Distraction training - can your dog obey around distractions?

Is your dog’s training distraction proof?
by MontrealDogTrainer on September 30, 2016 in General

Marlo staying on his place despite an other dog’s efforts to get him to run and play. Can your dog focus under distraction?

Teaching a dog to work even when distracted is a huge part of my training programs.
If you aren’t training your dog to focus on you and be reliable under distraction – your dog is not going to be able to listen to you when you need it most.
Fully off leash trained
Here we see a young puppy – Marlo – who is an  11 month old Husky showing how well he functions under distraction – by staying on his place while another dog does her best to get him to come and play with her.  This is Marlo’s 5th lesson and he is doing great. His owner Elie is very pleased as you can see by the grin on his face as looks on his dog with pride.  The gentleman in the ball cap with the female asked if they can approach us and of course we obliged since it was a great test for Marlo.



A well trained dog is a thing of beauty
There is a lady walking her 2 small dogs  by in the background as well who has stopped to admire Marlo and was even taking pictures of him.  Marlo’s owner tells me he regularly has people stop and ask about his dog and comment on how well behaved he is.

Should you play Tug of War with your dog?

dog training tips

Cow enjoying a game of tug @ home

“Tug of War will make your dog aggressive”

Is a common myth I still hear from people.

I have proven to my clients for over 20 years that this is untrue - and they have learned how to play properly with their dogs and enjoyed the game very much.

Dogs love to bite and pull and thrash. Giving them an outlet for this is constructive and a proactive approach to living with a dog. Expecting them to not want to explore this side of their character is asking for trouble.By encouraging them to bite and focus on the toy - it allows them to have a release and helps prevent problem behaviour. It is also a very bonding experience because you are now sharing a favorite activity with your dog. Quality time.

Will it make my dog dominant or think he’s the boss?

I have never seen a case of playing tug of war with a dog create any dominance issues or create relationship issues between dog and human. If anything - like mentioned earlier it is a bonding and fun experience.If you have concerns that your dog may have doninant traits or your dog challenges you and especially if you have a possesive dog than I would suggest not playing tug with your particular dog.

Should I let my Dog win?

Sure - why not? I let mine win from time to time - and as long as your are in control of the toy and the game - there is no harm in letting your dog win. You can see in the videos below that the dogs win and would rather play with their person than keep the tpy on it’s own.
Havanese puppy training
Playing tug is not just for big dogs.
Monty a 5 month old Havanese puppy enjoys playing tug as well.

Tug of war as a reward in training

Here is a video of Barbara learning how to play tug with Ikie - a young German Shepherd.Ike is a strong dog with lots of character from working lines and playing tug is a hugely rewarding event for him in training.As you can see when Barbara switches him into a heel command Ike is happy to go to work becasue fun things happen when working.

Using tug of war as an advanced training tool

Here is an old video of Roxy - a PitBull who stayed with me for training years ago accompanied by my old Dutch Shepherd hyper. Roxy loved to play tug and I used this opportunity to condition her to work around Hyper and have to control herself both on and off of the toy - not only outing on command but also waiting to be told when she would be allowed to take the toy again. This is especially challenging becasue each dog now feels competitive witht he other one and wants to grab it prematurely to try and control the toy for themselves.
If you pay attention you will see how each dog is respectful of the other dog’s space and are careful to grab the toy at a distance fromt the other dog.
Hyper and Roxy are not buddies and really have not spent any time together before this video was filmed - it was a spur of the moment thing that came to me while working with Roxy and filming her towards the end of her course.
This video makes a HUGE point about tug not making dogs aggressive and about dog training and pitbulls as well.

The above advice is given in a general sense and not intended to be used without professional supervision and/or guidance. Family K9 and Nick Zevgolis assume zero liability in any and all actions arising from utilizing any information found on this website. The dog’s owner assumes all risk and liability fromt heir own dog’s actions. It is recommended that you seek out preofessional advice with regards to any and all training for your dog.

Teach your dog to go to the bathroom anywhere and at anytime

Bulldog playing
Clara’s stomping grounds

Housetraining your puppy or older dog can be an exhausting excercise in frustration or it can be reltively simple and worry free.

The difference?Have a plan and execute that plan.We all know that having a schedule and supervising and using a crate are necessary steps. But what about getting your dog to go on command? What about a dog who has a habit of only going to the bathroom under specific conditions i.e. on the snow (winter puppy owners - you know what I mean!), or only going when off leash or in a specific spot.

Teach your dog to go to the bathroom on command

You aren’t actually teaching your dog to go to the bathroom. They are born with the ability to do this.You are teaching them to associate going on command.So - use the words you’d like them to associate i.e. “hurry up” “do your business” etc … when you see them starting to go. Do this over and over for as long as it takes - until you can successfully get your dog to go on command just like Cow does in the video below. (I use Hurry Up with my dog Cow and you’ll notive in the video when I tell her to Hurry Up - she goes right away)

Teach your dog to go to the bathroom anywhere On Command

Many dogs have bathroom habits - some like to go in the busjhes - some have a favorite place - or need a complete preamble of circling and sniffing relesntlessly. Sometimes we want them to just hurry up and go where we are right now so we can move on with our day.If you have a spot you would like your dog to go to the bathroom - bring your dog to that spot repeadtedly - maybe you will get lucky nad that is all it will take.In most cases it is exactly that simple.What you can do is bring your dog to the spot and give your dog a minute or two and keep them moving in the general area. If they dont go to the bathroom - bring them back inside. Either supervise or crate your dog for a little while - 15-30 minutes if you feel your dog actually had a need to go before - dont push too hard - we dont want to stress the dog - just give them a little bit of a stronger urge to go to the bathroom. Of course this is only for dogs who do not have housebreaking issues - since we dont want to invite accidents. If your dog is not fully housebroken - do not attempt this.

