Why I Hate Dog Parks...And Why You Should, Too

All over the United States, dog owners are petitioning city officials to open up new dog parks, specifically, off-leash dog parks. These parks are places that are marketed not only as "dog friendly", but actually let you take your dog into a fenced area so he or she can freely run and play with all the other dogs...big and small, without a care in the world (Cue the "running through fields of daisies" music).
Sound too good to be true? That's because (in many cases) it is. Instead of being a fun, enjoyable and peaceful place, many off-leash dog parks can only be described as "chaotic." Craziness. Dogs running everywhere without any kind of control. It can be anything but peaceful and enjoyable.
More and more Crimson K9 Dog Training clients are asking about off-leash dog parks and more and more, we are telling them to stay away. The truth is, off-leash dog parks are not safe places for your dog. We have had numerous clients tell us stories of taking their dog to the local dog park, only to have their dog attacked. In Madison, Wisconsin, an unleashed black Labrador killed a leashed puppy in front of the horrified owner and her two children. That's right, a lab. Sweet, gentle, lovable.
Having your dog attacked by another dog is devastating. It can be something you struggle to get out of your head; the pictures, the sounds, the guilt. For a child, it can really be traumatic; nightmares, fear of other dogs, etc. For your dog, it can be life-altering, as well. Many gentle, friendly dogs can become fearful and/or aggressive because of being attacked.

And even supposedly "well trained dogs" can stir up trouble.  Consider this: A 100-pound service dog killed a 4-pound Yorkshire Terrier at a Cape Cod, Massachusetts area dog show. The service dog was a Bouvier des Flandres who helped a woman in a wheelchair. And while this event didn't take place at a dog park, it does unravel the cause for many of these dog problems: a lack of human understanding in regard to pack structure and pack mentality.

The typical dog owner does not understand how strong the pack instinct is, even in their very own family pet, and how readily it can be triggered when a dog is suddenly in the company of other dogs. Understand this: it only takes three dogs to make a pack. And if three dogs make a pack, imagine how a dog is dealing with being taken into a park with several other dogs. Many owners are simply not prepared for how difficult it may be to control their dogs in this setting.

Dogs will try to establish rank and will instinctively try to form packs and sometimes, threaten incoming dogs. They often will congregate around gates and entrances. This can threaten and overwhelm new dogs, not to mention be dangerous for a small child, even if the dogs are not aggressive.

The answer is for dog owners to become educated on pack structure, and learn how to better control their own dog. It is also imperative that dog owners learn how to read their dog's behavior. Sometimes problems can be stopped before they occur just by watching and acting. In the meantime, stay away from off-leash dog parks. The last thing you want is for your dog, someone else's dog, or some person to be hurt.

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Tips For Socializing Your Dog

An unsocialized dog can not only be annoying, but it can be dangerous. A dog that hasn't been properly socialized can become fearful and/or aggressive. Socializing your dog is crucial to teaching your dogs that other animals, humans, noises, etc. are not a cause for worry or alarm. Teaching your dog these things will go a long way in building your dog's confidence, thus reducing the chance he or she could turn aggressive. Here are a few tips on socialization:

Begin early
Start socializing your dog as soon as possible. It's never too early to begin this process.  Get your puppy used to things that could otherwise be scary right off the bat.
Introduce your dog to as many people as possible
We will actually approach people and ask them to pet our dogs. We want them to know that people are mostly good.  You want your dog to approach people in a friendly manner, and not be suspicious of them.  Although there are times you want your dog to be protective, those times are much less likely to occur than are the times you want your dog to be friendly.  A fearful dog can become aggressive, so do your part to keep your dog and others safe.
Introduce your dog to as many situations as possible
Your dog needs to be exposed to anything that he/she can learn from (loud noises, cars, escalators, things blowing in the wind, etc.).  We try to introduce our puppies to many different scenarios.  This only prepares them and helps them be a more solid dog down the road.
Introduce your dog to as many dogs as possible
Use caution here, though. Make sure the other dog is on a leash and is friendly. Getting your dog jumped by another dog will actually make things worse. (One side note: stay away from off-leash dog parks. There are a lot of people who take their dog-aggressive dogs there, and don't watch them. Plus, it only takes 3 dogs to have a pack, so the whole idea of several untrained dogs running freely is a bad idea and a problem waiting to happen.)
Following these steps can help you effectively socialize your dog so that he or she is ready for the real world.  It can make things more safe for everyone, and help keep you (and your pup) out of trouble.

