Rob - This thank you is long overdue. I want to commend you for the work you did with my 9 year old Jack Russell terrier, Cosmo. I adopted Cosmo from the shelter when he was 4 months old. He was/is a very fearful dog and as a result, he exhibits fear aggression to people and other dogs. He is reactive to any person who tries to enter our house and any person or dog who tries to enter his "space" when we are out.
I had several trainers work with him over the years, and he would respond appropriately to the training while they were here with us, but he would revert back to his fear aggression as soon as they left, even when we were still using the techniques we had been taught.
As you know, my husband Gary suffered a traumatic brain injury 3 years ago and has been in hospitals and rehab facilities since. I undertook a project to have a casita built in the back of my house so Gary could come home. Knowing that I would have a contractor in and around my house for 6 months as well as having multiple caregivers here with Gary when the project was complete compelled me to try once more to have someone work with Cosmo, and I decided this time to have you take it on.
The results have been amazing. After working with you on various exercises to build Cosmo's confidence and make him less fearful, you taught me how to introduce him properly to other people in a way that is lasting, not just while you are in the room. Cosmo's list of people he is comfortable with now includes my son, my contractor, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Gary's caregivers, you and your assistants, and several of my friends. He now goes on walks with Dog Dashers, with or without Bella, and when I take him to Library Park, he will go into the stream with no coaxing whatsoever.
You definitely bonded with Cosmo from the very first visit. I remember how another trainer had told you NOT to come in the house and to only meet Cosmo down the street. The attached picture of you on the floor with Cosmo was taken that first day.
There is a wide spectrum of dog training techniques and trainers. What worked for me and Cosmo was you applying behavioral psychology to build his confidence and expose him to many new places and things so that he learned not to be afraid of everything. I am forever grateful to you for the patience you showed in teaching Cosmo, and more importantly, me, how to overcome the fear and live to tell about it.
P.S. The last picture attached is my sister-in-law, sitting on the sofa watching TV with Cosmo.
Wishes from Kitarou
Thanks Rob for so much learning and love. I forgot to mention yesterday that as well as all the many benefits of being with you, my Mom is very pleased that I am hardly barking at all at random noises and people tiptoeing by on the sidewalk outside our house.
Thanks for all the fun we had and I hope you have an awesome vacay in the beautiful place.
The Story of Jesse and Frankie
Our story is not uncommon. We are animal lovers and huge proponents of animal adoption, giving homeless animals a second chance at life. We have always had wonderful experiences with rescues. We had lost 2 of our beloved senior rescues in a year. We adopted Frankie, an amazing little guy with the best ears ever! He fit right in to the family but was very shy and seemed afraid of strangers. He was apprehensive and would bark a lot. He was a loyal pup who was easy to walk on a leash.
We added Jesse to the mix shortly after our Bailey passed away. Jesse’s was a stray found roaming the streets of Oxnard, alone, dirty and extremely thin. His first meeting with Frankie went so well, that we decided that he was going to be the newest member to the pack. Shortly after adopting Jesse, we soon learned that he had some serious issues walking on a leash as well as barking, pulling and going after every dog he would see.
It became increasing obvious that his issues required more skill than we had and it was time to get some help. We were referred to Rob and within a few minutes of talking to him, we knew we were in great hands. Rob worked with both of our “boys” and helped us understand and address their unique issues. We took trips to the dog park, the playground and various local spots where Jesse could learn confidence and the proper training to be a well behaved guy on walks. Every week we learned more advanced skills and watched him thrive. We followed Rob’s advice, practiced technics that seemed to transform Jesse. He is a model citizen on his walks. He is smart beyond belief and has retained all of his learned lessons.
As for “Mr. ears”, Frankie, well he learned to trust strangers. His training included field trips to PetSmart and the Deli, where total strangers fed him roast beef and treats. He soon learned that new people were his friends and that he developed confidence to feel secure and safe.
The two brothers are never more than an inch apart. They are well balanced, happy and playful. We have Rob to thank for giving us the tools to succeed. His patience, knowledge and experience is unparalleled. Jesse and Frankie love their "Uncle Rob". Their entire bodies wag when they see him. We are so grateful for Rob and would recommend him 150%!