Potty train your dog
A 10 minute walk to get to this spot just wasn’t cutting it

Bring your dog back out to the same spot. Remember to keep your dog moving around.Repeat as needed until your dog is going to the bathroom where you’d like.It really is that simple.The video below is quite frankly gross - but it makes a point. My dog Clara Hughes a.k.a. Cow is a country dog. She lives on several acres and runs off leash at home. She rings her bells to go outside and has complete freedom.The video was shot in NYC and I taught her to go to the bathroom @ the curb in one afternoon - and was done becasue the nearest greenspot (see picture above) was a couple of blocks away. Cow’s pfront paws turn inwatrds and walking for extended periods on pavement cause her to have torn paw pads. It also isnt very convenient to have to walk for 10 minutes before the dog can relieve itself first thing in the morning.So I used the above approach and taught her to go on the street near our hotel.This isnt just a case of teaching a dog to go somewhere it isnt used to - i.e. replacing grass with street - but also changing a multitude of other conditions: • Grass Vs Street • Leash Vs No Leash • Quiet countryside Vs Urban Jungle

Like any other aspect of dog training - patience and persistence are key. The end result is a dog that can go to the bathroom anytime and anywhere - which is great and makes travelling as well as daily living for both owner and dog much more convenient.

How to Socialize Your Dog

Reprinted with permission from Montrealdogtrainer.com

Socializing your dog is one of the most important aspects of your dog’s training

Socialization is an often talked about and mostly misunderstood topic amongst dog owners and even dog trainers.  Many schools and trainers even offer socialization classes that are all but useless and actually teach bad habits.  Many feel that it is taking your dog out to play with other dogs.  That can certainly be part of it – but if that is the extent of socializing your dog – you are missing out on a lot of opportunities to help your dog grow and develop.

Real socialization means teaching your dog that the world it lives in contains many things and it is a safe and positive place.
Miriam Webster defines Socialization as
Simple Definition of socialize

  • : to talk to and do things with other people in a friendly way
Full Definition of socialize
  1. 1:  to make socialespecially  :  to fit or train for a social environment
The full definition should be your goal with your dog.  Teaching your dog to fit in to the world around it.

How to socialize your dog

To socialize your dog means to expose it to the world around it. In other words – “see/hear/touch/smell & explore this – it is part of our environment and now let’s move on.  It’s no big deal.

Lincoln – the large black and tan mix was very dog aggressive prior to his training. Rigorous obedience and very careful and calculated socialization transformed him into a new dog. See his video here.

I want my dog to be neutral or positive to most things – neutral is my overall preference.
I don’t want my dog to become overstimulated every time she sees another person, dog, cat squirrel or car/bis/bike etc …
if my dog is neutral to these things – that means she feels comfortable and accepts everything around her as part of her “normal”. Neutral also means that it is easier for her to focus on me than if she is overly stimulated by them.

Puppies like children need to feel comfortable in the world they live in

Think of how we expose our kids to the world around them: We bring them places with us – careful to not force them into situations they are not equipped to deal with. Gradually we introduce little stressors when the timing is right and appropriate for that individual child.

The goal should be to have a well balanced dog

We don’t force them to play with or say hi to or hug every person they see.  We want to build a sense of well being and confidence as well as healthy interaction and manners.  Balance is the key and too many trainers and people socialize their dogs in a way that teaches the dog bad habits such as getting overexcited when they see other dogs or people. Often they will even force dogs into situations they should not be in in an effort to “make them more social” and this leads to higher levels of aggression and other problem behaviours.
Helping a dog overcome a fear of stairs – video

Pro Dog Training Tip #1

When socializing my dogs I make sure to be the centre of focus and fun. In other words – we go out and explore and as much fun as they have meeting people and dogs and exploring the environment – the most fun they have is with me.  This really helps in training – because they want to be with me more than anywhere else.

Bonus Pro Dog Training Tip #2

If your dog is particularly stressed in a specific setting or environment – make a point of taking it there and feeding your dog there for several days.  You’ll be amazed at how quickly this helps normalize the environment in your dog’s mind.  Some dogs make skip a meal or two but most will get right into it once they get past the initial hump.  An added bonus is that if you plan on travelling with your dog it is great that they learn to it wherever you off them a meal.  My dogs have eaten in the car/van/truck, in a parking lot, even on the side of a highway or parked at a gas station while on road trips.

Is Your Dog's Training Distraction Proof?

Is your dog’s training distraction proof?
Reprinted with express permission by MontrealDogTrainer on September 30, 2016 in General
Marlo staying on his place despite an other dog’s efforts to get him to run and play. Can your dog focus under distraction?

Teaching a dog to work even when distracted is a huge part of my training programs.

If you aren’t training your dog to focus on you and be reliable under distraction – your dog is not going to be able to listen to you when you need it most.


