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Certfied Professional dog behavorist

My Journey with Dogs

The Full Story

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My Short Long Story - Why I Do What I Do

Thank you so much for wanting to learn about my journey with dogs! The reason I have this page is because I only think it is fair for a potential client to understand where their Behaviorist and/or Trainer got their passion to work with dogs and what got them to where they are today. By way of learning these topics, you will hear stories, gain perspective, and be let into why someone like me chooses to work with these wonderful animals and do so in the ways that I do. All my life, I always had people tell me that they are dogs reacted differently and better around me. I always brushed it off, never thought anything of it. Not at least, until I got a dog. One special dog, Magellan. Pictured above. 


I was living abroad, I got Magellan when he was about 6 months old. He was my first dog, and as you can see in the picture, he is a special looking guy. I adopted him for the same reason why people adopt many dogs, his looks. I am not ashamed to admit it. Seriously? When do you see a dog like him?! With that face? He is instant happiness. Well until you get to know. JK. Sort of ;)


I never had dogs growing up and always dreamed of having the Alaskan Malamute. Why? Because they are big and fluffy, of course! I figured Magellan fit that description close enough and he was rescued a month or so before(as a stray on the streets of a desert town), he was ready to be adopted, I figured let’s go for it! And left the rescue with him on the other end of the leash 30 minutes later. Having no idea how he would change my life and influence my outlook on world, while helping me grow as person. In addition, in time, I realized was that my relationship with him would be the most significant and important of my life.


What I did know when I left with him was that we had a connection, I already loved him, and I would do anything for him. I promised him our first night together that I had his back and that we would always be together. While knowing that, I knew absolutely nothing about having a dog. With this in mind, after two days of having him, it was clear that he was special in more ways than just the way he looked. This included being extremely intelligent, incredibly stubborn, absolutely all over the place, not the best with dogs, fearful, along with other issues and voluminous quirks. And one mortal enemy: the cat. Where we lived, cats were feral, stray, and plentiful. This prey drive most likely came from survival while he was surviving on the streets.


A couple days later after my realization, we were at a dog park, right before sunset, when there was only one other dog. Magellan was actually ok with this dog. In a place of shock of how he was ok with this other dog. I asked the other dog’s owner what to do and she told me to watch Cesar Millan. I said ok and did. While not completely agreeing with everything he did, I did learn some particularly important things and appreciated the fact that he could help dogs. I then called trainers for their help. To say they were bad would-be understatement. After going through three, I knew there had to be a better way. With my promise in mind and knowing that I needed to learn. I jumped into the world of the canine training. For one reason and one reason alone. Magellan. I knew he needed something I was not providing and I needed to be open-minded enough, persistent enough, and objective enough to see how I enter into the relationship and how I can truly help him.


I jumped on the internet and after four or so days of reading, watching videos, and learning; I had no idea if I actually learned a thing. Every trainer has their own style, beliefs, and techniques. Some seemed to work, some seemed not to. People were deeply passionate about positive reinforcement but there are contradictions and common sense that were colliding the more I researched. When I finally learned that the dog training is an unregulated industry, things started to make more sense. It made sense why I had always heard about certified trainers as a cultural standard for dog training. (Anyone can be a trainer at any time with or without prior knowledge, education, understanding, or experience.)


I was able to do the basics with Magellan and he responded well. We started to connect more and more but he needed more, I still did not know what, but he did. Around this time, outside of the basics, my thoughts were to get him around other dogs and get him exercised as much as possible. Every day, I would walk him forty-five minutes to the dog park, he would “play” for two or so hours and then walk forty-five minutes back home. He would always be indifferent about other dogs unless he liked them. He was not aggressive, but he had a tough time sometimes.

As we would do this routine, I started to notice that he had a small kink/limp in his back left leg when he would get tired. He would brilliantly compensate for this by using angles when running and it did not seem to bother him. He would almost always beat a dog to any given spot. (I got it checked out by several doctors over the years and all agreed that it was just the way his tendon grew, and surgery would actually make it worse.)

One day while at the park, he was playing with a bunch of dogs, he started to get tired and started to limp. The other dogs noticed and ended up ganging up on him. When this occurred, I started to move towards him from about ten feet away. At this time, he quickly looked at me with the look of absolute terror in his eyes, he knew the dogs were coming after him and he could not handle it.

When he looked at me, I immediately without thinking put myself between him and the other dogs. I stood up strait, was calm, made my shoulders broad, made my presence known and did not say a word. I do not know why I did this; I just did, it was instinct. And it worked. The dogs stopped in their tracks. When one of the dogs tried to go around me, I got in his way and just by looking at him, was able to turn him around. I put Magellan’s leash on and left the park.

After walking a couple blocks, I sat down on some steps with him to process everything and take a breather. While doing so, I turned and looked at him and somehow things were different between us. The way he looked at me, the way his energy felt, he leaned into me in a way he had not done before and in that moment, I knew he 100% trusted me and I could feel it. I had reached a level with him that I did not think was even possible. And things started to change as I finally was able to give him what he needed. Trust, safety, and leadership.

He started to listen more, followed my decision making, and seemed to start taking life in stride. It was a great relief to me to bring balance to my boy by taking things off his shoulders. At this time, I made the decision to move back to the US and pursue a career in human resources. While remaining interested in the idea working with dogs on some level such as volunteering or part time work. Magellan was coming with me. There was never any question about it. No matter the expense or the many hoops to jump through. I made that promise. Period. Only problem was that this was much easier said than done. He is 65 pounds of fluffy goodness. Which made things just a tad complicated (Ask me about this story, it is a doozy!). This meant preparing for an 11-hour flight, 19 hours of travel, and brand-new environments. Plus, other things such as multiple vet visits, riding in cars (another story), and other many other things along the way.

