Convenient, force-free dog training based on science and an understanding of relationships
Russ was highly recommended to us by two friends before we got our (then) puppy Shumba as THE trainer to work with. We got in touch with Russ when Shumba was about 6 months old and worked with him for the next 3 months or so. Shumba is our first dog and, and, being inexperienced dog owners who were determined to raise a well-behaved, we had a specific list of goals we wanted to accomplish, along with many-many questions. Russ’s expertise and knowledge were invaluable on this journey. We started with his “basic puppy package,” and, having completed that, signed up for a few more sessions to focus on some other behaviors we wanted Shumba to learn. While Shumba has certainly learned a great deal in the past few months, I feel that we (my daughter and I) have learned even more about how dogs ‘think’ and behave and what motivates them. With Russ’s help, dog training – which looked really daunting initially! – has turned into a stepwise, manageable process, and because I have learned so much about dogs (and Shumba, in particular), I now have a clear sense of how I am going to keep up the training as we move forward – knowing, of course, that I can always call on Russ’s help if we run into any bumps on the road. I have already recommended his services to several friends with dogs and will continue to do so!
We picked up Rufus up from the SPCA on a Thursday and met with Russ that Friday. We’ve counted on Russ ever since and have seen Rufus grow from a traumatized dog into a confident one. Russ is a dog listener: he took Rufus’s measure immediately and gave us the training and tools to work with him. I think Rufus has grown into the best version of himself and I believe this is due to Russ.
Russ practices clicker training; his philosophy about people and dogs is one of positive reinforcement, constant encouragement, patience, humor, compassion, and immense knowledge and experience. I found that breaking down behaviors into training increments has a steep learning curve; Russ is adept in making such complexity manageable.
Russ is very thoughtful; his advice and approach always takes Rufus’s (and our) idiosyncrasies into account. His concern is connection: between dog and person, and both with the world. The life lessons Russ imparts reverberate in my thinking and understanding of dogs and myself.
Russ Hollier is a miracle worker! He began working with my Labrador Retriever, Casea, and me when she was quite young. In her youth, she had trained me well and developed the habit of incessant barking to get her way. Through inordinate patience, clicker training and adaptation of the Tellington touch and confidence work, he helped me help her to end the barking and develop good behavior and manners. He also reminded me of the importance of mental stimulation and challenges to accompany her physical activity. Now 11 ½, Casea still is quite active and a lot of fun.
Every time our pup, Quissett, does a “spin”, I think of Russ and how much of a difference his training made. Russ was so incredibly patient, thoughtful, calm, knowledgeable, supportive, and non-judgmental. His methods truly made me understand my role in helping Quissett learn, and how to capture and reinforce the moment it “clicked” with him what I was asking him to do. Quissett is not our pet - he’s a member of our family - and Russ treated him with the respect and understanding all members of our family deserve, whether canine, feline or even human.
My two female Labrador dogs were totally out of control. I am so grateful to Russ Hollier for bringing them back to me as the wonderful gentle companions they were capable of being. Our training was focused, positive and fun starting in my own yard with games and tasks that helped them to focus on me again. The commands were quick and easily remembered so they came at the right instant like “knock it off".They can now go with me and do the things I enjoy like hiking and I have confidence that I can control their behavior around wildlife as well as other dogs. Neighborhood children can now play a game of hide and seek with them. The two dogs appear from around the corner of the house or up from the pond in an instant when called. Thank you, Russ, for your guidance and direction.
Working with Russ to train my German Shepherd was a wonderful experience for my pup and myself. Russ was consistently positive and encouraging. He always found a way to address any undesired behavior in a way that made us all successful. I am glad that I followed my veterinarians recommendation as to a trainer. . My dog is now a delightful, very well behaved member of our family.
