John still chuckles when people refer to him as a trainer. "I don't consider myself a trainer," he says. He got into the practice when he was watching a dog show with a girlfriend, and she convinced him to get a dog. That led to a second dog, which led to more and more training, which led to competing, which led to championships. Thanks to his ability to entertain a crowd, he was eventually invited to settle down at Purina Farms, training his own team of dogs.
The team is partially his own, as many of John's dogs are incorporated into the shows and demonstrations. John's family and pets live close to Purina Farms, in a house that was modified to be more comfortable for them and their 60-pawed family."Out of all my dogs, who's my favorite?" He says, thinking. "The honest answer is I don't have one. I love them all."John believes that some of the best athletic dogs come from rescue. That's because some of the instinctual traits that may cause an owner to relinquish a dog are also perfect traits for high-energy training. For example, a dog that has too much energy for a normal pet home may be a perfect fit to be a flying disc dog here," he explains. One of John's dogs, Morgan, was relinquished because her owners couldn't keep her out of their swimming pool. Now that, John thought, could be a champion diving dog. Now, she gets to do what she loves every day, showcasing the sport of diving dog at Purina Farms. Another one of his dogs, Chappy, was returned 5 times before John took him onto his team. He calls him "a brilliant diving dog."
So what's his secret to training world-class dogs? It's not just about world-class training, he explains, but the bond that develops between a dog and their owner. John first realized this when he was in a car with a trainer's flying disc dog and his owner went into the store. The dog kept his eyes on the owner the whole time, and couldn't be distracted by anything. John realized that the best dogs aren't necessarily the best trained, but rather the best bonded with their owner. It's this attitude that he applies toward training the Pro Plan Performance Team. It's not just about winning; it's about getting in that pool on a hot day, entertaining the crowd and making it fun for the kids and dogs alike.
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