Service Dog Training in Denver

June 18, 2011






Service Dog Training at Denver Dog Works

Each and every service dog that is trained through Denver Dog Works and Michele Forto and her team has an individualized training plan. Michele trains for autistic, mobility, medical alert, and psychiatric service work. In each case, the needs of the individual are met and training of each dog is specialized for their handler’s specific needs. It takes approximately two years to train a service dog and takes a tremendous amount of patience, handling and work from everyone involved, including the family members of the service dog recipient. While on occasion we can train a dog that you already have, we have found over the years that there are several breeds that work better than others. In the past, we have found that German Shepherds make good service dog candidates for autistic, psychiatric, mobility, and medical alert service dogs because of their temperament and protective tendencies. German Shepherds have been used for hundreds of years as service dogs and have proven bloodlines. We have found Labradors to be well suited for service as well. Some mixed breeds make good service dogs and recently we have found that Labradoodles work well as service dogs.

Dog Works Training Centers: Private Training: Ellie

February 17, 2011

Private Training: ELLIE


Client’s Name: Kathy S.

Dogs Name: “Ellie”

City: Denver, CO

Breed: West Highland Terrier

Likes: her sister Savannah, hanging out with her handler, coming to class

Pet-Peeves: rowdy puppies

Favorite Toy:

Favorite Treat: Puperoni

Favorite Walk: all around my neighborhood

Best Trick: Camp Counselor “Qyain” says I’m getting better at listening and learning how to stay while distracted.

Arrival Story: I began training with Camp Director Michele Forto at 16 weeks of age.  I have completed puppy obedience and I’m currently enrolled in intermediate obedience

Bio: I’m 11 months old and I love hanging out with my handler and my sister.  One of my favorite things is riding shotgun in my mom’s Mercedes!

Motto: “Lets Ride”

We proudly feed and recommend

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

Dog Works Training Centers-Service Dog: Arthur

February 14, 2011

Service Dog: ARTHUR


Client’s Name: Noel N.

Dogs Name: “Arthur”

City: Denver, CO

Breed: West Highland Terrier

Likes: meeting new people, helping his handler, alerts her to mood swings, and helps comfort and provide a “safe” zone in crowds, and his knight in shining armor.

Pet-Peeves: not being able to be center stage

Favorite Toy:

Favorite Treat: duck biscuits

Favorite Walk: likes going everywhere with his handler

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

Arrival Story: I was brought to Camp so I could learn to help my handler in public situations.

Bio: I’m 3 years old and I am still in training to become a service dog for my handler. I am learning a lot from my trainer and Camp Director Michele Forto – she says if I can be patient and not want to be the center of attention I’ll be able to help my handler even more.

Motto: “We’ve Only Just Begun”

We proudly feed and recommend

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

Therapy team dreams

December 20, 2010

Michele Forto

Volunteering is a wonderful way to give back to your local community.  There are many ways to volunteer but one in particular that seems to be very popular today is volunteering as a Therapy Team with your dog.

At Dog Works Training Centers, we get countless calls and inquiries monthly regarding individuals interested in certifying their dog as a therapy dog.  Many times, the individual is taken aback once they learn what it takes. You see not every dog can or wants to work.  Not every dog has the temperament or drive to make itself available emotionally and physically to strangers in new unfamiliar environments.

[ Info on Therapy Dog Training at Denver Dog Works ]

That being said Dog Works Training Centers offers many different levels of Therapy Team training.  Including temperament testing and recertification training, we are familiar with the practices and testing requirements of Delta Society (, Therapy Dogs International, Children’s Hospital, and S.A.R.A. therapy team certification.

If you are thinking about volunteering with your dog and becoming a therapy team take some time and research your endeavor.  Ask at the local assisted living homes, hospitals, schools, and libraries if they utilize this service and what certification they are looking for.  There are also several private therapists, in home care businesses and enrichment programs that utilize therapy teams.  Your local dog trainer is a great resource and I would recommend starting with a trainer who is certified or experienced in therapy training.

Training recommendations for therapy dogs; basic obedience, Canine Good Citizen, a form of public access training, and proper socialization with people and outside environments.


Michele Forto is the Denver Dog Training Examiner, the lead trainer at Denver Dog Works and the co-host of the Dog Works Radio Show.


Is your puppy bored?

December 19, 2010

Michele Forto

Believe it or not your puppy can get bored!  How can that be?  My puppy has baskets full of toys in the house and outside.  I take my puppy on two walks a day and spend time with him in the evening.

When I’m asked to come to a client’s home to help them when their puppy has been chewing the furniture or is urinating from excitement or isn’t able to quiet down the first thing I observe is that there are too many choices.

Too many choices = boredom

I recommend just five toys and activities.  I have found that this keeps the puppy interested and keeps the family interested.  With all of the choices out there in the big box stores its no wonder we buy too much for our puppy.  We are sucked into the marketing skeem and the guilt ridden commercials with the cute and cuddlies with big brown eyes.  Truth be known, puppies will seek out items that feel good, taste good and make their teeth feel better.  They like chewing on the table legs and door jams because wood, although hard is also chewy and soft in a dog’s mouth offering just enough give when they sink their teeth in.  Puppies seek out shoes, socks, and other unmentionables because truth be known, they smell like us.

[ Rewind: Puppy Wish List ]

The following are the toys I recommend for medium to large breed dogs – remember a puppy will only entertain himself for so long.

  1. Tennis ball or rubber ball of like size
  2. Soccer ball – size 3 slightly deflated (outside)
  3. Stuffable treat toys like KONG
  4. Frisbee made from material, hard plastic can hurt their mouths
  5. Dog safe stuffed toy with rope

I also recommend that you incorporate obedience training into your games with your puppy.  This challenges them and makes the playtime more interactive.