Fully off leash trained

Here we see a young puppy – Marlo – who is an  11 month old Husky showing how well he functions under distraction – by staying on his place while another dog does her best to get him to come and play with her.  This is Marlo’s 5th lesson and he is doing great. His owner Elie is very pleased as you can see by the grin on his face as looks on his dog with pride.  The gentleman in the ball cap with the female asked if they can approach us and of course we obliged since it was a great test for Marlo.





A well trained dog is a thing of beauty

There is a lady walking her 2 small dogs  by in the background as well who has stopped to admire Marlo and was even taking pictures of him.  Marlo’s owner tells me he regularly has people stop and ask about his dog and comment on how well behaved he is.

Springtime equals distraction training

Cow Clara Hughes Dog Training
My dog Cow a.k.a. Clara Hughes doing her “Put Em Up’ Command on a NYPD van in the middle of the financial distratict in Manhattan, NYC. You need a high level of trust in your dog’s abilities to obey and focus to remove a leash and know they’ll perform under such circumstances.

It looks like we are enjoying an early spring or at least a preview of what is to come.With springtime come distractions that were dormant durting our long sleepy winters. More poeople and dogs are out. Squirrels. More scents to explore.Many people find thir dogs coming to life this time of year and it is a great opportunity to work on your dog’s distraction training.Here are some ideas for you to help you improve your dog’s ability to focus under distraction:

Dog Training with Distractions - Pro Tip:

Find a location that allows you to work with your dog at a distance from a distraction. It could be a dog park or an area where people walk their dogs - you know your dog best - whatever is a distracting environment for your dog will work for our purposes.Pick an excercise that your dog knows well - it could be as simple as a sit stay or heel - it doesnt even matter what the excercise is - but make sure t is simthing your dog is familiar with so that she is comfrtable in her work - becasue distractions add pressure to thew work.Ask your dog to perform and encourage with praise and treats or play. Release - and rewards your dog.Repeat the excercise.

How to make distraction training easier for your dog

If your dog is having a hard time - work further away from the distractions and gradually increase the proximity when your dog is performing with ease. Think of the proximity to distractions like a volume dial - the closer you get to them - they louder they are to your dog.One last tip - don’t rush this training. if I see one very common mistake - it is the lack of time taken to develop a skill before trying to rush the dog to perform at what the owner feels should be the dog’s level of difficulty. It is better to prgress slowly and inside the dog;s comfort zone - building skills and confidence as well as trust in the training and the handler. One hand washes the other with this aproach and it not only builds obedience but also helps build trust and confidnce.

Cow off leash demonstrating great focus in Manhattan NYC practicing her “Get in Line” with tons of traffic and lots of people walking around.

Is your dog's training distraction proof?

reposted from Montrealdogtrainer.com

Is your dog’s training distraction proof?
by MontrealDogTrainer on September 30, 2016 in General

Marlo staying on his place despite an other dog’s efforts to get him to run and play. Can your dog focus under distraction?

Teaching a dog to work even when distracted is a huge part of my training programs.
If you aren’t training your dog to focus on you and be reliable under distraction – your dog is not going to be able to listen to you when you need it most.
Fully off leash trained
Here we see a young puppy – Marlo – who is an  11 month old Husky showing how well he functions under distraction – by staying on his place while another dog does her best to get him to come and play with her.  This is Marlo’s 5th lesson and he is doing great. His owner Elie is very pleased as you can see by the grin on his face as looks on his dog with pride.  The gentleman in the ball cap with the female asked if they can approach us and of course we obliged since it was a great test for Marlo.


A well trained dog is a thing of beauty
There is a lady walking her 2 small dogs  by in the background as well who has stopped to admire Marlo and was even taking pictures of him.  Marlo’s owner tells me he regularly has people stop and ask about his dog and comment on how well behaved he is.
Montreal Dog Trainer, Nick Zevgolis is the owner of Family K9 Dog Training. Nick has been training dogs professionally for over 20 years and has helped thousands of owners train their dogs in all sorts of endeavours but especially to be well trained and well loved companions.

Family K9 Dog Training
Legal mumbo jumbo:
This blog is for entertainment purposes only. Dog training is a highly specialized and risky endeavour. No information contained here is meant to be attempted on your own, ever. Neither Nick Zevgolis nor Family K9 can be held liable for any and/or all incidents or consequences arising from your dog's behaviour, or the consequences of your or your dogès actions.

Entraineur Canin Montréal , Nick Zevgolis est le propriétaire de L'école de dressage Family K9. Nick est un entraineur de chiens professionnel depuis plus de 20 ans. Nick a aidé des milliers de propriétaires de former leurs chiens dans toutes sortes d' efforts , mais surtout pour être compagnons bien formés et bien aimé. École de dressage Family K9

Legalities: Ce blog est uniquement à des fins de divertissement . La formation de chiens est une activité qui implique des risques pour le proprietere, le chien dn les autres personnes, chiens and meubles autour. Aucune information contenue ici est destiné à être tenté sur votre propre , jamais. Ni Nick Zevgolis ni L'école de dressage family K9 peuvent être tenus responsables de tout et / ou tous les incidents ou les conséquences découlant du comportement de votre chien , ou les conséquences de votre ou votre chien.