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How To Break Up A Dog Fight

Let’s face it, for most of us a dogfight is a very scary thing, especially when one of the dogs in the fight is our own.   So what do you do?   Here are some tips on how to break up a dogfight.
First, remember that in a dogfight, the dogs believe they are fighting for their lives.   They are usually oblivious to what is going on around them, due to their focus on the event at hand.   This is why yelling at them rarely works.   And this is why you should proceed with great caution.   All dogs have teeth, and in a dogfight, they use them (obvious, I know).   It is important to remember that if you attempt to break up a dogfight, you yourself could get hurt, so be careful.
  Second,stay calm.   Yelling and screaming actually could elevate the stress level of the dogs and increase the energy they have focused on fighting.   Staying calm will also allow you the opportunity to more clearly think of what you should or should not do.
  Third, do not hit or kick the dogs as this could make matters worse.   As stated above, this could raise the level of stress, making them fight harder.   Also, if you hit or kick the dog, he/she may think that the hitting or kicking is coming from the other dog, causing them to fight even harder.   Also, do not use cattle prods or shock collars, as some suggest.   This also may cause the dog think the other dog is causing the "shock”, and increase the fight drive.   Instead, try the following approaches:


·       Grab the dog(s) by the hind legs (preferably by the feet), and lift.   This is an effective way to break up a dogfight because dogs get their strength and leverage from their rear legs.   Raising the hind legs forces the dog to focus less on biting/fighting and more on balancing.   Keep in mind, however, that doing this could cause the dog to turn its attention toward you.   So, be careful.   Once the dogs let go of each other, back them away from one another and don’t let go of them, or they may begin fighting again.

·       Grab the dog(s) by the collar and pull back.   Remember to be cautious…the collar is awful close to the mouth!   Once you are pulling back on the collar, if the dog doesn’t release from the other, begin twisting the collar in order to make it more difficult for the dog to breathe.   If the dog is struggling to breathe, it will let go.

·       Use water to distract them.   Sometimes pouring water on dogs or spraying them with a hose can distract them long enough to pull them apart.   This, however, is not as effective as some of the other methods for breaking up a dogfight.

·       Find something to wedge between the dog’s teeth, like a strong, flat object.   Just be sure not to get your hands too close to the dog’s mouth.

If there are people around, such as children, who cannot protect themselves, make sure to keep them at a safe distance.   And of course, after you have stopped the fight, check the dogs for injuries, and seek medical attention, if necessary.
One final thought.   Never try to break up a dogfight by yourself.   It is simply too dangerous.   Get someone to help you; dogfights can turn ugly in a hurry.  Whatever method you choose to break up a dogfight, remain calm, have a partner and act quickly.  

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Consistency In Dog Training

Dogs are very adaptable. Who they are and who they become depends in large part on how they are trained and how they are treated. Training them with consistency is one of the major keys to successful dog training. Consistency has nothing to do with words and everything to do with behavior. Training your dog with consistency is vital because it does three important things.

First, it establishes who’s in control (Here’s a tip: it should be you!). Second, it actually puts your dog at ease because it makes him feel more secure. And third, it teaches your dog right from wrong. That way, he will know what behavior is acceptable, and what behavior is not.

So how can you be more consistent in training your dog? Here are some tips:

1. Work with your dog every day.If possible, set a time and stick to it. Dogs are very routine-oriented. So the more consistent your schedule, the easier it will be for him to learn. And believe it or not, this will help you, too.

2. Expect the right behavior from your dog.
If you give your dog a command, he should do it. If he doesn’t, you should reprimand him. Don’t let him get away with ignoring you. Remember, you’re the owner, he’s the dog. You are the one who makes the decisions. Expect and enforce the right behavior.

3. Use praise often.
Behavior that is praised is behavior that is repeated. We all love when others praise us. Your dog is no different. Just as you reprimand him for being disobedient, you should praise your dog when he is obedient. When he listens and responds…reward him.
(Tip: Your tone of voice is very important. Praise him with a fun, excited tone. He’ll respond better to this!)

