaching a dog to “Stand” is a helpful command when placing a vest on your dog, trimming your dog’s nails or when your dog needs to visit the dog groomer or examined by a veterinarian. To start, train your dog to go to “place”.  When the dog understands to sit on a place board, it makes teaching the “Stand” easier as the dog will learn to pop it’s hips up into a stand position instead of stepping forward. Being on “place” prevents the dog from stepping forward. In short, it is a fancier way to teach the dog to stand as well as more clear understanding to the dog.

Once the dog understands “place”, there are two ways to teach the stand.  One way is to shape the new behavior by waiting for your  dog to stand and then click and treat or using a verbal marker word such as “good” and treat.  Then cue the sit and wait for the dog again to stand and click and treat as before.  After enough repetition, your dog will learn that standing results in rewards and will repeat the stand more frequently. Just as your dog starts to stand, name it by saying “stand” and then click and treat as before. Later, cue the stand before the dog starts to stand and mark/reward as before.

A second way to train the stand is by luring.  With your dog in a sit position, lure your dog to reach forward for a treat.  Since he understands not to step off the place board, he will stand by popping his hips upward to reach further for the treat.  Click and reward as mentioned above and later cue it with the word “stand”.

Once your dog understands the word “stand” proof the behavior away from the place board with your dog sitting on the floor. The finished skill can then be proofed in the environments that you want your dog to perform the stand command.  In the below video, Kelsey uses the lure method to teach Winnie, a Service Dog in Training, to stand during a dog training class at Michigan Dog Training in Plymouth, Michigan.

Kirby becomes Advanced Canine Good Citizen

Michigan Dog Training, Service dog in training, Advanced Canine Good Citizen, Plymouth, CGCA

Queen Kirby CGCA

On September 28, 2016 Queen Kirby and her handler Stella Marcel of Kalamazoo, Michigan earned their Advanced Canine Good Citizen (CGCA) title at Michigan Dog Training in Plymouth, Michigan. Kirby is being trained to be a service dog and passed the evaluation with flying colors.  The CGCA is a ten step evaluation.  Congrats Kirby and Stella!

Future Service Dog becomes a S.T.A.R. Puppy

Saoirse, Michigan Dog Training, Michael Burkey, Diabetic Alert Dog, Service Dog, Puppy S.T.A.R., puppy obedience, puppy training, plymouth, MIOn February 28, 2016, Fleetwood Farms Thee “Saoirse” JedIrish, an Irish Setter puppy and a future Service Dog for Diabetic Alert Detection passed her American Kennel Club (AKC) Puppy S.T.A.R. Evaluation with flying colors. Saoirse is trained and handled by Johanna Anderson of Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Saoirse and Johanna are participating in private dog training lessons to become a Diabetic Alert Dog (DAD) team at Michigan Dog Training in Plymouth, Michigan with its CEO and Dog Behaviorist Michael Burkey. Saoirse will be ready to test for her Canine Good Citizen title at her next training session and Johanna has set her sights on also obtaining the Advanced Canine Good Citizen and Urban Canine Good Citizen titles.

While only 8 months old, Saoirse has already alerted Johanna to her sugar levels dropping too low on many occasions. A DAD is an important part of a Diabetic’s medical management program. When a Diabetic’s blood sugar falls they often times don’t feel the oncoming symptoms until its too late thus requiring hospitalization.  A dog trained to detect the change in blood sugar is an early warning system, reminding their human partner to test their sugar level and take appropriate medical intervention.

The below video clip shows part of Saoirse’s training exercises to alert on a blood sugar scent sample that was collected previously when Johanna’s blood sugar level was below 70. Contact Michigan Dog Training if you are a Diabetic 1 and want to train your dog to be a Service Dog / Diabetic Alert Dog.



The Force Awakens in dog training

Michigan Dog Training, Service Dog, Service Dog in Training, Mobility Assistance Dog, Plymouth, Michigan

Rue, Service Dog in Training

Today, “The Force Awakens” opened at theaters everywhere, the new Star Wars movie. And, many of the Michigan Dog Trainers and I went to see the 12:15am premiere together. Why  the 12:15am premier you ask? I haven’t a clue other than perhaps I gave into the suggestive young minds of my fellow Jedi Knights. : )

As I sat in my theater seat with anticipation, there was a force within me awakening. That “force” is what motivates us to train dogs. For me, the utmost importance, is to have a trusting and loving companionship with my dogs. And, that extends to my community of dog lovers by ensuring peace and safety for all.

Dogs teach us many things about life such as to think in the moment. Dogs don’t regret the past. They have memories that can be triggered by current situations but they’re not sitting there worrying about what happened to them many years ago. Nor do they worry about their future life. They also seek out fun opportunities many times with simple items. To them, little things can bring so much joy. I believe we should observe and learn from them by truly being in the moment with them.