Russ faced a dual challenge when my puppy began classes: Myshkin proved more willful than many of his classmates and his master, who had not owned a dog for more than 50 years, was clueless. Through a combination of skill, caring, and truly remarkable PATIENCE, Russ worked wonders on Myshkin and brought the owner around, as well. Through the example he sets in each class, Russ teaches that canine manners and owner manners are mutually reinforcing. Both Myshkin and I are grateful to have this understanding as the basis for our lives with each other and with others.
Brenna Vaughn 2019
Cooper and I trained with Russ for quite a while. We started with a dog trainer and ended up with a lifelong friend. The bond that Cooper and I built through training with Russ is truly magnificent.
Kathy Gilleran 1/2019
I Started “Service Dog In Training” with Russ when my dog was 6 months old. Russ not only works with the dog, but with the handler to create the optimum bond. His suggestions helped immediately and he offers simple tasks to work on in between training sessions. Russ is a keen observer who knows dogs, as well as people. He is honest when assessing potential and expectations, and works on both the dog and the handlers strengths.
Jane Powers and Max 01/21/13
"Russ starting working with Max when he was about 2 years old. What a fantastic training experience this has been for Max and for me!! Max adores Russ and felt immediately comfortable with him. My only regret is that we didn't start our training with Russ when Max was a puppy — I wasted so much time and money on group lessons. One-on-one lessons with Russ is the way to go. Max and I recommend him to you without reservation!"
“We bought Russ’s puppy package when we got our first puppy, Tucker. We were inexperienced dog owners, and Russ gave us confidence and tools to use. Russ is superb working with dogs, but he is also very good at working with people. He understood our constraints and helped us to see how we could teach Tucker to be a part of our household.”
Beck Kevin and Tucker 01/25/13
This past July 2012, we adopted a six-year-old Puli Rescue. Whisk came to us as a much-loved dog, but so loved that he had been given no doggie education. We quickly realized that his – and our - education needed an expert teacher. At the recommendation of a friend, we contacted Russ Hollier. We worked with Russ for six months. Russ equated his education to that of a ten-year-old in kindergarten – what a spoiled little brat! Whisk's education is still going on, but he now knows sit, down, stay and come.
He knows how to walk on a leash. He now knows he is not the family boss and will receive “Russ Treats” for good behavior. Russ also educated us on how to observe Whisk, anticipate poor behavior and move to correct it before it became an issue. His methods are kind and gentle, but firm. We all, Whisk included, enjoyed working with Russ.
Janet and Whiskers 01/25/13
Russ was invaluable in helping us learn how to train our extremely lively three-year-old male fox terrier - aptly named Rowdy. Rowdy had been to obedience and agility classes and we knew he was a quick and ready learner. But he sometimes got so excited he was unable to calm himself and behave appropriately.
Denise Gelberg and Rowdy 01/26/13
With Russ's help, we learned how to shape the environment so Rowdy could do better. Rowdy LOVED his training sessions with Russ as well as our daily follow-ups. His behavior improved immeasurably, as did his relationships with humans. He is now a rather mature (for him!) four-year-old terrier - lively still, but able to wait at the door before going out, sit before dinner, cooperate during grooming, and wait calmly as cars pass by during our daily jogs. Beyond that, he's just a nicer little guy to live with.
Russ is a gifted trainer. We feel lucky to have benefited from his expertise.
We didn't know until he arrived that we had purchased a "moderately to severely fearful puppy." Russ saved us and saved our dog through the most unbelievably patient and skilled work. Our pup is now a "normal" dog with the most winning personality anyone could hope for. After seeing the way Russ works so creatively with dogs and their owners, we're sure he could solve any canine problem you have!
Elizabeth and Betsy East 01/26/13
As you might know, KoKo, our little black and white Basenji mix is very skittish around new people, especially in close and unfamiliar quarters like the vet office. Unfortunately for us, she's extremely smart and can see through our misguided past attempts to ambush her or to hold her in place. Muzzles and submission holds just ratcheted up the tension as her intense flight drive--and claws--kicked in. But we are fortunate that KoKo would climb into the jaws of an alligator if they held the promise of peanut butter or a carrot. Upon Dr. McMaster's recommendation, we started working with Russ Hollier to help KoKo practice some loose-lead walking and confidence-building to lessen her "stranger-danger" response. Not surprising, Russ had us using food to help ease KoKo as she was greeted by strangers.