Some pics and vids from a fun day of dog training all over Montreal: Some pics and vids from a fun day of dog training all over Montreal: Pictures and videos of dogs in training

IMG_2237

Beach Fun

A Cow on the beaches of Maine


IMG_1678IMG_1679

Do you feed your dog "people food"?

My dog’s favortie treat!


Once in a while I like to treat my dog to something special.
Not a new leash or collar or new bowls - those are for us.
What does a dog love?

So I thought I would pick up lunch for the two of us.
For those who aren’t familiar with me or my dogs - My Bulldog Clara actually has 2 names:

Cow - a name chosen by her breederm which has grown on me and Clara Hughes named after the Canadian Olympic medal winning cyclist and speed skater. It would have felt wrong to refer to her as Cow in this instance:-)


Choose your trainer wisely

Dog Training, K9 School, school for dogs, Dog training scams, bad dog trainers

This morning I spoke with two different dog owners who already spent their money on training courses that left them feeling flat and they both abandoned the courses towards the end. Of course now - they are skeptical of dog training in general which makes for an interesting conversation for me since the next trainer they speak to is under a magnifiying glass.

Yelling, Barking and throwing discs at your puppy

or “I spent money on worthless dog training”

Caller #1 has a Shiba Inu puppy and was horrified at the thought of having to bark at her 3 1/2 month old puppy, use a choke chain and throw discs at it. When she challenged the trainer about this - and pointed out that her dog’s tail was tucked and he was in a corner - he told her “don’t worry - he’s fine”. She called the head of the franchise and gave them heck for what she felt was false advertising. They told her to keep doing what she was instructed to. Of course she knew better than to believe that line when she saw how upset her dog was - she trusted her eyes and cancelled the course.

I wish she would have seen these dog training videos in order to know exactly what I could have done to help her with her puppy:

Sasuke - Shiba Inu off leash trained - off leash on a busy road.

Jackson - 5 month old Doberman Puppy brought to Nick all the way from Boston fully trained

Julia and Cody - a 6 month old dog - fully off leash trained and working with the youngest in the family for the 1st time.

Jello - a 6 month old Weimeraner puppy fully on and off leash trained by Nick

Riley - a 5 month old Husky puppy fully on and off leash trained by Nick

Lola 1 - a 5 month old Boston terrier puppy fully on and off leash trained by Nick

Lola 2 - working with her owners for the 1st time

Finn - a 5 month old Havanese puppy fully on and off leash trained by Nick

Betty - 5 month old Toy Poddle puppy fully on and off leash trained by Nick

Porscha - a 5 month old Cane Corso puppy (who looks like a pony!) fully on and off lkeash trained by Nick

Angus - a wonderful labradoodle who was trained by another trainer and the owner met Nick in a dog park while he was training Baylor and couldnt believe the difference in the two dog’s abilities.

“Get in the corner with your dog “

Another dog owner payed an unreal amount of money for a group class and despite speaking to the trainers beforehand about her concerns about her dog’s behaviour towards other dogs - she was brought into a class full of dogs - not given any real, practical advice on how to handle her dog around other dogs and either told to stay in the corner or told to keep running him through hoops and balance beams.Sound like a plan for success?They then tried to sell her a package of private lessons


I wish she and her family would have watched these dog training videos before choosing the wrong trainer the first time:

Grover video 1 - a 140 plus pound Anatolian Shepherd Mix with Major dog aggression issues fully rehabilitated.

Grover video 2

Grover working with his owner for the first time after Nick’s training

Kaylee - a street dog that was recused and went through prior training only to be told by the trainer that she could never be around other dogs - Check this dog out!

Winston - major dog aggression and another dog and owner who went through prior training and failed, thinking the dog had no hope.

Jack video 1 A Rescue dog from Montreal’s West Island who had bit the neighbour and another behaviourist took several weeks only to be able to handle his paw! Really?!?

Jack Video 2 an interview with his owner post training

Cody - Dog Aggression, people aggression. Had been through prior training, No Results. See him here.

Nyka - Major dog aggression. Fast like a bullet. Had been through other training with an “expert” and still tried to attack dogs every day on his walks.

Good money after bad

I’ll be up front and tell you that I charge more than these people paid for training - BUT at leaast they would have gotten the results they were after with my training and it would have been money well spent intead of money wasted.Now they will have to pay a 2nd time in order to get the results they were hoping for and promised from the start.They both expressed the regret of their decision and reminded me how important it is to “do it once and do it right”.

Choose your dog’s trainer wisely!

I guess to a certain extent I am tooting my own horn and I hope it doesnt come across as arrogant - but I can tell you this after having trained 1000’s of dogs in over 2 decades:Not all trainers are created equally - kust like any other service, professi0n or industry - there are many different levels of “quality” and very often you get what you pay for.Price isn’t the only factor of course but it is an indicator and then you need to do your homework. Also word of mouth is something that I believe in very strongly. I cant tell you how many times I get a call from someone who was out walking their dog having a miserable time with it’s behaviour and they were stopped by one of my clients who offered them my phone nuber or website address.I may or may not hear back from caller number 1, caller number 2 already booked her training program for her dog by the time we ended our conversation. We’ll meet next week and get her dog on track.I completely get the skeptical nature some people have towards dog training in general and especially after they have been burned. No one likes to feel like they’ve been had - I have been there myself and hopefully have learned how to choose wiser the next time.