4. Don’t confuse your dog by giving him changing commands.
You must use the same word for a particular command every time (for example, don’t use "Come” sometimes and "Come here” other times). Determine your command words, and use the same ones for the specific behavior you want your dog to possess.

5. Be patient.
Behavior is changed and developed over time. You don’t train a dog in one day. So, be patient. If you will discipline yourself and be consistent, your dog’s behavior will change to how you want it to be. Don’t get frustrated and give up. Be patient…persevere.
(Tip: Don’t raise your voice and never yell at your dog! Some people believe this is effective, but we do not. At Crimson K9 Northwest Indiana Dog Training, we train our dogs without yelling. You don’t want your dog responding to you out of fear!)

6. Use the power of repetition.
Someone said that "repetition reinforces.” It’s true, so work your dog. Stick to it…day in, day out. Keep using the same words, correcting when appropriate, praising as often as you can, and repeating the actions you are teaching your dog.

Consistency is the key to training your dog. You can do this. Just stick with it.  For more information on dog training in the Northwest Indiana area, contact us today.

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Teaching Child and Dog Safety

According to the Humane Society of the United States, 4.7 million people are bitten by a dog each year. 80% of those bites are by dogs the people know. It is also estimated that half of the reported bites are on children under the age of 13. Children under the age of 5 are most likely to be bitten, and again, most of these bites come from a dog that the child knows, such as the family dog or that of a relative, neighbor or friend.

Children seem to be more likely to be bitten by dogs than adults. But why is this? For one, a child has a tendency to make more sudden movements than an adult, and quick movements can sometimes stimulate a dog’s prey drive (the instinct within a dog to give chase). Also, children speak in higher pitched voices, and often are louder than adults. This can sometimes startle a dog, making him likely to bite. Children also can frustrate a dog by rough play and teasing, or they can inadvertently inflict pain with the pull of a tail or a poke in the eye. Finally, smaller children are closer to a dog’s eye level, making it easier for a dog to feel threatened by eye-to-eye contact, which can result in the child being bitten in the face.

How then can we keep our children safe around dogs? It is important that parents and teachers instruct children on how to approach and handle a dog. Here are some child and dog safety tips from a professional dog trainer:

1. Never approach a dog you do not know. The dog may look friendly, when in fact, it may not be. People think that a wagging tail means the dog is friendly. This is not always the case. Many people have been bitten by dogs that were wagging their tail, so stay away from dogs you do not know.

2. Always ask the dog’s owner for permission before you pet the dog. This even applies to dog’s you know. You never know when a dog, feeling startled or cornered, may attack. Even friendly dogs are candidates to bite.

3. Do not invade the dog’s space. Allow the dog to come up to you and sniff the top of your closed fist (palm down). If the dog doesn’t want to come and greet you, respect that and leave it alone. Don’t approach a dog from behind or straight on. Approach the dog from the side, and remember to not make any sudden moves.

4. Never get in a dog’s face. While this tip is similar to tip #3, it warrants its own paragraph. Getting into a dogs face is very dangerous, as the dog can take this as a challenge and bite. And remember to never stare down a dog. This can also be taken as a challenge, which can provoke the dog’s fight drive. Instead, make eye contact with the dog, and then look away. When you take your eyes off the dog you are signaling to the dog that you are not a threat to them.

5. Never tease a dog. You don’t like to be teased, neither do dogs.

6. Do not approach a dog that has been tied up or left at the end of a chain. Again, any dog that feels threatened could potentially attack.

7. Tell an adult immediately if you see a dog that is loose in your neighborhood.

8. Never touch a dog while it is eating. The dog could feel that you are a threat to take away its food, so stay back and let him finish. This includes dog bones and even toys, if the dog has a strong toy drive.

