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.

Brittany Promoted to Dog Trainer

Brittany Walter, Dog Trainer, Michigan Dog Training, Plymouth, Michigan

On June 7, 2017 Brittany Walter was promoted from Assistant Dog Trainer to Dog Trainer with a specialization in E-Collar Training after having participated in Michigan Dog Training’s dog trainer program and passed comprehensive written and practical exams. She passed with high distinctions earning MDT’s first 100% score on the tests.

Brittany joined the MDT Team on April 10, 2017. In addition to training dogs in the Board and Train and Day Training programs, she also stepped up to commence teaching group classes. Her prior work experience included being a small animal (including dogs) trainer at Sea World in Texas and an Elephant Care Taker for another organization. We are proud to have her be a vital part of the MDT Team.  Congratulations Brittany!

Emily promoted to Dog Trainer

Emily Justusson, Dog Trainer, Michigan Dog Trainer


On April 20, 2017 Emily Justusson was promoted from Assistant Dog Trainer to Dog Trainer with a specialization in E-Collar training.  She has completed Michigan Dog Training’s Dog Trainer program and successfully passed written and practical exams.

Emily joined the MDT team in October 2016 and is near completing studies at Animal Behavior College.  She has a very upbeat attitude when meeting clients and working with their dogs.  Congratulations Emily!!

N.J. promoted to Dog Trainer


On April 14, 2017 N.J. was promoted from the position of Assistant Dog Trainer to Dog Trainer with a specialization in E-Collar Training. She earned this prestigious achievement after having completed Michigan Dog Training’s Trainer program and successfully completed comprehensive written and practical exams.

In addition to training dogs in MDT’s Day Training and Board and Train programs, she continously steps up to new responsibilities. Some of these have included, teaching “go home” lessons to clients once their dog completed a residency program, teaching group classes, and being a pivotal contributing member of the MDT team.

Congratulations! Your accomplishment is well earned.

Service Dog earns Canine Good Citizen

Service Dog, Diabetic Alert Dog, Michigan Dog Training, Plymouth, Michigan


On January 31, 2017, Piper Dashwood Kane and his owners Sheldon and Cheryl Kane of W. Bloomfield, Michigan earned their Canine Good Citizen title.

Piper also successfully completed the Train Your Own Service Dog training program to become a Diabetic Alert Dog (DAD) at Michigan Dog Training in Plymouth, Michigan. The training was provided by Dog Behaviorist Michael Burkey and Assistant Dog Trainer Matthew Bryant.

Congratulations to Piper, Sheldon and Cheryl!

Michigan Dog Training, Diabetic Alert Dog, Service Dog, Canine Good Citizen


Number One Best Dog Training Tip

Michigan Dog Training, all dog breeds, large dog breeds, small dog breeds

What is the number one or best dog training tip that a dog trainer can offer? That can be a hard question to answer as there are a lot of things that go into training a dog to have the relationship you desire. However, if you pressed me to answer that question, the answer would be hands down – “consistency.”

Dogs are quick visual learners. They are keen observers and remember your routines. They jump for joy when you pick up their leash telegraphing them it’s time for a walk, they become anxious when you pick up your car keys signaling you’re going to work, etc. One of my clever clients told me that their dog got anxious when she washed her morning water glass as she always did that just prior to putting on her coat and leaving for the day. So sometimes it’s not just picking up the keys or coat that can trigger a response. A dog can recognize an earlier part of the chain of events, especially if you’re consistent in your routine.

When you think your dog has learned an obedience cue via a hand signal or a verbal cue, is that the only thing that triggered them to perform or do other subtle cues prompt them to act? Some examples may include; reaching into your treat pouch before giving a command, learning forward into the dog prior to giving a command to lay down, turning away from them as you want them to exit a vehicle instead of waiting for a command to do so, etc.

Michigan Dog Training, Police K9

K9 Simone

Before I worked on the street as a law enforcement officer, I did an internship in the county jail. That experience taught me I never wanted to work in the jail but it was an interesting social observation. Because the inmates have nothing but time on their hands, they are keen observers of the Correctional Officers’ (COs) routines. And, COs just like all humans are creatures of habits despite trying not to be so. Many of the inmates would purposely try to frustrate the COs for entertainment purposes. Some of the COs recognized it was all a game and were able to not take the inmates’ antics personally. Whereas, many others took it personally and sequentially caused themselves a lot of undue stress that would probably result in elevated blood pressures and other medical conditions.

