Dog Works Training Centers-Sevice Dog: Alaric

February 14, 2011

Service Dog: ALARIC


Client’s Name: Leah W.

Dogs Name: “Alaric”

City: Denver, CO

Breed: German Shepherd

Likes: Lacrosse balls, helping his handler, alerts her to mood swings, and helps comfort and provide a “safe” zone in crowds

Pet-Peeves: unruly dogs

Favorite Toy: Lacrosse balls

Favorite Treat: basted bones

Favorite Walk: large parks with lots of things to see

Best Trick: Camp Counselor “Qyain” says I do a great job for Leah as her service dog.

Arrival Story: I was born at Dreamchaser Kennels. Camp Director Michele Forto owned my mom and dad and she designed my development and training purposefully so that I would grow up and become a service dog.

Bio: I’m 2 years old and I just earned my certification as a full-fledged service dog.

Motto: “Hide Your Heart”

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Michele Forto | Team Ineka | Alaska Dog Works | Mushing Radio | Dog Works Radio | Denver Dog Works | Daily Post


Michele Forto is the lead trainer for Denver Dog Works and Alaska Dog Works and the host of the popular radio shows, Mush! You Huskies and Dog Works Radio Shows

The Adventures of Alaric-Part 9

September 10, 2010

Adventures of Alaric 9

Alaric’s path has changed. Alaric is no longer needed by his handler and has been returned to Denver Dog Works after just 4 short months of working virtually part-time.

Alaric has a few issues; he has a fear of other dogs and he gets very excited to receive attention from people.  His fear of other dogs is being worked on under the advisement of Dr. Robert Forto, Ph.D. and he is being taught techniques for more acceptable greeting practices.

Alaric is a wonderful dog who understands his job and performs it quite well.  He is energetic and carefree and will encourage his owners to get out and play often.

Alaric has interviewed with another lady with depression and he came on a bit strong at first but calmed down and warmed up to her quickly.  We went on a walk and Alaric showed interest in her and made sure she was okay by checking on her and he noticed people around us and pricked his ears up and watched two individuals closely – this is part of his training – check out the surroundings and make sure his handler feels safe.

It will take several training sessions with this handler to develop into a solid team.  You see Alaric has all of the necessary training he just needs a handler prepared to understand him and love him so that he can show what he can do.

Alaric will never be a working dog who enjoys playing at the dog park, it’s not his style.  He will be cautious and protective over his handler and will choose to be with one person over a group any day.  Let’s all remember that Alaric is a German Shepherd and this breed is highly excitable and highly protective by instinct, and loyal to their owners.  He will perform his job well with understanding by his owner of his personality and breed disposition.


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

The Adventures of Alaric Part 8

July 11, 2010

The Adventures of Alaric  Part 8

Great news! Alaric is halfway through his 90-day board and train and is successfully completing his programs.  Alaric took his Canine Good Citizen test this past Saturday and passed! Great Job!

This week Alaric is having a sleep over with his handler.  They are building their bond and working hard to making the transition comfortable.

Alaric has been helping train his friend Toby while we take them out on field trips.  Alaric is getting more and more confidence and working through his unwanted behaviors and replacing them with behaviors that will help his handler.

Alaric is a psychiatric service dog whose duties include; safety, comfort, providing a force field, which means keeping people away and out of his handlers space when asked to do so, he will also react to anxiety and lead his handler out of areas of stress, emotional support, and companionship.

A psychiatric service dog has a difficult job, their handlers don’t appear to be suffering from any ailment and therefore receive lots of ridicule, snickers, and just out right rude behavior from society.  When you see a service dog please don’t cast judgment onto the handler.  Simply smile and say hello to them and move on about your day.


Michele Forto is the Denver Dog Training Examiner, a certified canine trainer at Denver Dog Works and the co-host of the Dog Doctor Radio Show

The Adventures of Alaric Part 7

July 8, 2010

The Adventures of  Alaric Part  7

Alaric, has been working very hard.  We have taken him on many field trips this week and he is showing progress in public and gains confidence with each visit.

Today, Alaric was scheduled to have his first over night visit with his handler, this has been postponed.

This weekend Alaric will be accompanying us to many picnics and BBQ’s – exposure to fireworks can be a very frightening and dangerous thing for dogs.  Please be sure to read my article about fireworks and your dog in this week’s Denver Dog Training Examiner.

On Saturday, Alaric will take his Canine Good Citizen test once he passes this his public access training and service training will be in full swing.  Alaric is learning confidence, manners, comfort, hugs, crowd deterring, safety, watch, and many more to help his handler feel more comfortable in her surroundings.