Fortunately, moving countries does not happen overnight and you cannot really practice flying on a plane. I took three months, reintroduced the crate (yet another great story!) to him very slowly to make sure he was one hundred percent comfortable and started to increase time his bathroom routine, training him to hold it for longer. Many people said (including my own family) I was crazy for bringing him over to the US. And maybe I was. It did not matter to me. Not only did I promise him that he would always be with me, but he is my once in a lifetime dog and we are kindred spirits. I was lucky enough to find my soul dog, I knew this, appreciated this, and still do, to this day. I would not give him up for anything and he has without question been my greatest teacher of dogs and their behavior. And my inspiration for working with dogs as the progress he has made is just amazing. I do not regret bringing back with me for one second! Not only that, now his name really fit him. He was now a world traveler! As he was named after the explorer (not the GPS). If you have not heard of Ferdinand Magellan. Please Google Him. He’s kind of important in the history of the world.

Anyway, I ended up moving to Boston for a few years where I lived with someone that had two dogs of their own Lacy & Alex (both Pittie’s). The dogs got along to an acceptable level even though Lacy had some issues including resourcing guarding and submissive urination. Not only did this situation allow me to work with Lacy and manage Magellan with their issues but it afforded me the opportunity to watch the three of them together, which was endlessly interesting, entertaining, and beautiful in many ways. The education I received watching and working with the three of them was like going to Harvard for dog training.


I was interested in dog behavior to some level, but this completed snowballed into fascination because of one special moment while on a walk with the three of them about two months after moving to Boston. Lacy being the only female of the three, lifted her leg to pee! Huh? What?! Beyond my laughter and bewilderment, I was hooked. Her “monkey see, monkey do” behavior was the instant my fascination with dog’s and their behavior began. I mean, come on! How many times in your life have you seen a female dog lift their leg to pee? I am still laughing about to this day 😊

She would continue to do this about fifty percent of the time. Just as importantly, I was afforded the opportunity to spend time with two amazing Pitbull’s and really learn about the breed hands on. I knew of the reputation. It never made sense to me as the couple times I had met Pittie’s before they were great! And so were Lacy & Alex. Lacy had love oozing out of every pore and Alex was possibly the chilliest dog ever.


Things really hit home about the discrimination and racism these amazing dogs have facing them. All that was needed was taking them for a walk without Magellan. People would cross the street, say things, makes faces and generally act on prejudge instead of facts.

This time with Lacy and Alex brought to light many things about these fantastic pups. In short, they are absolutely amazing in so many ways. And sometimes they are their own worst enemies. For example, why are they always picked to be dog fighting dogs? Their eagerness to please combined with their strength. They will always keep coming back for more ☹ even though it is bad for them.


(This would lead me to start volunteering at a shelter in Boston and years later “adopting” a Pitbull (who I was able to buy (rescue) off of Craigslist for $30 dollars) who now assists me when working with dogs that have such issues as aggression, reactivity, & timidness with other dogs.) I decided to take on Lacy’s issues in a more scholarly fashion than I had done with Magellan. Magellan was about energies, trust, and love. With Lacy, from the start, her issues presented in certain situations, when Magellan’s issue were all over the place. I decided to dig deeper by learning at Catch Canine Academy.


This way, I learned from responsibly sourced material and from people who have been in the business as trainers for a long time. As I worked with Lacy, I was not only able to stop her resource guarding and submissive peeing, but I was also learning why things like this were happening. As I continued to learn and work with dogs, I was still working in Human Resources full time and training part time. Eventually, I moved back to the area where I grew up. Philadelphia.


While back in the area I started training dogs at PetSmart. And after a short while, it became clear that I found what I was supposed to be doing with my life. I was helping dogs and people alike. I also started to study to become a certified trainer. I chose the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers to pursue my certification to work with dogs. The reasons I did were three-fold: First, their understanding and ethics on training dogs (see Humane Hierarchy) Second, they are the gold standard in the industry. Third, in an unregulated industry such dog training, along with my own personal experience, I wanted to make sure anyone I worked with knew they could trust my education, passion, ethics, experience, and aptitude when working with something they cared a great deal for. I was certified as a CPDT-KA in October of 2017 and CBCC-KA in May of 2021.(Certified Professional Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed& Certified Behavior Consultant Canine - Knowledge Assessed.)


I did anything I could to be with dogs in as many situations as possible. Training at PetSmart, for friends and family, volunteering at shelters, and taking Magellan on many adventures to name a few. I still constantly consume anything dog or dog behavior related. Including watching countless hours of dog videos from play to aggression. Learning about different types of training styles from different trainers. I started to notice certain aspects of working with dogs that were over-looked, confused, misunderstood, or plain wrong. Including, believe or not, positive reinforcement. Yes, indeed, there are situations when positive reinforcement that can sometimes not be helpful. (To learn why, please contact me 😊)


Over the next years, I would have the opportunities to work at an inner-city Philadelphia shelter as a canine behaviorist and worked as a veterinary trainer and behaviorist at a veterinary hospital. I have gained nearly thirteen thousand hours of training in group and private settings, shelter and veterinary situations and many other environments. Dealing with many different issues. I love what I do for a living. And I am so happy to be able to do it. I look forward to working with you and dog and thank you for taking the time to read this.

Contact Daniel

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