Michele Forto is the Denver Dog Training Examiner, the lead trainer at Denver Dog Works and the co-host of the Dog Works Radio Show.


Holiday Pet Safety

December 19, 2010

My name is Dr. Robert Forto and I am the training director of Denver Dog Works and Alaska Dog Works. I am asked all the time about holiday do’s and don’ts from pet owners. While I always offer an article right around Christmas about training Christmas puppies I thought it would be wise to offer some tips to pet owners on holiday safety before the season’s festivities reaches a crescendo. While most of this is common sense, it is the little things that we overlook during this busy time of the year that can turn a joyous season into a nightmare for your pet if you do not take some steps to ensure their safety.

The holiday season can get pretty hectic, and with the decorations and extra goodies around the house, there is a lot your pet can find to get into. Here are a few safety tips to help keep your pets safe and happy during the festivities:

Christmas trees

Firmly secure the tree in its stand, and consider wire or twine ties attached to the wall to help secure the tree. You’ll want to make sure the tree doesn’t topple over if, or more likely when, kitty tries to climb the tree.

Dogs and cats will often try to drink water from the reservoir in the stand. The sap from the tree itself may irritate your pet’s stomach, and preservatives added to the water may be toxic. Devise a cover to fit around the base of the tree—even a towel wrapped around the trunk covering the stand will do.

[ Rewind: Christmas Puppies? Maybe Not. ]

Research also shows that the chemicals used in producing artificial trees contain chemicals that can be harmful or even fatal if ingested by your pet. While there are many pro’s and con’s to having a natural versus an artificial Christmas tree, this fact alone should make the decision a little easier.

Ornamentation is very attractive, especially to kittens, cats and puppies, but may be deadly. The tinsel, ribbon and glitter can cause intestinal blockages. Protect your pet by placing these items high enough to be out of reach. Packages under the tree may offer the same threat—the ribbons are just too hard to resist, and your pet may end up chewing on them while playing.

Those wonderful goodies

Holidays are the time for lots of baking, and receiving of baked gifts. These items smell just wonderful to your pet. Your dog may help himself to the candy, cookies, or part of the holiday meal if you are not looking. Eating people food may lead to indigestion, diarrhea, or worse. Remember, items containing chocolate can poison a dog, even if it is a small amount.

Remains of the holiday meal left on countertops, tables, and even in the garbage will entice your pets. If there is a way to get to it, be assured your dog will certainly try. Bones from turkey, a roast, or ham may splinter if eaten. Older garbage may even contain enough bacteria to poison a pet. Be careful where the trash is held while waiting to be disposed of.

And of course I don’t need to remind you that begging at that table can cause major behavior problems in the future…

Other Decorations

Plants, especially poinsettias, are often used for decoration in November and December.  Some of these plants contain toxins that can irritate your pet’s gastrointestinal tract if chewed on or eaten. Eating enough of some plants may poison your dog or cat. In some cases it may be the leaves, in others the stem, berries, or roots. Your veterinarian or behaviorist can help guide you, or you can do a bit of research at the library or online to see if any of your holiday plants may be harmful to your pets.


On Christmas morning when all of those toys are being played with (and soon forgotten, I might add) they contain many hazards for pets. Small toys, balls, marbles, board game pieces, BB’s from the Red Rider BB gun with the compass in the stock that your son just had to have!, and electric cords are all dangerous to your cat or dog.

Taking a few minutes to set some family guidelines and spot potential safety hazards could keep this holiday season from having serious consequences for your four-footed family member.

In the coming weeks Dr. Forto will be publishing and article on training Christmas puppies. His position is that you should never give a puppy for a Christmas present but thousands are given as gifts each year. In this article Dr. Forto will discuss when to train your dog, how to properly care for him and who should be in charge. Just remember that shelters are full of dogs that were once bundles of Christmas morning joy that grew up too fast and were not trained. Dr. Forto and his certified trainers at Denver Dog Works are here to help.

This article is provided as a general overview of the topic. Always consult your veterinarian or behaviorist for specific information related to diseases or medical care for pets.


Dr. Robert Forto is a canine behaviorist and the training director of Denver Dog Works in Colorado. He can be reached through his website at


Dog Works Radio: Pit Bulls as Service Dogs? Not in Denver

December 13, 2010

Pit Bulls as Service Dogs?

On the latest edition of the Dog Works Radio we spoke to an expert in ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) policy in Denver, Candice Adler about the recent ruling to not allow Pit Bulls as service dogs in Denver.

Pit Bulls as service dogs will be not allowed in the City and County of Denver, CO in a landmark ruling last week. The City Council turned down down an amendment to the decade long breed ban that includes Pit Bulls. A suit was brought forth by a US Solider to be allowed to keep his pit bull as a service dog. The Department of Justice announced this summer that new rules will be in place this coming March. The City of Denver said it doesn’t care and they are not making exceptions. A suit is in the works…

The Dog Works Radio Show is hosted by well respected canine behaviorist, Dr. Robert Forto and is brought to you by Twine Group Media and Dog Works Training Centers. The Dig Doctor Radio Show demonstrates through guests, call-ins, chats and social media how dog owners can have a balanced relationship with their dogs.

Listen to the latest show here:

Dog Works Radio: Pit Bulls as Service Dogs? Not in Denver

We welcome your comments suggestions and concerns. Please comment below or send them to

[ Rewind: Mush You Huskies: Ballad of the Northland ]

[ Rewind: Dog Works Radio: Atticus the Wolfdog of a US Solider ]


Dr. Robert Forto is a canine behaviorist and the training director for Dog Works Training Centers. Dr. Forto is a musher currently in Alaska training for his first Iditarod under the Team Ineka banner and the host of the popular programs, Dog Works Radio and Mush! You Huskies.