Choose your trainer wisely - your dog’s future depennds on it.

Working like a dog - with the dogs!

A day of dog training for me typically involves training dogs at the kennel and visiting clients and their dogs in their homes and local parks as well. It is without a doubnt the greatest job in the world. I get to commincate, share, interact and learn from canines and humans alike, enjoy the outdoors, have a constantkly changing and stimulating environment and get to help people and their dogs acheive their goals and make their lives together more fullfilling.

Vaudreuil/St Lazare Dog Training In Kennel Training - K9 bootcamp

Here are a couple fo the dogs at the kennel in for training:

Leo - a German Shepherd mix who is a large, powerful and very excitable! In 1 1/2 weeks he has had a complete turn around and is now easy to manage and already trained to heel, come when called, leave it, place, sit & stay - all on and off leash - around some pretty huge distractions like when out playing with is buddies.

Dog Training St Lazare, vaudreuil, Family K9 com, Nick Zevgolis

Up next is Sauske
A Shiba Inu - whose owners called me becasue they were afraid for his safety since he is was constantly escaping from them when the door is open - and he would run off and make a game out of it - wanting the family to chase him around the neighbourhpd.
In the one week he has been with me he is has kearbned to not run through doors and to come whenever he is called. Sauske is a very independant, strong willed and sweet dog - true to his breeds characteristics.

Shiba Inu, Nick Zevgolis, Montreal Dog Training

Leo and Sauske having some playtime during training.

Puppy training in Westmount

Golden Retriever, Westmount Dog Training
Mosby Learning to leave the Leave it command

Mosby - Golden Retriever enrolled in Puppy Pre School
Mosby is a Golden Retriever pup - who not only needed training like all pupsdo - but also had a tendancy to be aggressive when possesing objects in and out of the home.
His owner ran into someone in the street who told her to google Family K9 and she contacted me for training. They are off to a great start - here is part of an email from his owner after our first lesson:

“Hi Nick,
I just wanted to say Thank You for today and the tools you gave me to help our family and Mosby. We had a really successful afternoon and evening and saw a big difference in his behaviour tonight. I know it's day one but I have high hopes his name will be downgraded soon to something more polite.
I look forward to next week.

Dog aggression Downtown Montreal K9 bootcamp

Montreal Dog Training, K9 bootcamp , dog aggression

Grover - Mix breed and HUGE owner signed him for in home intensive training. Dog aggression is a common problem many owners face and is no joke when the dog is any size - let alone over 100 lbs and powerful! In 2 weeks Grover will have completed his course and his owner can enjoy taking him out enjoying the ability to control her dog.

In Home Dog Training - Hampstead

Hampstead Dog Training, Nick Zevgolis, Family K9Frankie Labrodor Retriever/Pitbull Mix - Frankie’s owners had previously trained with another trainer and not acheived the results they were hoping for. After several different people recommended Family K9’s servcies - they contacted me and I have to say Frankie was a delight to train. Here he is @ the end of his course - completely on and off leash trained.
Here is a link to his video:
Frankie in action!
Frankie;s owners wasted no time putting everything they learned into ation - here is an email from the VERY FIRST DAY they began working with Frankie right at the end of their course.
I trained Frankie each day @ their home for two weeks and in that time he learned all of his obedience both on and off leash.
We had one lesson together at the end of the course and here is how they are doing right from day one of dealing with Frankie on their own.

Hi Nick, 

Thanks. He sat on place the entire dinner. Just came in from working with him, he's doing great.
We are thrilled so far!



He was fantastic again at dinner. One of my kids spilled there food as they were bringing their plate to the sink when they were done. He didn't move until I released him to let him eat it. 



Puppy Training in Brossard

Brossard Dog Training, Dressage de chiens brossard
Monty - Havanese - link to Finn - Link to Puma - Link to Board and Train - Link to Puppy class
Monty’s ownber found Family K9 through the facebook page
They have started Monty in in home puppy training and have plans to have Monty complete the Board and Train in kennel dog training program when he is old enough. Here is Monty learning to leave it working with his owner Niki.

Back home in St Lazare with my own Family K9 - see everyone tomorrow!

bulldog, montreal, st lazare, dog trainer

A story about an old dog and his special people

How we love our dogs

Over the last 2 decades I have come into contact with many people and their dogs

and sometimes there is a lot more going on than just dog training. I am grateful for these moments and always feel like I walk away from them enriched and having learned more than I ever could have taught.

I have changed the names of the owners and the dog in this story to protect their anonymity.

I was called by Jane and Mike to help them with their Terrier pup, Cassius back in 2001. Cassius their pup was a typical terrier - feisty, full of beans. They loved him but it was clear that they needed to learn how to handle him so everyone involved cvould have a better quality of life. During our initial meeting I was made aware that Mike had some very serious health issues - we didnt go into details but it was apparent that whatever was going on was grave. To give you an idea of how serious - Mike was a young man - but there was lots of medical equipment in the house and he could only go on very brief walks. Our weekly lessons went well and over the course of several weeks we trained Cassius and were all pleased witht he progress he made - Mike and Jane commenting on how much easier he was to live with both in the hosue and out on walks when we were done.

Over to a decade passed and then I heard from Mike and Jane.
They were going on a long trip and could they possibly leave the now senior Casius with me @ my kennel?