We wanted to share with you a fun story from our first vet visit (for shots, wouldn't you know) since working with Russ. You know how dogs run in their sleep sometimes bark or whine? Well, KoKo, the former stray who was all-but-feral when we found her, is so food-driven that she has always eaten in her sleep. You can see her jaw and teeth just chomping away. I'm surprised she's never bitten her tongue or lips.
Anyway, Saturday we took KoKo to Briar Patch, where she got TONS of delicious new treats when staffers met her. This included the tube-o'-peanut-butter Russ introduced us to. KoKo inhaled it all while wagging her tail in a blur of excitement. Then we took KoKo for a brief introductory visit at Pet Playhouse, where she also got lots of delicious treats, which she gobbled up as she happily wagged her white-tipped little tail.
That night, I guess she dreamed of her best day ever because as she slept, she intermittently chewed and--get this--wagged her tail. That's right. She sleep-chewed WHILE sleep-wagging! Then she'd stop for a few seconds, and as she was given more treats in her dream (I can only assume), she'd sleep-chew and sleep-wag some more. She wasn't just nibbling. She was scarfing down the dream treats and her tail was going side to side so fast that we were surprised she didn't wake herself up. CRAZY! We've never seen a dog wag its tail while asleep before. We always said she was a dream dog, and now that phrase has a whole new meaning.
So thanks again to Briar Patch for recommending Russ and being patient and to Russ for doing a great job with KoKo, our curious but skittish two-year-old. I think we'll return the muzzle we bought her as she seems to have gotten over a big hurdle. Thanks again.
-KoKo, Robin and Charles 2012
Mac and I learned so much from you (Russ) and feel comfortable with the basic skills to continue progressing with Ollie. We appreciate all the work you have done and will contact you in the future if anything comes up. Again, it was a pleasure working with you Russ!
Maureen Fessenden 2012
Rachel and Daphne 2012
I began working with Russ shortly after I got my dog, and those 10 sessions with him really helped me establish a solid foundation for training my dog. Russ had helpful suggestions for how to shape the behavior of my high energy, slightly anxious dog. He also had great suggestions for other resources, like books and authors, that I've been able to integrate into my training as well.
I have enjoyed working with Russ and have really appreciated having someone who is knowledgeable and offered support training my young dogs in a way that went along with my values. He interacts respectfully, positively, and gently with dogs. My dogs have learned quickly with his help and guidance. He was very willing and helpful in addressing any behavior issues that I wanted to work on. He was also available for consultation with a stressful situation. My dogs love him.
Judy Burrill - Jan 2013
Russ is a skillful guide and interpreter. I seek Russ’ guidance again and again because no two dogs are alike. He doesn’t train my dog - he empowers me to do that. With humor, patience and consistency he has helped my dog and me build a thriving partnership. He always gives me the sense that he has confidence in both of us. That feels great!
"I've observed Russ working with dogs and people for over five years and I'm continually impressed with his calm manner and ability to build lasting relationships. Russ is a consummate teacher with excellent listening and problem resolution skills. He has an intuitive sense for dogs and their needs. I highly recommend Russ for learning how to raise happy, intelligent, and responsive dogs. My dogs love Russ."
As a puppy raiser for Guiding Eyes, I have worked with Russ both in group classes and individually for 2 ½ years. His calm demeanor helps both the dogs and the humans to relax and enjoy working and learning together. His classes are never boring or repetitive; he keeps us challenged, yet at a level where the dog will be successful. His positive training methods strengthen the relationship between dog and handler while getting the behaviors we are looking for. I highly recommend him as a trainer.