6 New Trick Dogs

Do More With Your Dog, Kyra Sundance

On February 6, 2017  six dog teams earned their Novice Trick Dog Title as part of Kyra Sundance’s “Do More With Your Dog!” program at Michigan Dog Training in Plymouth, Michigan. The teams had to demonstrate 15 points worth of tricks that they learned in the Basic Manners group class. MDT’s Basic Manners group class incorporates both obedience skills and tricks to make learning fun for dogs and their owners.  Congratulations to the following teams:

  1. Michaela Gearin and Tobias Gearin, a Coon/Rott mix of Livonia, Michigan
  2. Barbara Gearin and Owen, an All American Dog of Livonia, Michigan
  3. Sarah Huddas and Rebel, an English Setter of Canton, Michigan
  4. Jillian Miller and Dobby Miller, a Vizsla/Labrador mix of Plymouth, Michigan
  5. Srujana Bolger and Penny Bolger a Rhodesian Ridgeback of Northville, MI
  6. Marvin Asuncion and Leroy, a Shepherd mix of Canton, Michigan


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

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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!

Jasper becomes a Canine Good Citizen

Michigan Dog Training, Canine Good Citizen, CGC, Plymouth, Michigan

Jasper CGC

Jasper who recently completed a Day Training program at Michigan Dog Training in Plymouth, Michigan earned his Canine Good Citizen (CGC) title on January 17, 2017.

He is an All American Dog (mixed German Shepherd Dog, Labrador Retriever, American Bulldog and Dutch Shepherd) and his human partner is Bethany Brake of Ferndale, Michigan. Congrats Jasper and Bethany!

Dogs learn good manners

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dog obedience, dog training, Michigan Dog Training, Plymouth, Michigan, Doberman

Luna, CGC

Rottweiler, dog training, dog training classes, Michigan Dog Training, Canine Good Citizen, Plymouth, Michigan

Cyrus, CGC







On January 10, 2017 three dogs showed off their good manners by passing the American Kennel Club Puppy STAR and Canine Good Citizen evaluations after having taken puppy training and dog training classes at Michigan Dog Training in Plymouth, Michigan.

Congrats to the following dog teams:

  1. Sobi, Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Puppy STAR and her handler Ed Abramoski of Canton, Michigan
  2. Cyrus, Rottweiler, Canine Good Citizen and his handlers Bernie White and Jeanette Garcia of Lincoln Park, Michigan
  3. Luna, Doberman, Canine Good Citizen and his handler James Remenapp of Redford, Michigan


Contact Michigan Dog Training at 734-634-4152 to learn how your dog can also become a Puppy STAR or Canine Good Citizen with good manners.

First Puppy S.T.A.R. of 2017

puppy classes, puppy obedience, Michigan Dog Training, Plymouth, Michigan, Canton, Labradoodle, American Kennel Club, Puppy S.T.A.R.On January 3, 2017 Floyd a sixteen week old Australian Labradoodle became the first Puppy S.T.A.R. of 2017 at Michigan Dog Training (MDT) in Plymouth, Michigan. Floyd is trained and handled by Lindsay Shoemaker of Canton, Michigan.

She and Floyd participated in puppy classes (Puppy 1 and Puppy 2) at MDT and then successfully completed the American Kennel Club Puppy S.T.A.R. evaluation.

Congratulations to Lindsay and Floyd! He is growing up to be a well mannered puppy.

Dog training New Year’s Resolutions

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2016 is past and 2017 is here.  That’s a fact. People often times debate whether or not to set New Year’s resolutions.  Those who don’t, say they don’t keep them so why set them and cause themselves undue stress? Those who set resolutions and keep them are ones who not only decided on a goal but also made the concrete choices in accomplishing their goal.  They set out action steps to accomplish the goal with timelines and accountability, eliminated opportunities to not strive toward the goal, and relished in the moments of their success.

Many people decide they want to lose weight as a New Year’s Resolution. Tony Robbins an internationally known best-selling author and Life and Business Strategist, asks an important question, have they really made that “should” be a “must” goal? If it’s a “should”, it won’t happen. If it’s a “must”, it will.

