Is training your dog a habit?

Change of habits, Michigan Dog Training, Plymouth, Michigan

In business circles, a common topic of discussion is whether or not leaders are born to lead. And so too, I ask are people born with dog training skills or do they develop them?

It may seem obvious, that people develop the skills because most people see the value in getting their dog professionally trained. However, there are those who have a passion and love for dog training as a profession, sport or hobby, have an easier time relating to dogs than others, are easily able to recognize stress, fear and aggressive behavior signs in dogs, and are more coordinated. So which is it, born with greater skills or trained?

Greek Philosopher Aristotle, Michigan Dog Training


Aristotle said it best, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” So too is dog training. Even the most uncoordinated and first time dog owner can learn to bond, relate and train their dog with help from an experienced dog trainer as long as they consider the training of their dog to be a habit and not an one time act.

If you don’t have the time and patience to train your dog then its’ best to have a professional train your dog via a board and train or day training program. However, if you do have the time and patience as well as the motivation and commitment; then group classes or private training lessons are a good choice.

As you progress through the weekly lessons be sure to put practice time on your schedule. Just like going to the gym, it’s more likely to happen if you reserve time on your calendar and commit to it. Otherwise, life gets in the way and your attendance at the gym will suffer. Thus, you need to reserve time on the calendar for you and your dog. Otherwise, life will interrupt the best intentions of training your dog.

The good news is, you don’t have to reserve big blocks of time to train your dog at one time, such as a hour or even a half hour. Frequency of practice sessions utilizing Deep Practice or Deliberate Practice (defined by Daniel Coyle in his book, The Little Book of Talent, 52 Tips for Improving Skills as “The form of learning marked by 1) the willingness to operate on the edge of your ability, aiming for targets that are just out of reach, and 2) the embrace of attentive repetition.”) are more important than the length of the sessions. Therefore, for a pet dog to be transformed into a well mannered family member, I recommend the following minimum training sessions:

  •  Pups 10-19 weeks of age:  10-15 minute sessions, 3-4 sessions per day, 5 days per week
  •  Dogs 20 weeks and older:  20 minute sessions, 3 sessions per day, 5 days per week

Once your happy with your dog’s new obedience skills, you can switch from having scheduled training sessions with your dog to practicing good manners throughout your everyday life. As you remain consistent with the new standards you hold for your dog and for yourself, the training will cease to be an act and grow to be a habit with amazing potential and results.

Michelle Cogle promoted to Training Instructor

Michelle Cogle, Michigan Dog Training, Plymouth, Michigan, dog, training instructor


On September 19, 2017 Michelle Cogle was promoted from Dog Trainer to Training Instructor (TI) at Michigan Dog Training in Plymouth, Michigan.  She will still train dogs at MDT but has accepted additional responsibilities. The promotion is well deserved and is in recognition of her excellent dog training skills, demonstrated staff training skills, awesome customer service and perfect time and attendance.

Michigan Dog Training hired Michelle as an Assistant Dog Trainer on April 25, 2017.  She relocated from West Virginia where she had trained service dogs. On July 11, 2017 she was promoted to the position of Dog Trainer after successfully passing MDT’s comprehensive written and practical exams. On September 12, 2017 she was awarded the MDT August 2017 Employee of the Month Award.

Her new position as a Training Instructor is a mid-management position and includes but not limited to training MDT Staff, being a shift leader, and teaching group classes and private lessons.  Congratulations Michelle!

Dash – Service Dog in Training learns to “Fetch”

Dash, a Labradoodle is in training to become a Service Dog (Diabetic Alert Dog) at Michigan Dog Training (MDT) in Plymouth, Michigan. She and her owners have been participating in MDT’s TRAIN YOUR OWN SERVICE DOG program which is a combination of private training sessions and group classes. Sessions focus on alerting to a Diabetic’s low and high blood sugar levels, advanced obedience skills including learning to retrieve (fetch) and public access training.

A dog trained to alert on their handler’s change in glucose level is an important part of their medical management program. Often times, Diabetics do not realize they are beginning to crash. The dog trained to notice the change in their handler’s breath can help alert them to this potential medical emergency.

