Dog Trainers

Parent Q&A

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  • Hi there....about 1 1/2 years ago, we adopted the cutest maltese pomeranian through craigslist rehoming. She is around 2 or 3 years old and very mouthy and teritorial. She is sweet to some people and always wants to stay hi, but then she barks at neighboors and at EVERYTHING. I have tried everything....quiet training, vibrate collar, high sound, keep her busy by enrolling her in bi weekly pack walk (all I can afford) and cook a homemade food for her (under vet guidance). She is also stubborn, so when she barks, she is losing it. I love her, but she drives me nut. With partially working from home, she conveniently barks during my or hubby's meeting. 

     Sorry about your barking BARKING dog.  For us, owners of a 4 year old terrier/lab, HIGH energy dog, exercise was/is essential.  I taught her how to fetch (per youtube).  And this has been crucial. She runs like crazy for the ball at Pt. Isabel now.   Also TRAINING is super important: highly recommend  -- Oakland Dog Training is ocated near Costco.  -- You might find that 'scent' training, from Albert at ODT, will help too...but 1st basic obedience..with other dogs/people around.    PS: We tried Petco, but classes were too small/area was too.  We also tried a high $ training group. Ultimately, we're very thankful to have found Oakland Dog Training.   All the best.

    Biscuit Training! At first I was very hesitant about working with a trainer via Zoom but they are truly wonderful and it has been so so helpful for our family. 

  • I adopted a pitbull puppy mill mom rescue four months ago, who was clearly in an abusive situation. She's around three years old. She has bonded closely to me, and is finally accepting my husband (more afraid of men than women), but is fearful/anxious around strangers and has some other behaviors that need work. She does not seem dog aggressive, but rather submissive and curious about other dogs. I assume she lived among dogs at the puppy mill but was not otherwise socialized.

    I had intended to start socialization and training earlier but had a bad bout of sciatica followed by a fall/broken shoulder! 

    Recommendations of trainers who use positive methods and work with dogs who have been traumatized would be most welcome. 

    I would highly recommend Ali Sutch with Up2Snuff! She currently has a training wait list but it tends to open up pretty quickly. She is really wonderful, and has a ton of experience with pitbulls and rescues. She's fear-free/force-free and uses positive reinforcement only.

     I trained with 2 different trainers before finding the Oakland Dog Training Center--- a lot of $ spent.  The ODT center is on Jacuzzi St--- ) I found Alberto and Lynn to be outstanding trainers. Because your dog has a history of abuse, perhaps Alberto is the one to start with.   My dog and I did group classes, 'though private lessons are also offered.  Seems the "beginners' class would be appropriate.  

    All the best. 

    Hi. Bravo Pup - they offer individual training (seems like what you'd need) and group classes. They're great and positive. 

    Way to put in the effort and be a great dog parent! Best of luck to you.

    Alex Militar (415) 336-3275 is an outstanding trainer for traumatized/nervous/aggressive dogs. When at age 2 my dog chased a jogger and then a kid, I became concerned. Initially I worked with a trainer who has a PHD; after 2 sessions that totaled $600. This trainer felt my dog was potentially dangerous and recommended many more sessions. But I was not convinced the strategies I was told to use were right for my dog. So I asked the owner of Alpha Pet for a trainer recommendations, which is how I found Alex. Prior to coming over, Alex had me fill out a questionnaire. At our house he observed my dog for about 30 minutes, and then we went for a walk. Alex told me my dog was not aggressive but easily overstimulated by other dogs. Both times she'd chased people she'd been among a group of dogs. The instructions Alex gave me made total sense. Upon leaving he told me it was unlikely I'd need his services again, he subsequently emailed me a 3 page summary, and he readily answered 1 follow-up question of mine. For all this I paid 1 time for his services, and his fee was very reasonable. I subsequently recommended him to the rescue organization through which I got my dog, and their dog expert was equally impressed and recommended him to others.

    My dog is a playful sweetheart but she's fearful in some situations. She's 7 now, and knowing that she's unpredictable, I assess every situation before l let her greet another dog or let her off leash. I continue to reinforce her recall. I carry high value treats at all times. Owner confidence is key to a dog's confidence, Alex's guidance was pivotal. Traumatized/nervous/aggressive dogs are his specialty and focus of his practice Waggology.

  • Dog trainer needed

    (1 reply)

    Can anyone recommend an excellent dog trainer with space to take on new clients? We're looking for someone to work with us and our 16 month old gsd mix on recall and a few other issues. Thanks!

    We are working with Eleonor Post for our gsd. Her contact info is lonelyhuntersdogtraining [at], 510-677-6975.

  • Reactive puppy trainer

    (2 replies)

    We are looking for a trainer to work with our reactive mini Aussie trainer.  We are working with someone presently, but think it might be better to find someone who knows the breed or at lease specializes in reactivity.  He is reactive to cars/bikes/people/runners and dogs.  Sadly.  

    Hello, we hired Danial Dagg of Bay Area Dog Trainer and have been very impressed with his extensive canine knowledge and experience. He’s the real deal! We’re very happy with the improvements we’ve witnessed with our adult pet. Highly recommend. Good luck!

    dan [at]

    We have a puppy who is very fearful of new people, bikes and skateboards, some sounds, which could be called reactivity I guess! Her reaction is to go into "fight or flight" mode or to just not want to leave the house. There's no quick fix, but under the guidance of our trainer she has come a long way in the 8 months we've had her. She is much more comfortable and we have learned so much about how to work with her. We hired Beth Peterson, who was originally referred to us years ago by Golden Gate Lab Rescue for our other dog. She's amazing and I have such deep respect for her commitment to animals and her deep understanding of dogs. She has many years of experience and has worked with a lot of very difficult dogs. She uses a really interesting training method called TBTE. It is not easy or fast or about obedience. But with what she's taught us we have raised a dog who is lovely to have around and is learning to be more confident in the world. Our dog's true nature is really shining and I know a big part of it is how we've learned to work with and support her, under Beth's guidance. 

    Another nice bonus is that Beth does pack walks and so if/when your dog is ready for that, it is such a great way to get them out for some exercise/socialization under the guidance of a highly skilled trainer. Our older dog always looked forward to his pack walks with Beth so much!
    Her business site:

  • Dog trainer in Berkeley area?

    (3 replies)

    Any recommendations for a dog trainer in the Berkeley area? We just brought home a four-month-old puppy and would love some support training her. Thank you in advance for your help!

