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.

How to teach your puppy to come

Golden Retriever, puppy, pup, puppy training, Michigan Dog Training, Plymouth, Michigan


In the below video, Michael Burkey demonstrates one way to teach your puppy to come when called. You can use your puppy’s daily food ration instead of treats which will make him more motivated to come when called when he has to work for his food instead of getting it for free in a bowl. Hand feeding through training also increases your puppy’s bond with you as he or she learns to depend on you for what they want; food, balls, toys, verbal and physical praise, etc.

As outlined in the below video, begin by tossing a piece of food away from you and label it with the word “go” to teach your dog to go away from you. Just before he returns to get another piece of food from you, say “come” and as he comes back reward with a another piece of food. This is an easy and very effective way to teach your puppy to come when called. You can practice this routine during the three minute commercials during your favorite television program. Now how much easier could that be?.

As your pup returns to you, show them a piece of food in your hand and lure them in close between your feet. This will teach your puppy to come in close proximity to you, so later when done from a standing position; your puppy will already use to coming in close to you. This makes it easier to snap their leash onto their collar.

At first, there is no need to have your puppy sit once they get to you. I like them coming in fast before you throw in a second command such as sit. The only exception to this is if you have a very fast recall already or your puppy is tempted to jump on you once they reach you. If so, add the “sit” cue to the equation. Otherwise, work on one thing at a time such as the “come” cue and later add the “sit” to the equation.

For help with puppy training, check us out at Michigan Dog Training or call us direct at 734-634-4152. We have a wide variety of services to help you train your puppy the right way, the first time. Maize featured in this post is in our Puppy VIP Day Care training program and Puppy Manners group class. Doing that combination of training provides the owner with the knowledge they need to train their puppy and have it reinforced by professional dog trainers during the week-days. It’s great socialization, obedience training and potty training as well.

So in review:

  1. Sit down in a chair with a bowl of your puppy’s food
  2. Throw a piece of dog food away from you and say “go”
  3. As your puppy finishes eating the thrown kibble but before he returns, use the word “come”
  4. Lure your puppy between your feet and reward him/her with another piece of yummy kibble
  5. As your puppy is solid on the come command eliminate the lure and verbally cue your puppy to “sit” just before he or she reaches you

“Michigan Dog Training” trained dog available for adoption, Jordan

Michigan dog training, Michigan Dog Trainer, Metro Area Animal Adoption Association, Plymouth, Michigan, MDT, fearful dog, stray dog

Gail and Jordan

In January 2015 Gail of Metro Area Animal Adoption Association brought Jordan to Michigan Dog Training (MDT) for four weeks of training through our K9 University (board and train) program. Gayle had rescued Jordan off the streets of Detroit.  She didn’t know his background other than he was a starving stray.  But being a compassionate dog lover and rescue person, her heart went out to him. She got his weight back up and arranged his training with us. Two of his biggest challenges were that he was afraid of all people and especially of men. He also hadn’t been taught obedience.

When we first met him, it was so sad to see Jordan put his head down, tuck his tail and try to move away from us. We had to put on a martingale collar (limited slip fabric collar) on him as his current collar was too loose and would fall his neck if he ducked his head down. We took our time in putting the new collar on. He was very scared but didn’t show any aggression. Within a couple of days he was very trusting of us so obedience training could begin. A crucial part of his training was that he would be exposed to several different MDT trainers, male and female to help him build his confidence around people. He also developed new canine friends to play with as well.

Michigan dog training, Michigan Dog Trainer, Metro Area Animal Adoption Association, Plymouth, Michigan, MDT, fearful dog, stray dog

Mike Webber, Jordan & Michael Burkey

The video below shows Jordan’s before and after training as well as his take home lesson with one of his foster mom’s, Gail. As of February 13, 2015 Jordan remains available for adoption.  He is such a sweet dog. He would make someone a very friendly and happy companion who comes already trained. Additionally, MDT will transfer the “Unlimited Perfect Practice” Thursday night group classes from Gail to the new family that adopts him, free of charge.  We want to see Jordan go to the right person or family. So we will be happy to teach them how to keep Jordan’s good manners in tip top shape. Serious inquires can contact the Metro Area Animal Adoption Association at (313) 506-5785.


