Obedience Training Information
The best age to start training is at seven to eight weeks of age. This way you are beginning with a clean slate instead of dealing with problem behavior that is already established. In terms of destroyed personal property, soiled carpets and your sanity, it is so much easier to start them young! Does this mean that an older dog cannot be trained? Not at all. Over the years we have had a number of “clients” that were 10 years of age or older that passed with flying colours, although the training can often take longer with an older dog.
Ben Kersen gets positive results with his ‘praise-and-play’ approach
Simple, clear and positive — that’s the personal style and professional approach of dog trainer Ben Kersen. He’s taken his straightforward methods and an understanding of canine nature and turned them into a way of life.
Ben and one of his Wonderdogs, flying over his shoulderWith megaphone in hand, Kersen has been serving up tidbits of wisdom to thousands of dogs and their owners for almost 20 years.
“Snap if they’re pulling, praise them if they’re with you, ” he calls out at a training class. “Let’s take a moment to praise them.”
But don’t get the wrong ideas. Kersen is no pushover. If there’s one thing he says sets him apart from other trainers it’s his attention to detail.
“I aim for perfection,” he says. “My Dad said to me years ago, ‘If you’re only going to wash half the car, you might as well leave it dirty because it looks better.’” That drive has garnered him praise from many, including some of Hollywood’s best trainers.
Ben Kersen and his Wonderdogs — border collies Shae, Shiloh, Fozzie and Hannah — have performed across North America and are regulars at local parades and fairs. The dogs leap effortlessly into the air to catch Frisbees, twirl around on their hind legs and respond to head and eye commands from hundreds of feet away — sometimes in unison.
Despite media appearances and a tempting offer from a major movie studio, this dog lover hasn’t forgotten the key to his success: Have fun and stay positive.
And Kersen has used that approach to help scores of local dog owners improve their relationships with their cuddly canines.
“Other trainers work on the dog. I work on the owner.”
Kersen, 38, didn’t start with formal training but simply the will to try and a dog in need of direction. A young man new to the West Coast, he found himself with time on his hands and a Doberman to train. He knew no one who trained dogs and nothing of the techniques of well-known experts. Maybe it’s a special way with animals that sets Kersen out from the pack, or perhaps it’s just his simple-yet-comprehensive style that does the trick.
” I developed my own technique, doing what comes naturally, ” he says. ” I just did what seemed right, what seemed consistent and what would make sense to the dog.”
That common sense approach worked with his first dog and continues to work with virtually every dog he’s worked with since. Regardless of the breed, size or age, he believes all dogs can be trained. There’s a lot to be gained by the owners as well.
“Other trainers work on the dog, I work on the owner. With the training they’re learning consistency and follow-through and lead roles and confidence,” he says.
“The theory behind the obedience training is very simple. Keep it as fun as you possibly can. Use praise, play and toys. But if your dog is pushing, you have to push back.”
Kersen’s “one-word, one-time” philosophy is central to his training methods: use one-word commands and only use them once. He says consistency is the key to success.
He also has a unique approach to the use of the word “no”. He believes it’s best to reserve the “n” word for behaviors you never want your dog to do, for example, chewing the furniture, jumping up on guests or biting.
Perhaps it comes right down to his understanding of dogs.
“He thinks like a dog thinks,” said one satisfied dog owner before she and her pooch started their fifth session with Kersen and his trainers. Halfway through the 12-part training program, she’s noticed a remarkable change in her dog’s behavior.
One return customer was so pleased with the results with her first dog that she enrolled her second dog, Buddy, a 125-pound Field Labrador. When Marlies McNicol first met Buddy a few months ago, she put the techniques Kersen taught her to work right away and saw big results fast. Once an abused dog that jumped up and bit and snarled, the Buddy that McNicol brings to class now is a friendly and well-behaved dog.
McNicol’s older dog, Tasha, is now so well-trained she goes to work with McNicol’s husband at the Department of National Defence and is known as the office mascot.
Sharon Horbal and her seven-month-old Blue Heeler, Sage, have also made great gains in just a few classes. At the end of one class, Sage responded to a simple “come” command from 100 metres away.
“I had huge expectations for her but that was beyond what I expected from her by only the fourth session.”
Horbal checked five other trainers before she enrolled in Kersen’s program. She says she was impressed with his “praise-and-play” approach and the way his own dogs act as role models for the “students.”
When teaching owners to relate with their dogs, Kersen never forgets to emphasize the positive. “It’s a frame of mind. If you think positive, it’s amazing what you can do.” His new video Is Your Dog Driving You Crazy? provides owners with the foundation needed for successful training-the walking exercise, the sit command, the come command, the down command and creative solutions to common problems. And the emphasis is always on providing your dog with a positive, stress-free training environment and plenty of motivation and enthusiasm.
“Any fool can train a dog to respond through force or through fear, but that’s not what my technique is all about. My technique is motivating the dog,” Kersen says.