9. Do not scream or run away from a dog. If you are approached by a strange dog and you feel scared, fold your arms, stand still, look away, and completely ignore it until it loses interest in you and goes away. If you can, back away slowly away with your arms still folded. Do not run! This could cause the dog to begin chasing you.
10. If the dog tries to bite you, put something between you and the dog, and back away to a safe place. Do not fight back, as this may increase the dog’s fight drive and only make him bite harder. Instead, slowly try to back away, or get to safety.
11. Never roughhouse with any dog. No hitting, wrestling, tugging, play biting, etc. These things may be cute when the dog is just a pup, but as that pup grows, they can become more serious.
12. Make sure your own dog knows the pecking order. Dogs are pack animals, meaning they live in a group with a strict social structure. When a dog joins your household, he needs to learn his position within your family "pack.” He is always testing to see if he can move up in rank. For safety and comfort, everyone in the family needs to be higher in the pack order than the dog. For smaller children, try putting their hand and foot in the dog’s food (before you feed the dog). This will get the child’s scent on the food, thus helping the dog understand that even the child is higher in rank than the dog.
13. Never touch a sleeping dog. This could startle him or her, so always speak to a sleeping dog before touching him. He might bite to defend himself before he realizes who you are.
14. Never leave a small child alone with any dog.
15. Never wave sticks or other objects around a dog. Often, when a child waves an uncommon object, such as a stick, or throws a stone, the dog may try to protect itself.
16. Know which parts of a dog’s body are more sensitive to the touch. Most dog breeds will react strongly to having their tail pulled or stepped on. Some dogs do not like to have their paws touched. Also, try to avoid contact with the eyes, ears, and whisker areas.
Teaching your child these dog safety tips can help keep them from being bitten, and can help your child develop a healthy respect for dogs.

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House Breaking 101

Having a new puppy is an exciting thing. But teaching your new puppy to "go potty” outside, not inside can be a stressful task. Fortunately, we can learn how to house break a puppy, helping him or her to understand what behavior is acceptable, and what behavior is not. Here are some house breaking tips to get you started.

1. Routine is everything. Dogs are very routine-oriented. They actually want structure. It makes them feel more secure and safe. And, here’s the big one: it helps them learn faster, as well. Here are some suggestions on creating a routine for your puppy.

  • Create a food and water schedule for your puppy to establish an elimination pattern. Free feeding and watering makes house breaking more difficult by unpredictable elimination. At Crimson K9 Dog Training of Northwest Indiana, we encourage our clients to feed in the morning and in the evening. Do not just let them eat whenever they wish. We encourage our clients to let their dog drink water a few times more each day than just when they eat.
  • Take your puppy out regularly. He should be let out to eliminate when waking up, after eating or drinking, and after playing.
  • At the beginning, be consistent with the location you want your dog to eliminate.
  • Tell your puppy to "go potty” or whatever command you want to use, WHILE he is eliminating. The "go potty” phrase linked with the action of going to the bathroom will help him understand to eliminate on command later.
  • Praise your puppy when he is done.

2. Supervision promotes consistency. While your puppy is learning, he needs to be supervised. Don’t allow him to roam the house at will while he is still learning. Here’s some more tips:
  • Watch your puppy at all times.
  • Look for your puppy’s elimination signs (sniffing, spinning, squatting, etc).
  • If you catch your puppy in the act, startle him and bring him outside immediately and tell him to "go potty”.
  • If you cannot watch your puppy closely, put him inside his crate. Most puppies will not eliminate in their crates, provided that the crate is not too large for the puppy.
  • If you find an accident, that means you weren’t watching your puppy close enough. Do NOT rub his nose in the mess as he will not link the ACT of the elimination to the actual mess. He will only see the mess after the fact and become afraid.
  • Be sure to clean the area thoroughly with an enzymatic cleaning solution.