    I highly recommend Kathy Kear with Cause and Effect Dog Training:

    She helped us with our anxiety-ridden 10-year-old pitmix a few years ago. We've taken our dog to two other trainers over the years, and Kathy is by far the best. 

    Check out the Oakland Dog Training place, located on Jacuzzi (which T's into Central---on your way to Richmond Costco). My dog Queenie and I worked with Lynn in obedience training and with Albert in scent work.  We tried other trainers but feel that ODT is best.  Also look on youtube:  for Zak's revolution training (very positive approach) I learned a lot from him. PLEASE stay away from Cesar Millan; his is a negative approach.   

    I’d like to recommend Alex at He has spent years working with all kinds of different animals and has developed a real expertise in animal training. He’s worked at zoos, aquariums and with rescue dogs. He is gentle, kind and knowledgeable. I think he would do an excellent job with your dog, he certainly did with mine! He’s very positive in his training methods. I highly recommend him.

  • We have a sweetheart of a 4-year old pure yellow lab, a very family-friendly dog who is great with our 18 month old.  That said, he becomes unhinged if he sees another dog when he's on a leash or behind a barrier (aka inside the house or yard). That also goes for any dog or animal on TV; he jumps and barks at anything that remotely looks like an animal, even cartoons.  The behaviors include a very aggressive, loud bark as well as growling, jumping, and leash pulling. It's important to note that he's never bitten anyone or displayed aggression toward people, but owners walking their dogs are often very frightened of him!  This has caused extreme difficulty in regularly walking him, as we never know when we will encounter another dog around the corner.  If we do see one, we cross the street but often he still barks and pulls.  I also cannot walk our daughter in the stroller and him at the same time because it takes two hands to control him.

    We are looking for a trainer who offers specific training around barrier aggression, as I think I have identified that the primary trigger.  Does anyone have a referral or other suggestions for training at home? We will be getting opaque film for the windows to reduce his reactivity to dogs walking by, which I heard helps. He is also not very food-motivated (strange for a lab) so treat training is difficult.  Thanks for your thoughts and advice!


    We have a labradoodle and she was similarly extremely leash reactive (as you describe for your dog), and not treat-motivated. We got to the point where we couldn’t take her anywhere. We tried ASPCA’s Reactive Roger as well as a few other private trainers, but it only helped on the margins. 

    We finally found Koru K9 and could not be happier. They focus on aggressive dogs; and often are considered ‘last resort’ trainers. They do use negative reinforcement (prong and shock collars) but they teach you how to use the tools correctly and responsibly. My dog has become an obedient, well-mannered pup. We take her with us on walks all over the city,  she even comes to outdoor bars and cafes. She’s not perfect, and when we stop practicing you can see regressions. But honestly; I can’t recommend them enough. We had tried everything before we worked with them. 

    feel free to reach out with more specific questions. Happy to discuss further! 

    I’m also in need of working with a dog behaviorist and my daughter helped me find

    Daniel’s very busy and I’ll be meeting with him for the first time in two weeks. I submitted a request to his website and he called me soon afterwards and we spoke for well over 30 minutes. Daniel has extensive experience and I’m looking forward to working with him. Our dog’s a rescue that was very abused for the first 14 months of her life and we’ve had her for over five years. She’s a very sweet and well mannered dog but recently bit a friend and I need help to better understand the impulse behind my dog’s reaction. And also to be a better handler. Granted the bite victim invaded my dog’s personal space and I’m doing my part to learn how to prevent this from ever happening again. 

  • Hello,

    We just adopted a ~1 year old Siberian husky. We are looking for recommendations for training classes the whole family can attend (we have 2 kids, ages 8 and 10). The rescue recommends Sirius Puppy and Dog training, but looking around they get some negative reviews. Someone at the SF SPCA also recommended Train the Bay out of the Berkeley Humane Society, but I can't find any review for that at all. Does anyone have an recent experience with a basic dog manners class (preferably not with a puppy because that is a whole different ball of wax than an teen-aged dog!)? I prefer a class where she can be around other dogs, and one in the Berkeley/Oakland area. Thanks in advance!

    Bravo! Pup has separate puppy and dog classes. Dog 1 would probably be the right one for you guys (but they’d be able to tell you). We did Puppy 1, Puppy 2, and Extreme Recall, plus puppy socials when our dog was young. I recommend them highly. The only thing they didn’t focus on that I wish they had was loose leash walking. 

    Bravo Pup is great. They have classes at various locations in the East Bay. My whole family (w/ 2 kids) came to the classes and it made a huge difference in our relationship with our now sweet, well-mannered, rescue pup who came to us as a young, crazy street dog. 

    We love Bravo Pup ( Great classes, lots of different ones to choose from. Kids (and whole family) welcome. Our dog went through about 4 of their different classes. Once they have their basic manners it's really fun to enroll in some of the specialized classes if you have a dog that likes to work. All the teachers were excellent.

    We've been going to BravoPup Dog 1 classes with our 2 yo rescue who joined our family in August.  Usually it's the whole family (myself, partner and 8 year old kid) and there are other families who participate with younger kids as well.  We've been going for 3 weeks and it has been great so far!

    Congrats on your husky - you will never be bored! I would encourage you to go with Sirius. I have had huskies for 20 years and always go to Sirius for basic manners both when I have gotten a puppy or crazy (!) teen huskies. What I like about Sirius is that it is something the family can -- and should -- do together and the philosophy of what works and doesn't work is explained so that the dog isn't set up to fail and the whole family understands how to help the training be effective. Ian Dunbar, who started Sirius, has had a lot of experience with northern breeds and integrates strategies that I have found to be very effective with this breed that is not necessarily food motivated (unless possibly if its a neighbor's chicken) and who will routinely remind you that they think for themselves. I have found that some huskies need some stepped up strategies ;) Since Sirius offers classes throughout the East Bay, if you find that the class/trainer isn't a good fit, you can find another. When I had a particularly difficult rescue husky and needed some one-on-one training, I used Sandra Mannion and she was amazing.

    I'm not sure if this is your first husky but if it is, be prepared to put in the time to follow through with the training outside of class and set/maintain clear rules and routines (and rest assured that your pup won't be an adolescent forever...although will always be a husky - a fantastic companion with a love for adventure and mischief). Feel free to contact me directly - I'd be happy to share my many lessons learned and support you in your new journey.