To get help with your dog, contact Michigan Dog Training in Plymouth, Michigan at 734-634-4152

Loveable Pit Bull attacked repeatedly by another dog finds forever home

Pitt Bull, Michigan Dog Training, Plymouth Michigan



Roxie, a sweet and loveable Pit Bull found her forever home tonight with a Michigan Dog Trainer, Eric Allport of Canton, Michigan.

In July 2014, it became known that Roxie spent her days tied up behind a house with another dog who repeatedly broke his leash and attacked Roxie.  Being tied up, Roxie couldn’t escape from the vicious attacks. Some good Samaritans convinced the owner to relinquish Roxie to them and they promptly asked Dr. Cheryl Good, DVM owner of Dearborn Family Pet Care in Dearborn, Michigan for assistance. Dr. Good treated her for heartworm and her other injuries as well as adopted her until she could find a great home for Roxie.  Dr. Good was Roxie’s Guardian Angel.

In November 2014 when Roxie was fully recovered, Dr. Good asked Michael Burkey, CEO and Dog Behaviorist at Michigan Dog Training (MDT) in Plymouth, Michigan to provide training and rehabilitation for Roxie so she could be adopted out when the right home came along.  She excelled in obedience training and even learned to play with other dogs again. Michael’s dog Starbuck, a German Shepherd (utilized frequently to teach fearful dogs that playing with other dogs can be very fun) became a frequent play companion of Roxie’s. Later Eric’s father’s dog Bailey did as well.

Despite Roxie being a very sweet and loveable dog, obedience trained, and rehabilitated; it proved challenging to find a home that was willing and able to adopt Roxie. Until, last week that is. Eric Allport a dog trainer at MDT decided he wanted to adopt Roxie. He had taken a special interest in her during her stay at MDT and always went the extra mile to provide her with loving care and attention. So he asked his family to come meet her and they too fell in love with Roxie.

Then it all happened tonight.  Dr. Good came to meet Eric and his family at their home with Michael and of course Roxie and Bailey too. It was very touching to see Roxie follow Eric around the house and to his bedroom as if she already belonged there.  Upon entering Eric’s bedroom, Roxie headed for the dog bed Eric had prepared for her and made herself comfortable. She even began to fall asleep. It was a done deal in Roxie’s mind.  All that was needed was Dr. Good’s approval and that was given when she hugged Eric with joy and told him he was a blessing.

It’s so sad how some people can mistreat animals who only want to be loved and taken care of. Thankfully though, a community of dog lovers came together (the good Samaritans, Dr. Good and her staff, the MDT staff, Eric and his family and probably others I’m unaware of), and gave Roxie the second wonderful life that she so deserves.

After the above meeting, Eric accompanied by Roxie returned to work at MDT to complete the rest of his evening shift. I got choked up and shed a few joyful tears seeing Roxie go home again with Eric. Now she is only a visitor and no longer a resident at MDT. She is now a loved family dog!  : )

Michigan Dog Training, Dearborn Family Pet Care EricRoxieHome EricRoxieHome2

Michigan Dog Training, Plymouth, Michigan, Pitt Bull finds new home

Dog Training Basics; what you need to know

Dog training is an art and a science. But what are the dog training basics to get one started on the right paw so to speak?

422_simoneandmikeaftertrainingfindwebFirst and most importantly, before basic obedience is taught to your dog; you need to establish a loving and engaging relationship with your dog. It’s a given that everyone loves their dog.  But not everyone is engaged with their dog and vice versa.  To be engaging with our dogs is to attract their attention and interest as well as to be able to maintain that attention despite distractions in the environment. Many times this is very challenging. The environment offers many high value distractions such as other dogs, strangers, birds, squirrels, vehicles, bikes, and children, to name a few. How is it that we can compete with those distractions? It starts with becoming everything to your dog.