Similarly, I see many dog owners who are stressed out and struggling with the undesired antics of their dogs. It doesn’t have to be that way. Just like one hires a professional to help them with their taxes, legal matters, and health issues; one should seek help from a professional dog trainer or dog behaviorist. The main thing that separates a pet owner from a dog trainer is consistency. Pet owners can learn how to train a dog but their success level will be dependent upon their consistent follow through.

Years ago, my college roommate was studying abnormal psychology. One of his homework assignments was to have his friends take a 500 question survey. When he scored my results, he told me that I was “abnormal”. I asked jokingly, “what do you mean I’m abnormal!?” He said I was considered abnormal because the test measured consistency and I scored a 100%. We had a good laugh about that and I told him I wasn’t surprised because I recognized many of the questions were the same questions with the same results, they were simply asked in a different manner. He said, well it’s not normal to score 100%. As a dog trainer, this analogy shows me how important it is that we be consistent in our physical cues (intended and unintended), verbal cues, and inflections with our dogs. They are keen observers of our behavior.

To be consistent with your dog:

  • Look how you might be giving unintended cues,
  • Understand your dog is always learning (desired or undesired behaviors)
  • Seek out a professional dog trainer/behaviorist to learn how to train your dog
  • Follow through with the instruction with deep practice
  • Realize your dog is a keen observer of your behavior and
  • Understand your dog’s antics are not personal but rather shows you what your dog still needs to learn.

Michigan dog training, teacherA dear client of mine was struggling to get her dog to go to and remain at “place” (a dedicated location such as a dog bed) while she prepared lesson plans on her computer for her school children. Her dog would do the command during a training session but not when she needed it otherwise. Her dog knew what the command meant so that wasn’t the problem. The problem was consistency. While my client was preoccupied, the dog was no longer receiving reinforcement for staying nor a fair correction for leaving the place.

She became increasingly frustrated with her dog leaving the dedicated place and thus gave up, allowing her dog to come off the place during “non-training sessions” (all moments of time are training sessions). So I asked her a question, “would you ask one of your students to do something that they understood but then take no action when the student simply walked away?” Her response with a smile of passionate enlightenment was, “nooo wayyyy!”

My suggestion was to either be mindful of her dog and be able to respond if her dog stepped off the dog bed or not to give the cue in the first place. It seems like a simple solution and it is. However, many times without a coach (dog trainer) to guide us, we can’t see the obvious because we are stuck in the mind.

Bart Bellon, an internationally known dog trainer coaches dog handlers to know what the rewards for doing are and consequences for not doing. Thus,

1. Teach your dog what to do,

2. Reward your dog for doing,

3. Use fair corrections for not doing, and

4. Above all else be consistent in your approach and response.

Please comment below how you will become more consistent with your dog. And, if you need help, contact Michigan Dog Training in Plymouth, Michigan at 734-634-4152. We can help you!

Presents for Paws

Michigan Dog Training, Christmas presents for dogs, dog shelter, animal shelter, Friends for Animals of Metro Detroit

Starbuck says, “Thank you!”

As part of the Holiday festivities, Michigan Dog Training asked for donations of pet supplies to be dropped off at MDT to benefit the Friends for Animals of Metro Detroit shelter (formerly the Dearborn Animal Shelter). We asked and you gave generously.  Thank you on behalf of the animals who don’t yet have homes.

Assistant Dog Trainer Matthew Bryan who spearheaded the project transported the donated items to the dog shelter this evening. Some of the urgent items needed included:  dog food, dog and cat toys, and cleaning products (the boxes contain many gifts). MDT also made a financial donation to the shelter.

Once again, thank you for your generosity! And, if you have space in your heart and home to adopt an animal, please go visit the animals at the shelter.  They would love to see you.

