Pet Adoption Month

September 11, 2010

Pet Adoption Month

October is Pet Adoption Month.  In the Denver area, several Petsmart locations as well as the Denver Dumb Friends League, and local county animal shelters and the humane society will be hosting events and awareness of pet adoption.

Denver Dog Works is a training center who reportedly receives several clients who have recently adopted a pet and wish to continue training, begin training, or help their new dog with behavioral issues to enhance their health and lifestyle.

Every fall Denver Dog Works offers a special on their private training classes and group classes. This fall is no exception.  From September 15 through November 15, 2010, set up an evaluation with Michele and let her know that you have recently adopted your pet, bring in your adoption papers and she will tailor a training package to meet your needs and enhance your newest family members life.  Proof of adoption between August 15, 2010 and November 15, 2010 will earn you a specialized package and 25% off of the normal price of that package.  Contact Michele for more details at 303-578-9881 or, or and schedule your free evaluation today.

Every pet deserves a second chance, even a third chance, go one step further and ensure that your new pet has the best life possible, train him, give him a routine, and watch him become the best dog you’ve ever had.  Denver Dog Works: We have the best and train the rest!


Michele Forto is the Denver Dog Training Examiner, the owner of Denver Dog Works and the co-host of the Dog Doctor Radio Show.

Should You Spay Your Dog?

August 1, 2010

Should You Spay Your Dog?

A lot can be said about whether you should spay your dog. There are the health risks, the reasons for doing so, the threat of breeding, the un-wanted liters of puppies and much more. One of my good friends and a highly respected breeder and dog musher (dog sledding), Al Magaw, submitted an article to our blog today and I wanted to cross post it to my readers.

Read Al Magaw’s article here: Should You Spay Your Dog

What are your opinions on spaying your dogs? We would love to hear from you. Please comment below or send an email to


Dr. Robert Forto is the Dog Sledding Examiner and the training director for Dog Works Training Centers. Forto is also a musher training for his first Iditarod under the Team Ineka banner and the host of the popular, Mush! You Huskies Radio Show.

We Have the Best and Train the Rest

July 27, 2010

We have the Best and Train the Rest

By Robert Forto, PhD

A lot is said about a training philosophy of a dog training school. Many times it is the first question that is asked when someone calls inquiring about bringing their dog to training. Philosophy means different things to different trainers but I assure you that if you don’t have a clear understanding of what yours is, you will lose customers.

Many people searching for dog training fall into four categories and we will discuss those with regards to your training philosophy and see if you and your training school are positioned correctly to meet the needs of your clients and their dog.

Three Types of Clients

The first type of client is the most common. It is the client whose dog has just destroyed the three thousand dollar leather couch and this is the last straw. They have put up with their dog’s “bad behavior” for too long and need help.

The second type is what I call the “big-box-store-rejects”. These are the clients that have attended a training class at a big box corporate training center and they just didn’t get their needs met. Think about it. Would you go to a doctor at a Wal-Mart? No. These training classes are great for socialization and basic manners but they are not equipped to fix behavioral problems.

The third type is “As Seen on TV” clients. These clients watch a dog training show on cable and realize that their dog has the “exact” same problem as the dog on the show. They may try a couple of the techniques (and with little success), and then call a dog training school and enter into training. The only problem with this is you will often hear them say: “It’s going to cost how much? And take how long? I just saw John (T.V. trainer’s name changed to protect the innocent) do it in 15 minutes on T.V.!”

The fourth type is the client that enjoys working with their dog. They have lived through the puppy stage, the adolescence stage, and the problem stage and now they are ready to have fun! These clients are ready to take sports classes like flyball, agility or Rally, working classes like therapy dog training or Canine Good Citizen testing, and the like.

There is nothing wrong with any of these four types of clients. These are the clients that keep you in business. These are the clients that are calling you because they need help. These are the clients that can bring you endless repeat business and referrals. But you have to meet their expectations and their training goals and this is where your training philosophy is so important.

Training Philosophy of Denver Dog Works in Bullet Points:

• Know Yourself, Know Your Dog.

• A balanced dog is in a state of harmony with Mother Nature—as a calm submissive pack follower who is fulfilled physically with exercise, psychologically with rules and boundaries and limitations and emotionally with affection from his owner.

• Teach my clients the highest level of connection between two species.

• In terms of philosophy, teach my clients to choose a dog that is appropriate for them and their family.

• Teach my clients to acknowledge some deeper reasons for getting a dog: are you imposing your own emotional needs on the dog—and missing what your dog actually needs as a result?