You want to become your dog’s “everything”.

1. Train your dog with his everyday kibble. Instead of feeding your dog it’s food for free out of a bowl, place the portion in a zip lock bag and use it for training.  This way your dog will be dependent upon you for its food, will learn to work with you to obtain its food and you don’t have to buy as much expensive treats to use for training. Plus it’s healthier for your dog.  You can save the tasty treats when competing with stronger distractions. Additionally, if you are interrupted from training and your spouse your child comes home and sees there is still food in the Monday zip lock bag, they can continue the training with your dog.

2. Teach your dog “eye attention”. Everyone wants their dog to pay attention to them but if there’s no reward in that, they’ll look away to other things in their environment.  Start in a room with no distractions.  Place some of your dog’s kibble in your fist. Move the fist toward your dog’s nose and bring your fist up in front of your face. Be sure to stand straight and tall or sit up straight in a chair when doing this so you aren’t bending over your dog and unintentionally pushing them backwards. Smile at your dog and when he looks at your face, mark it by saying “yes” and give him the kibble. Repeat several times.  At first, reward upon his first glance at your face. Later, mark with the word “yes” after he’s held the stare at your face for five, ten or fifteen seconds. It doesn’t matter if he’s sitting, standing or laying down for this exercise.  All that matters is that he looks up at your face. It also teaches him that people staring at him is a good thing because it results in obtaining his food.



3. Teach your dog to chase and touch your hand. Place the kibble in one hand and extend an open hand to your dog.  Place the open hand right next to his muzzle.  When he turns his head to investigate and touches your open hand, mark it by saying, “yes” and deliver some kibble to him from the other hand. All he has to do is twist his head to touch your hand. As he gets more insistent on touching your hand, challenge him by moving the hand further away from him.  Note, it’s helpful if he is standing for this exercise as some dogs who are sitting or laying down will think, “I can’t reach your hand because I’m on a sit stay.” When he moves toward your hand and touches it again with his snout, mark the behavior with the word “yes” as before and give some kibble from the other hand.

As your dog’s confidence increases with this exercise, move your hand from one side in front of you to the other so that he begins to chase the hand. Make him miss the hand by taking the hand back the other direction. This will motivate him to speed up and chase your hand with more enthusiasm. As he catches the hand, mark and deliver the food as before. Now you have made the obtaining food to be a fun chase game instead of simply being given food for free. You can also use this new skill as a way to direct your dog into some position. For example, say your dog comes to you but not close enough for you to put his leash on his collar.  If he knows the “touch” game, you can say touch and have him come all the way into you allowing you to place the leash on his collar. It is also helpful when you want to turn your dog’s head away from the Veterinarian during a health exam.

4. Teach your dog to fetch balls and toys. If your dog isn’t a natural retriever, place the ball or toy on a rope and entice him to chase the moving object. Upon him catching the prey object, play a little tug with him (note playing tug does not teach aggression contrary to what most people believe as long as it’s played correctly at a low intensity) and let him win.  If he drops the item, snatch it away and the fun chase game begins again.  If he wants to hang onto the toy, offer a trade such as a tasty treat with the paired command to “out” or “give”. If your dog has no interest in the toy on a rope, pet stores sell toys that you can stuff tasty treats inside that will entice him to chase so that he can catch and eat his tasty treat. However, if your dog loves chasing balls but wants to turn it into a keep away game, play with two balls.  Introduce one ball for him to chase. As he picks it up, show him you have a second ball (exact same kind) and entice him to come get it which you then throw behind you for him to chase. He will probably drop the first ball on his way to you to go chase the second moving ball.  Then you can pick up the first ball and start the game all over again. This way your dog learns that coming toward you, instead of away from you, results in fun games of fetch.

