Canine Instinct Film Review

May 31, 2010


By Dr. Robert Forto

Canine Instinct is a documentary film about dog trainer Kyle Warren. Set in the picturesque setting of northern New York the film takes the viewer on a journey of Warren’s life, not only as a dog trainer, but as a search and rescue handler, savvy business owner and dedicated family man told through the eyes of award winning director Nicolas Goodman.

The film’s beginning starts with Warren breaking up a dramatic fight over a ball of three dogs at an in-home session. “If you want to discourage the problem, you must encourage it” says Warren. You can see the shock and awe on the dog owner’s faces and by the end of the scene the lady proclaims, “I love you!”

This gives you the indication of what the film is about; a young man of tremendous drive and whose life is built around the dogs he works with and the people he helps. As a dog trainer myself, who has worked in the industry for the better part of 19 years, I can say that Mr. Warren knows his stuff. His no-nonsense approach is something that I recognize in myself and his uncanny and deliberate way of working with these dogs is second to none!

Canine Instinct is directed by Nicolas Goodman and he does a fantastic job in telling the story of Warren. The film flows nicely from scene to scene chronicling the message that Warren is trying to instill: Common sense and consistency and the ways that we can utilize it in every day life.

Canine Instinct is a must see film for anyone that has an interest in canine behavior or to gain insight of the survival instinct of a man that truly lives a life with dogs.


Dr. Robert Forto is the host of the Dog Doctor Radio Show and the owner of Denver Dog Works. Dr. Forto can be reached through his website at


Behind the Breed: The Basenji

May 31, 2010

Behind the Breed: Basenji

By Michele Forto

Behind the breed is an ongoing series to assist in you choosing the right breed for yourself and family.

The Basenji – popularly known as the “Barkless Dog” is one of the oldest breeds. The first specimens were brought from the source of the Nile as presents to the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. Later, when the civilization of Egypt declined and fell, the Basenji lapsed into obscurity. It was, however still valued and preserved in its native Central Africa, where it was highly prized for its intelligence, speed hunting power, and silence.

Centuries later an English explorer rediscovered the Basenji and a pair were brought to England in 1895. Unfortunately, these little dogs contracted distemper and shortly thereafter died. Aside from that abortive attempt to make the breed known, the “outside,” world in general did not hear of the Basenji until 1937, when it was successfully introduced to England. At the same time, a pair was brought to America by Mrs. Bryon Rogers, of New York City. Unfortunately for America this pair and a litter of puppies produced from mating these specimens contracted distemper. All died except the older male dog, Bois.

In 1941 a young female, Congo, and Bois, both African-bred were mated, resulting in the first litter of Basenji puppies to be raised to maturity in America. Later, other Basenji’s were imported from the Canadian kennels of Dr. A.R.B. Richmond, and still others were brought over from England.

Dog lovers all over the country became interested in this breed so old, yet so new in America and later purchased young specimens as foundation breeding stock. The Basenji Club of America was formed in 1942 and accepted the breed standard as drawn up by the Basenji Club of England. In 1943, the American Kennel Club accepted the standard. Within a few months, there were 59 Basenji’s registered. Several dedicated Basenji breeders went to the Congo/Zaire in 1987 and 1988 and brought back new stock with the goal of increasing the very limited gene pool.

The Basenji is about the size and build of a Fox Terrier. The first impression one gets of a Basenji is that he is a proud little dog, and then one is impressed with his beauty, grace, and intelligence. In fact, he has often been compared to a little deer.

The coat of the Basenji is one of his most beautiful features. Appropriate to its native tropical climate, the coat is short and fine and shines in the sun. In colder countries the coat tends to become more course, but it never loses its brilliant luster. Other distinctive features include the lack of bark; the forehead deeply furrowed with wrinkles; the prick ears; the dark, intelligence, far-seeing eyes; and the tail curled forward to one side.

The Basenji’s intelligence and courage stands proven by his use in his native habitat. The natives use him for pointing, retrieving, for driving game into nets, and for hunting wounded quarry. He is also used for hunting the reed rats-vicious long-tooth creatures weighing from 12 to 20 pounds-and here his silence is a particularly valuable asset.