• Teach my client the difference between discipline and punishment and how to set rules and boundaries and limitations on their dog.

• Teach my client what goes on in the canine mind and develop a stronger, more fulfilling relationship with their best friend and give back to their dog just a fraction of the many gifts he has given to you.

We Have the Best and Train the Rest

Our training philosophy at Denver Dog Works is not only a procedure but a lifestyle.

I have learned in the nineteen years of literally living with a pack of dogs and on the sled dog trail that it has offered me a unique perspective. There I was forced to examine my attitude about everything including my dogs. I was constantly challenged to become more open to the language dogs use to communicate with us. This experience confirms our deepest intuitions about the relationship of human beings not only with their dog but every aspect of their lives.

I hope to foster my clients with a diverse and varied understanding of the environment for which they live. I hope to foster a more realistic understanding of their dogs and an increased awareness of the benefits of their companionship.

Drawing on my experience as a kennel owner of 50 Siberian Huskies I will teach my clients how dog training goes far beyond the elementary instruction of basic obedience; as it must encompass a whole new attitude and lifestyle with their dog. It must touch on the levels of a dog’s own life that are often ignored.

In conclusion, I will bring my client into the world of a dog musher, canine behaviorist, and father of three by using my experience as a lens through which they may broaden their understanding of their dog. The stage will then be set for a balanced, lasting relationship between them and their best friend.

If you have any questions or if you would like to have your dog be one of the best trained dogs in the world please give us a call at 303-578-9881 or contact us through our website at


Dr. Robert Forto is the training director of Denver Dog Works and Team Ineka in Colorado. Dr. Forto hosts a weekly radio program, The Dog Doctor Radio Show, every Saturday. Dr. Forto can be reached through his website at

The Power of Your Mind in Dog Training

July 25, 2010

The Power of Your Mind in Dog Training

By Robert Forto, PhD

Next weekend we will have an encore airing of one of most popular shows, Mind-Body Dog Training on the Dog Doctor Radio Show. If you want to change the way your dog performs this is something you will not want to miss.

Think about it, you are about to head into the ring for a big obedience match or a conformation show. Of course you are nervous. You have worked so hard for this big day. Up until now you and your dog have been in perfect synchronicity. Haven’t you? You have done your pre-game prep and you are up next.

Then something catches your dogs eye and your whole dog training world comes crumbling down. Your dog gets spooked, you tense up and your dog pulls away. Your run in the ring ends in chaos and you are disqualified. Something you have worked so hard on for the past two years: all of those individual lessons with your private trainer, the perfect pick of the litter puppy, all that money, gone in an instant!

What if you could change that just by harnessing the power of your mind? No, I am not talking about some freakish mind over matter, late night TV infomercial garbage. I am talking about a centuries old process known as Neuro Linguistic Programing (NLP). In a sense it is a model of how we communicate and our personality. While this process has been around for centuries, the NLP model was developed in the 1970’s by Richard Bandler, John Grinder and others. This model explains how we process the information that comes from our outside world. Their belief is “the map is not the territory.” And so the internal representations that we make about an outside event are not necessarily the event itself.

Makes sense doesn’t it? Even in dog training we can use this process to make you and your dog the the best team in the world. Even if you don’t compete and just have a “lazy mutt” that likes to play fetch in the back yard.

You see, Dr. Robert Forto is a practitioner of NLP, and his training school, Denver Dog Works has a motto: We have the best and train the best. By employing the processes of NLP in our training programs we too can make your dog one of the best too. This is cutting edge training in the dog training world. Nobody does this and that is why they can not hold claim to our title.

Do you want to see how it works? Here’s how. Typically what happen is that there is an external event (your dog getting spooked in the ring) an we then run that event though our internal processing. We then make an Internal Representation (I/R) of that event. That I/R of the event combines with a physiology and that creates a state. “State” refers to our emotional state–a happy state, a sad state, a motivated state, or in our case with our dog in the ring, and anxious state. Our I/R includes our internal pictures, sounds and dialogue and our feelings (for example, whether we feel anxious and challenged in our dog’s training and performance). A given state is the result of the combination of an internal representations and a physiology. So what happens is that an event comes through our sensory input channels which I can teach you in NLP training and training your dog to be the best.