5. Run away from your dog. Make it a fun game for your dog to chase you to get tasty treats, balls, or massages upon him catching you.  If he gets loose outside, don’t chase him. You’ll never catch him. Instead, get his attention and run away from him. He’ll instantly think wow, mom/dad wants to play and he’ll chase you down. Remember, you’re competing with strong distractions outdoors so don’t be afraid to run away and fall on the ground. Your dog will come running to you to pounce on you.

6. Get your dog to walk into your space. When I want to move my dog, I get him to move into my space. It’s much less threatening for him than me moving into his space. By moving away from my dog for him to obtain what he wants, I can influence and control his movements.

7. Don’t get a second dog to entertain your first dog. If you’re looking to get a second dog, don’t get it to act as a baby sitter for the first dog. Its true friendly dogs love to play with each other and it might offer you a relief from having to entertain your dog during the day. However, you don’t want the two dogs to bond so close to each other that they would prefer to spend time with each other rather than with you. You want each dog to prefer engaging with you because you’re their everything.  So if you’re looking to get a second dog, be sure its for you and not for your dog. Upon getting the second dog, be sure to still spend quality and frequent time with each individually as well as with them together. You also want to make sure the first dog is trained to your satisfaction prior to adding the second dog. Otherwise, you’ll end up with two untrained dogs.

Socialization is Key

DADSchoolpresentation20130214OakleydemoProperly socialize your dog with other dogs, people, and environments. Pair fun things for your dog to do such as eating tasty treats or playing tug while encountering new experiences. You want him to learn that fun things happen when he sees these potential triggers.  While doing this, be mindful of his space (distance) to the triggers.  Distance is your friend. Its ok for your dog to be challenged but not overwhelmed by the new experience. Enroll your puppy in a Puppy Basic Manners or Puppy Basic Obedience class so you can learn the right way to socialize your puppy or dog.

Basic Obedience

Most dogs’ ability to learn is only limited by the owner’s time and imagination. Dogs pick up on our movements and remember patterns. So be careful in not only what you teach your dog but also what you don’t intend to teach them. For example, as a K9 Police Officer, my dog liked to jump up on the high school metal door bars to open the door for us. And, because it was cute, I let her. However, one day when she was running downstairs to the basement in my home, I suddenly realized what was about to happen.  The basement wood door was closed and yes, K9 Draco removed it from its hinges in one quick jump. Another example of what not to do is when she was a 13 week old puppy. Draco liked to climbed up my legs and body and sit on my shoulder much like a parrot. Again, it was cute until the day when she was about 65lbs and tried to accomplish the same feat. A 65lb Belgian Malinois with claws trying to sit on my shoulder was not what I had in mind when she was a cute little puppy. So be careful what you teach them to do without realizing it.

Every family dog should be trained to be a good companion. To that end, the American Kennel Club has two great programs called the Canine Good Citizen test and the Advanced Canine Good Citizen test. The first encompasses intermediate dog obedience skills such as walking on a loose leash, sitting, laying down, staying in place, accepting petting from a friendly stranger, etc. The second evaluation takes those skills to the next level and has the dog perform them in community settings such as taking a walk in a park, passing other dogs in a crowded hallway, staying in place in close proximity to other dogs, etc. To start your dog’s education, teach him to sit, come when called, walk on a loose leash, to lay down and to sit-stay and/or down-stay.


 (Note, the CGC and CGCA are now titles instead of certificates and some of the rules have changed since making of this video)


Training a dog isn’t easy and it doesn’t come natural for most folks. It is an art and a science. That is why most people benefit from working with a professional dog trainer like those found at Michigan Dog Training in Plymouth, Michigan. They can help you train your dog to become an ideal companion. They will help you practice and learn the three basic dog training principles:

  1. Become your dog’s “everything” – be engaging to your dog.
  2. Socialization is key so you can take your dog to more exciting places.
  3. Teach your dog basic and advanced obedience so he can become your ideal companion.


Here is a video explaining the Advanced Canine Good Citizen program by the American Kennel Club.