Those in America as well as England, Europe, and Australia who have had the opportunity to know the little Basenji have found him to be an interesting companion. He is a fascinating and endearing fellow, full of play, curious and active. His fastidious, dainty habits, such as cleaning himself all over like a cat and his lack of doggy odor, are assets in a house dog.

The Basenji’s distinctive sound of happiness fairly thrills one, yet it is a sound hard to describe. It is somewhere between a chortle and a yodel. He is usually very happy when he makes it and one can’t help but share the happiness with him.

For uncounted thousands of years the Basenji survived as a hunting dog. Great importance must have been given to intelligence and adaptability, for the dogs often worked out of sight of the hunters. At times the Basenji can still be quite independent and aloof. It is alert and careful with strangers, open and calm with friends, loving and solicitous with children. When meeting strangers, Basenji’s prefer to make the first overture and should not be approached from behind. Although not high-strung the Basenji should be an alert, active, curious dog.  (The Complete Dog Book, AKC 20th Ed.)

The Basenji is a breed I highly recommend.  Basenji’s are a hearty breed capable of keeping up with you on long hikes, they make great playmates for fetch games, they are highly trainable and enjoy learning new things all of the time.

Over the years, I have only trained a handful of these little guys, and every time I am impressed by their cunning abilities.  You don’t see them very often in agility, rally, or any of the more popular dog sports.  A Basenji, not only makes a great companion for someone in a small apartment but for someone in a large home with property.  They make great tracking dogs, which is becoming a more popular dog sport.  Basenji’s enjoy bikejoring and bladejoring.  I recommend Basenji’s for a first time pet owner because of their ease in care and willingness to learn.

I truly enjoy this breed and look forward to the next one I help to train.  The Basenji is by far the breed I most recommend to retiree’s, young families, college students, and anyone looking for a companion with keen skills.

There are many Basenji rescues out there; as such there are many Basenji mixes.  With any mixed breed be cautious reading referrals; do not just focus on the breed you think the dog most resembles instead learn about all of the possible breeds and this will help you with training and understanding behavior traits.

I am a Breed Referral Specialist, if you’re interested in getting a Basenji please feel free to contact me at anytime through my website.

What is your favorite breed of dog and why? We would love to know. Contact us at

Tags: Denver Dog Training Examiner | Robert Forto | Michele Forto | Iditarod | Team Ineka | Dog Training Denver | Dog Doctor Radio | Denver Dog Works | Mushing Radio | Duluth Dog Works | Minnesota Dog Works


Michele Forto is the Denver Dog Training Examiner and the business manager for Denver Dog Works. Michele can be reached through her website at

The Adventures of Alaric Part 2

May 30, 2010

The Adventures of Alaric Part 2

By Michele Forto

Another week has passed and Alaric is progressing through his training nicely.  We have designed his training program and he is in full enrollment in advanced obedience, canine good citizen and trust building.

Alaric had a good visit with his handler and is getting more used to her home and the surroundings.  Due to Alaric having some fear anxiety with new situations we will continue to have short home visits until his full placement in 4 months.

It has also been noted that Alaric has fear around black dogs; this is being addressed in his daily training and by Alaric partaking in group classes on Saturdays.

Alaric’s handler was given her first set of obedience homework this week as well and she was able to complete all of the tasks with Alaric who is beginning to focus more on her and less on me.  This is great news since I have been involved in his life entirely for 2 years.

Alaric participated in canine good citizen this week and was handled by Junior Trainer: Nicole Forto reportedly: Canine Good Citizen encompasses ten items that each dog must pass and be able to demonstrate in a public setting establishing that dog as a good citizen in public.  Alaric did well on most of the tasks he does need work on supervised separation and we need to build distance for him to perform his commands.  He loves staying very close to us which is preferred for his psychiatric service work but is not preferred when working on obedience commands.


Michele Forto is Denvers Dog Training Examiner and the business manager for Denver Dog Works. Michele can be reached through her website at

My Dog: An Unconditional Love Story (Film)

May 29, 2010

My Dog: An Unconditional Love Story (Film)

By Michele Forto

Today on the Dog Doctor Radio Show we interviewed award winning producer, Daryl Roth about her film My Dog: A Unconditional Love Story.