After the event becomes an I/R it is how our mind processes this information and the outcome that is achieved. We use filters in our mind to accomplish this and this is where the real power of NLP comes into play. For example I am just going to talk about one: Beliefs. Beliefs are generalizations about how our world is. One of the important elements in the NLP model is to find out a persons beliefs about a particular behavior we are trying to model. Richard Bandler says “Beliefs are those things we can’t get around.” Beliefs are the presuppositions that we have about the way of the world us that we either create or deny personal power to us. So beliefs are essentially our on/off switch for our ability to do anything in the world. In our dog training example. Make you and your dog the best dog team ever! Wouldn’t that be great? Go into the ring and get a qualifying score every time? Heck yes it would!

So if you would like to find out more about mind-body dog training, I highly encourage you to give us a call. We truly to have the best and train the rest. Do you want to win too? Yes you do!

Citation: The Accelerated NLP Practitioner Certification Training Manual


Dr. Robert Forto is the training director of Denver Dog Works and The Ineka Project. Dr. Forto is also a practitioner of NLP and is the host of a weekly show, The Dog Doctor Radio Show and can be reached through his website at

What Should I Do If My Pet is Lost?

July 5, 2010

What Should I Do If My Pet is Lost?

By Robert Forto, PhD

Just last night I was teaching my canine obedience trainers course to a couple of great new dog trainers. We were discussing kennel management and what it takes to run a successful boarding kennel and the issue of losing a pet came up. I thought that this would be a great topic for a blog post.

Pets become lost for a variety of reasons: they may escape from home through an open door or window, or climb over or dig under a fence, they may bolt away while on a leash, escape from a car window, or become lost during a disaster like a tornado or hurricane, and it is not uncommon for pets to be stolen out of their yards.

Prevention – Just in Case

Keep a current picture of your pet handy and make a list of local telephone numbers in advance. It’s easier than trying to look up numbers or think of where to call after your pet is lost and you are frantic. Include the local animal control officers, both in your town and those surrounding yours, veterinary offices, shelters and pounds.

Identify your pet. It’s best to have a combination of a collar and tag along with either a tattoo or microchip. Be sure to register the microchip number with the manufacturer so your pet can be matched to you. Also, be sure that if you move that you update your information for the microchip. It doesn’t do your pet any good if you lived in Georgia and moved to Colorado last year and your pet is found and they try to locate you in your old home.

Fit your pet’s collar tight enough so that it won’t slide over his or her head. You should be able to put two or three fingers under it (so it is not too tight). Most cat collars now come with either an elastic or breakaway feature to protect them from being caught on an object.

If Your Pet Goes Missing

• Make flyers and include the pet’s photo. Provide a good description of the pet and include name, breed, age, color and markings and any special identifying characteristics. You should also list your contact information and the date and area where the pet was last seen. Place flyers all over the neighborhood or the area where the pet was last seen and on community bulletin boards.

· Call all the numbers on the contact list. Let them know your pet is missing. Drop off flyers to them so they have the photo. Call the microchip company to inform them the pet is missing.

· Contact veterinarians, training schools, grooming shops, etc. in the area around where your pet was last seen.

· Post a notice on social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter, especially if you have a lot of local “friends” on your network.

· Check in with the local humane society or shelter.

· Alert neighbors or residents in the area.

· Call any local radio stations that run public service announcements.

· Place an ad in your local paper in the lost and found column.

· Visit any place the pet might return to – a former home, old neighborhood or previous owner for example.

Once your pet is found, do not forget to notify those you have alerted that the search is off. At Denver Dog Works people will often drop off flyers for pets that are lost and we help them in any way that we can.

In terms of training, as the old saying goes: an ounce of prevention is worse than a pound of cure. In that if your dog has been trained and can perform a proper and instantaneous recall, if he does escape you can have him “Come” when called. The secret to this is that you have to be more interesting than whatever caused your dog to run away in the first place. If you have any question regarding training you can always give us a call at Denver Dog Works at 303-578-9881.

Citation: ABKA


Dr. Robert Forto is the training director for Denver Dog Works and the host of the Dog Doctor Radio Show

Outdoor Pet Safety

July 2, 2010

Outdoor Pet Safety

Many people enjoy outside activities and leisure time with a pet. Here are some simple tips to help keep your dog or cat safe when they enjoy the great outdoors.

Identify your pet. An identification tag is a simple and inexpensive way to put your name and telephone number, as well as the pet’s name, on a collar. The drawback is that tags and collars can come off. Other forms of ID include tattoos and microchips.

Think safety. Unless very well-trained or in an enclosed environment, your dog should be on a leash. Being hit by a car is one of the most common injuries a pet can sustain outside. Do not leave a chain collar or prong training collar on your dog unsupervised as metal rings may become caught on outdoor items. Similarly, do not leave a pet on a run cable or chain near a fence – pets have been known to hang themselves accidentally when they scramble over or jump a too-low fence.

