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It's a dog's life at Auburn's K9-101 training classes

By: Gloria Young, Journal Staff Writer
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Victor Rogo was just 13 when he discovered he had a talent for training dogs. Rogo, who has lived in Auburn since 1993, is an optician by profession. But after 31 years working with lenses and eyewear, he decided to turn his avocation into a business. In early spring, he opening K9-101 dog training, which he runs out of his home. "For me, my primary job is training dogs because that's what I love," he said this week. After he took his first dog to obedience class as a teen, he knew it was something he loved to do. And after the course was completed, he kept on training. "Everything I could think of to teach my dog, I did," he said. "From shaking the correct hand to paw every time to rolling over whichever direction I pointed and as many times as I pointed in that direction, to spitting her food out so I could always check what she was eating." Rogo later spent five years working with 4 PAWS K-9 Academy and two years with Addlerhurst dog training, where most of the police dogs in Southern California are trained. "I learned every aspect of police dog training from tracking the bad guy to searching buildings to holding the bad guy at bay," he wrote in an e-mail. Except for brief periods, dogs have always been a part of his life. "I like big dogs," he said. "I prefer shepherds, rottweilers, bigger dogs." His most recent canine companion is a rottweiler puppy, which he began training immediately, he said. In fact, he and his wife, Donna, have two dogs and two cats. Dog owners call on Rogo for help with a variety of issues. "The main call is the dog is messing in the house or the dog is real hyper," he said. "If the dog is real hyper, it must have somewhere to steer that energy." Key to having a well-behaved pet is understanding basic behaviors. "Dogs normally are destructive because they aren't exercised enough," Rogo explained. "They need a job just like we do. They don't want to just sit there and wait for you to come home. A well exercised and well trained dog is an asset to society." The solution is based on common sense. "Exercise the dog for an hour before leaving for work every morning. Take a walk with him for an hour and then feed him and leave," Rogo said. "The dog has had time with you and has leadership you've shown it. Dogs need exercise, leadership and affection." Keeping the leadership role clearly defined is also important. "In the dog world, it only works one of two ways - either you dominate them or they dominate you," he said. "If the dog begins to think he has control, you've lost it until you show him he doesn't have control. I have a 6-month old puppy that is going to be 100 pounds and there's no way I'm going to allow a 100-pound rottweiler to tell me what to do." Learning how to control her dog made a significant difference for Sarah Turcotte, a former Grass Valley resident, who called Rogo after she got a boxer Labrador mix. "Before the training, I didn't like walking the dog because I didn't know how to walk him without him leading," she said. Rogo and Turcotte started with verbal commands. "Once (my dog) realized I was taking over, it was really great," Turcotte said. "Now he looks up at my hand and wants to learn what's next. He was glad I was giving him boundaries and it seemed like he knew he'd be praised for doing what I wanted him to do." In his classes, Rogo teaches dog owners how maintain total control without having to hurt their dog. "I love my dogs. But they're dogs and I'm human," he said. "I love my dogs more, because my dog knows what his position is in the pack." For dog owners who say they've tried obedience classes and it didn't work, Rogo disagrees. "No dog fails dog class," he said. "It is the owner that has failed the dog class. Technically I'm training the person, not the dog." Rogo offers four five-week sessions from beginners through advanced. The sessions run 45 minutes to an hour weekly and the cost for each five-week course is $250. The location varies. "Train wherever you're having a specific problem," he said. "Train wherever your dog needs help. You should train at home, but not just at home." For puppies, he advises getting a puppy consultation and then working on basic social skills and bathroom training. But strict training shouldn't begin before the pup is about 5-and-a-half months old. He has trained dogs as old as 10 and 11, and says he can train a dog at any age. But there are limits. "The attitude is a puppy needs to be a puppy and an old dog needs to be able to retire," he said. "Don't start getting strict with a dog in its later years." The Journal's Gloria Young can be reached at gloriay@goldcountrymedia. com, or post online at auburnjournal.com.