Listen to the show here:

My Dog: An Unconditional Love Story

The film explores the unique relationship between people and their beloved pets through candid interviews with notable dog lovers. Viewers are offered an intimate glimpse into the lives of these actor and musicians, authors and designers through the aspect of their lives that unites them all: the profound connection they have with their dogs.

The film is a tribute to all the dogs that have made our lives richer and happier. MY DOG captures the remarkable bond between our dog and ourselves.

I was privileged to screen the film early with my daughter, Nicole and husband Robert. There was not a dry eye in the room. We received the film the day after Mrs. Lynn Redgrave passed away who was part of the cast in the film. Her story about her relationship with her dog touched our hearts.

Other notable members of the cast are: Cindy Adams, Richard Belzer, Christopher Meloni, Glenn Close, Edie Falco, Greg Louganis, Richard Gere and the Shire family and their son, Danny who has a special connection with his his dog and the kinship they share.

This is a film that you will not want to miss. It is available through and

I encourage all of you to listen to the interview on the Dog Doctor Radio show then make plans to buy this uplighting documentary that just might change your life.


Michele Forto is the Denver Dog Training Examiner and the business manager of Denver Dog Works. Michele can be reached through her website at

Things we Should Never Allow our Dogs to Eat

May 28, 2010

Things We Should Never Allow Our Dogs to Eat

By Leah Morse

This week I felt it important to talk about things you should never feed your dog.  Some things might surprise you.  I feed Prey Model Raw Diet to my own dogs and I try to give them the best variety that I can possibly get my hands on.  It is important to know those things that we should never feed our dogs or allow them to get into.  I have chosen a few very common ways that dogs are poisoned.  Just like we should child proof our house the same is true for your dog.  Knowing the dangers of Chocolate, Grapes and raisins, alcohol and antifreeze can save hundreds if not thousands of dollars in vet bills.  Especially as busy as we are in today’s society it is easy to overlook simple actions that could save your pets life.  If for any reason you ever suspect that your dog has ingested something dangerous, don’t wait, CALL YOUR VETERINARIAN!

CHOCOLATE:  We have all heard that Chocolate is a bad thing.  You should also know why.  Chocolate has methylxanthines (caffeine and alkaloid theobromine).  This chemical is not toxic to people in amounts found in chocolate and baked goods.  However, it can be lethal to dogs.  A dog that weighs 5-10 pounds could die after eating as little as 4 ounces of baking chocolate.  According to the Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook( by Debra M. Eldredge, DVM, Liisa D.Carlson DVM, Delbert G. Calson, DVM and James M. Giffin, MD), signs of chocolate toxicity occur within hours after the dog ingests the chocolate, including but not limited to hyper-excitability, vomiting, frequent urination, diarrhea, rapid breathing, weakness, seizures, and coma.

GRAPES AND RAISINS:  There has even been a chain email about this one.  You can give your dog acute renal (kidney) failure by allowing your dog to eat Grapes or Raisins.  This can happen from just a few raisins or a pound of grapes!  Keep them away from your dogs!  For more information visit

ALCOHOL:   It never ceases to amaze me how many times I have heard people tell stories about their poor dog that was given alcohol either by accident or on purpose.  This is neither funny nor amusing as it takes less to intoxicate a dog than a human, they don’t understand what is happening to them and it damages their liver and kidneys.  Along with the lack of coordination, poor breathing also comes the possibility of abnormal acidity, coma or death.  Want some entertainment for your party?  Teach your dog some funny tricks and leave the alcohol for those that chose to consume it.

MARIJUANA: It has been featured on the news quite frequently lately.  With all of the legalized medical marijuana available, more and more dogs are getting into it.  The toxin Tetrahydrocannibinal, when ingested is absorbed quickly and causes symptoms of dilated pupils, glazed eyes, drop in body temperature, increase or decrease in heart rate, bizarre behavior, disorientation, depression, coma, excitation, drooling tremors, repertory depression or death.  Once again, this is not a funny thing to do to your pet.  For more information check our this link

ANTIFREEZE:  We have all seen it spilled in our garages, on the driveway or in the gutters.   Antifreeze is so deadly to animals and the worst part about it is that animals seem to like the taste of it.  Some people put it in the toilets of vacation homes to prevent freezing.  Dogs will drink it like cool aid. Less than three ounces is enough to poison a medium sized dog.  Make sure to cleanup leaks and spills as soon as possible and always dog proof a new place before letting your dog in (especially vacation rentals).

