ABC Dog Training Program
Student of the Month
Hailing from Kirkwood, Mo, Mike Ryan is proud to call himself an ABC graduate. Having grown up with all sorts of creatures—from dogs to chickens and even a monkey—Mike entered the ABC program with an understanding and love of all animals. In particular, his 10-plus years breeding German shepherds gave him a special connection with dogs. Like many of our students, Mike spent most of his life in other careers, first in the military and then pouring concrete, until he made the decision to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a dog trainer. He found ABC online and doesn’t regret the decision to enroll. He really appreciated the staff’s desire to go above and beyond in explaining a concept or assisting him with any questions.
- Tell us a little more about why you picked ABC’s dog obedience program.
Once I made the decision to become a dog trainer, I knew I wanted to become certified. I gave some serious thought to other programs and inquired about a loan to take a class. I ended up being contacted by someone from ABC. Upon further investigation, I really liked ABC’s positive approach toward dog training, and from then on everything fell into place. My finding ABC felt destined.
- What has ABC done for your dog training career?
ABC made my 30 years of prior experience so much better. There were a lot of “aha“ moments; I’d used many of methods I was learning, but ABC taught me what the techniques were called and how to do things properly. It’s really made a difference in my life as far as being able to explain to others how to train their animals. It’s also opened my eyes as to what is possible in training. Before I started ABC, I didn’t know you could train a cat.
- What most stands out to you about what you learned in ABC?
Although I always rewarded my dogs, I never used treats because I didn’t know the difference between rewards and bribes. I’ve learned how effective food is for a dog’s learning process when used correctly.
- What type of services do you offer as a dog trainer?
I work with a lot of puppies because I get referrals from a dog trainer who uses harsher methods he can’t use on puppies. Board and trains are my focus, but I enjoy showing pet parents how to keep up the training. After all, what I do is for both pets and their people. Clicker training is also a specialty of mine.
- What has been your most rewarding moment as a dog trainer?
It’s difficult to forget one couple in particular I worked with. Each partner brought his and her own dog into the marriage, but the union of the dogs was not as happy as the union of the people. There were constant fights; it got so bad the husband told me if they were not able to fix this problem he and his wife would probably separate. I took the dogs into my home, introduced them to my German shepherds, and worked with them for a week. When I brought the dogs back to their house, I stayed and taught the couple how to continue the training. While this was just a couple of months ago, the dogs have had zero fights since then. This couple was on the verge of ending their marriage, but I was able to bring a family back together. As much as I love dogs, I understand that people are always first, and it’s the ability to unite a household that really makes the job worth it.