Emily Justusson promoted to Assistant Dog Trainer

Michigan Dog Training, Plymouth, Michigan, Dog Training TechnicianIn October 2016, Emily Justusson joined the Michigan Dog Training (MDT) team as a Kennel Technician. She joined our team because she recognized MDT had an excellent reputation in the dog training field and her goal was to become a dog trainer.

Due to her hard work, she has realized her goal and has been promoted to Assistant Dog Trainer. Congratulations Emily! MDT is lucky to have you onboard.


Julie Arnold joins the Michigan Dog Training Team

Michigan Dog Training, Dog Trainer, Julie Arnold

On August 29, 2015 Julie Arnold joined the Michigan Dog Training (MDT) team, a professional dog training company in Plymouth, Michigan. Her position is “Assistant Dog Trainer.” Her tasks will include the care and training of dogs while under the supervision of Certified Dog Trainers. She will receive top notch training at MDT to become a Dog Trainer and later a Certified Dog Trainer.

In 2013, she earned a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Criminal Justice at the University of Michigan, Dearborn. For the past 13 years, she has been a volunteer worker at the Deaborn Animal Shelter and her best friend of ten years is an Airedale Terrier named Darcy. Her previous employment has included positions of caring for people and providing excellent customer service. Additionally, she speaks Spanish fluently, obtained while living for three years in her mother’s home country of Venezuela.

Julie says, “I have had an extreme passion for working with dogs since childhood. My own dogs have always brought me such joy and fulfillment in my personal life that I hoped one day to incorporate my love of dogs with a career.  I joined MDT with a desire to get a first class education in dog training from Michael Burkey.” She went on to say, “I also wanted to work for Michigan Dog Training due to their commitment to hiring veterans. Having close friends and family that have served in the Armed Forces and witnessing what these men and women struggle with, I admire a company that honors a commitment to our country’s veterans. I told myself, this is definitely a company I want to work for and be a part of.”


Julie is an excellent addition to the MDT team based on her:

  • 13 years volunteer work at the Dearborn Animal Shelter working with large and small dogs
  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • Prior work experience caring for people and providing excellent customer service
  • Bi-lingual skills
  • Professionalism and hard work ethic

Welcome aboard Julie!

What it takes to be a MDT Certified Dog Trainer

Michigan Dog Training, Plymouth, Michigan

Michigan Dog Training in Plymouth, Michigan has a structured and documented training program for it’s trainers as they develop their knowledge of dog training and handling skills. Most MDT trainers start out as an Assistant Dog Trainer, progress to Dog Trainer and then become a MDT Certified Dog Trainer to ensure they have the skills necessary to provide the ultimate training experience for clients and their dogs. The purpose of this blog post is to discuss what it takes to become a MDT Certified Dog Trainer.

A Certified Dog Trainer assists the Supervisor and CEO in the planning and execution of dog training programs, trains other dog trainers and conducts private training sessions with clients and/or teaches group classes in addition to the responsibilities they performed as a Dog Trainer. To become certified, they must have at least two years of prior experience as a dog trainer, receive training/mentoring with Michael Burkey, CEO of Michigan Dog Training,  pass written and practical exams and pass a formal interview. Through this process the successful candidate will demonstrate that they posses the following skills:

  • Knowledgeable of learning theory
  • Ability to teach a dog advanced obedience commands via hand and voice signals such as place, focused heeling, contact heeling, sit and down out of motion, return to heel position, agility obstacles and capping the drive exercises.
  • Knowledgeable and able to work with dog to dog and dog to human aggression cases.
  • Demonstrated ability to handle all dogs housed and trained at Michigan Dog Training facility
  • Ability to teach clients Novice and Intermediate levels tricks via the Kyra Sundance program
  • Knowledgeable and able to demonstrate Canine Good Citizen (CGC) and Advanced CGC testing requirements
  • Knowledgeable and able to demonstrate Novice Obedience and Novice Rally exercises
  • Knowledgeable of verbal markers
  • Service orientation
  • Time management
  • Judgment and decision making
  • Ability to work well with others
  • Attention to detail and be proactive

MDT employs experienced trainers and is committed to their on-going skill development which ultimately enhances the training experience for its clients and their dogs. You can trust MDT’s experience, professionalism, and integrity.