“The reason we make it positive is so both the dog and the owner have fun, so it’s not a chore like going to work in the morning. It’s kind of like good therapy in a sense,”
Among Kersen’s successes are aggressive dogs that have learned to obey their owners and play safely with other dogs and bored pooches that have learned to have a lot more fun.
The most touching testimonials come from owners who were on the verge of having their dogs put down because of uncontrollable behavior. Those are the cases that mean the most o Kersen, who says many dogs are put to sleep each year for common problems that can be solved with proper training.
“If I can make even a small dent in those numbers, there’s a success right there,” he says.
What it comes down to for this unwaveringly optimistic dog trainer is “saving dogs’ lives and bettering the relationships between people and their dogs.”
Ben offers DVD’s that give you his expert guidance in the convenience of your home. Thousands of dog owners have trained their dogs successfully by using Ben’s fun, fast, and simple methods. For more information click here.
Problem Behaviour Consultation – starts at $45 + HST
Imagine a stress-free relationship with your dog! No more soiled carpets, barking, door dashing, or chewed-up prized possessions. Try a 1 hour consultation – you will be amazed at the results.
We have 3 different categories within our group session – puppy, novice and advanced. One of the best things about our group session is that Ben is still the primary instructor (with help from his staff)! Our clients are also able to work at their own speed – whether you have a puppy or an older dog, our group session is tailored to each individual’s needs.
Our group session runs from 7:00 pm–8:15 pm, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday over the course of one month (12 sessions).This immersion method has proven to be highly effective in accelerating the learning process for both dogs and their owners. There is also lots of individual instruction in our group session with an average of 6-7 clients per instructor. Quite often the students in Ben’s Professional Dog Trainers Program are on-site assisting which means a lot of one-on-one help for you and your dog. Cost is $289 + HST.
- Sit command
- Come command
- Stay command
- Down command
- Walking on leash without pulling
- Extreme distractions—such as another dog running directly past your dog after a ball
- Distance commands up to the length of a football field (over 100 meters)
- Hand signals—your dog will respond to either voice or hand commands
- Off-leash control, not just in your back yard but in the midst of our group training sessions with many other dogs and distractions
You may find it hard to believe that even a young puppy can perform these responses after one month of training. You are invited to attend our free drop-in class to witness these results for yourself and to talk to clients who have recently completed training.
Results will vary depending on each participant’s homework!!
Contact us to get started!
- You Can’t Beat the Hours!
Whether you prefer mornings, afternoons or evenings, we can deliver. For clients with busy schedules, this is one of the biggest advantages of individual over group classes.
If you live within Greater Victoria, we can usually schedule your appointments within 5 to 10 minutes of your home.
- Fast Results!
Although our group sessions are great, nothing beats one on one attention for focused learning and amazing results.
- Real-to-Life Training!
We train in high distraction areas: near skateboarders, seagulls, dog parks and fields full of rabbits! If you prefer, we can come to your home or board your dog while training for an additional charge.
- Extreme Dog Distractions and Socialization
Between Ben, his staff and his students in the Professional Dog Trainers Program, there are always a lot of dogs for your dog to be tested and socialized with!
- Lots of Options!
Our clients have 3 distinctive teaching styles to choose from:
- You do all of the handling with your dog while we give you instruction as you train.
- We share the dog handling 50/50 so that you can watch and then try the techniques with us instructing.
- We do all of the leg-work and transfer the commands to you towards the end of training.
We also give you the option of what training methods you would like used. This includes all positive (using food and toys as motivation) or balanced training.
You Call the Play!
You set the daily agenda. If one day you want to focus on barking and the next off-leash, we will work with you on your goals.
At the end of your dogs training, we won’t leave you hanging! There are numerous different options for ongoing training that you can take advantage of for your dogs lifetime at no extra charge! Click here for more information. This enables you to build on your relationship and ensure that your dogs training continues to advance and not backslide.
Cost to train with Ben Kersen is $110 / hour. To get an idea of the sweat, passion and intensity that go into Ben’s training session, view a sample session here.
To read Ben’s career highlights click here.
Cost is $70 / hour to train one on one with Heather Millard. Heather is Ben’s senior instructor and has been with Ben full time for over 8 years.
To read Heather Millard’s biography click here.
Cost to train with a local graduate of Ben’s Professional Dog Trainer’s Program is $55 per hour. Click here to read a recent testimonial from a client who trained with Rob, a graduate from 2011.
This level of training is the ultimate! With this program we do all the “leg work” for you. Over a 3 month period, your dog will receive 2 – 3 hours of training a day, 5 – 6 days per week and will be trained to an unbelievably high standard through our Professional Dog Trainers Program. After the training is completed, you will have unlimited access, for the lifetime of your dog, to our free training options to insure you know what to do with your newly trained dog!
Cost is $1500 + HST. This price includes a space for you in our Group Session as well as some individual training lessons to ensure all commands transfer smoothly. If you currently have your dog in daycare, you are probably paying more that this! Why not get your dog trained for less money?