They think and act in the present moment. Normally, I like to think of them as Doggie Buddhists. But today, they remind me of a Jedi Knight. Being in the moment allows one to truly connect with others, to know oneself and provides vision that you did not have before. It prevents unnecessary suffering by offering clarity and an unique mindset of  “Do. Or Do Not. There is No Try”, according to Yoda and my good friend Robin McFarlane of That’s My Dog!.

So how does this force awaken within you to train your dog? First consider how things are going now for you. What is your relationship like with your dog.  Does he or she not pay attention to you, pull you down the street, not come when called, jump on you and your guests, etc. Experience the pain of what this means as if you’re watching a movie screen with your dog portraying as the main actor. Do you find yourself either isolating your dog to another room when your guests come over or have they stopped visiting you because of your dog? To watch it, hurts doesn’t it? One must experience the pain to be willing to do something different. Be a resistance fighter and decide to put an end to accepting the way things are with your dog.

Imagine what your relationship can become with your dog.  You and your dog going on nice wooded hikes together, strolling downtown streets together, your dog coming when called reliably, your dog going to a StarWarspredetermined “place” when people come to the front door, your dog laying at your side while you eat dinner or watch a movie with your spouse etc. Shrink the first movie on the screen and replace it with this desired movie. Feel the force within you awaken as you allow the second movie to play over and over again because your dog can be the good dog you desire. As Stephen Covey said, “One must begin with the end in mind.”

  • You’ve experienced the pain of not doing.
  • You’ve imagined what is possible of doing.
  • So now it’s up to you “to do.” And, if you need help, the Jedi Knights at Michigan Dog Training are there to help you along your journey.

So I’m curious what inspires you to train your dog? Comment below and feel the force awaken.

Dog Obedience Classes in Plymouth

basic dog training class, Michigan Dog Training

Basic Group Class

2015 Puppy and Adult dog obedience classes will start again next week at Michigan Dog Training (MDT) in Plymouth, Michigan. MDT offers a wide range of classes for all breeds large and small, from puppy to adult dog, and from basic to advanced obedience along with some specialized courses not found elsewhere. Some of the specialized courses include Train your Own Service Dog, Nosework, Protection Sport Dog and Feisty Fido.

Train Your Own Service Dog, Mondays, 6:30-7:25pm (1/5, 12, 19, 26)

Nosework, Mondays, 6:30-7:25pm (1/5, 12, 19, 26)

Protection Sport Dog, Mondays, 7:30-8:25pm (1/5, 12, 19, 26)

Puppy 2 Manners, Tuesdays 6:00-6:55pm (1/6, 13, 20, 27)

Puppy 1 Manners, Tuesdays 7:00-7:55pm (1/6, 13, 20, 27)

Intermediate Manners/CGC, Tuesdays 8:05-9:00pm (1/6, 13, 20, 27)

Circus Trick Dog, Wednesdays 6:00-6:55pm (1/7, 14, 21, 28)

Basic Manners, Wednesdays 7:00-7:55pm (1/7, 14, 21, 28)

Feisty Fido, Wednesdays 8:05-9:00pm (1/8, 15, 22, 29)

Perfect Practice, Thursdays 6:30-7:25pm (1/8, 15, 22, 29)

Advanced Obedience / Focused Heeling, Thursdays 7:30pm-8:25pm (1/8, 15, 22, 29)

Don’t wait, sign up now before classes are full.

Service Dogs pass CGC test with flying colors!

Michigan Dog Training, Service Dog, Service Dog in Training, Diabetic Alert Dog

CGC Title Earners

Training service dogs to perform in high distraction areas proved very successful for four dogs who passed the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test with flying colors at the high distraction filled Novi Pet Expo on November 22, 2014. The test was administered by Michael Burkey, CEO of Michigan Dog Training in Plymouth, Michigan.

The CGC test measures a dog’s ability to demonstrate good manners and dog obedience. The ten step evaluation includes things such as walking on a loose leash, performing sit/down/come and stay, greeting other dog teams appropriately and more.  It also recognizes the owner’s commitment to demonstrate responsible dog ownership and care.

Based on the amount of distractions in this public space (unfamiliar people and dogs walking close by as the test was conducted in an aisle way, test area next to a food court with people eating food in close proximity, crowds pooling around the testing area at the Michigan Dog Training exhibitor booth, PA system announcing dock diving events, etc.), all four dogs could’ve easily passed the Community Canine Good Citizen Advanced (CGCA) test.  However, one has to pass the CGC before attempting the CGCA.

Congratulations to the following dog teams:

1. William Arney and his Service Dog MADDIE, Chocolate Labrador Retriever, of St. Joseph, Michigan trained by Michigan Dog Training of Plymouth, Michigan

2. Shyann Hilla and her Service Dog in Training, SPELL, German Shepherd of Harrison, Michigan trained by Hilla Dog Training

3. Shyann Hilla and Service Dog in Training COOPER VON GRANVILLE of Harrison, Michigan trained by Hilla Dog Training

4. Sarah Schertel and Service Dog in Training VAUGHN of Grand Ledge, Michigan trained by Great Lakes Assistance Dogs


How to train a fearful or aggressive German Shepherd Dog; not to attack Halloween displays

German Shepherd, fearful aggressive service dog, bad dog training, bad service dog training


A soldier, Larry, has a German Shepherd Dog named Hudson that he says is a trained service dog. He recently uploaded a video of his dog attempting to attack a Halloween display on his Facebook page.  He uploaded the video supposedly showing how he is training his dog to be more comfortable around Halloween displays and it has already gotten close to 3,000 views.

