Hello, my name is Mike and my journey with dogs started 48 years ago laying on the stomach of my German Shepherd “Duchess.” I was one of a very few people that could interact with Duchess at this level. Since then, I have had a lifetime of loving and learning from dogs having many different breeds as pets.
Some of these breeds include but aren’t limited to: Husky, mixed, German Shepherd, Mastiff, Labrador Retriever, Poodle, French Bulldog, Shih Tzu, and Belgian Malinois.
This has been the case throughout my life, whether it was with one of the many canines I have owned, police K9 “Nitro” (trained in the language of Czech) I handled in many high-stress situations, or the hundreds of pet-dogs I have trained for dog lovers over the years. I was blessed with a gift to bond with and train dogs of all breeds and temperaments.
Prior to becoming a police officer, I taught children with physical, emotional, and learning disabilities for several years. Having this experience and a master’s degree in special education, I developed my task analysis skills. I apply these skills to conducting functional analysis for dog behavior problems and designing effective behavioral intervention plans.
Being a disciple of the Animal Behavior College, and a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, I take great pride in adhering to the ethical standards these agencies stand for.
I started volunteering with the New Castle County Police K9 unit. This mostly consisted of laying tracks, decoying, observing basic and advanced obedience, agility, and searches for articles, explosive materials, and controlled dangerous substances. I also handled the K9 unit coordinator’s explosive detection canine “Zeke” at special police events. This experience over several years provided me with valuable insight into the various methods utilized to bond with and train canines utilizing classical and operant conditioning.
I started training pet-dogs in basic and advanced obedience for the K9 Academy in Delaware. Shortly thereafter, I started my own K9 training company and trained hundreds of handlers and their dogs in basic, and advanced obedience, and agility at four different veterinary sites in Delaware.
I completed a very intensive course in dog training at the Animal Behavior College and achieved the status of Animal Behavior College Certified Dog Trainer. After several years of running a very successful K9 training business, a respected friend and colleague took over, and I am happy to say it is still thriving today.
I became a certified police K9 handler in obedience, tracking, and narcotics detection for the Middletown Police Department in Delaware. In 2008, “Nitro” and I participated in national police K9 trials, testing us in the areas of basic/advanced obedience, tracking, and narcotics detection. We received national certification in all areas from the National Police Canine Association (NPCA).
My philosophy of dog training starts with engagement. Building and maintaining a positive relationship grounded in trust and respect with your pal from the very moment you meet them is critical to success. Strength of bond translates into your partner having the trust and respect for you to do what you are asking and obey.
If you have done your homework, you know there are many ways to train a dog. My primary focus is on engagement, positive energy, leadership, classical and operant conditioning utilizing a marker training. Tenets of my training program(s) are:
Engaging your dog mentally and physically
Effective pairing of verbal markers and physical communication (hand signal) with the primary reinforcer in a timely, clear, consistent, and calm manner to increase desired behaviors
Teaching you the skills critical for continued success
Effective and humane leadership utilizing operant conditioning
Structured environment (start with limited to no external stimuli and progress from there)
Use capturing, shaping, free shaping, prompting, and luring
Teach one behavior at a time
Behavior proofing in alternative settings to ensure your dog can perform the behavior anywhere
Fade primary reinforcer
Specific problem-solving and behavioral intervention
With all of this said, there is no one way to train a dog. Every method has its pros and cons and a good trainer will look for alternatives to find the most effective method that works in various settings for each dog. Regardless of the program you choose, YOU must commit to full immersion to experience success.
The method that I use to teach these skills to increase your competence is the:
70:20:10 Learning Model
There are 2 main ingredients to becoming the best dog handler you can be:
COMMITMENT - Motivation and confidence to succeed. This is what YOU must bring to the table.
COMPETENCE - Knowledge, skills, and abilities derived from training, education, and experience.
70% Learn through Doing - Apply new learning via action, after-action review/assessment & practice, and self-monitoring. Our goal before moving on to the next concept is at least a 80% success rate.
20% Learn through Others - Coaching/Mentoring/Feedback (interfacing with me via real-time modeling, coaching, and feedback).
10% Learn through Education -This may be accomplished via videos, reading/literature review.
There are many ways in which we can accomplish your specific goals and objectives in your quest for harmony with your best friend. If you don’t see a training service on the Programs/Services page that meets your exact needs and/or have questions, please call so we can discuss meeting your specific needs. I will do everything humanly possible to design a training package around you and your best friend!
Finally, I would like to add that I take the success and well-being of each dog/owner team very seriously. I am the owner/operator of Genesis K9 and you will only speak to me and see me when we train. My core values will demonstrate that I am humble, just, kind, and will work tirelessly to meet your needs before, during and after the training program.