  • Dog Training Rec's?

    (4 replies)

    Hi all,

    We have an otherwise wonderful large mutt who is 9 years old (likely some bully breed in there), but in the past few years, and especially since having our baby he has separation anxiety when left at home and is dominant and sometimes aggressive with other dogs. We are wondering if anyone has a trainer in the area that have helped their dog? Or a pack type dog walker who is also a trainer? We'd love to be able to take him to a dog park, let him off leash on hikes, etc without the worry of him causing trouble. He's starting to make it difficult to live our lives! 

    Thank you! 

    I am a big fan of the Oakland Dog Training Club (I've taken both of my dogs there to get their Canine Good Citizen training and our rescue dog became a therapy dog after our work there). I also strongly disrecommend Mahogany Gamble of the Balanced K9 - she lost one of our dogs on a pack walk and both of our dogs were injured under her care while boarding (one needing multiple courses of IV antibiotics to treat a wound she failed to notice and/or report - I have pictures I can share with anyone interested). 


    ive heard they are very good, very caring!

    I highly recommend the trainer we used with our dogs.  He's excellent.  Mike Wombacher of Dog Gone Good.  You can find out more about him on his website  Good luck! 

    We just adopted a rescue and she is reactive to some dogs. Not jealous of our teen but super jealous of our cat! Both Diane and Heidi at Holistic Hounds in Berkeley are great dog whisperers. They gave me names of local trainers. Great that you are addressing these issues (you would be amazed at how many senior dogs are surrendered to shelters).

  • Dog Trainer to help Kids with new puppy??

    (6 replies)

    We just adopted an amazing little 5 lb puppy. She is smart, gentle and sweet. Our two girls aged 3 and 5 are smitten, but are totally harassing the sweet thing!

    We have tried everything to explain to them that the dog is a living creature and not a toy, she can't be picked up like a stuffy, you can't be in her face all the time, you have to give her space when she eats etc etc.. The puppy has thus far been tolerant, but I am starting to see her shy away from the kids and gravitate more to my husband and I for relief from this behavior.

    Does anyone know of a dog trainer who teaches kids dog manners? Our attempts at training our human kids is going nowhere, and we don't want to raise a dog that is afraid, skiddish or aggressive towards children.

    Any suggestions or recommendations appreciated!

    We really liked Maria at BravoPup. We (my whole family included my kids) took the BravoPup puppy classes with her. I think your kids are probably too young to attend a class, but Maria also does private training. Not only does she have an extensive background in dog training, she also has an educational background teaching middle school (and older) students in the humanities. Her info is here:

    But in the meantime, you may want to consider either crate-training or sectioning off a room, or part of a room, for your pup, if you haven't yet done so. That can be a "no-kids allowed" space for your pup to go to when she wants to be left alone. She can even be fed here there peace. Even after your kids are trained, they'll have friends over that are not, and having that space for your pup can help keep everyone safe and happy.


    For what it's worth, here is why you should find the puppy a new home, and wait to get a puppy until the girls are older: dog training (once the trainer leaves) only works if everybody in the family is consistent with it at all times, and I don't know any children who are capable of creating a consistent environment for themselves, much less a hapless puppy, at all times. So, when the training fails, as it will with a lack of consistency, you will have wasted your money and possibly created an environment where a terrified dog could become a biter. Please, please, do what is fair to both your family and the dog: take the puppy back, and get an older dog who is good with children, or wait until your kids are older! Frightened dogs bite, and it is often not the dog's fault, but it is the dog who pays with its own life if it bites a child.

    You want to hire someone to train your kids? You are the parent, that is your job! You need to discipline your kids! Explain the rules, then put them on time out for 4 minutes when they break them. Repeat as necessary.

    You need to be consistent with your kids, and talking to them about "why" won't work - especially the little one is not old enough/capable of that much self control. And puppies are just too much fun! You need to set the rules, tell the kids clearly what they are, and tell them what will happen if they break them, "because everybody has to follow the rules to be nice to the dog". Then you have to be ready to be consistent.  That means every time, until they have internalized how they need to interact with the dog. It doesn't need to be a big deal, or a scolding, just don't make the rules too complicated and be consistent in your follow through. Every time, until they get it.  We had 2 kids and a puppy in a very small apartment - what worked for us: a "time-out" place on the bottom step of our staircase where they had to sit if they broke a rule. Not a long time, just enough for them to take a break and remember the rule. Doggy crate is a great idea also, and dogs usually like it because they are "den" animals. You do want to handle this right away, though, because a pattern of inconsistancy with the kids or the dog is gonna make things miserable (and it's not either the kids' or the dogs' fault, they are just being who they are).

    Many animal shelters will not allow a puppy to be adopted by a family with pre-schoolers. I didn't understand why until I watched my grandchildren torment our senior dog. Even with our best efforts to teach, supervise and limit access, it was tough. Can you rehome it now with a friend or relative who can care for it properly and you can visit?  Wait a few years, and then start with an adult dog and do the dog training with your children.

    Well, you can hire a trainer but you are ultimately going to have to implement what they tell you. Adopting a dog with young children in the house is a huge parenting task. If you don't think you're up for it, you should re-home the dog.

    You have to be on top of the situation 24/7. Honestly, try positive rewards for both the kids and the dog when they interact well together. Separate them when they don't. 

    If you don't take this seriously, you are going to end up with a dog who has issues. And depending on how severe they get, that can be tragic.

    If you are up for the challenge, this can be an awesome way to teach your kids the lifelong lesson of being kind and respectful to animals. We adopted a dog when our son was 4 and he's now 10 and he is a huge defender/lover of animals and has a very strong sense of what's right and wrong when it comes to how kids (and adults) treat their pets. He was taught early on what was ok and not ok with our dog. Our dog didn't trust him 100% as quickly as he did the rest of us, as he was a very active and loud 4-year-old! But trust was built and now the two of them couldn't be better friends. 

    It's a wonderful thing. But you can't kid yourself that you can hire someone to do this for you. You have to take on the challenge, and it is not minimal.

Archived Q&A and Reviews



Dog training for aggressive animal

Aug 2011

Can anyone recommend a really good dog trainer? Our dog is sweet, and good with people but not trustworthy around other dogs. She either seems to love or really not love other dogs, This is, to say the least, a problem for us. She is very unpredictable for reasons known only to her. We love her and really want a trainer especially good with this bad behavior. Thanks!

