Christina H....."When we adopted our dog, Dash, from HSNIE we were given a folder filled with papers, coupons, and business cards. One of those business cards was for the Good Dog Center. When we got home I popped the folder in a drawer for safe keeping and promptly enrolled Dash in a big box store obedience course. While Dash passed all three levels of obedience he demonstrated severe separation anxiety and was extremely leash reactive. Having completed all of the courses offered by the store and seeing little to no improvement I decided my dog needed a job. So I dug out my Good Dog Center card and made a phone call. From the first lesson we had with Carmen it became clear that this training experience was going to be very different. Dash began running agility and loving it. Carmen was there every step of the way to make sure that Dash was learning and that the bond between us was being strengthened. Once winter came we moved inside. We worked alone with Carmen on obedience, agility, and staying calm and focused different situations. Carmen even brought in her own dog so that Dash could practice being around other dogs without loosing focus. Dash needed a lot of training, attention, and redirection but Carmen was there every step of the way. Dash has gone from extremely reactive, stressed, and frustrated dog to calm and well adjusted member of the family. We have the Good Dog Center to help with that, but Dash was only the beginning. When I began experiencing a sudden increase frequency and severity of panic attacks. My doctor and I had a discussion. During that conversation we decided that service dog would be a good fit for me in coping with PTSD. Later that day I contacted Carmen, who put me in touch with trainer Mike Woodson and a kennel with quality service dog puppies (RidgeView Labradors). Carmen and Mike walked me through puppy selection and preparations. About 2 months later I came home with an incredibly focused yellow lab puppy. We started training Hazel Grace at 7 ½ weeks. She has taken Puppy Kindergarten, Jr. Puppy, and Manners Too in addition to private lessons with Carmen focused on service dog work. Hazel is now a 10 month old puppy who can scent panic attacks and create space by blocking others in a stand stay. The Good Dog Center has been there for every tiny little puppy step. I know that Hazel will successfully complete service dog training and I have everyone at the Good Dog Center to thank for it. I have been asked by several people, including my doctor and vet, to serve as a reference for others who are training service dogs and family pets. I always recommend the Good Dog Center. They are the very best. You and your furry family member will be in good hands at the Good Dog Center."
Karla B.....As a parent of a junior handler, I can’t say enough good things about the Good Dog Center. My daughter, Koryn, started out showing her dog in 4H. She soon discovered that if she wanted to “do more” with her dog, then she was going to have to put the time and effort into it. We signed her up for classes at the Good Dog Center with her beagle mix, Rudy. The trainers at the Good Dog Center have been wonderful working with Koryn over the years. They are very patient with her and help her understand not only the dog’s behavior but how her actions/emotions affect the dog and his behavior as well. Everyone at the Good Dog Center, trainers and fellow students, have been a HUGE support system for Koryn as she has grown over the years. When things aren’t going so well in her teenage life, she knows she has a group of people that support her and thoroughly enjoy having her around. Carmen, all the trainers and fellow students are like a second family to her and to us. The growth I have seen in her while she has worked with her dog over the years is amazing. I am so glad we took that step to “do more”!
Toni K....We are a family of 3 Bouiver Des Flandres...a fairly large breed dog. Our journey to the Good Dog Center (GDC) stared with my semi-retirement and acquiring Tess. I wanted a dog to travel with me and be able to go for walks..I searched for a close training facility and found the GDC in Decorah. We started in puppy obedience and we both enjoyed going to school each week. We continued to enroll in a variety of classes offered and looked forward to engaging with others. Tess had puppies and my husband picked Vinny and my sister picked Jade. They also enrolled in puppy class and continued to enroll in a variety of classes. We all enjoy our weekly journey to Decorah. Each dog has earned titles and with the encouragement from Carmen the owner and other instructors, Tess and I have earned several other level titles. I never ever imagined I would be showing my dog. By attending classes you develop a bond with your dog and you both get the expertise from the instructors and great friendships made from others attending the want their dogs to be as good a companion as you do. I would highly recommend the GDC for anyone interested in training of any level - your dog with thank you and I will warn you - it's very addictive!!
Candi A.....I own, train and compete with my pack of Weimaraner and my success can be largely attributed to the skillful instructors at the Good Dog Center. I currently have dogs in training at beginner to advanced levels. While my main focus has been on competition, obedience and rally and most recently some trick training, the GDC offers
something for everyone - basics to develop a well-mannered companion, fun trick stunts, specialty classes to address behavior problems, or classes for the serious competitor.
In addition to skills needed to compete, classes offer the opportunity for dogs to develop their social skills which I find particularly useful for young dogs. Instructors bring insight and knowledge to help one develop basic skills but also correct deficiencies . Private lessons are available and can be especially beneficial to work through problems or polish ones presentation. The GDC also offers specialty seminars which give participants an opportunity to work with professional trainers from the US and abroad - an opportunity many would not have access to if not for the GDC.
We are so lucky to have access to such a wonderful facility In our community.
Debbie H....My experience at the GDC has been nothing but positive. In 2016, my husband and I had purchased an adorable yellow Labrador Retriever. We started him in Puppy Kindergarten at the age of 14 weeks, and All was going well for several months. We had gotten through PK, Basic O, and then into Manners, Too. Puppy Bjorn was turning a year old, and really became a handful. My friends would say I had to get through the growing up stage, and that Labs usually are not mature until the age of 2. Although I was faithfully going to classes and trying my hardest, we just couldnt get it together. The dog’s will-fullness and high opinion of himself made it difficult to make progress. I decided to call Carmen Hurley, the owner of GDC and ask for a private meeting to discuss my options. We loved the dog, but he was so out of control. What should we do?