At Denver Dog Works we use the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen test as a first step towards service work.  Alaric has passed this class before about a year ago.  It’s a good idea to re-test your dog every two years to be sure they are retaining what they’ve learned and to keep you practicing.

If you’d like more information regarding the CGC classes offered at  Denver Dog Works give me a call. 303-578-9881

The Adventures of Alaric Part 6

June 30, 2010

The Adventures of Adventures of Alaric Part 6

Alaric, worked out in the green space in front of his handler’s home.  He worked around other dogs, children and other distractions.  Alaric’s handler is getting better and better at giving him directions and him following them.

Alaric is learning to respect other dogs no matter what they are doing around him.  He likes to play with them, but has barked loudly in a way that makes his handler nervous. Alaric is adjusting to his new jobs and lifestyle and doing quite well.

Next week he will be spending the a few days going downtown, to malls, grocery stores, and visiting schools.


Michele Forto is Denvers Dog Training Examiner, a certified canine trainer at Denver Dog Works and the co-host of the Dog Doctor Radio Show

The Adventures of Alaric Part 5

June 20, 2010

Adventures of Alaric  Part 5

By Michele Forto

This week Alaric has been brushing up on his manners in public, around other dogs, and other people.  He went out to the Aurora Mall and underwent his first pre-test for public access.  If he had taken a real test, we require at least an 80% to be registered as “in-training”.  Alaric has been out of practice publicly for about 4 months.

Alaric entered the mall at the food court, and was received by lots of stares and snickering but we pressed on.  He stayed in a good heel position and at times hugged his handler by walking closer.   As we progressed through the mall we walked him closer to the glass barrier, he was afraid at first but calmed down after a few feet.  We met a nice elderly couple who commented on Alaric’s behavior and after a few moments with them answering questions and visiting we moved on.

Alaric entered the elevator which has an open view and did great, he laid down on the floor and relaxed.  He did not run or pull once the door opened, he waited patiently for his handler to lead him out.  Alaric allowed strangers to walk by while he was on a down stay and did not startle when a toddler ran by on the tile floor smacking his flip-flops as loudly as he could.

We then went back towards the food court, stopping at a few stores along the way that had tight areas for the team to maneuver through the team did great, even passing stuffed animals!

The food court can actually be a tougher test on a dog than a regular restaurant; there’s lots of people and kids and many different smells in a small area.  We placed Alaric under the table on a down stay and tested him with small pieces of chicken and French fries falling to the floor – he looked but didn’t touch.  Alaric did however become nervous as a large crowd of people approached and he sat up from his down, we let him know it was okay and he returned to a down.  Now I say nervous but he could have been alerting his handler to the crowd approaching her from behind as well.

All in all, Alaric performed well for his first pre-test scoring an 80%!


Michele Forto is Denvers Dog Training Examiner, a certified canine trainer at Denver Dog Works and the co-host of the Dog Doctor Radio Show

The Adventures of Alaric Part 3

June 7, 2010

The Adventures of Alaric Part 3

By Michele Forto

If you’ve been following The Adventures of Alaric then you know that Alaric is working to become a psychiatric service dog.  He is completing a 12 week board and train at Denver Dog Works called Camp Works 3; where he is being trained in advanced obedience, Canine Good Citizen, and beginning public access training.  Alaric visits his handler weekly to build trust and bond with his handler as well as to give her the support she needs.

This week Alaric was due for his visit that ended up shorter than we’d like.  His handler wasn’t feeling well.  Alaric and I showed up and she was nowhere to be seen.  I came in and unleashed Alaric who immediately went to the kitchen to grab a quick sip of water, then returned to me with a bit of a whine.  He seemed upset as I spoke with the handler’s roommate.  I asked Alaric to find her by saying her name.  I simply said “find _____” (he has not been trained to do this and they’ve only been meeting each other for 3 weeks) He went directly to her bedroom door and gave a light scratch on the door and a little whine.  Once she appeared he became elated with excitement.  It was a happy reunion.

We then worked a bit with Alaric on stays while she went out of his sight and repeated this behavior of hide and seek.  Alaric is looking less and less at me for reassurance and guidance and keeping his watchful eye on his handler.  The bond is being built and getting stronger and stronger.  His handler is commanding Alaric who without hesitation performs his commands.

Also this week Alaric was taken to the grocery store, where he pulled too much.  He was taken to lunch with me yesterday before his visit with his handler where he performed well and remained under the table.


Michele Forto is Denvers Dog Training Examiner, a certified canine trainer at Denver Dog Works and the co-host of the Dog Doctor Radio Show.