If it’s a “must”, they will be committed to it’s end goal, accomplish action steps to the goal, be able to avoid temptations because they now identify themselves with being a slimmer and healthier person, and they will associate pleasant experiences with their accomplishments.  If instead, they decide to go on a “diet”, it’s an event and not a lifestyle change.

The same is true with dog training. If we want to have a more rewarding life with our dogs and be able to take our dogs to more fun places, we have to identify the goal as a lifestyle change. We have to change it from a “should” to a “must”. To do that one needs to personalize the passion behind their goal and eliminate things that may defer the goal. For example, time with family may prevent people from following their goal of training the dog to a certain level of dog obedience or sport accomplishment. But if they are able to involve their family (even in little ways), it would accomplish both; quality time with family and training the dog.

Bart Bellon an internationally acclaimed dog trainer and coach who created the NePoPo® modern system of dog training, introduced me to the book, “The Talent Code” by Daniel Coyle. In it, Coyle investigates why there are certain geographical areas of hot bed talent. He explains that people aren’t just born with talent but more so it arises from an internalized passion which he describes as the “ignition”. The needed skills for high performance are deliberately practiced, which he calls “deep practice”. This ignition and deep practice not only hones a person’s skill but also develops Myelin connections resulting in increased muscle memory where one is able to perform better without thought.  For deep practice to occur, one looks at the overall skill to be learned, breaks it down into chunks of learning to be memorized separately and later put back together while practicing the skill slowly so that errors can be detected and corrected. In the end, the skill is fluid and looks flawless.

The benefits of attaining the end goal can be elusive if people don’t enjoy the journey toward the goal. Robbins states, consider Astronauts who have been to the moon. What is left for them after returning home and the ticket fanfare dies down if they haven’t considered their next great accomplishment? And, what about former U.S. Presidents including President Barack Obama who will complete his eight year term this month? Whether you support his politics or not, what is next for him now that he has completed the ultimate goal in politics? I’m sure he has future goals for himself but those who don’t, face depression if they didn’t enjoy the journey and continually create future possibilities for themselves.


To have a rewarding 2017 with your dog:

  1. Decide what is a “must” for you and your dog. This provides the necessary ignition.
  2. Internalize the “must” as a lifestyle change rather than a temporary event.
  3. Set action steps to accomplish the goal followed by “deep practice”
  4. Associate pleasant experiences and rewards for your continual accomplishments
  5. Enjoy the journey with your dog rather than basing your happiness on the end goal

Those who relish the moments during their journeys live a rich life with their dogs, relationships and for themselves.  What are your “musts” with your dog? Comment below, I’d love to hear what they are.

If you would like help in accomplishing your dog training “musts”, please contact Michigan Dog Training in Plymouth, Michigan at 734-634-4152.  We will be happy to help you and your dog.

Dog training testimonial – Bernadette Brosky

Michigan Dog Training, Plymouth, Michigan, dog aggression, dog aggression rehab, dog aggression rehabilitationOn December 14, 2016 Bernadette Brosky and her dog Sunshine, a Border-Aussie mix completed four private training sessions at Michigan Dog Training in Plymouth, Michigan with flying colors. Sunshine started training because she was afraid of other dogs and thus showed reactive aggressive behavior toward them. It was the only way she knew how to keep her self safe. Through behavior modification training (desensitization, socialization and obedience training), she learned new skills and that it was actually fun to play with other dogs.  Great job Sunshine and Bernadette!

Bernadette provided this wonderful testimonial: “Hi my name is Bernadette Brosky and this is Sunshine, a Border Aussie mix. We adopted her from a rescue, a year old. We don’t know herMichigan Dog Training, dog play, dog aggression, Plymouth, Michigan background but when she came to us she was very dog reactive aggressive and we turned to Michigan Dog Training. She has done a great job and she’s been playing with dogs and loves it. She’s going to kennel here at the end of the year and we are very pleased. So thanks!”

It’s a true pleasure and our passion to see the change in dogs so that they can experience a fulfilled life with their committed families.  Take a look at the video below to see how much fun Sunshine has playing with other dogs now. If you need help with your dog, please give us a call at 734-634-4152.


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.