-- Carlos and Terri Garcia
Sentiments from Huntly Bear
I call him "Uncle Rob" and I'm not alone to use that phrasing. Why? He loves me, guides me and protects me. He'll be my special friend and teacher forever. He is simply the best trainer a dog could ever hope to have and I'm so very grateful I had the chance to learn from him.
Lessons began when I was 4 months old (he wanted to start earlier) and he remained my trainer (and my parents' trainer) for about 9 months. We trained at malls, parks, lakes, pools and on streets. I was on leash, off leash, enjoying new faces, sights, animals, locations, boundaries and smells. As a result, I can now go anywhere as a well behaved and balanced dog.
Every moment of learning was fun and rewarding as his positive methods of teaching really do work. Whatever your dog's needs, he's the best choice for so many reasons. This was not his first career, but I believe it to be the career of his heart. You will always be in safe hands with Uncle Rob.
-- Huntly Bear Mackenzie
Buddy and Friends
Thank you for all you have done in 2014 to help Buddy and me remain as a family. We are both eternally grateful.
Diane, Star (Starlight), Sunny (Sunlight), Buddy (Bud lite).
I'm so lucky my vet recommended Rob to me. She is my 3rd dog and I got her in January. She is 3 and not very socialized. She was afraid of everything and everyone (including the car). Thanks to Rob she is now a more confident, happy dog. She delights me, is such a gift but now I can take her places so others can share in my gift. Rob made it possible for Janadu to be a carefree dog. For this I'm very appreciative.
I just wanted to share with you what is going on with Lady. Last night I took her for a walk in the neighborhood. This area around her territory is where she shows her behavioral issues most. I have mentioned seeing dogs on leash coming in our direction is a real struggle to distract, etc.
Well, last night I took her for a walk in the neighborhood. A teenage girl with her Australian Shepherd mix was coming towards us...did Lady bark?....did Lady jump???....did Lady pull on leash???? NOOOOO!!!!!! Instead, she put her butt in the air ready to PLAY. On leash, the dogs smelled each other and wagged tails and had a nice greeting!
Was this a fluke? What is happening to my Lady? Is she not well????
Well, this morning I took her for a walk and a dad and his daughter were walking their 2 year old Australian Shepherd/German Shepherd mix. Lady reacted the exact same way as the night before. We were by an open field so we took our dogs off leash so they could chase each other crazily for 10 minutes.
We are back home now and I’m about to get ready for work. Lady is passed out on the floor, having had a great start to the day!
Thank you, Rob.
Keeping up with Cooper
"We can't endorse Rob Lerner highly enough!
After fostering and then adopting a newborn Pit-mix puppy who had been thrown into the trash, we started to witness some dog aggressive behaviors from Cooper toward our senior dogs at home, as well as toward other dogs. We sought the help of several dog "Trainers" who informed us that our pup's issues were insurmountable. Thankfully, we eventually connected with Rob who taught us about counter conditioning, desensitization, and creating conditioned emotional responses using only positive techniques. He enlightened us in ways to help build confidence in our dog, while minimizing fear and we began to see results. Though we've shared our home with dogs all our lives, Rob's wisdom, experience, and intuitive nature opened our eyes to techniques we had not known. It is obvious that working with dogs (and their guardians) is Rob's passion, as he is simply AMAZING!
Rob is also a lovely, kind, genuine person and we feel grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from and work with him."
-- Debra and Michael Lichstein, Agoura Hills, CA
"The training, the patience, and the love were beyond what we could have imagined.
Rob exceeded all expectations, and because of his hard work and dedication to our
family and puppy, we know that our Labernese, Bradley, will be a gentle, loving, and
loyal companion for our family. Thank you, Rob!"
-The Rose Family (David, Lynda, Sam, Josh, and Moriah)
I thought you might want to know about your client's progress. Kala is doing so well, and she keeps proving me that her training is not a one-time/10 weeks course but an ongoing process, and she eventually GETS it.