Carmen’s meeting was worth it’s weight in gold. She had Bjorn figured out in two minutes, and gave me some excellent recommendations on training at home, and gave me some more options. She said that Labs really need a third year to grow up..
We changed some things around, and I began attending some classes for competition in obedience. I was with an entirely different group of people. Boy, was I at the bottom of the totem pole as far as experience, but the change in venue made a huge difference for both myself, and my dog.
Dog training has taught me many things..of course the relationship between me and my dog had grown exponentially, but I learned a whole lot more. My confidence in myself was lacking, but it improved. Concentration on the subtleties made a huge difference, I learned that improvement wasn’t going to happen by attending a class once a week. It was a daily effort, constantly paying attention to small mistakes, and fixing them Watching my friends train their dogs also was a big contribution. The support I received when Bjorn and I achieved another level of training was shared by my classmates. Each ‘team’ in the class had hurdles to climb, and I was not alone.
This past fall, Bjorn and I entered a AKC Obedience Trial in Decorah. We earned two titles, one in Obedience and one in Rally. This was an achievement I would have never thought possible 2 years ago. Of course it was a thrill to earn them, but the real prize was the connection I had made with him. He wanted to please me and he did!! The majority of the mistakes in the ring were mine (the handler), not his.
Heidi L....The hardest part of being a dog owner is saying goodbye to your beloved friend. After suffering through the loss of three dogs in a short period of time, we were finally ready to open our home to another dog. After having a bad experience with a rescue dog, we opted to work with a reputable breeder, enter Carl. The day we picked up Carl, Red wormed his way into our hearts and into our home. As the puppies (tiny terrors) grew and adjusted to our home, we knew they needed some type of behavior training. Having worked with Carmen with our rescue dog, we knew the Good Dog Center could help. Red and Carl have both completed Basic Obedience and Manners Too, both passing the S.P.O.T. test. Red has also earned his Canine Good Citizen and has taken Rally Obedience. He approaches each class with enthusiasm and willingness to greet his fans. Carl is more reserved and is working on building his confidence, which classes at the Good Dog Center has helped with immensely, especially Agility Foundations. Not only does training at the Good Dog Center allow me to build a stronger bond with the boys, but it has also allowed for new friendships to form and has provided me with a much-needed mental health break during an incredibly stressful period.
Ann G......"We were in the market for a family dog, and Herky (a Golden Retriever) was the quiet, chunky puppy in her litter. About 3 days after we brought her home, we realized that she was anything but quiet and chunky! She had endless energy, as well as confidence. At 12 weeks of age, she growled at me when I took away her rawhide bone. She had gone through puppy kindergarten, but not realizing exactly what we were dealing with, we did not diligently follow through with the home training. She quickly turned into a jumping, counter-surfing bundle of energy. Herky had an unfortunate health incident when she was 5 months old, and while she was not feeling the best, she started showing us her teeth when we would reach for her collar to put her in her kennel. When she was feeling better, she continued to show us her teeth if we reached for her collar. I contacted the Good Dog Center and had an individual training session which was life-changing (to this day, I can count on one hand the number of times she's jumped on me or counter-surfed!!). We put her back into basic obedience class, and she showed me that she loves to work and have a job. She was starting to prove herself, and we were starting to think that we could survive each other. However, I was attempting to kennel her one morning, and she was hiding along the couch snapping at me. My 5 year old was coming up behind her, obviously not aware of the situation. I was able to stop him before he grabbed her, but it absolutely terrified me (she had never once bitten and subsequently never has). That day, we decided that we were crazy to keep a 55 lb dog (with very un-Golden behaviors) in our house with a 3 and 5 year old. We felt that it was best to re-home her and contacted a Golden Retriever rescue. They were informed of all of her behaviors and asked if we would keep her until they had a foster home for her (because of her behaviors, she would not have gone to a house with kids younger that 16 years old). Realizing that this predicament was not her fault and acknowledging the trauma it would cause her, we said 'absolutely' to keeping her until there was a place for her. I also committed to continuing her obedience class and home training. She was about the 15th dog on the waiting list to be taken in and fostered before re-homing.I really began to enjoy obedience classes and working with her (primarily because she was so eager to work!). We started to see her potential, and we started to doubt our decision to re-home her. We also learned that peanut butter in a kong in her kennel prevented us from having to touch her collar to kennel her, and we learned techniques to make touching her collar a positive experience. We made the decision to keep her, and we got her off of the list before her number was called. We finished obedience class and decided to take on the Canine Good Citizen class. After she earned her Canine Good Citizen certificate, we were encouraged to try obedience training. I didn't know what it was or what to expect, but she had become SUCH a better dog that we decided to try it. The Good Dog Center introduced us to a hobby that I didn't know existed. Herky has since earned her Beginner Novice, Novice, and Open Obedience titles. She is training at the Utility level. Our new hobby and our bond got me through my husband's brain cancer diagnosis and treatment and the loss of my father and continues to get me through balancing work, family, and life. Our experience with the Good Dog Center has truly been life-changing. We have learned that training is FUN and ESSENTIAL. We have established fabulous friendships. I honestly cannot imagine my life without Herky, and I feel thankful EVERYDAY for the Good Dog Center, it's amazing instructors, and what it has taught Herky and me!!!"