If you live in Victoria:
1) You will be dropping your dog off at school each morning and picking him up each evening. If your schedule is tight we are also able to arrange for a student to pick up and drop off for a small fee.
2) Offset the cost of the program with the income you can make by housing a student while they attend our program. Students pay approximately $500-$1200 / month for a furnished room or self enclosed suite depending on size etc. Food can be added for an additional charge.
The average age of students is 30-35 and most are females. Approximately half the students come without dogs but would be happy to live with yours! You can also arrange to have our student transport your dog to and from class each day which will save you time and gas money.
If you are from out of town:
1) You can board your dog with a student who will transport the dog to and from class each day.
2) You can board your dog at our pet hotel for the duration of the program. An additional fee for transportation will apply.
“I consider this experience a giant success for both Ruby and myself. I do appreciate that where Ruby is concerned it will be a lifelong process but that I will forever have the support, resources and coaching of Ben and his staff. I believe that Ben’s program has saved my dog’s life and I am forever grateful!”
Doggie College begins in the last week of March and second week of September each year. To understand and appreciate how this training will forever improve your relationship with your dog, click on this link to see a video of the Professional Dog Trainers Program.
Is your dog overweight or out of shape? Time to join the Wonderdog Run Club! This service is more than a run in the park! There is a lot of training that goes into teaching the dogs to run off leash as a pack ignoring distractions along the way.
The Victoria Wonderdog Run Club takes place on Saturday mornings at 9:30AM.
Clients are not required to participate but may join the run if fast enough!
Ben and the dogs run for one to two hours. This service is by donation only with all proceeds going to World Vision Click here for more information. The suggested donation is $30 per session. Payment will not be made out to Ben – all proceeds will go directly to World Vision.
- There will be a pickup and drop off service available for a small additional charge (usually around $7/trip depending on where you live).
- You also have the option of picking your dog up at noon or 5:30PM instead of right after run club. Your dog will arrive home very tired and happy!
- Wonderdog Run Club meets rain or shine!
- All owners will need to bring proof of inoculations or titer testing.
Contact us to register! See you at Wonderdog Run Club!
If it’s not convenient to bring your dog when coming to register, that’s okay as this is a registration session only. If you are bringing your dog, please leave him / her in your vehicle when you first arrive.
As there may be others signing up just before or just after you arrive, please come on schedule instead of early or late.
When you enroll in any of Ben’s dog training programs, his unique training DVD’s are always at your fingertips. There is a wealth of information in this valuable resource including all of the key points that make the training successful, regardless of your dog’s age or breed.
Worldwide Dog Training – 4 Options
Option 1: Graduates from my Professional Dog Trainers Program are located from Santiago, Chile, to Tokyo, Japan and all points in between! Please contact us to find graduates of Ben’s program in your area.
Option 2: Ben has hosted numerous training seminars across North America. These seminars made the news on radio, television and newsprint in each city he has visited with the Wonderdogs. Ben offers excellent rates for groups of 20 or more participants
Option 3: Ben’s DVD series! These products are action packed, and full of information on Ben’s fun and motivational training techniques. Whether you have a new puppy, juvenile delinquent, or senior citizen Ben’s DVDs will jump start the training process! For more info on Ben’s DVD series Click here.
Option 4: Virtual dog training. If you own a webcam, Ben’s virtual dog training could be the most convenient option to put Ben live, and in “real time” in your living room! If you get your doggy friends and family members together you can save even more with this exciting and innovative option. Ben has coached clients all over the world and can do the same for you quickly and inexpensively.
Greater Vancouver Area
If you live in the Greater Vancouver area, there are a number of training venues that we have available (from Downtown to New Westminster). Contact us with information on where you live and we will accommodate you.
Greater Victoria Area
If you live within Greater Victoria, we can usually schedule your training sessions within 5–10 minutes of your home. We train in high distraction areas: near skateboarders, seagulls, dog parks and fields full of rabbits! If you prefer, we can come to your home or board your dog at our training location for an additional charge. We have indoor and outdoor facilities, so “short hair” clients need not worry!
Our office is located at 1639 Charleton Road, Victoria, B.C. We also offer training in Colwood and Brentwood Bay.
Please contact us for more information and for rates.
Ben’s guarantee simply states that you must be satisfied with the quality of dog obedience training provided in the group session. At the completion of training, if you are not satisfied, let Ben know and additional training will be provided until you are satisfied, no matter how long it takes. If we are unable to train your dog, you won’t be charged; your payment will be refunded in full!
Since leaving Victoria a few months after finishing the first level of training, I have been unable to find training classes that are as motivating and productive as Ben’s.
Judy Margison, Kelowna, BC
“…By the time the hour was up Koda was not jumping on people, he was sitting on command and staying there while other dogs walked around him. And all this was done while he was off-leash! It amazed my husband and I. And what impressed us the most was that Koda was enjoying every minute of it!…”
Julie Bentley, Sooke, B.C .