Pittsburgh dog trainers discuss obedience school
Who we talked to
Kate Sullivan, owner
Kate Sullivan Pet Dog Training Services
Joe Orsino Jr., owner
Mr. O's: The Dog Training Place
2622 Leechburg Road Lower
Val Klein, owner
Family Dog Obedience Butler
What services do you offer?
Kate Sullivan: "Ninety-nine percent of what I do is private, in-home training. I focus a lot more on behavior issues than obedience."
Joe Orsino Jr.: "Our main program is one-day training. Drop your dog off in the morning and he's trained when you pick him up in the afternoon. We also have an in-home program, a behavior seminar and protection training."
Val Klein: "I offer group training classes in two counties and in-home training covering everything from puppies to advanced agility and problem-solving."
Why should people hire an animal trainer?
Kate Sullivan: "No. 1, pets need structure, discipline, rules, leadership."
Joe Orsino Jr.: "Training your dog makes him part of the family rather than a pain for the family."
Val Klein: "People try to treat their dogs like children, and that doesn't work very well."
What methods of training do you use?
Kate Sullivan: "I take a little bit from everything, but most of it is positive reinforcement. I stay away from shock collars, pinch collars."
Joe Orsino Jr.: "I have a positive reinforcement method. I do use choke collars. I've never injured a dog with a choke collar."
Val Klein: "I've used everything from positive clicker training to choke collars. It's not necessarily the tools, but the techniques."
Do you train both the pet and owner?
Kate Sullivan: "I won't do a session without the owner being there."
Joe Orsino Jr.: "Working with the owner is just as important as working with the dog."
Val Klein: "It's really all about training the people."
How do you charge, and what is the cost?
Kate Sullivan: "Forty-five to $50 for a private session, with a $25 discount if they pre-pay for a five-week package."
Joe Orsino Jr.: "For our one-day program, we charge $600. But we guarantee that for the rest of the dog's life. For our in-home program, we charge $300. For our seminars, we charge $250."
Val Klein: "House calls are based on time and mileage. Rates start at $70 an hour plus miIeage. I also offer four-, six-, and eight-week classes, ranging from $70 to $140."
Can you teach an old pet new tricks?
Kate Sullivan: "They are never too old to learn."
Joe Orsino Jr.: You may not be able to teach a 10-year-old dog to jump through hoops, but you certainly can teach him how to behave."
Val Klein: "Yes. It all goes back to training the owner. If the owner wants it bad enough, it can be done."