Again if you suspect that your pet has ingested something it shouldn’t have.  Don’t wait to call the vet!  Here is a helpful link for poison control for animals .  Knowing more about the ingredients of what you feed your dog is very beneficial to their health and up keep.  Also knowing what is dangerous will also help you keep your dog healthy and out of trouble.   Make sure to follow the directions of your dogs health care provider if he/she has gotten into something bad.  It is not always appropriate to induce vomiting and/or giving water.  Let the professionals help you decided what the best course of action is in the event of an accidental ingestion of a harmful substance. Train Leave It!  to also help prevent  your dog from getting into items they shouldn’t.

What do you think about this article? Let us know by commenting below or sending

Tags: Denver Dog Training Examiner | Robert Forto | Michele Forto | Iditarod | Team Ineka | Dog Training Denver | Dog Doctor Radio | Denver Dog Works | Mushing Radio | Duluth Dog Works | Minnesota Dog Works | Leah Morse


Leah Morse is a certified canine trainer and the owner of Rocky Mountain Classic Canine. Leah writes a weekly blog for Denver Dog Works and can be reached through our website

Canine Behavior Consultations

May 27, 2010

Canine Behavior Consultation

By Michele Forto

At Denver Dog Works we are sought after throughout the country as the preeminent expert for canine aggression cases. With that said we also do things a bit differently than most dog trainers for basic obedience. Canine Behavior Modification Sessions are NOT Obedience Sessions. We also charge differently than a dog trainer. Typically dog trainers charge per session or in a block of sessions (ie. eight weeks for $500.00, etc.) A behavioral consultation is much different. We charge by the hour and we require a retainer. The reason we do this is simple: there is a tremendous amount of work involved behind the scenes and with the client in person. We charge just like an attorney would charge you, increments of six minutes. Remember you are hiring an expert not just a dog trainer that trains dogs for fun. Canine Aggression is serious business and you need an expert to help you in this difficult time.

Canine Behavior Consultation

A Canine Behavior Consultation is an in-depth scientific observation of a dog displaying unwanted or unexplained behavior.  Dr. Robert Forto, Ph.D. of Denver Dog Works is not only the training director with nearly twenty years of experience in training dogs, but also Denver’s foremost expert on aggression.

A Canine Behavior Consultation often begins unfortunately with an incident where your dog has bitten someone.  Very few times, has Dr. Forto been contacted prior to the bite occurring.  Usually he is contacted during an owner’s dog being quarantined by the local animal control.

When you contact Dr. Forto regarding canine aggression or behavior modification for your dog he or his staff will ask you a series of questions determining whether or not you are in need of a behaviorist or just a qualified trainer with specific behavior background such as separation anxiety.

When hiring an expert be prepared to pay a retainer and to be billed in hourly increments monthly for their services.  This is how Dr. Forto has established his business and reputation.  He values your concerns and expects you to value his time and his expertise.

I asked Dr. Forto, what happens during a Behavior Evaluation/Canine Behavior Consultation and this is what he said.

What happens during an Behavioral Evaluation?

You will be interviewed and asked questions regarding your dog and the problems you are concerned with:

  • Your dog’s daily routine and history with you
  • What your relationship with your dog is like
  • How your dog behaves in different situations
  • A description of the problem
  • When, where and how often the problem happens
  • What you have done to work with your dog’s behavior

We will observe your dog and see how he/she behaves

  • We do want to see how your dog reacts to us and get a sense of his temperament
  • We do want to see how your dog reacts to you and get a sense of his temperament
  • Observing the problem behavior may not be possible, desirable or needed

We will use this information to analyze your dog’s problem

  • Why the problem developed
  • What’s now motivating the behavior
  • What needs to be done to change the behavior

We will develop and write down a custom behavior modification plan for you

  • The plan may include changes to your dog’s environment and/or diet
  • The plan may require structured “training sessions” to bring out the desired behavior
  • The plan may require changes in how you react to your dog’s behavior
  • The plan will include tips and remedies

We will follow-up with you during the scheduled “training sessions” either in-home or office visits for the number listed on your behavior modification plan:

  • Answer your questions and observe the dog and his reactions
  • Make sure you are on the right track
  • “Fine tune” your custom plan
  • If your dog is participating in our board and train program you will receive weekly progress reports for the duration of his stay.