Review of Michael Burkey, favorite dog trainer

Five Stars dog training, Michigan Dog Training, Michigan Dog Trainer

On October 13, 2014 Kathy Faust Truchan gave a five star testimonial on Facebook to Michael Burkey, CEO of Michigan Dog Training in Plymouth, Michigan.

“Michigan Dog Training is highly recommended!! Oliver is a pretty well known pup & you all know what an amazing dog he is! We can attribute much of his success to his favorite teacher Michael Burkey with Michigan Dog Trainer for his guidance, knowledge & giving us the proper tools in training our beautiful boy.” …..Kathy Faust Truchan

Thanks Kathy!! And give a big hug to Oliver for us.  We love him! ….Michael Burkey



Diabetic Alert Dog (puppy) in training learns “place”

Diabetic Alert Dog, Standard Poodle, MIchigan Dog Training

Michael & Kalin with Radar and Lady

“Radar”, a Standard Poodle puppy 13 weeks old is one of two puppies being trained to become a Diabetic Alert Dog at Michigan Dog Training.  The other puppy is his sister, “Lady”. Along with being trained to alert on changes of a Type 1 Diabetic’s sugar level, they have to learn good manners and obedience to be able to work in public areas.  Here is an example of Radar learning to go to “place” and remain there until released despite distraction of the handler walking around him on the place-board. Radar and Lady will be ready for their new homes in the fall helping Diabetics better manage their conditions.

This is also an excellent exercise for pet dogs to learn as they can be sent to place when guests arrive at the front door so they don’t jump on them.  It also comes in handy when you’re eating a meal or visiting with guests so they have a comfortable place to go to and relax.  Having a well trained “place” makes living with a dog a breeze.  To learn how your dog can learn to go to place, contact Amy, Client Support Specialist at Michigan Dog Training 734-634-4152 or email her at info@michigandogtraining.com.

New CGC Stars at Michigan Dog Training 3/5/14

Michigan Dog Training, Canine Good Citizen

Shimrin’s Sweet Liberty CGC

On March 5, 2014, three more dogs earned their Canine Good Citizen (CGC) titles from the American Kennel Club at Michigan Dog Training (MDT) in Plymouth, Michigan.  The dogs were evaluated by Wendy Bemis, Lead Dog Trainer at MDT and witnessed by Michael Burkey, President and Dog Behaviorist for MDT.  To earn their CGC titles, dog teams must be able to complete 10 steps in the CGC evaluation some of which include:  being able to meet another dog team under control, walk on a loose leash while making left, right, and about turns, sit or down stay and have the handler walk 20 feet away, be able to come when called at a distance of 20 feet and more.

Congratulations to the following new CGC Stars:

1. Ryan McDaniel and Dakota Bear, a German Shepherd of Dearborn Heights, Michigan

2. Keith Bushey and Molly of Redford, Michigan

3. Dana McIntyre and Shimrin’s Sweet Liberty a Australian Shepherd of Romulus, Michigan

Congrats to all three dog teams for their hard work and accomplishment!

New CGC star at Michigan Dog Training

Molly, CGC

Michigan Dog Training, Canine Good Citizen

Dakota Bear, CGC

Diabetic Alert Dogs educate Canton school children

www.michigandogtraining.com, diabetic alert dog

Lady makes a new friend while Oakley heels with Serenity Sturman


On February 14, 2014, Kalin Turri a Diabetic Alert Dog (DAD) Trainer for Michigan Dog Training in Plymouth, Michigan presented a DAD demonstration and talk at Hoben Elementary School in Canton, Michigan. The Principal Dr. Liz Vartarian-Gibbs invited Turri and her crew (Diabetic Alert Dog “Oakley”, Diabetic Alert Dog in Training “Lady”, both Standard Poodles along with her helpers Verona Turri and Serenity Sturman) to talk with 60 students and three teachers about how Diabetic Alert Dogs can improve peoples’ lives.

www.michigandogtraining.com, diabetic alert dog deomnstration for school children