Of course - I would be thrilled to have him and to catch up with the owners on how they are doing say hello.
The truth is I have a huge soft spot for old dogs and tend to spoil them - they have put in their time being disciplined and mannered. The rules can be bent a little for them.

Caring for older dogs

The day to drop off Cassius at the kennel arrives and I was prepared for the first part fo the speech:
“Nick… Cassius is old. Very old and he is now blind and deaf. We know that he doesnt have much time left and if anythng should happen while we are gone - we want you to know that we are prepared for it and that you should do whatever you think is best for Cassius.” This is alsways uncomfortable to discuss but it doers need to be talked about beforehand and I appreciated the way they approached things. I reassured them that I would treat him the way I would treat my own dog and keep them posted on how he was doing.

Man’s best friend

This is the part that just floored me and I will never forget the feeling I had, the lump in my throat as I tried my best to pretend to appear stoic.
With tears in his eyes Mike said to me:
“I was never suposed to outlive this dog.”
I’ll never forget the emotion in his voice and the look in his eyes at that moment. We all teared up in that moment.
This dog was his companion through what was likely the toughest time in his life.
The dog was also symbolic of Mike’s struggle with his illness and eventual triumph back to health. Now the tide had changed and here was Cassius later in life deaf and blind - in good spirits mind you and Mike is now realizing that his life trajectory has greatly changed from when he and Cassius first began their journey together. That dog symbolized all his fears, his hopes, his darkest moments and his vicotry to a new life.
It was so bitterweet.

He had a hard time leaving his friend behind with me that day. I have seen many an owner get emotional when leaving their dog behind for training or just kenneling but this was more than that and we all knew it. Mike and Jane returned from their trip - picked Cassius up and went home together.

Saying goodbye to an old, faithful friend

They emailed me several months later to tell me that Cassius had passed away and to thank me for helping them rasie him and for taking care of him in his old age.
Truth is I got much more out of it than any of them and thanked them in return for having been part of the journey.

What is your dog's behaviour worth to you?

Montreal dog trainer
A client said something very interesting to me today:
She said that she ammortized or broke down the cost of our training together over the lifetime of her dog - she said that she found it to be a bargain!

I walked away wondering what the actual number was and grabbed my iPhone’s calculator and calculated it to be pennies a day if he only lived to 12 yrs old (Angus I hope you live to be a VERY old man!).

I mentioned this to anohter client while we were chatting at the end of our lesson later that day and his words to me were “there is a huge difference between price and cost”.

Some of the smartest dogs and people in Montreal!

I am very fortunate to work with many bringht and interesting peiple and their dogs and feel that over the years I have learned many valuable life lessons from many clients - some of whom maybe didnt even realize how their wise words were contributing to the shaping of my perceptions of many different aspects of business and and life in general.

Dog training like any service is not all the same - there are different trainers with different specialities and varying degrees of ability. In other words when comparing services and prices we are not necessarily comparing apples to apples. To allow yourself to belive any different is setting yourself up for disspaointment.

Price Vs. Cost
Some people have told me they wanted to use my services but found another trainer that charges less.
That’s ok with me - and of course they are free to spend their hard earned money hwever they feel it is best used.
Not all but many have later come back to train with me becasue they didnt get the results they were hoping for.
In every single one of those instances they have all said that they wished they had done things “right” the first time instead of trying to save some money. In the end they ended spending more to get things done they way they had hoped it would be the first time - having to “spend twice rather than doing things right the first time.

“Do it once and do it right”
I apply this to all apspects of my life and it is something I have tried to teach our daughter as she is maturing and will soon be making bigger decisions in her life.
If something is important enough to you - don’t try and cut corners - even if it means working a little harder than you thought you’d have to or spending a little more than you thought would be necessary at the time. We have to live with our big decisions for years to come so I think in terms of “Big PIcture” in moments like those. Living with a dog is a commitment that lasts many years - I think this line of thinking definnitely aplies here.

To be clear I dont only work with well off people and their dogs - I work with people from all walks of life from studfents to seniors and people in penthouses to people who had to make sacrifices to pay for their dog’s training. The common denominator is that they want the very best training for their dog.
It reminds me of when I was a broke musician in college - I had a couple of pairs of old beat up jeans and no pocket money at all but my guitars anbd amps were top shelf. I was driven then to pursue a carreer in music and my priorities were to invest in the things I needed to try and make that a reality.
Every dime I made from teaching guitar and gigging or working odd jobs went into my gear becasue that was my value system.
I didnt become a big rock star and moved onto my other passion fo training dogs and transferred my passion and work ethic to building up my reputation for quality training of dogs and helping people better understadn their pets over the years.

Looking back ahead - a career of training Montreal dogs and helping their owners

Over 20 years later I am proud of what I have built and happy to reflect on all the wonderful people and dogs I have had the pleasure of working with.
As I continue on my path - I remind myself to keep my eyes and ears open - so I don’t miss out on the lessons they ar eteaching me too.

Taken from Family K9’s Google Plus page.
" rel="self">Some reviews from Family K9’s Google plus page - see Family K9’s Google plus page here

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See video of Baylor the Bernese Mountain Dog working off leash in Downtown Montreal and in Montreal dog parks with Nick Here

See video of Baylor the Bernese Mountain Dog and Alycia working together for the first time - off leash in Downtown Montreal!

