The Loyal K-9 training facility, which opened in April 2019, provides training for dogs of all ages, temperaments and breeds.
Every day, the pets are linked up and walked for miles through surrounding neighborhoods.
“People see us coming,” says Loyal K-9 Coordinator Cassie Stamper. “It’s our best advertising.”
Business has been brisk since the beginning — even before. Owner Josh George is an entrepreneur with the successful DJ business Tronix Entertainment.
George always loved dogs, but didn’t realize he had a talent for training them until he got compliments on his own pets, a German shepherd named Zeus and a pint-sized Yorkie named Lucy.
Over the past seven years, George worked at shelters and doggy day cares, took online courses and talked to people in the business. As his knowledge grew, so did his K-9 clientele. George estimates he has trained around 250 dogs, all referred through word of mouth.
“It got so big I had to open a facility,” George says.
Now Loyal K-9 offers private and group dog obedience classes as well as a unique all-day doggy day care training program.
“They’re dropped off in the morning, we rotate everybody for potty, then start our pack walk,” Stamper says. “They get individualized training, lots of playtime and rest time, and then they go home.”
Training starts with basic commands — heel, sit, stay — then moves to agility, where dogs work in the facility’s big open space, learning to go under obstacles, over hurdles, through tubes and across seesaws.
“The dogs love it,” Stamper says. “Well, in the beginning they don’t love all the rules. It’s kind of like us when we start exercising. It’s hard at first, and then they’re like, ‘This is great!’ They claw their parents to get out the door in the morning.”
Loyal K-9’s goal is to create effective, sustainable change in dogs by curing behavioral challenges, as opposed to treating their symptoms.
Trainers use a combination of evaluation, screening, instruction and daily exercise to address the root cause of each dog’s issues. Curriculum is organized into lesson plans and homework that dogs and owners complete to advance through grade levels.
Dog-and-owner teams have an opportunity to graduate from each grade by successfully passing monthly evaluations.
“Our ultimate goal at our facility is to have dogs off-leash trained,” Stamper explains.
Owner participation is crucial to the process.
“You don’t want the dog trained just for us,” she says. “You want it trained for you.”
Client Deb Watkins, who owns a 10-year-old long haired German shepherd named Sampson, says her pet has benefitted from being in close proximity to other dogs.
“It’s a great place with a kind and caring staff,” Watkins says.
Staci Weyer is another client who found classes useful in training Samira, her 8-year-old German shepherd mix. Prior to Loyal K-9, Samira was extremely fearful and had to be muzzled so she wouldn’t bite strangers and other dogs.
“Within two days, between day care and classes, she was hanging out in the pack,” Weyer says. “It was so nice and so unexpectedly quick.”
The key to Loyal K-9’s success is improving dog and owner relationships. Everyone in the family should be part of training the household dog, Stamper says.
Loyal K-9 involves owners in every step of the process, teaching them to use voice commands and hand signals. Stamper says pet owners who utilize the all-day training program are required to attend private or group trainings 1-2 times per week.
“If we are the only ones training your dogs during the week, you don’t know what’s going on, what commands are being used, unless you come to class,” Stamper says. “We give owners the tools they need.”
Martha Campbell has a Bernese mountain dog named Poppy who is just over a year old and has been in training at Loyal K-9 since she was a pup.
“The entire process has built a closer bond with my dog due to the positive training techniques that Josh uses,” Campbell says.
According to George, any dog can be trained. And dogs respond well to having a job to do.
“Most dogs are bred to work, and small dogs need to have manners too so you can live the best life with your dog,” George says. “You want to be able to go out in public, have people over to your house, have children around. When you’re doing what’s appropriate for the dog, utilizing the dog for what it loves, dogs are happy burning their energy.”
George has several mantras when it comes to training dogs:
One command, one correction. Don’t bark out the same order over and over again. Say it one time, then correct your dog and get him to do what you said.
Be persistent and consistent. However you are training your dog, the methods need to stay the same. Never give up, no matter how long it takes. If you tell a dog to sit and he doesn’t, you have to make him do it, every time.
Acquisition, repetition and maintenance. Help your dog acquire a skill, repeat it over and over, then maintain it with reinforcement.