Sandra Mannion is the best dog trainer I've ever met. Hands down. If you read the testimonials on her website, you'll get some idea of the challenging work she has taken on. She works with the dog owner(s) as (very, very) well as she works with the dogs. Seldom have I felt so confident in any professional I have worked with! Her training is exceptional. Tell her Sarge sent you. Sarge's mom

I HIGHLY recommend Youngblood Harris at . We have a truly unruly dog (doesn't like people/kids/etc) and he worked magic with her after two other trainers did very little. We were completely awe struck when he had her walking one foot away from another dog in her first season. That said, she'll still never be able to run off leash with other dogs but that's her and we weren't looking for a solution to that problem. All in all Younblood was fantastic. Melanie

Kathy Keer at Cause and Effect dog training was great. She helped us get our crazy rescue Boxer managable in public and even off leash (major dog and sometimes human aggression issues). She's not super chatty but she knows her stuff. Jaime

Dog trainer for jumping and off-leash

April 2010

I'm looking for a dog trainer for a two year old dog to train off-leash and also to get him to stop jumping on people. Bev

Kathy Keer @ Cause and Effect Dog Training was a miracle worker with our rescue Boxer. Our dog has pretty major fear aggression issues and Kathy was able to get our dog walking next to her doggie arch nemesis with nary a snarl. More importantly, she really trained us on what cues to watch out for and how to handle our dog when she's being aggressive. Jaime

I can highly recommend Sandra Mannion of The Village Dog as a dog trainer. We had great success with our rescue dog with her last summer. Lisa

I highly recommend Jill Breitner 707-601-3332. Jill is wonderful person and a fantastic trainer. She helped us understand our rescue dog and provided us the how-to to change his fearful behavior. She immediately becomes the leader when working with a dog, which enables her to elicit the desired behavior. She then taught us how to be our dog's leader so that he could be a happy member of our pack. She also taught us that our dog just wanted to please us and wouldn't need treats from us to obey. Our dog is confident and well-behaved, thanks to Jill's guidance. We can take him off leash because we know he will come back when called. And we know how to handle his fear when he is off leash. She is firm but gentle, doesn't coddle but does provide lots of love. Whenever we've encountered a problem, she responds immediately and seriously because she wants our relationship with our little guy to be a positive one. I continue to be impressed with her knowledge and her intuitive understanding of animal behavior. dog Mama

I highly recommend Sandra Mannion Sandra is great with dogs - she knows her stuff. But she is also great with people. We worked with her for months when we were working out some kinks with our new pup and our five year old. We loved our training sessions. And I can't imagine where we would have ended up with out her. She is just wonderful. Happy Dog Owners b/c of Sandra

i'd highly recommend bow wow ventures, specifically shasta marlowe. we adopted/rescued two pit bull mixes (not at the same time) and shasta has helped with their off leash training and address their behaviorial issues. shasta is great to work with, truly loves dogs and has delivered results yvonne

I have a recommendation for the best dog trainer I've ever met, and her specialty is with the interaction between dogs and children. We began using her when we got a new dog and my kids were ages 7 and 4. She has helped train our dog and now our dog is a beloved and gentle member of our household...she has never hurt anyone in our household. Our dog trainer's name is Jane Rosenblum, and she has a website: suzy

Dog bit my son and pees in the house

May 2009

I need to do something about my dog. He is peeing in the house again. He bit my son. It wasn't a hard bite but still a bite. He is a small dog. I really need a dog trainer. He did go through a obedience class. I am now willing to pay for someone to come to my house. Does anyone know of anybody to help me? I have asked this about a year ago but I didn't save all the replies...please reply again. Thanks! lise

A friend gave me the name of the best dog trainer I've ever seen. We hired him to help train our newest dog and he was just incredible. His name is MATT HIBBARD and his phone # is (510)769-7442. His website is You'll be pleased with the results. Patty

I know of a dog trainer who is especially skilled in working with dogs who live in a home with children. She can help you establish good behavior in your pet, and also maintain the safety of your child. Contact Jane Rosenblum, (510) 869-3799, and also check out her website for the Canine/Kid Connection. Good luck. Caroline

I highly recommend Sandra Mannion. Check out her website She is unbelievable with both dogs and their people. We worked with her after completing a group dog training class to help our puppy, young child and myself sort out our roles and learn appropriate behavior. We now have the sweetest dog and I think Sandra has everything to do with it. We are her biggest fans. KS

Dog is spraying and peeing on everything

Feb 2009

I am having trouble with my dog peeing on everything. It is getting worse and worse. He uses a kitty-litter box inside or goes outside. He been spraying everything or just going on the floor. Any help would be great. I am thinking of hiring someone for a day or two to advise me, but I don't know where to look. I am in hercules area. Lise

I highly recommend Francis Metcalf at Friends of the Family dog training. His website is patrice

We love our listener Penny. She doesn't do standard obdience or behavioral modification it is a bit different but I actually feel like I understand my dog better now. We had pooing and peeing in the house problems that have gotten much better. Plus she is really nice and easy to talk to. Take a look at her website and give her a call she will tell you a little about what she does. Dog pee is no fun

Agility training class for fun?

Aug 2008

We just recently adopted a dog, and (assuming she masters basic commands!) we're interested in finding a fun agility class for my daughter to take with her. I've seen training happening at Terrace Park in Albany, but I have no idea who runs that, or where else it's offered. We're in Berkeley, for the record. Thanks!

The person who runs the agility classes in Albany is Nancy Frensley. I think the class is thru Bkly parks and rec....or maybe it's thru Albany could check at the Albany community center. Nancy also does dog training thru the Berkeley East Bay Humane Society. If you can't find her, e-mail me and I''ll get her exact number. Our office manager is friends with her. I did the agility class a few years ago. It was really fun. Hope your daughter has fun, June

Dog has become aggressive since birth of baby

May 2008

We are looking for a dog trainer for our 9 1/2 year old dog. She has always been a sweet dog, scared of others, but never aggressive. We the arrival of our now 11 month old daughter she has become increasingly threatened and high-strung. She growls when my daughter approaches, barks at the slightest noise, and last week she bit the plumber at my parents house (where she spends a lot of time). That was her first bite, but it needs to be her last. I would really appreciate any recommendations for trainers that can help us out. Thanks.