3. Troubleshoot your mistakes. Notice I wrote "your mistakes”. Most puppy accidents are the fault of the owner, not the dog. Your puppy is still learning, so be patient, and realize that you can correct your own mistakes, thus correcting your dog’s mistakes. Here are some common mistakes and how to correct them:
  • Your puppy eliminates in his crate:
    Make sure that the crate is not too large for the puppy. It should be large enough so that he can turn around, but not so large that he has roaming space. Most dogs will not go potty where they sleep and live.
  • When catching the puppy "in the act” you take him outside and he will not eliminate.
    Put your puppy back in his crate for a few minutes, then take him outside again and give him the command "go potty”. You may need to do this several times until he eliminates. Do NOT let your puppy play before eliminating – use play time as a reward for proper elimination.
  • You find a mess on the carpet and your puppy looks as if he "did something wrong”
    At this point it’s too late to show him where he should eliminate, so clean up the mess with a proper enzymatic solution. If you have scolded your puppy in the past for eliminating in the inappropriate place, he knows that the elimination itself is wrong, but does not know that the ACT of the elimination is the source of your disapproval. Start over and keep an eye on your puppy for future "signs”.
  • Teaching your dog to go within a boundary
    If you want your puppy to go to the bathroom in a certain spot in your yard, you must keep him on a leash and take him to the appropriate area that you want him to eliminate. Give him the command "go potty” and wait until he complies. If he does not eliminate, put him in his crate for a few minutes and try again. Be consistent and wait until he complies every time before removing the leash.
If you follow these tips, you can have a happy, housebroken dog. Be consistent and be patient. 

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Handling An Aggressive or Dominant Dog

If you have ever owned or been around an aggressive or dominant dog, then you know the importance of getting control of him or her. Good obedience training will help keep the dog, other dogs and people safer. You need to understand something about aggressive dogs: Most dog aggression (unless the dog has been bred and trained to be aggressive) comes from one of two places…dominance or fear.  If professional dog training is not in your budget, or you simply don’t have the time, here are some suggestions that may help you deal with your aggressive dog.

1. Have your dog spayed or neutered.  Doing so will reduce hormonal dominance levels.   Check with your veterinarian to discuss your best options.
2. Stop playing rough with your dog.  Roughhousing games (like tug of war, wrestling, etc.) teach your dog that challenging you is fun. When your dog wins, he thinks he is stronger than you; and stronger dogs are always higher in the social hierarchy of the pack.   In addition, do not allow your dog or puppy to "play bite”.   This teaches him bad habits.
3. Teach your dog the "down” command and use it throughout the day.  The down position (where the dog is lying down) is a submissive position.   Many dogs, especially fearful or dominant dogs do not like this position.   So, instead of letting your dog wander around the house or go where he pleases, make him lie down and stay there while you’re preparing dinner, watching television, changing your clothes, etc.   Make your dog stay down for at least a full 30 minutes every day.
4. Make your dog work for praise.  If your dog approaches you and demands to be petted, then make him sit or down first. He needs to learn that you are the dominant one, and that you make the rules, not him.
5. Lead your dog…stop letting him lead you.  You need to be the first one to walk through doors, the first to eat, and the first to decide where you’re going to walk. Alpha dogs never walk behind the pack. They always lead. Establish yourself as the leader by making your dog wait on you.
6. Do not let your dog sleep on the bed.  And do not let your dog sleep on your child’s bed. Annette Adams, owner of Crimson K9 Dog Training says, "There are sometimes more dominance and aggression problems created by people who let their dogs sleep on their bed, than perhaps any other single behavior.” The pack leader always sleeps on higher ground. Subordinate dogs sleep on lower ground. Being higher (or on top) is a dominance behavior.
7. When your dog misbehaves, correct him.  Make sure that your dog gets corrected every time he exhibits an unwanted behavior. If you are uncertain as to the best way to correct them, consult a professional dog trainer.   In the meantime, a good, strong "off” will work.   Never hit or kick your dog.   This can create fear, which in turn can create more aggression.
8. Be the one who decides when your dog is allowed to meet other people and dogs.  Do not let your dog immediately run up to people or other dogs to greet them. You need to decide when and how that happens.
Handling an aggressive dog is something that needs to involve a lot of care and preparation, but it doesn’t have to be something that causes you fear.   Just follow these tips and you will be on your way to learning how to handle aggressive dogs.  Contact Crimson K9 Dog Training for more information.

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Discipline Is The Key To Training

Training Your Dog Is Possible, but it will take some willpower!

Whether you’re an athlete, a concert pianist, a business person, or professional dog trainer, if you are going to be great at what you do, and live the life you’ve always wanted to live, you must become a person of discipline. The great Tom Landry said, "The job of a football coach is to make men do what they don’t want to do, in order to achieve what they’ve always wanted to be.” Well, most of us do not have coaches pushing us every day to succeed, so we must push ourselves.