If the handler is unable to obtain snacks or medicine to raise their blood level, the Diabetic Alert Dog can retrieve a bag or purse containing the snacks or medicine. In the below video, Dash demonstrates the steps in training a dog to fetch:  1. Hold, 2. Carry, and 3. Fetch.

How to decide if you need dog training

michigan dog training

Michael Burkey teaching three Malinois to sit and stay

Do you need dog training from a professional for you and your dog? Michael Burkey, President and Dog Behaviorist of Michigan Dog Training in Plymouth, Michigan provides these helpful tips to help you decide if you are in need of dog training.



a) Are you limited on the number and/or age of visitors (young or old) that can visit your home because of the dog?

b) Are you having trouble taking your dog for walks without him/her pulling you down the street or toward another dog or person?

c) Are you concerned about the liability your dog may pose if he/she got loose and was to approach other dogs or people?

d) Is your dog causing damage to your house or yard?

e) Is your life stressful because of your dog?





 a)  Your life being less stressful,

 b) Entertaining more people at your home without having to put the dog away,

 c) Taking beautiful day walks with your dog who has become an ideal companion, 

d) Taking your dog to more family outings, and more?


Michigan Dog Training (MDT) specializes in reducing family stress by training dogs and their families so that peace can be restored.  To discuss MDT’s services (Puppy training classes, private dog training lessons, in-home dog training, board and train, dog day school, doggie daycare, and other group classes such as Basic Obedience, Intermediate Obedience/CGCAdvanced Obedience/Focused Heeling, Nosework, Circus Dog, Service Dog, etc), please call 734-634-4152 or check out the Michigan Dog Training website for more information.

BNI Members learn dog bite prevention tips

Michigan Dog Training, dog obedience

Kaboom heeling with attention on Burkey

On June 27, 2014, Michael Burkey, President of Michigan Dog Training in Plymouth, Michigan gave a dog training demonstration and safety talk at the Referral Business Alliance, a BNI Chapter in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Assisting Burkey was his dog Kaboom, a two year old Belgian Malinois.  Kaboom is being trained in the sport of IPO/Schutzhund, Dog Obedience, Nosework and to be a Diabetic Alert Dog. Kaboom demonstrated some of his dog obedience skills such as heeling (walking next to Burkey while looking up at him), relinquishing a ball when told to do so, when to tug and when not to tug on the ball, to sit, to lay down, to stay when told and to come when called.

Burkey shared dog safety tips such as the correct way to approach and pet a dog, what to do if running or riding a bike and being chased by a dog, as well as how to recognize a dog that is exhibiting signs of stress or fear. These tips were also recently shared with Click on Detroit/Channel 4 News Reporter Hank Winchester in a video news report called, “Experts reveal how to help fend off dog attacks.”

The purpose of the BNI presentation was to provide its members with dog safety tips and to share with them the services Michigan Dog Training provides the community such as K9 Camp (board and train), Day Camp, In home private dog training lessons, on site private dog training lessons and group dog obedience classes. MDT works with all breeds large and small, puppies and adult dogs. They help high energy dogs become ideal companions. For more information on MDT services or to request Burkey to talk about dog bite prevention to your organization, contact MDT at 734-634-4152 or email


Michigan Dog Training, dog obedience

Kaboom comes fast when called by Burkey

Michigan Dog Training becomes a family

Michigan Dog Training, Michael Burkey

Michael and Starbuck

On February 5, 2014, Michigan Dog Training (MDT) located in Plymouth, Michigan has become a Facebook family. Its members consist of former and current dog training students and MDT staff as a way to remain in touch and share ideas, tips, and celebrate dog accomplishments.  It is a “closed group” meaning it is only open to students who have completed MDT training courses (K9 Camp, Day Camp, In-Home Training, Private Lessons, and/or group classes) as a special valued bonus for them and their dogs.