Try Deena Jesmok in Richmond. I've seen her work with a variety of dogs, from puppies (my own) to very aggressive nervous dogs. Over time she has helped change their behavior and teach good habits. she really loves animals and is a great teacher for humans! Her number is 235-4485. adria

I'd like to recommend a trainer that we've worked with, Deena Jesmok (235.4485). Deena worked with our family after we adopted a terrier mix from a local rescue group. Ultimately the adoption did not work out for us because the dog, although trainable, was also 'hard wired' in some very aggressive behaviors that put us and others at risk. We were, however, extremely impressed with Deena who worked with us in weekly training sessions. She was incredibly patient, calm and committed to working with all members of our family on basic obedience. She is an experienced and knowledgable trainer who is unflappable in situations where dogs become aggressive (and we witnessed many with our own dog). She gave us a lot of calm, objective counsel as we debated what to do and was very supportive after we made the decision to return the dog. We now have another dog who is much better suited to our family and we are happy to be working with Deena again. You're welcome to ask her for a refere! nce from me if you choose to meet with her, Lisa, mom of Shadow

Dog training for barking, nipping dog

May 2006

We need a one on one dog trainer for our recently adopted young adult dog. Sirius did not work for her and the philosophy was not a good fit for our family. We can't all walk around with fanny packs stuffed with treats wherever we go! Our dog is very sweet but she barks endlessly, nips the kids sometimes and chews their stuffed animlas like crazy. Any suggestions are welcome -we are in North Berkeley

I can recommend a fabulous dog trainer for tough behaviors, such as barking, pulling on leash, chewing etc. The Dog Squad, Steve Bettcher and Patrick Gibbons., 510 632-6594. We have 3 dogs. Our recent rescue adoption, Toots, was a little guy who barked incessantly. My other rescue dog, Gilly, would jump and pull on leash and came only when he felt like it. I did a training class with Gilly a few years ago when we got him. It was a lot of work to train him and he got some stuff but I never kept up on it. It was very time consuming and I let it go. When we got the barker(didn't know he was a barker till we had him a week or so) I knew we needed help ;and Sirius was not the place for us either. Steve and Patrick are GREAT. They use an impulse collar. Steve came to our house and did a presentation...showed a DVD of him training dogs and owners trining dogs. When he came I didn't know about the collar, he'd been highly recommended by someone else though. I was horrified, really, when I found out he used a ''shock collar''....well, we decided to go with it. First he showed us the collars and how the impulse feels on our hand. It definatley did not hurt, even at the higer levels. Just feels like an uncomfortable electric impulse. Patrick came and put the collars on our 2 dogs, showed us how to use the remote and did a training with us. In minutes each dog was changing behavior (and with no signs of discomfort from the collar).... We signed up for a ''package''. 2 collars, 2 remotes, 3 private training sessions and unlimited group classes taught by Patrick and or Steve. We now have well(weller) behaved dogs. It's been about 5 or 6 weeks. Gilly is working on healing and doing pretty well. He rarely jumps on people and when he starts to, a verbal command now works. Toots barely barks at people. There are times he freaks (he's very timid) and barks crazily but we know how to deal with it and we're still working with him. Both dogs wait at the door till we say OK to go, both dogs sit and stay and lie down and stay. The both come when called most of the time. I take them out in the morning and do training for about 20 minutes and again in the afternoon. This training has been/is SOOOO much easier than any other training I've done with dogs (I've owned dogs most of my adult life). Especially the barking issue. THis is an ongoing process and we will always need to maintain the training, but the main behavior problems are well under control. So, long explanation to recommend these great guys. You can e-mail me if you want more info. June

You might try Nancy Frensley at the Berkeley East-Bay Humane society. Her contact info is (510) 845-7735 x22 or nfrensley[at] They also practice a positive reinforcement philosophy, so I don't know if it'll work for you, but it would definitely be worth talking with the trainer on the phone or email. The other dog training approach I've been impressed with is from Cesar Millan who does the Dog Whisperer show on the Natl Geographic channel. The emphasis is on understanding dog psychology and training your dog through ''canine'' language. His approach is as much about training the humans as it is about training the dogs (training the humans to be the pack leaders). He has a new book and video that could be helpful. The web site is It also sounds like your dog has a lot of pent-up energy - are you giving her a good, structured walk for at least 45 min. a day? You might want to start with that until you can hook up with a trainer. You should also know that, whatever training method you use, dog training will take a lot of time, dedication, and consistency on your part. -another dog guardian

If your dog is nipping your children, you need to take immediate action. Having dealt for 11 years with a dog that has aggressive tendencies, I cannot stress enough the need for you to get help, even if her nips and toy chewing seem just benignly annoying right now. It sounds like you are concerned about it, which is great. For the basic misbehavior: is she getting enough exercise? Does she have separation anxiety? Toy chewing is a sign of boredom and separation anxiety. First things first: she needs to be crate trained (it gives her a ''safe place'' to retreat when the kids are bugging her, or for you to put her when needed - and protect her while in there; don't let the kids poke or play with her there). She needs to get enough exercise. She needs to bond with a person in your family and to be taught her place on the totem pole. To bond her: clip her leash to your belt loop and keep her on it. Don't act like you're ''walking her'' - just go about your normal routine. SHE has to go where YOU go and she has to get out of your way. Never let her go through a door first. She is last in ranking. Use the NILIF rule: ''nothing in life is free.'' For example, if she asks for a treat, have her sit. I listed URL resources below to specifically help with the toy chewing.

For the aggression (for that's what nipping is, no matter how playful or harmless it is): 1. I would first think of rehoming the dog, although if she has bitten your children (even a nip) rescue organizations won't take her (although if it's a purebred, that breed's rescue group might help rehome her). For future reference, Pat Miller (mentioned below) has a 10-step evaluation method to determine if dogs are viable adoptees.

2. It is absolutely unacceptable for a dog to bite, it means the dog has crossed a boundary with regard to what it sees as okay behavior. Kids are loud, fast, and often annoying to many dogs. If your dog can't handle the stimulation, she needs her own safe place - outside or in her crate. A dog is a very social animal but it is always thinking in terms of its place in the pack. Its place is the bottom of the pack and it must recognize your children above it. If there is any ambiguity or if the dog senses an opening, it will insert itself up a level.

3. Resources for you - dog behaviorist. Jean Donaldson wrote a great book on dogs, ''Culture Clash,'' and we are lucky to have her at the SFSPCA. She is nationally respected for her work.