So for the details... On Saturday morning we had our friend Ric over (the friend she used to growl at) and when he came Kala was upstairs, still sleeping. I instructed Ric how to meet Kala (no eye contact, treats, etc.) and when she came down she took the treats from him, smelled him, even let him pet her and proceeded to go lie down in the sun. No growling, no aggressive body language, just calm.
Two days ago, Mitch and I were walking Kala at about 10 pm and Benn joined us on his skateboard. He was running ahead with Kala when an off-leash dog ran toward them from an open garage. While Benn was telling the owner to take his dog, Kala just stood next to him. From a distance I saw what was happening, but I did not hear Kala bark or see her lunge at the dog. Benn said she did not make a sound just stood next to him.
Today on our walk, we saw a few dogs across the street from us, and all I had to tell Kala was "watch me" and she turned and watched me (of course I rewarded the behavior). She saw the dogs and sensed their scent and chose to listen to me.
Overall, she is doing really well with people coming over and people walking by us. She may not be a dog park dog but she is able to redirect her attention, sometimes just by the sight of the dogs.
I know it's a long email, but I'm really excited about her progress and felt I had to share it with you, since you had a big part in it.
Thanks again for everything you helped us with. Talk to you soon,
I really wanted to thank you for making the stressful fire evacuation much smoother than I could have imagined. As you may recall, prior to training with you it took me at least 20 minutes and a sore back to get Benny in the back of my car. When the "Springs" fire kicked up rapidly Thursday morning I had about 5 minutes to grab the computer tower and get both dogs in the back of my car and race over to the elementary school to pick up my two children. When I lifted Rocky in the back of the car I simply had to yell (panicked) "up" to Benny and he jumped right up into the back of my car as practiced.
I have been taking both dogs to the national park in the back of my car to practice "up" with Benny. To be honest, I didn't completely appreciate how critical it could be to be able to get my dog in the car. This fire kicked up so rapidly that I probably would have left him here and tried to come back for him if he hadn't jumped up so easily. I really can't thank you enough.
-- Gwen W.
Well, my training came in handy. If you have not been paying attention, I have been surrounded by fire. My neighbor came in my back yard to help put out the fire and he did not close gate all the way. Long story short, Titan got out and ran down the street. All of a sudden, I hear him barking out front. I prayed, please let my training work. I called Titan to come in a very happy voice... and he just ran to me. YEA...
-- Helen F.
Tanya loves her walks now and comes running to her leash. She enjoys walking with our neighbors dog too. She even lets our neighbor come within 5 feet of her while we are walking because the other dog is there.
She did really well at Halloween too - better than I expected by far. I was kind of dreading Halloween. She was in our bedroom on her bed, and didn't make a sound. She used to be really upset when we left her alone, but now she knows the bedroom bed is her place to be. When no more kids were coming we let her out and she seemed very calm. I think she appreciated that she had a safe place to be while things were happening.
I've also noticed that she will go out and lay in the sun away from me during the day now or sniff the perimeter of the yard. It makes me really happy when she leaves me to do dog stuff and she seems to be doing that more now.
Thank you for helping Tanya with her recovery. She is snoring along with the cat in this photo.
Holiday Message from the Humane Society
"Volunteering creates a national character in which the community and the nation take on a spirit of compassion, comradeship and confidence." --Brian O'Connell
Dear NDART volunteer,
It was with the unabated compassion and dedication of our NDART volunteers the HSUS Animal Rescue Team was able to rescue over 8000 animals from the dangers of animal cruelty and natural disasters in 2011 – a monumental achievement made possible because of you! Looking back on the year we are most grateful for the support, tireless efforts and partnership of our volunteers in fighting the fight for animals nation-wide and beyond. Together we are making great progress in raising awareness and spreading knowledge to communities in need, as well as building confidence for a brighter future in the field of Animal Protection. We cannot thank you enough for all that you do for the animals and we are looking forward to continuing on this journey with you in 2012!!
Wishing you all the very best this holiday season and a happy, healthy New Year!