Keep your pet groomed. Spring, summer, and fall all provide the chance for fleas and ticks from the great outdoors to infest your pet. Check your pet’s skin and coat close to the skin for parasites. Using a fine comb will help. Do not shave your pet down to the skin if he or she spends a lot of time outside. Hair provides protection from the sun (a dog can get sunburned), and insulation from heat as well as cold.

Public areas, like parks, require good pet manners. Be sure your pet is vaccinated for rabies, a distemper/parvo combination, and bordetella. Many diseases are contagious through the air or ground contamination. Early socialization in a dog’s life will make him an enjoyable pet to walk and play with around other pets and people. If you know your pet is not friendly, then take steps to prevent any negative interactions with others or find quiet, isolated areas to enjoy your pet’s company alone.

Many pets, especially dogs, like to travel with their owners. Never leave pets alone in hot vehicles, and remember to bring along the leash and water. Although many dogs love to ride with their heads out the window, this can be a source of eye irritation and damage, not to mention a route of escape if they jump or fall from the vehicle.

Keep a pet first aid kit in the glove compartment or trunk for any minor injuries that may occur when you are away from home.

Your dog or cat will love being with you and savors the outdoors as much as you do. A bit of preplanning and using common sense will keep outdoor ventures a happy experience.

This article is provided as a general overview of the topic. Always consult your veterinarian or trainer for specific information related to diseases or medical care for pets. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to give us a call at Denver Dog Works

Citation: ABKA

Michele Forto is the dog training examiner, a certified canine trainer at Denver Dog Works and the co-host of the Dog Doctor Radio Show.

Never Ending Story and the Flight Instinct Period

June 24, 2010

My Never Ending Story, a true story

By Leah Morse

Never Ending Story and the Flight Instinct Period of 4-8 months

Bringing Story up while going to school to become a dog trainer was so great.  I would take her to school with me.  This gave me time to train her away from home and to socialize her with a variety of other dogs.

At 16 weeks, Story started to help me learn about the flight instinct period that happens between 16 weeks and 8 months.  This is the age when dogs start to realize their independence and act on it.  It has also been called the age of cutting as this is when they start to “cut” their adult teeth but also realize that there is a great big world out there and they are capable of exploring it with the confidence to leave their owner and in effect “cut the apron strings”.    This is a time of testing to see what they can get away with.  Story was no exception.  We live on almost 40 acres and do not have fencing.  I have always taught our dogs boundaries.  Story wanted to push her boundaries as far as possible.  This is where both Ron, my husband and soul mate, and I had to learn to control our emotions as it was frustrating trying to retrieve a puppy that was half way across our property.  No dog wants to return to an angry owner and this is further exacerbated when a frustrated owner starts to chase the less than cooperative dog.   Fortunately, for us and for Story we got through this phase.

I started a game with all of our dogs called “come-here, go play”.   We have a road that goes around our house and 5 times around is a mile.  We walk every morning, before the dogs have eaten, and we play this game.  I am well stocked with string cheese as we walk.  We start out and I tell the dogs to “go play” they do gladly.  When they have run a bit and are settling done I call them back “Come Here”.  When they get to me we grab collars and give cheese as a reward along with lavish praise.  Then we send them back off to play “go- play”.  In the beginning we treat a lot, then we slowly wean them on to mostly praise but the quickest and most prompt returns get cheese.  If they ever come back to us on their own, they also get cheese.  This teaches that coming when called does not always mean the fun is going to end.  I also try to call them back when they get to about 20 feet to help them learn to stay closer.   If there is a hesitation I either start running and calling in the opposite direction that they are going or I kneel down and start acting silly, this usually peaks their interest.  I really reward them if they leave their area of interest.  I have also really enforced “Leave It!!”  as there are many distractions, especially right now with baby birds on the ground.   I recommend the use of a 20 foot leash to my clients.  After our mile walk of 5 times around I end with their breakfast.  I tell them “let’s go eat!”  They know they are going to get to eat so I never have trouble getting them back into the house.  It works well and I have now done it with Legend and will do it with the puppy that we keep from our current litter.  It works extremely well.

People who only call their dog in at the end of a play session have trouble as the dog quickly figures out this is the end of the play.  Calling your dog to you several times during a play session helps as he/she will never know when it ends and if you are away from home and you have a special treat for when you return to the house or car, it will really help the reliability with your recall work.


Leah Morse is a certified canine trainer and the owner of Rocky Mountain Classic Canine. Leah writes a blog each week for Denver Dog Works