You can take your dog to their Marin location for an evaluation. You can also make an appointment for one of their behaviorists to come to your home to do the evaluation. 4. Resources - books and web: SFSPCA: is Jean Donaldson's site. is a wonderful newsletter that always contains a column from Pat Miller, one of the nations best trainers. is Pat Miller's site. One of the best online resources is the Aggressive Behavior yahoo list ( Hundreds of behaviorists and trainers are there to help you. We've had 3 behaviorists tell us our dog was not treatable and should be put down. His breed (Weimaraners) don't do well with kids, plus our dog came from a questionable breeder. We felt we could manage his resource guarding and protect our children at the same time- but that meant he became an outside dog and the kids were NEVER outside unattended (he is MUCH happier outside away from the shrill kid noises, whereas our Rhodesian Ridgeback is like the Nana in ''Peter Pan,'' laying wherever the kids are playing). It has provided an extra 4 years of life for him and he has never acted out toward our kids. But I've spent at least 7 years intensively researching dog behavior, to help both sides stay safe. And every action around him is planned and knowledgeable.

Good for you for taking your dog's misbehavior seriously, and I hope this reply is helpful. Feel free to email me if you'd like to chat further Shannon

I have a dog walker that I like quite a lot. He also has taught obidience classes. He is easy to work with & very honest. So, you could contact him, tell him your expectations, & then I would expect he would tell you what's feasible. His name is Brian Sullivan Jennifer

Try the ''Uncle Matty'' (dog trainer Matthew Margolis, I think is his name) training videos. He has some simple tips that we've used on our dog which have proved effective. I don't know the exact name of his website but I know his shows have appeared on KQED during pledge drives. Dog owner

Obedience training

April 2003

The dog obedience class recommendations are rather old (August 2002) so I'm asking for more up to date recs. Basically I'm interested in a class to help my sons, especially the 2nd grader get some ''dog sense'' and help us and the dog to get used to each other (the dog is housebroken and crate trained but not really leashed trained). We pick up our new dog this Friday (a two year Basenji/Terrier mix - very cute and loving dog that was surrendered due to his incompatability with cats - we don't have cats so that's not a problem)so I'd really like to sign us up for classes rather soon - I want the new member of our family to start off successfully! Karen H.

We found that the Berkeley Humane Society Sirius dog obedience training very helpful for us when we got our new 1-1/2 year old small dog from a rescue operation. We (adults and child) all needed training on dog obedience. Their approach is focused on movitation, rewards (not just treats, but praise, drinks of water, toys, etc.) and consistency among the humans. The training is fun and it is a great approach for kids because they encourage all family members to attend and incorporated how kids can be effective trainers too. Our dog was very responsive to the training and really wanted to ''please.'' A main approach seems to be if you train long enough and as a part of your routine, the dog will eventually learn behaviors and do them out of habit. Reward with treats starts the dog down the path of what you decide is good behavior and eventually you can wean the treats.

With a new dog, a really good way to immerse yourselves in dog training is to rent a Sirius dog training video from the library so you can watch how to train and also get a few books on obedience. Both helped us get up to speed quickly as we immediately realized the humans probably needed more training than the dog.

We also attended a dog training class by a fellow who comes to the Petfood Express (MLK and University). Although I like the store very much, we did not like the approach to training that this one teacher provided. It was based too much on punishment, corrections,and sharp yanks to the collar. That made our dog freeze up and refeuse to do anything and it took all the fun out of having a dog. I have no idea if he still teaches there. While I am no dog expert and some dogs may need a firmer approach, we just couldn't follow his advice.

Last, once you get through basic dog training, you might enjoy the dog agility classes that are offered through the Albany Rec Program on Saturday mornings at Terrace Park. We've been doing these and it is really fun to get your dog to run through tunnels and jump fences, walk bridges, etc. The teacher is great and can help on behaviors too. She uses the reward and consistency approach too. Good luck and enjoy your new pooch! Lissa

Oakland Dog Training has very good dog obedience for companion dogs. They have a series for puppies, and a series for adult dogs also. Elizabeth Soares is the teacher, and she is very kind and good at reading your dog. She also has good knowledge about types of behaviors and training that are common or suitable for particular breeds or breed mixes. Classes are held in El Cerrito near costco, right off the Central Ave. exit on Jacuzzi Street. You can reach Oakland Dog Training at 339- 3276. gayle

Congratulations on your new dog! I highly recommend the dog training classes at Tony La Russa's Animal Rescue Foundation in Walnut Creek. It would even be worth the drive if you live in Oakland/Berkeley. Here is the link to the info on the website. I am a volunteer and have gone through the class with some ARF dogs and was really impressed with the trainer, Jennifer, and her techniques. She uses positive reinforcement only, gentle leaders are used, no prong collars or choke chains. And she encourages the entire family to participate, especially the kids. If the drive is too far, I would suggest calling anyway for a referral to another trainer in your area. Good luck!

August 2002

We just adopted a very sweet but in need of some training 3 year old dog (part border, terrior, etc.) The Milo Foundation where we got him recommends Sirius Dog Training School. I've heard this is the best one around, but it seems rather pricey at $165.00. (I know, it's worth every penny for what you get out of it, but....). Pet Food Express in Pinole also has classes for $89.00 Does anyone have experience with the Pet Food Express classes for a non puppy type dog? I was impressed with the people at PFE, their knowledge about dogs and products. Other recommendations for other classes around the Bkly/EC area? Also anyones favorite methods for introducing a new dog who chases cats, into a household with existing cats who are NOT happy with this situation. We're using the spray bottle right now (on the dog)....seems to be working...we've got a way to go. Thanks for any info. June

I took one of my dogs to the dog obedience class held by Orinda recreation, taught by Lauretta (Dellinger?), and it was great. I was dragged into the first class, and walked out calmly that same night with a dog who almost knew how to heel. It was like a miracle - and my dog just got better as the classes progressed. Although I hardly work with him at all now due to time, he is still very attentive and obedient. Smart dog, and Lauretta is a great teacher and her methods are effective. She uses small treats to make them pay attention.