Lady socializes with Serenity Sturman

Turri asked the students how many of them knew someone with diabetes.  At least 30 students raised their hands. She told them that DAD dogs are able to alert a diabetic that their blood sugar level is dropping too low even before the diabetic realizes it themselves. Oakley was trained to paw at the Diabetic’s arm when she smelled the chemical change in their breath. Otherwise, she does not paw her owner. Turri demonstrated how dogs learn scent detection and provided two demonstrations with Oakley. She asked two students to hide a diabetic scent on themselves and sit amongst other students.  It was Oakley’s job to smell out which child held the sample. The children clapped with excitement each time Oakley properly identified the student holding the scent sample.

The students had many questions for Turri, as they had just learned about service dogs as part of their curriculum earlier in the week.  At the end of the session, each student

michigan dog trianing, diabetic alert dogs

Students watch Oakley as she finds the student hiding the diabetic scent.

had the opportunity to personally meet Oakley as well as the 11 week old future Diabetic Alert Dog “Lady.” Each of Mr. Bolsters third and four graders also had the opportunity to pose for a photo with Oakley and received a printed copy of their photo.

“Lady” and her brother “Radar” are being trained by Turri and Michael Burkey, President of  Michigan Dog Training to become Diabetic Alert Service Dogs.  They will be available to go to their forever homes to improve the life of a Type 1 Diabetic in the fall of 2014. For more information about Diabetic Alert Service Dogs, contact Michigan Dog Training at 734-634-4152 or email at info@MichiganDogTraining.com


To lead, one must know oneself

LeadershipPenguinsTo improve one’s leadership and management skills, it is helpful to know what ones’ strengths and weaknesses are. There are various self assessment tests available on the internet. Once such assessment is the United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service’s, “Leadership Assessment Instrument”. My results on the assessment was as follows:  Focused Drive, 29; Emotional Intelligence 30; Building Trust / Enabling Others, 31; Conceptual Thinking, 33; and Systems Thinking, 32. Placing the scores on their graph showed them to be very consistent with each other. My scores of 30 and above indicated I had “relative strength” in each of those areas. Scores of 24 or below would have shown a possible development area, scores lower than 18 were “development areas” and scores of 12 or lower show “possible blocks.”

I knew I would score well on the assessment but it was surprising that the graph showed a fairly straight line across the five categories.  However, with further introspection, I realized that I have spent a lot of time developing my leadership skills from a young age starting in Boy Scouts of America as an Eagle Scout; to coaching fellow high school wrestlers; teaching federal officers in topics such as Officer Safety and Self Defense, Gang Identification, Sex Offender Management; to training, leading and managing employees in my business. As a professional dog trainer, I am a very positive and balanced trainer.  Whether it is training dogs, managing people, or holding personal beliefs, I strive to have a balanced outlook and practice.

Taking this assessment brought back memories of taking another assessment during my freshman year in college.  My colleague was taking an Abnormal Psychology class and the assessment he asked me to take contained 500 multiple choice questions. I do not recall the stated intent of the assessment  but the result was that it measured how consistently someone answered the questions that were asked many times but in different ways. Surprisingly to him, my consistency score was 100 percent.  He joked that 100 percent consistent was “abnormal.”  However, since a young age I have been taught to be consistent in my actions and thoughts.

Being consistent is usually what differentiates dog trainers and dog owners. Dogs learn best and thrive when the expectations are consistent.  It makes learning fun and therefore, rewarding. I am very consistent when training dogs and I help my students become more consistent as well. So based on my upbringing and the earlier assessment test, it is not surprising that the five categories are in balance with each other, almost in a straight line.

You can find the  “Leadership Assessment Instrument” by clicking on the following link: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detailfull/national/people/outreach/oe/?cid=nrcs143_021952. To learn more about becoming a dog trainer and how leadership and management skills are crucial to have as a business owner, contact Michael Burkey, President of Michigan Dog Training LLC in Plymouth, Michigan or call 734-634-4152.