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See Video of MAeby a wonderful Beagle mix working with Nick
See her and her ownerJonathan in action - the same day she came home from training here.

What does a dog's wagging tail really mean?

Everyone will tell you that a wagging tail means the dog is both happy and friendly right?

it means that the dog is stimulateed.

It could mean:

“I’m happy.”
“I want to play.”
“ I want to be petted and hugged.”
“ I want to chase. “
“ I want to eat.”

“ I want to bite.”

Safe human/canine interaction. Understanding is key.

The purpose of this video is to help people understand that a wagging tail does not always mean “I am friendly - please come and pet me”.
With the rising rash of dog bites around Montreal, Qc as well as all over - we need to teach our children to be safe and understand the signals that dogs put out.
Parents - please watch this video with your children and share with your firneds - let’s keep our kids and our dogs safe and happy together!

Note: Hyper - my old Dutch Shepherd was one of the friendliest and sweetest dogs you could meet. The video clips of him biting were training clips and he was even friends with the decoy outside of training situations.

Montreal Dog Parks - Should I take my dog to one?

Montreal Dog Parks - are they a good idea for you and your dog?

I am often asked by clients what I think of dog parks. Simply put - I dont like them.

In theory - they are wonderful. They are a safe and open space for dogs to run and socialize. If they always worked that way - it would be lovely.

Lucy and Ryder enjoying a play session @ the kennel after their training time. These dogs live together - not all dogs can play this intensely and not have it lead to a fight.

In reality however, they are a place where anyone with a dog can come in and you dont kow if their dog is going to attack yours, transmit an illness and the level of irresponsibility displayed by some of the owners there is firghtening. I receive at least a few calls on a weekly basis from people who have had bad encounters at dogs runs and now are facing behavioural issues - in particualr dog aggression as a result.

Here are some signs that it may not be wise to enter a dog Park or perhaps it is time to go:

The Top Ten Dog Park Red Flags:

Owners who are not watching their dogs.

Many owners go to a dog park and socialize. It seems like they are there as much for their own social interaction as they are for their dog’s. Whether busy chatting it up or facebooking on their phone - their eyes are not on their dog and this is a real problem.

Owners who are watching their dogs but not intervening when needed

Sometimes we need to intervene when things are starting to heat up. I.e. a dog mounting another, play getting a little too rough etc .. Some owners are slow to react and their laissez faire attitude is going to lead to an escalation.

Sick Dogs

Dogs parks are a great place to spread bacteria & parasites.
I have seen dogs with blood or worms in their stool - whose owner said it had been going on for several days when I pointed it out. Dogs with kennel cough and bilateral conjunctivitis as well.
Then of course there is the ever present huge dish of water in the warmer months (the community Petri dish - wonderful!).

“Let them work it out”

Some people think that if they let the dogs work it out - there will be some magical detente that the dogs will come to. Trainers know this is not true and often this will lead to a higher degree of conflict. It is up to the humans to guide and steer the dogs in the proper direction and not allow things to escalate.
It comes as no surprise that those who subscribe to this approach generally have no control over their dogs and thus can’t control them when it is most needed anyhow.


Toys are a bad idea when dogs get together. Dogs are possesive by nature - and anything that the dog perceives as valuable is going to lead to conflict.


Many people bring treats to the dog park - and of course all the dogs sniff them out. Again this leads to possessiveness issues.

Babies in strollers

Dogs in full play will knock you around - and may knock over a stroller without so much as noticing. Or jump up to sniff and explore the baby (unfortunately not all dogs are well trained).
In fact I know of two owners in the last couple of years who had their knees shattered by their well intentioned playful dogs who crashed into them. Imagine what that could do to a baby.

People who are afraid of dogs

Some people have a limited comfort zone around dogs. Maybe they are afriad of large dogs, or specific breeds. I have seen people completely freak out in dog parks when approached by a specific type of dog - reagrdless of the fact that the dog posed no threat to them or their dog. I have also seen examples of people who don’t want other dogs to approach their dogs and try to chase them off - both of these can lead to aggressive responses from the dogs (and in some cases the owners!).

The Expert

Usually harmless - but annoying - there is always a self apointed expert. They know the buzzwords and have read the latest books/articles and so they have dubbed themselves to be the head honcho and will lecture on all things related to dogs.

In a perfect world - we could bring our dogs to dog parks and they would run and play and socialize to their heart’s content. The owners would watch them, remind them of their manners and training and keep them in line when needed.
If it worked like that it would be wonderful - but it doesn’t.
You can use them smartly however, and pick and choose your times and the dogs that are there - limiting the risk to your dog and and yourself while maxing out on the benefits. I use them occasionally with clients and we do just that and have at times decided to leave if we didnt like what was going on.

West Island Tick warning - Montreal area dog owners beware

Montreal area dog owners and in particular those on the West Island should take note of the recent tick warning.


Photo used from tickresourcecenter.org

Warmer climates are believed to be largely responsible for a higher than usual tick population - and they are not just in the deep dark woods anymore.
in fact in the last year I have pulled some ticks off of dogs belonging to clients of mine who live in downtown Montreal and are largely urban dwellers who visit parks and dog runs.

Lyme Disease in Montreal? Watch your dogs!