MDT family members can post questions to Michael Burkey, President and Dog Behaviorist of MDT; Wendy Bemis, Lead Trainer;  and/or Amy, Program Coordinator/Client Support Specialist. Members can also share pictures and accomplishments of their dogs, and receive announcements of new class start dates, new programs, and opportunities for group hikes and adventures.

If you are a current or former MDT student, please join our family at  Hope to see you there.

German Shepherd Dog headed for the pound earns CGC

Michigan Dog Training

On October 28, 2013 Starbuck Von Burkey earned his American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Good Citizen (CGC) title. It is a ten step evaluation of dog and handler which includes items such as walking on a loose leash; doing basic commands such as sit, down, and stay; coming when called; walking politely up to another dog team, remaining calm despite the owner walking out of sight from the dog, etc.

Michigan Dog Training, School for Dog Trainers, Dog Training Academy

Michael and Starbuck CGC

Starbuck was adopted by Michael Burkey, President of Michigan Dog Training (MDT) LLC prior to him being taken to the pound by his former owner because they were moving, unable to take him with them and cited some house manner problems.  Starbuck has been a blessing to Burkey who is training him to be a Diabetic Alert Service Dog.  Starbuck has a wonderful friendly temperament so he also serves as MDT’s welcoming ambassador to all dogs trained in MDT’s K9 Camp program. He loves to play with other dogs so he is very helpful when accessing the temperament of dogs being trained at MDT.

MDT in Plymouth and Ann Arbor, Michigan offers Intermediate Manners group classes which includes the CGC testing at the end of the class series.  To learn how your dog can earn his/her CGC title, contact Amy, Program Coordinator and Client Support Specialist at 734-634-4152.

Michigan Dog Trainer’s New CGC Stars, 10/30/11

On October 30, 2011 two students of Michigan Dog Trainer took and passed the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test at Lil Nell’s Pet Salon in Walled Lake, Michigan.  The CGC test is composed of ten test items to show the dog’s good manners, obedience to handler and the handler’s commitment to the health and well-being of their dog.  Prior to attending private and group dog training classes, Lilly and Lancelot were known as being a little wild.  Both made tremendous progress enabling them to pass the evaluation with flying colors.  Congratulations to all!

Deb Kastner and Lancelot CGC

Deb Kastner and Lancelot CGC, a Doberman of Farmington Hills, Michigan.








John Seaman, Amy and Emily with Lilly CGC

Amy and her boyfriend John Seaman with her daughter Emily and Lilly CGC, all American mix of southeast Michigan.

Spend Valentines Day with your Dog

Dog Treadmill

Virtual Valentines Day Group Dog Walk

2/14/11, Valentines Day is fast approaching.  What have you gotten for or what will you do for your sweetheart this year?  And, no I don’t mean your hubby but instead how will you spend Valentines Day with your dog?

One of the easiest ways to please them and enhance your relationship is to take him/her out on a delightful walk.  Dogs need frequent exercise not only for their body conditioning but also as a way to relieve stress and to socialize with others.  So come join the meet up group for a group dog walk. We will be socializing and walking at the Garden City Park in Garden City, Michigan off from Cherry Hill road and Merriman roads, 11am-12pm.

My friend and professional colleague, Jt Clough has organized a virtual Valentines Day Walk Party.  To join her Sweet Dog Walk for fitness, follow these steps:  1) go to her facebook page,, and click “Like.”  2) Post a status note that says: I’m in on the Sweet Walk/Run with DogTread.  3) Walk with us at the Garden City Park or walk on your own at another sweet location (your goal will be to walk for at least 30 minutes, although we typically walk for 45- 60 minutes),  and 4) Afterwards, post a note on their Facebook page that says: Thanks for the Sweet Walk/Run! Once you’ve completed the above 4 steps, they will contact you and send a you a Sweet Coupon for their PetZen Store. (Quantities are limited, first come first served).  You can also send them a photo of your dog on the walk to post to their facebook site.

And if it’s too cold to go out – contact them about their sweet treadmills and  training for your dog.  Or if your dog doesn’t yet know how to walk nicely on a leash, check out awesome dog training classes and in home dog training by a professional dog trainer.