Dog training and visual cues


Michigan Dog Training, body languageThey say at least 80% of our language is communicated via body language and only 20% is communicated by spoken language. I believe this to be true and probably even more so with dogs. When I was a young child, I would often play hide and seek games with my dog. Late at night if I laid down in the grass when my dog wasn’t looking, he would have a hard time finding me (obviously he was using sight and not his sense of smell). However, as soon as I moved even on the darkest of nights, he found me instantly.

Michigan Dog Training, heeling, loose leash walkingDogs are very much visual learners. They look to us to see where a reward is coming from or even if we have a reward with us in the first place. Reward placement is very important to dog trainers. For example, in teaching a dog to heel the trainer will commonly hold a ball or food treat near their shoulder closest to the dog to entice the dog to look up at them while heeling.

Later, they will place the reward under their arm pit to try to hide it from the dog until they later deliver it to the dog as a reward for desired behavior. This is called Luring via a Direct Reward where the dog learns to follow the reward in hopes of obtaining it. And, if the dog remains close to the location where the reward is commonly given, the dog will be able to more quickly obtain the reward. Later, the trainer will use an Indirect Reward where the reward is not on the handler’s person. The dog must perform the desired behavior in order to be released to the ball or treat that is at a secondary location.

Food is a fantastic way to train a dog as it is a prime motivator for the dog, especially when they are hungry. Luring with a treat is a quick way to teach a dog a behavior. The downside is that often times the dog will Michigan Dog Training, luringnot perform desired behaviors if the lured reward is not in sight. Why should they since the restaurant is closed? If the reward has always been in sight but now is not, they will commonly entertain themselves with other activities that are more rewarding such as sniffing the ground. Then the handler is left questioning, how do I get my dog “to do” when I don’t have food in my hand.?

The answer is to limit visual cues from the beginning of training. If you use Luring, fine but get away from it as quickly as possible. Or use Shaping in which you reward successive approximations of desired behavior. Shaping takes longer but it makes for a more active thinking dog instead of always waiting on the handler to tell the dog what to do.

In either case, Luring or Shaping; limit the visual cues that you give your dog. For example, if rewarding with a treat, leave the treat in the pocket out of sight until the dog does the desired behavior. Then mark what the dog did with the sound of a clicker or a verbal marker such as “yes”. It gives you time to reach into your pocket and reward with the treat or ball. Otherwise, the dog will know when you have your reward on your person and when you don’t. You want your dog to think that the restaurant is possibly always open even if you don’t give visual cues to the contrary. The dog is motivated by hope that the restaurant may be open.

Michigan Dog Training, food lures, treat training, clicker trainingPeople are always in a hurry to reward quickly. Thus, they reach into their pocket for the reward before the dog does the desired behavior. The reaching into the pocket becomes the cue and not the verbal dog command such as come, sit, or down.

They then wonder why the dog “didn’t do” when they didn’t have the reward on their person. But don’t worry, the marker (clicker or verbal marker) gives you time, as it tells the dog the reward is forth coming. And, they know that their behavior that caused the click or “yes” is what resulted in the reward. So you don’t need to be in a hurry. Concentrate on marking the desired behavior when it occurs and then reach into your pocket for the reward. Doing it this way will make the dog think that the restaurant is always possibly open if he does the desired behavior.

Another example of visual cues is when the handler lets their dog out of the car. Commonly, people leash up their dog and then immediately turn away from the car as they tell their dog to heel or give a release command meaning they can exit the car. But does the dog really understand the verbal release or was it the visual cue of the person turning away from the car that was the signal that it was ok to jump out of the car? Test it and see for yourself. After leashing your dog, turn away from the car and see if your dog stays. Your dog should only exit the vehicle on a verbal release because what if someone called your name and you turned away from the car? You don’t want your dog jumping out of the vehicle until you give a verbal cue to do so.

Dogs quickly pick up on our routines and visual cues. Sometimes, we fault the dog for doing an action when in actuality, they were doing what we commanded unknowingly. To limit your visual cues:

  1. Remain still
  2. Try Shaping versus Luring
  3. Mark the desired behavior with a clicker or “yes” marker word prior to reaching for the reward.

“Now we’re dog training!” to quote an internationally acclaimed dog trainer, Bart Bellon creator of the NePoPo training system. To learn more, contact Michigan Dog Training in Plymouth, Michigan at 734-634-4152.