Whether the dog is a trained service dog or not, I don’t know.  What is obvious is that Hudson doesn’t readily respond to his commands, is at an impressionable age, and is terrified of the Halloween displays.  Larry seems like a nice guy who has good intentions attempting to train his dog himself. However, this is not the way to train a service dog nor any fearful or aggressive dog.

Larry said he happened to be walking his service dog in a Halloween store when someone stepped on a foot pedal setting off a Halloween prop which scared his dog.  Not wanting to waste a training opportunity; Larry took his dog up to smell the prop and then he stepped on the foot pedal himself setting off the prop in close proximity to his dog. This triggered the dog to become reactive and Hudson lunged, barked and snapped at the prop.

To control the aggressive display, Larry stepped in front of his dog and told him to sit and tried to reassure him that the scary item wasn’t so scary after all by praising and cuddling his dog. But the potential damage to Hudson’s psyche has already been done. He reacted aggressively twice in regards to being startled. Overtime, he may habituate Hudson to scary things as Larry says he has done but this usually is not the end result.  Instead, when training is done as depicted in the below video, a dog rehearses being aggressive.  The other thing the video shows is what Hudson’s response will likely be to things that startle him and that is not a characteristic we want in a service dog who has full public access.

There are some other problems with the below video. There are liability concerns by conducting the training in a public place. If someone was too close to Hudson, he may redirect onto a bystander. In this video, Larry has a good hold of his dog but there is nothing to stop a child from running up from behind Larry to pet Hudson just before the prop is triggered.  Though this didn’t happen, there was a young boy who was startled by Hudson’s reaction. It isn’t fair to the customers nor the store owner to have training conducted this way in the store. In fact, any service dog who is disruptive can and should be excused from the store. It also isn’t fair to the qualified service dogs and trainers to have someone train their own dog in this manner. It presents a bad image for the profession and does an injustice for all service dogs and their rights to have public access.

Lastly, it is really questionable if the dog needs to be proofed against scary Halloween displays. If Larry was a store employee and medically needed his dog to be with him, then perhaps. But since Larry is a customer, he could choose not to enter a known scary place for a dog or train his dog properly in a private setting. Larry may have good intentions but he doesn’t have a proper education in dog training to do it by himself. He would benefit from working with a professional dog trainer.

Larry was contacted about his video and the below steps were suggested to him.  He, however, is not open to training his dog a different way and unfortunately, doesn’t see anything wrong with the way he was “training” his dog. He also minimized his dog’s response saying his dog was going into a “defensive posture” and barking to let it be known his “displeasure” over the trigger object. He is minimizing what his dog was doing. Hudson was having a fear response to the item and was acting aggressively toward it. It was offensive and not defensive behavior.

Michigan Dog Training, Service dog, Diabetic Alert Dog, dog obedienceIn a nutshell, here is how the training should be done for things Hudson or any dog is scared of:

  • Training initially should be done in a private space with limited distractions, not a public store.
  • The dog should be walked with a comfortably distance from the trigger object that challenges the dog but doesn’t overwhelm the dog.
  • When the object goes by or is triggered, it should be paired with the introduction of a a food treat (or ball play session). At first, it’s “stuff a dog” with the food treat so the dog doesn’t even have time to react. Later, the treat could come as the dog shows calm non-reactive behavior. If the dog won’t take the treat, then he/she is too close to the trigger object.
  • The dog should also be trained to look at his/her handler on cue such as with a “look” command.  This is helpful to tell the dog to look away from the trigger and to the handler.
  • As the dog improves overtime, he/she can be worked closer and closer to the trigger object. The dog should always be worked just under its threshold, challenged but not overwhelmed.
  • The dog can also be removed from the trigger object as a reward for being calm.

Desensitizing a dog can be compared with how training is done in the military. All soldiers attend basic training before being assigned to a station or post rather than being thrown into a war zone. As with dogs, basic obedience needs to be learned before attempting specialized training or behavior modification. Once a solider completes basic training, many then attend specialized training for their particular specialty (MOS, Military Occupational Specialty). The MOS for the dog might be the service dog training or the behavior modification to be calmer around scary objects. Flooding a dog by immersing them to a trigger object without sufficient distance and without prior skills to handle the item is setting the dog up for failure. It is not generally effective nor fair to desensitize a dog to scary things by immersing them. You have to habituate and desensitize the dog to it overtime at a level that they can be successful with.

If you need help to train your own service dog, contact Michigan Dog Training or call 734-634-4152.


This is a video of how NOT to train a dog by Larry and Hudson.