I took the other dog to Donna Dale's Dog Training (due to a schedule conflict) in Martinez Adult School and didn't get nearly the same quick and lasting results. That dog may be a bit dumber, but I noticed absolutely no residual effect after that class - she still drags me around and has ''selective hearing''. when I get time, I'll take her to Lauretta's class. nancy

We have a five year old, very ''high energy'' male beagle named Curly, who was in desperate need of some training. My husband took him to Deena Jesmok 510-235-4485. She is in El Cerrito, near Barrett Ave. She provides small classes (2-3 pets) or one- on-one instruction. She is VERY good. You can teach an old dog new tricks. Curly is showing great progress. Lisa

I am a local vet, and have not met the teachers of the Pet Food Express class you mentioned. I always suggest that people visit a class given by the instructor they are interested in, and see if they like the person and whether that trainer is getting good results for the owners in the class. Dogs usually figure out if you don't like your teacher, and seem to learn very little under those circumstances. I think Sirius is a good dog socialization class, but feel that for problem behaviors the success of Sirius varies tremendously with different instructors. Matt Hibbard of Elite Dogs mentioned in a prior post now works in Sacramento, and does run classes in Alameda once weekly. Other places to look would be the Oakland SPCA, EZTrain, and Companion Dog Training. The best trainer I know of for tough behavioral problems is Alon Geva, but his cost is well over $165.00. Definately check individual classes before you start, and think less of price, and more what you plan to get out of it. 6-8 efficient weeks of good training are better than wasting time in classes or with instructors who don't seem to help you get the results you need. anon

We used Leslie Elliot of Animal Works (510-653-7765) for Dog/People Training. She is in the Rockridge/Broadway Terrace area of Oakland. I liked her alot. She also does dog walking, doggie daycare and dog boarding in her home (2 visitor max). Her recommendation for introducing dogs and cats was to install an ''I'' hook-type latch on the door of a room you can put your cat in. It should allow for enough snout room so the animals can sniff and see each other. Let them get to know each other this way over a couple week period before they have more contact. Good Luck! Terry

My friend Greta is an excellent dog trainer. She personally has two Aussie rescues, who are delightful. She's a very smart person who has spent a lot of time thinking about and working with animals and their behaviors including a fairly intensive, academic animal training camp in Arkansas. She treats animals with respect for their individual needs and temperment. Here is her write up: Greta Kaplan, of Fuzzy Logic Dog Training, is a local trainer who teaches owners how to train their puppies and dogs in basic companion behaviors and manners. She uses positive,reward-based methods. For more serious behavioral problems, she can refer you to a specialist. You can email her at nickelsmum AT Myriam

Oakland Dog Training teaches all their classes in El Cerrito on Jacuzzi Street (near Costco). I have trained our three dogs in their classes, and the instructors are wonderful. The classes are also very reasonably priced. The training methods are positive and gentle, and work well for dogs of all ages and backgrounds. You can dial 339-3276 for more information. There is also a website which you might be able to locate by doing an online search (I don't know the address). Gayle

We, and several of our neighbors and friends, have had excellent luck with Matt at Elite Dogs. He is particularly good with dogs who need a little extra attention. (We adopted a guide dog dropout Golden Retriever at 18 months who had significant fear issues that have all been resolved.) He now mainly operates out of his new kennel in West Sacramento, but I hear that he's down at least once a week to do some classes in Alameda, so it might be worth a call. 916/372-4700. He really turned our dog owning experience completely around -- we are thrilled. Nancy

Feb 2002

Has anyone out there had positive experiences with local dog obedience trainers? We live in the North Oakland-Piedmont area and would love to find a good class, perhaps on Saturday mornings. new dog owner

Sirius Puppy Training. 658-8588. Hands down! One person I don't recommend is Matt Hibbard. I found out he was convicted of animal cruelty for his dog training practices in Solano County, and set up shop in Alameda since he has no record here. A bit stomach-turning! GK

We use Sirrius Dog Training located in Berk. It is the BEST hands down. We took our toy poodle at 6 wks to a class that was held for one hour for six weeks at Live Oak Park. After the first class our dog came out from under the chair to play w/the big dogs (normal size guys at 6 wks). Thats not all, he learned to sit, stay, down, roll over and numerous tricks.. Oh, yes, also to not touch highly important. Splling may be incorrect chk for their number at the Lucky Dog Pet Store in Berkeley on San Pablo they know them well. Happy Dog Owner

In response to GK about dog training: I trained both my dogs with Matt Hibbard, he did a wonderful job and even nagged my husband repeatedly about not giving the dog enough praise. I trusted him with both my dogs, and with my then-infant son and would do it again. kridgway

Highly recommended: Nikole Sledd at Creature Teachers ( For a price similar to the cost of group classes, Nikole actually comes to your home or preferred location, at a time that's convenient for you, and provides one-on-one training for your puppy or dog. She focuses on your needs instead of just the standard group-class topics. In just a few weeks, our puppy learned a lot of socialization, our whole family learned to train her, and the whole process was absolutely delightful. And the first consultation (again, at a location of your choice) is free! (Frankly, Nikole is so terrific and the private training is such a convenience that I'm surprised the cost is so reasonable.) Brenda

I highly recommend Elite Dogs with Matt Hibbard for dog training. I have had dog training from both Sirius Puppy and Elite Dogs. My dog was first trained by Sirius Puppy where she learned basic commands such as sit, come, and stay. However it wasn't enough for my dog who was a very big, strong, playful, energetic puppy. She was dragging me down the street with a leash, and not under voice command at the dog park. In seeking more personal attention from the Sirius Puppy trainer, I was dissatisfied. They also relied heavily on the use of treats to entice the dog to behave. A staff person at Codornices Veterninary Clinic suggested I call Matt, because he had trained many ''spirited'' dogs and saved many dogs' lives. So I did...and this is when he had just closed his business in Vallejo. Within one or two private lessons with Matt, my dog was under voice control. Matt told me to throw away the treats, and he taught me how to be a good dog owner with control over my dog so that she is very well-behaved to the point that she urinates on command!!! I have the utmost confidence in Matt as a dog trainer. He provides very personal attention and really understands dogs....from the little easy going ones to the big difficult or scary looking ones. I am so glad I went to him because I have had a very fun and loving dog for the last 9 years. Matt can be reached in Sacramento at (916) 372-4700. He still provides training in the East Bay. Lisa

Oct 2001

Hi. My Mom is a dog obedience trainer who happens to live in Columbus Ohio. That being said, you can STILL find Quality Positive Reinforcement right here in Berkeley.