"To discipline means to instruct a person or animal to follow a particular code of conduct, or to adhere to a certain "order.” Self-discipline refers to the training that one gives one’s self to accomplish a certain task or to adopt a particular pattern of behavior, even though one would really rather be doing something else (from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).” Discipline makes the difference, and self-discipline is the key. William Penn said, "No man is fit to command another who cannot command himself.”

So whether you’re a professional dog trainer, or just a regular dog owner hoping to learn a little about teaching your dog to obey a few specific commands, in order to discipline your dog, you will first have to discipline yourself. It has been said that "what we do upon some great occasion will probably depend on what we already are, and what we are will be the result of previous years of self-discipline.” So, here are six keys to self-discipline:

First, Forget about the past. Often, past failures keep us from taking any new risks. We grow weary of failing and even become afraid to fail, thus we refuse to even try. But, being a person of discipline requires that you forget about past failures, and move forward with the resolve that this time WILL be different.

Maybe you have tried to train a dog in the past and failed. Maybe you have tried to train your dog, only to grow frustrated and quit. Maybe some other dog trainer has told you that your dog is "untrainable”. Forget about that. At Crimson K9 Dog Training of Northwest Indiana, we can teach you how to train your "untrainable” dog, and we will help you along the way. We will encourage you and instruct you. And best yet, we will show you that your past is irrelevant to what you can accomplish today!

Second, Focus on what you want to achieve. What are your goals? What do you hope to accomplish with your dog? Keep that in the front of your mind. Steven Covey, in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, says we should "begin with the end in mind.” That means before we jump in, we know what we want to accomplish, and as a result, we stay focused on that goal throughout the process.

Third, Find someone to take the journey with you. Training your dog can be a rewarding experience. But it can also be a very draining job. Find someone to take this journey with you. It doesn’t necessarily need to be someone else who needs their dog trained. It can be a friend or a family member. At Crimson K9 Dog Training, we are ready to partner with you, helping you along the way. We not only provide families with professionally trained dogs, we offer our support throughout your journey.

Fourth, Fight off any negative thoughts. Avoid pessimistic people, and find people who are positive. Hang around them. There’s an old saying: "Birds of a feather flock together.” You become who you hang out with, so choose wisely.

Fifth, Fix your schedule so it works for you, not against you. Your dog needs a routine that he can be comfortable with…and so do you. John Maxwell said, "The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” How you use your time determines whether or not you shine. So, organize your schedule in such a way that you don’t forget to work with your dog. The goal of dog training is that your dog will have a change in behavior that is satisfactory to you. This is most possible when you stick to a routine, and use your time wisely.

And sixth, Finish what you started. Don’t give up. Although it will be difficult from time to time, it’s worth it in the end if you will stick it out. Legendary coach, Vince Lombardi, noted, "The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.”

Have you ever heard of a company called Traf-O-Data? Most people haven’t. It was started in 1972 by two men. The two ran the company for several years before throwing in the towel. They gave up. But they went on to start another company that has done pretty well. That company? Microsoft. The two men who failed the first time around? Bill Gates and Paul Allen. Calvin Coolidge said, "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

You can have an exceptionally well trained dog. All you need is discipline…and us! Call us today.

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Northwest Indiana Dog Trainers Teaching The Art of Attention

Here at Crimson K9 Dog Training, we specialize in the "Art of Attention”. With a dog’s attention, we can take his energy and direct his focus into much more constructive obedience activities. With his attention we can teach him that it’s fun to learn new things, and keep him safe in situations that he might otherwise be in danger.

Once we have our dog’s attention, we can give him the freedom of being off leash! What’s better for a dog than getting to run four miles for every one mile that you go? What about giving your dog the freedom to wander on the trails with you, and having the reliability of a solid recall each and every time you ask him to come to you? Getting a dog is supposed to enhance your lifestyle, not hinder it! We want you to have FUN with your dog and take your dog ANYWHERE because you have his attention!

At Crimson K9 Dog Training, we don’t just tell you about all the wonderful things that our pets can do, we SHOW you! Not everyone can guarantee attention like we can, which is why we are a world apart from any other dog training business!

For more information, contact us today.

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