The HSUS Animal Rescue Team
Ruby the Jack Russell
Thanks for all your help with Ruby! You have taught us so many things that have made her a better friend to Miki, I don't know what we would have done.
I will diligently work with her every day and we'll move ahead when she has all these basics down.
Parker and the Cats
"I want to express my gratitude Rob for the work you did with my dog Parker. Thank you so much!!
When I first brought Parker home from the shelter, it quickly became clear that I could not keep Parker in the same house as my cats. I have had several dogs living with these same cats and have seen dogs chasing cats all my life. This was different. I was convinced that Parker literally wanted to eat my cats. The intensity with which he pursued them was that of a starving animal hunting it's first meal in weeks.
My cats went into hiding and stopped eating. I did not see them for a week and neither did they eat during that time; they were highly stressed.
When I called Rob, I was keeping Parker outside so that the cats could start to calm down from the terror. Rob worked with Parker and I for 8 sessions, and by the 4th session one of the cats was coming downstairs every morning and meeting up with Parker (I was keeping Parker downstairs, away from the cats' room upstairs).
As you can see in the pictures, Parker and Lauren are now good friends and he has established a repertoire with the other cats as well. Thank you so much Rob for all that you did for us."
-- Sincerely, Christine C.
Lexi and Roddick
"Thank you so much Rob!
I learned a ton from you, and I hope I have the opportunity to learn more from you in the future. Your dedication to your work and to the welfare of shelter animals is truly admirable...and inspiring!
I look forward to working with you at the shelter and continuing our friendship."
Melinda (and Lexi and Roddick!)
We met you at Whitney Portal a few summers ago and you helped me with my dog Selby. She is now much better around people and I have been practicing what you taught me.
I so appreciate the time you took with us that evening at Whitney and think of you often.
Just wanted to say thanks!"
-- Patrice J.
What a pleasure it was to be with you today. It's hard to believe it's been almost a year since we've all been "training" together. You have made such a difference in Sam's, and our lives...we will always be very grateful to you for your knowledge, expertise and kindness.
Harvey and I felt so good about our experience today...as did Sam! We very much appreciate your comments, and will continue to follow your advice.
After we left you, we took Sam to the vet...and believe me; he did incredibly well (especially considering that the vet stuck his hands in a very uncomfortable place!). The vet and the techs all said that they were so pleased with how he has become so much more comfortable with people.
Rob, thank you. Sam wouldn't be the happy boy he is without your help. We so appreciate all you've done for us. We know we have work to do, but know it really helps him.
Take care...we'll be in touch."
-- Joanie, Harvey & Sam
Lucy is Learning
I have been thinking about you with much gratitude lately. Lucy has been doing so much better. The other day she unexpectedly ended up inside the house unsupervised (I was asleep in the morning) and the other dogs took her favorite toys and a couple of bones she had in the laundry room. I came downstairs to see her calm and happy while everyone else had her stuff. I thought a few months back this would have been a bloodshed. Not that we want to try this again but I was happy to see she was a good girl. She is settling down very nicely. We have not had any aggressive outbreaks for a long time. I work with her everyday and she is so smart. I can see how much she is trying to figure out what it is I am asking her to do.
I hope if I feel we still need you I can ask you again? It was a lot of fun when you came out and I learned a lot."
Rob is honored as the Agoura Animal Shelter's 2010 Volunteer of the Year
"Rob Lerner gives an enormous amount of extra time to some of our more special needs pups with behavioral issues and is successful in helping them towards adoption due to the time and effort he gives to teach them how to be polite pups. These are animals that would likely be euthanized if not for the time Rob invested in them.
He worked towards and received his training certification with The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers so he could assist customers in the first few weeks of adoption to insure an adoption remains intact versus the animal being returned.
Rob is always willing to assist at special events and to jump in whenever there is a project, handy man in nature or otherwise on the kennel grounds. Rob is also one of the volunteers' trainers, on the Agoura Evaluation team, a steady Saturday afternoon volunteer, our behavioral foster, and is our KABC point man.
Rob loves volunteering at the shelter and feels his contribution is far outweighed by what the dogs give back to him."