The major concern with Ticks bites is infection and Lyme disease - which leads to swelling of the joints, arthritis, feverish flu like symptoms and can even led to kidney failure.

It is recommended to check your pets thoroughly after coming in from the outdoors - especially if in tall grass or wooded areas.
Young ticks can be difficult to spot since they can be as small as a grain of rice - but it is important to get them early since you can typically avoid infection in the first 24-48 hours.
Removal of a tick can be tricky and if you arent sure what to do - contact your vet immediately. Leaving part of the tick emedded in your dog can lead to infection as well as squeezing the tick upon removeal.

How to keep your Montreal area dogs safe

There are several tick preventative products available from your vet. None are guiranteed to be one hundred percent effective but they are better than nothing. As well you can have your dog vaccinated for Lyme disease if you think you will be in high risk areas. Above all be vigilant in checking your pet after outings. Spotting and removing the ticks early is really your best defense.

Important points to consider when tavelling with your dog

Travelling with your dog can be fun

Road trips, hiking, exploring new places together, walks on the beach.
if you follow some basic tips and guidelines found here - you can eliminate much of the stress that can go along with taking your dog on vacation with you. We try as often as possible to include our dogs in our travels and having well trained dogs along with some planning goes along way.

Of course you know to bring along a leash and food & bowls & toys and bags to pick up after your dog - here are some other important things to consider:

Make sure vaccines are current and that you have the certificate with you.

Even if you aren’t crossing any borders and don’t need to show proof of vaccines - some hotels require ti @ check in. Further they may come in handy if you have to make an emergency trip to a vet while you are away.

Keep up your Crate Training!

Even if you no longer use or need a crate with your dog - a crate can be a home away from home and is worth travelling with. Your dog will be exposed to a lot of new smells/sounds in unfamiliar surroundings and a crate can have a very calming effect on your dog while you are out. And if you want housekeeping services - most hotels insist on your dog being crated.

What is the hotel’s Policy on dogs left unattended?

Some do not allow for dogs left in rooms unattended - best to know this before booking.

Leave your cellular number front desk when you are out.

In case of barking or worse. Some hotels are adding clauses to their contracts that will charge the owner of a pet creating a nuisance for any lost revenue that is a result of their pet’s behaviour. At a minim you’ll want to know if your dog is feeling stressed anyhow.

Find a local Veterinarian(s)

Google or ask the front desk if you are unfamiliar with the area - always good to have the info before you actually need it.

Help your dog establish a bathroom area and routine.

This is all the “greenspace” we had available on a recent trip to NYC - Cow adapted from country living to the big city and it’s limitations within the first day.

For the time being - this is home - help them understand that this is where you go - and bring your pet there often @ first - even if you deem it a little unnecessary - better safe than sorry.

Extra exercise to help alleviate the stress of change.

Some extra walking/running and obedience training is great as well since it takes a lot out of a dog to have to focus for extended periods of time.
Hyper used to love to run on the beach - fetching toys from the water and even getting on a surf board…

Drive safe

A seatbelt harness or a crate are safe ways to travel if driving to your destination. No one plans to have an accident but they happen and your dog can become a projectile missile if not crated or belted.

Bottled water

Dogs can have sensitive stomachs and changes in water can result in upset stomach - sometimes bottled water is best to help avoiding and potential problems.

Dog owners who give the rest of us a bad name

sign woodA quick scan of the news this week has a couple of stories at the forefront in my mind:

PIerrefonds-Roxboro dogs allowed in parks

West Island: Pierrefonds-Roxboro, QC dog owners to be given more choices for their dogs.


The most important commands every Montreal dog should know

Commands every Montreal Dog Should know


Reflecting on relationships - both human and canine

I spoke to Erika today

The craziest things Montreal area dog trainers may tell you to do with your dog

All the crazy things dogs owners hear:


If I send my dog to Nick - will he listen to me too?

Ziggy Family K9 Bulldog

Chipie and American Eskimo Dog, Toby a German Shepherd and Ziggy the English Bulldog.


Play & Train - the Family K9 Dog Training way!


Play is an important part of a dog’s day - it is necessary both for their physical and mental well being.


Dog owners you need to avoid

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Why your dog trainer’s certificate may not mean anything

Should my Montreal dog trainer be certified?

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Rehabilitating rescue dogs in Montreal

It starts like this …

Everything is under control until the dog who used to
only bark and carry on like a silly fool decides to bite. Then it is decision time.


Dog & Guitars ...?

My two passions since childhood have been dogs and playing guitar. I studied music in CEGEP @ Vanier getting my DEC in the three year Jazz arranging and composition program. Truth is I hate Jazz - but there was no rock guitar program. My guitar teacher in Vanier was a great guy - an old Jazz guy whose done it all and we had a nice relationship while I was there. He knew I hated Jazz but loved my instrument and practiced 8-10 hours a day and I did my jazz homework and got 95-99 every semester throughout my stay @ Vanier.

Here are some of my more recent recording - all written and produced by me @ my home studio - usually with a dog sleeping @ my feet…

Why you shouldnt listen to other dog owners, trainers or your vet

Everyone is an expert


Montreal's Best Dog Groomers

The Best Dog Groomers in Montreal


A day in the life of Montreal's dog trainer

On any given day I could be dog training all over the island of Montreal: