Lots of you know from firsthand experience that dogs have wonderful spirits, terrific instincts and delicate, accurate emotional radar. Amazing as they are, when interacting with people and other animals, they rely on us, their human partners, to keep them out of harm’s way and help them become canine ‘good citizens’. As my wife, Eugenie, says, “We have to be their brains.” Socializing and training are important for all dogs but especially for ‘dominant breed’ dogs (Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Mastiffs, Chow Chows, Jindos, Shar Peis, Dogo Argentino, Cane Corso, Presa Canario and any breed with a history of fighting) that too often find themselves unfairly targeted by the media and misguided legislators. Tanner was already a sweet, docile well-behaved dog but working with trainer Tony Rollins helped make him even more responsive and fun to be with. 

7-year-old Jasmine East relaxes with Tanner, our rescue Pit Bull, at last week’s book signing

If your canine buddy exhibits unwanted behavior like barking, biting, carsickness, aggression towards other animals or humans, separation anxiety, or overly rough play, first check with your vet to make sure he or she isn’t sick. Once your vet rules out health problems, you might want to get help from a qualified trainer, behaviorist, or a veterinarian with behavioral training. Here are some tips about finding professional help from GIMME SHELTER.
      TRAINERS – Education, hands-on experience and methods can vary greatly from trainer to trainer. “Certified” trainers should be recognized by an independent body, not merely by a school or program they paid to attend. The Association of Professional Dog Trainers (ADPT) offers certification through the Certification Council for Profession Dog Trainers. The Professional Dog Trainer’s Council,, offers a list of certified dog trainers. 
     BEHAVIORISTS – Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists (CAABs) and Associate Applied Animal Behaviorists (ACAABs) are professionals with supervised graduate training in animal behavior, biology and zoology at accredited universities.  As experts with both academic and hands-on knowledge, they can determine how and why your pet’s behavior is abnormal and help teach you how to alter the unwanted behavior. For a list of behaviorists, visit
        VETERINARIANS WITH BEHAVIORAL TRAINING – Some CAABs are veterinarians who have completed a residency in animal behavior and earned certification from the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists. 
     Before Committing to A Trainer or Training Facility ask your veterinarian and fellow dog owners for recommendations. Interview several trainers or facilities. In addition to comparing prices, inquire about their methods, training and experience. Many cities offer basic obedience classes through their Parks and Recreation Departments. If you are considering group training, ask to monitor a class before signing up. Check to see if the trainer works well with both people and dogs. Look for trainers who treat you and your dog with respect and who reward positive behavior, and avoid those who prefer aversion and intimidation. Cross off any trainer who refuses to provide references.
[Sources: Tony Rollins, Tony Rollins K-9 Academy, Rob Lerner CPDT-KSAASPCA, “Finding Professional Help”]

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