-- Robin Kahrs
Head Volunteer at Agoura Shelter
Just wanted to let you know that Baxter is getting better every day. He is much more relaxed in the house and yard and has not been submissive peeing at all over the past many days. Devon and I walked him to Starbuck this AM and he was very good - even accepting treats from strangers as we just sat around (he really likes the double espressos!- Joking of course). When Devon took him to Petsmart this week the trainer brought her big dog out at the end of class. The two dogs had a very good time. Baxter was more shy yesterday afternoon when I was walking him around the neighborhood and we met some other dogs - but no peeing!
Thanks for your help - we will keep working with him and we will keep you informed of his progress - he's a great dog!
"NAME: Sissy BREED: Shepherd mix AGE: 4 years
ABOUT THE DOG: Sissy was one of 104 dogs rescued from the home of a hoarder in Palmdale, California. Many of the dogs were euthanized due to medical or behavioral issues, but Sissy was placed in the Agoura Animal Shelter, a facility with a high adoption reputation. Unfortunately, she became difficult to place because of her fearful and skittish nature.
ABOUT THE VOLUNTEER: Rob Lerner is a retired Los Angeles Police Department officer and now dedicates his time to helping dogs find good adoptive homes, acting as a canine companion and facilitating adoptions. He spends a good deal of time rehabilitating problem behaviors.
BEHIND THE SCENES: Sissy's story was one of the longest segments to produce -- more than two years! This is a testament to the dedication and patience of Rob Lerner and all the volunteers at Agoura Animal Shelter who work very hard to find perfect homes for the animals in the shelter."
Thoughts on Sissy - Barb B.
I have just finished watching [a show on the National Geographic Channel] where you were featured along with Sissy. I have to share with you, that it was the very first time that I actually cried... for happiness. First for Sissy -- that she has had the experience of love and caring that a human heart can give and that she's found a home where she can give her love and receive it also. And second -- that I am so thankful that there are people like you who have a heart that is so open and large!
Again, Thank you!!"
-- Barb B.
Kate & Alli
"Kate and Alli came to live with us when they were 2 months old. The girls are sisters from a litter in which the mother was a golden retriever and the father was some type of shepherd. They did everything together as puppies. They slept so closely against each other, we called them bookends. As they grew older, we did not recognize the subtle signs of problems between them until they reached 5 years of age. They began viciously attacking each other even when we were in the room with them. We had a number of vet visits for stitches and antibiotics. In one particular fight, while trying to separate the girls, I was bitten several times. This fighting is what led me to call Rob Lerner, Dog Behaviorist.
By the time I contacted Rob for help, we had needed to keep Kate and Alli separated 100% of the time. We had a rather elaborate and time consuming schedule to allow them to eat, use the restroom, and be secure inside the house while we worked with one of us changing their location at lunch time so that their paths did not cross too closely for fear of a fight. We purchased a huge crate that sat in the living room so that we could have one dog inside and therefore know that there would be no dog fighting during our dinner. This had gone on for over a year. Family vacations did not happen for lack of someone to care for the dogs. We had seriously considered trying to re-home one of them, but how could we choose who to give up and to whom!
I had tried 2 dog trainers with no success in decreasing the fights. My brother in law met Rob on a hike in the Newbury Park area. He told Rob about our problem and Rob said he thought he might be able to help. I finally called Rob for an appointment and he came to meet the girls. We spent almost 5 hours together the first visit talking about the dogs, walking them, and introducing them to the dog park. He felt they were under socialized with other animals and that my family and I needed to establish ourselves as the pack leaders.
Rob's support has made all the difference. The stress level in our house has dropped drastically. The dogs are able to walk together on walks, visit the dog park, and lay around the house during the day without constant supervision. They are still not 100% trustworthy, but we are no longer talking about re-homing one of them. In the last 7 months, we have had one fight. This just makes me want to continue to work with Rob to see what signs or signals I am missing that would help me break the tension between them before it turns into physical contact. I have become a better dog owner through my visits with Rob and would highly recommend his services to other dog owners."