And this is just the beginning!  According to Dr. Forto, once he receives the initial evaluation from his staff, he then corresponds immediately with the client who has now received a 13-page questionnaire asking specific questions pertaining to their dog’s history.  He begins developing a treatment plan and schedules the first visit.  Dr. Forto is working with you from the moment he receives your case file and he continues to be available via email, phone, and in person.  Behavior modification does not get fixed at the snap of a finger, modifying a dogs behavior can take months just as modifying your behavior can take months. A typical behavior case can last three to nine months.  Although, you can see results after just one hour, modifying unwanted behavior and replacing it with wanted behavior takes time.  An aggressive dog must have his behavior managed and the treatment plan that Dr. Forto devises for you must be followed correctly in order for the modification to be successful. Once the treatment plan has been developed Dr. Forto then visits you a few times to check on your progress and then develops a maintenance plan. Aggression is never cured it is managed.

Dr. Forto is available for behavior modification, seminars, and workshops addressing aggression (and other canine behavior problems).  If you are interested in learning more about aggression or if your dog is in need of behavior modification you can reach Dr. Forto at through his website at

Tags: Expert in Canine Aggression | Nationwide Caine Aggression Training | Denver Dog Training Examiner | Robert Forto | Michele Forto | Iditarod | Team Ineka | Dog Training Denver | Dog Doctor Radio | Denver Dog Works | Mushing Radio | Duluth Dog Works | Minnesota Dog Works


Michele Forto is Denvers Dog Training Examiner and the business manager of Denver Dog Works. Michele can be reached through her website at

Impulsive Dog Training

May 26, 2010

Impulsive Dog Training

By Michele Forto

Not only am I a writer for the Denver Dog Training Examiner, I am also a local trainer. Recently, I have been noticing an increase in what I like to call Impulsive Dog Training.  Impulsive Dog Training means; a person with good intentions to do the right thing for their dog who makes a quick decision only to change their mind and never show up for training.

In other words, I evaluate and interview several people a week who are interested in dog training.  Some are shopping around (which I recommend) but others are just coming by to fill that guilty void of not training their dog and by signing up they are letting themselves off the hook.

Training is a commitment to the well-being, mental and physical health of your dog.  Signing up with a trainer and then not following through with your commitment wastes the time of the trainer who just built a training plan for you and your goals but it also wastes the time of your pet.

When you pick up your dog or puppy for the first time you have all kinds of ideas as to how you’d like your dog/puppy to turn out. Hopefully you didn’t pick out your puppy or rescued dog on an impulse either, this will only exemplify your guilt.  If you aren’t ready for a 10 to 15 year commitment to a pet then do not get one.  Proper veterinarian care and training are both required to give your dog the best overall health and valuable life.

When shopping for a trainer I recommend visiting pet shows and expo’s like the Denver Dumb Friends League Furry Scurry or the MaxFund Lucky Mutt Strut.  Both of these organizations put on fundraiser run/walks with your pet.  They invite several pet vendors including trainers.  What better way to visit a handful of trainers all in one morning.  Each and every one of them will give you a different perspective and with Denver having over 200 dog trainers to choose from you’re sure to find one that fits your goals, your style and your budget.

What do you think about impulsive dog training? Let us know by commenting below or sending

Tags: Denver Dog Training Examiner | Robert Forto | Michele Forto | Iditarod | Team Ineka | Dog Training Denver | Dog Doctor Radio | Denver Dog Works | Mushing Radio | Duluth Dog Works | Minnesota Dog Works


Michele Forto is Denvers Dog Training Examiner and the business manager of Denver Dog Works. Michele can be reached through her website at