I know that you are probably completely overwhelmed by the arrival your new baby, but you sound as if you want to prepare for the baby and the dog.

Check out this link:

It's the dog obedience training page of the Berkeley Humane Society web site. Nancy (the class instructor) is great and REALLY believes in positive reinforcement obedience training for ALL dogs. I used to work with her and the shelter dogs. Her rates are competitive and I can't recommend her or her classes enough. Best, Beth

May 2000

Re dog obedience: There are two books by the Monks of New Skete (How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend and How to Raise A Puppy (or something like that)) that are terrific. Hang on -- three-month-old puppies are impossible (the reason they are so cute is that otherwise you would kill them), but they get better.

Try the book Good Owners, Great Dogs, as well as the puppy training book by the monks of New Skeet (I think that's the order). Both were great books. Otherwise, check out the dog obedience class at your local SPCA. Good luck!

Several people including us have taken our puppies to Oakland Dog Training Club, which actually is near the Central Ave. exit in Richmond. I'm pretty sure the dog needs shots. And the place is very clean. Their number is 510-339-3276. There's also an outdoor Saturday class given by the City of Albany at Terrace Park, which is near Gilman St., east of San Pablo Ave. And, there are classes given by well-known puppy authority Ian Dunbar, but they cost much more than the others and I've heard are no different.

My dog was trained at Elite Dogs, 634 Eagle Ave., Alameda, 510-769-7442. Matt Hibbard is an excellent trainer, and specializes in protection dogs and difficult ones. I first went through puppy school with Sirius Puppy classes. They are group classes. My dog was about 3 months old, rambunctious, chewing, almost out of control. My pup learned the commands but she was still not under control. She use to drag me down the street on leash and never listened to me at the dog park. She was as Matt told me, a near liability. I had private training with Matt, 6 sessions, and my dog was no longer top dog. He is expensive but worth every penny. After the private lessons, he will encourage you to continue going to group classes, where you can attend like 4 times for $25. The other advantage of Matt is that if he trains your dog, you can board your dog with them. Their rates are reasonable, and his facilities are probably cleaner than your home. I highly recommend him....If I hadn't taken my dog to Matt, I probably wouldn't have her now...and I am so glad I have her too!!!! Most of the dog owners who go to Matt take care of their dogs very well so I wouldn't worry about the flea problem too much.

The book that changed my dog's and my life was _How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend_ by the Monks of New Skete. I don't know about obedience classes because I trained her myself using this book and also observing a roommate who had a wonderfully trained dog. She was around 2 years old when I began, had been abandoned twice (once by me- from her perspective anyway), had been brought out of a rural environment into a city one (not to mention a different country!) and yet she learned the basics within a week. It took longer than that, of course, but I now take her everywhere I go, usually off a leash, leave her waiting outside countless places for me for lengths of time and we heel across incredibly busy streets.

It's not the technique, it's the philosophy. Training a dog is not about teaching it to obey commands, it's about cementing your relationship. Other books I read stressed dominating the dog as the alpha-wolf and started with the sit-stay. The Monks book began with what seems to be the most complicated command, the heel, because it uses the dogs natural inclination to follow it's mother and teaches it to trust you, it's owner. Once you get that down, then you can teach sit and stay (i.e. trust me to come back for you) with ease.

S. I'd like to respond to the person with the question about puppy training. I'm a veterinarian, and in my experience, Sirius Puppy Training, the program developed by veterinarian Ian Dunbar, is excellent for helping owners and their puppies come to an understanding of each other, which is the foundation of a long and rewarding relationship. They stress socialization of the puppy -- to other dogs, and also to people. While they teach the basic commands - sit, stay, etc - I think their strength is that they inform the owners about normal dog behavior, and give tools to enable effective training of acceptable behaviors at home. There are classes all over the Bay Area; for more information, call (510) 658 - 8588. The most important thing to remember when training a puppy is: be consistent, realistic, and consistent! Good luck!

A while ago there was some discussion about dog obedience classes. A couple people recommended some classes and I've also found out about other classes. There seems to be a lot of classes out there, with big differences in prices. Does anyone have any advice as to whether you get what you pay for for these classes, or whether they are all the same? Some people say they are all the same, while others say there are differences. Also, if anyone has recommendations on the following classes, it would be appreciated.

  • Sirius puppy training (various locations, $145 for 6 classes)
  • Perfect Paws (SF, Menlo Park)
  • K9K9 (San Mateo)
  • Oakland Dog Training
  • City of Albany's Recreation & Community Services ($42 for 6 classes)

    Conformation classes

    July 2002

    We've just entered the world of dog shows. It's exciting for our whole family, but there's one major problem. We don't know what we are doing. Haven't seen anything on our website about training classes for adults/kids in AKC conformation. Are their classes in the East Bay? Ever on weekends as we work during the week? The closest classes we have found are in Concord but we work in San Francisco and live in El Cerrito. Any suggestions welcome. (We have toy dogs.) Another Dog (and friends) for Peace

    For conformation classes we took classes from Laurie Kauth in El Sobrante, she is a professional handler with small dogs. Her phone number is 510-223-4367.
    Dog showing can be great fun for the whole family! You can start by visiting the AKC website at to read more about conformation, junior showmanship, and the standard for your breed. You can also request a copy of the booklet, ''Rules applying to dog shows'', which you will want to read and understand thoroughly before you enter the show ring. There is a schedule of upcoming shows there as well. There are a number of good handling books available at that will explain how to train and handle your dog in the ring. I haven't shown in over 5 years, but there used to be very good handling classes held at the Kensington Youth Hut on the Arlington. I can't remember exactly, but they were held either Tues, Weds or Thurs around 7 pm. If you are willing to drive to Fremont, you can't beat Tom and Kay Lams for handling classes. They used to teach in the parking lot behind Cindy's Pet Shop. You could also check with Nancy at Dog's Best Friend in El Cerrito/Albany about handling classes. Once you and your dog are trained, you can attend practice matches before entering a real show. You can get information about local matches through the publication, ''The Campaign Trail'', which is published in Sunnyvale I believe. Finally, Oakland Dog Training holds obedience classes in El Cerrito on Jacuzzi Street, near Costco. They may also be able to refer you to conformation handling classes, and they have fliers for matches. You can reach them at 339-3276. Feel free to contact me privately for more information. I finished three champions before moving on to obedience and agility, which are great fun. Gayle