Click "Play" to view a video of Kate and Alli playing happily together!
In just one afternoon you have changed our lives and the lives of our children...our most loved doogles. While you were here we learned SO much and after you left your calm and focused demeanor stayed with us and our dogs.
Things are SO much better now I can't even explain. Sky has not lashed out at Lucky since you were here.
We're working with the boys every day now and the past 2 days they didn't bark at even 1 dog (and we passed lots of dogs that day) they saw across the street as they usually do. It's all because of you!
Your help was so good for us, you were really training me & John to be better pack leaders, the dogs just got the treats. Our treat is cuddling with ALL of them and now knowing they are all safe and happy.
"Like anyone, I thought it would be a cool thing to rescue a dog from an animal shelter a give it a loving home. The reality is that any dog has issues....and when the dog we brought home displayed HIS issues, I called Rob.
Watching Rob in action was like watching a master at work. He really knows his stuff, and within days the dog that was acting out... was responding to many of the lessons Rob taught us.
Let's face it, I thought I knew a lot about dogs at the beginning but found out I was pretty clueless, and Rob shared lessons that will come in handy the next time my daughter and I decide to bring a new dog into our home!!"
-- Randy Kerdoon
Bringing Up Lilly
"Is your dog misbehaving and you've tried everything you know to do? I have a female Havanese dog, named Lilly. We started fostering Lilly 2 years ago when she was 1 year old. She began her life in a puppy mill, then a pet store. The people that bought her from the pet store had 4 small children and she was just as cute as she could be. The problem was they all wanted to play with her, dress her, chase her, fight over her, grab her fast when she was asleep, etc. Lilly learned if she growled and bit the kids they would leave her alone. Of course the parents scolded Lilly and got mad at her and she got worse instead of better. That's when I picked her up with the intention of fostering her until we could find her a forever home.
There was no way this dog was adoptable because whenever anyone would come near her she would growl and bite if they tried to pet her. So, we adopted her because she was attached to us.
After having Lilly for 2 years, we had improved her tremendously, but never got her to the point we wanted her to be. We called Rob and he came to our house.
Rob listened to the problem and gave us different things to do to try and help her gain even more ground. The thing about Rob is that he is not just a person who knows about dogs behavior, he really has a compassion for dogs and it shows. We worked on Lilly with his support and she did improve, but then another problem arose. Lilly and our other dog started viscously fighting. We called Rob again and he came right away. This problem could not be resolved, but with Rob guiding me though the problem, I felt that I had done everything possible I could do. The vet told me the same thing, but Rob was caring, compassionate and helped me see what I must do in this very difficult situation. I gave our other dog to a lady who was grieving over the loss of her dog and needed a dog for companionship and although it was a very hard thing to do, Rob was there to help me even get through my feelings.
Lilly is doing a lot better now and thanks to Rob I can continue teaching Lilly that strangers won't hurt her. She will now go to someone after they have been in the house for awhile and doesn't bark anymore at people when I take her for a walk.
There is a saying that goes like this. "People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care." Rob is both and I am thankful for that. I would highly recommend Rob if you need help with your dog."
-- Robin Herrera
Benjamin and Norman, Pit Buddies
"When my wife and I adopted 2 pit bulls from the Agoura Animal Shelter (a GREAT place - please adopt!!) in the summer of 2009, we had never owned dogs. We knew we needed to get off on the right foot, and we would need help.
We were referred to Rob by the caring people at the shelter.
I'm always skeptical of "experts", but I could tell straight away that Rob knew exactly what he was doing. He has an intuitive understanding of the dog, and of the owner, too. His counsel was spot on, and his approach works.
We continue to work with him periodically - as dog owners, we are works in progress, and so are the dogs. Not only does he love the dogs, but they love him. Most importantly, his methods work. Rob is also a pleasure to have around. Personable, professional, and easy to work with. If he's over around dinner time, he makes an excellent dinner guest!!
We consider ourselves extremely fortunate to have Rob's expertise to improve our lives as dog owners. I know Benjamin and Norman appreciate him, too.