Darwin Dogs – Who Are We

Brittany Graham Photography

Brittany Graham Photography

We believe that your dogs are absolutely perfect as they are.  They don’t need tinkering to be the perfect dog.  Unfortunately, most dogs are really terrible at being human.  To make matters worse, most people make rather unfortunate dogs.  So we have two different species trying to achieve cohabitation in a crazy human world, and just not quite getting it right.  The object of Darwin Dogs is to teach people to how communicate with their dogs.  To do that, you must have a common method of communication.

“In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself up to the possibility of becoming partly a dog.” — Edward Hoagland

The more you respect your dog’s need to be a dog, the more they will respect the human world in which they live, and the easier a time they will have navigating the human world. Darwin Dogs is about both dogs and humans learning a common language to attain mutual respect.

Brittany Graham Photography

Brittany Graham Photography

We are different than big-box pet store trainers. Training is done in your home, so you and your pet can feel comfortable, not stressed in some strange location with other dogs. Typically, training is complete with just one 2-hour session. Yes! Just two hours and you are on your way to a calm, content pet.  How does that happen?

We believe that our clients are able to think for themselves. They are go-getters who want to take action, not wait for other class members to catch up to their level.  Let’s take a look at how the big box, 8 sessions of one-hour per-week dog training courses work:

Week 1: Learn to sit, followed by socialization with other dogs
Week 2: Relearn how to sit, learn recall (“come”) command, socialize with the other dogs
Week 3: Focus on some of the puppies/dogs who still haven’t learned how to sit, attempt to work with the one dog who has started nipping at the other dogs, try to introduce the “come” command again…

Unfortunately, after weeks and weeks of training sessions, most owners are lucky if their dog remembers what the word “sit” means.  But what about many of the other issues dog owners encounter?

  • Basic obedience (come, stay, etc)
  • Dog Aggression/Reactivity
  • Leash Etiquette
  • Jumping
  • Excitable Behavior
  • Destructive Behavior
  • Separation anxiety
  • Housebreaking
  • Counter Surfing (Grabbing food)

That list doesn’t even include some of the less common issues we have seen including: a dog who would attack the oven every time it was turned on, and even a dog who was terrified of the garage door!

We tailor training sessions to your dog’s needs, and to do that, we need to see them in their natural habitat: your home. At home, your dog is comfortable, with his family, and not stressed because he is surrounded by strange, barking, nervous dogs.   How can you learn how to answer your door without doggie-drama anywhere but your own home?  Your home presents unique challenges and situations that can’t be reproduced in a store environment.  That’s why we come to you.

But, you may ask – two hours?  Really?  Really.  Dogs are simple creatures.  Not stupid, but simple.  They communicate in simple terms, they have simple questions with simple answers.  Once we teach you how to communicate with your dog in a way they understand, the rest is, well…simple!

Our methods are easy.  We use the innovative PAW Method developed by Kerry Stack.   We do not use any gimmicks, such as clickers, constant treats, etc.  You learn how to communicate with your dog without cumbersome “extras”.  We are against the use of shock collars. We do not believe there is ever a place in training for fear or pain when training a dog, so no yelling, hitting, etc.  Communication based upon mutual respect is our goal.

After training, you are encouraged to contact us with questions, concerns or any issues that come up.  You are never just left on your own after training.  Call us the next day or 3 years later – we will answer your question and address any concerns.

Have questions?  Please contact  us either via email at kerry.stack@darwindogs.org, or via phone: 216-548-6905. We can discuss the particulars of the issues you’re encountering, and schedule an appointment if you’d like.10428508_961121050584567_1894076880169196506_n (1)We look forward to working with you and your dog!


30 thoughts on “Darwin Dogs – Who Are We

    • Hi Pat –
      It depends upon so many different factors: your dog’s disposition, if they’ve ever been confined before, if they are in new surroundings. Just so many variables. Rather than focusing on how long it takes, I think it is better to keep a chart of how your dog is doing so far. Typically, I tell my clients to rate their dog on a scale of 1-10 each time they introduce a new behavior. So perhaps the first time you crated your dog, he was a mess, so you gave him a “3″. The next time he did a little bit better at a “4″. Watch the trend. While you still may have days where your dog isn’t doing so well, the overall trend should be getting better each time, until you can say they are between an “8″ and a “10″. Just remember, small doses to begin with are best. Good luck!

  1. Hi Kerry,

    I am wondering what your experience is working with blind dogs?
    I have a rescue who has made wonderful progress with her training since adopting her 3 years ago (she’s approx. 7). We’ve moved from Colorado to Cleveland and she has settled in to her new environment and routine. I feel like we are both ready for her to take the next step forward towards socialization with other dogs and I am looking for someone who could help us. Your mindset seems to match the approach of our previous trainer/dog walker whom she loved and trusted wholeheartedly.


    • Hi Britney –
      I would love to help you move forward in your partnership with your dog, and can indeed help with her unique situation. I will be contacting you shortly to set up a session.

  2. Hi. We have recently adopted an 18 month miniature poodle. He’s a sweetheart, but he we think he came from a puppy mill. He’s afraid of nearly everything and doesn’t seem to know what any of the usual dog items are (leash, harness, even toys). He has gotten more used to us in the past few weeks but we really want to work on housetraining and taking him for walks. It is hard though when he is terrified of his leash, especially when there’s a human on the other side of it. Can you help?

  3. Hi. I have 2.5 and a 3.5 yr old Shepherds. Are they to old to train? My 3.5 is aggressive.. And my 2.5 is possessive when it comes to her sharing with my male. She is also a consisted barker with separation anxiety. .

    • Hi Elaine -
      Just like humans, nobody is ever too old to learn. The oldest dog I ever trained was a 16 year old Sheltie, and he did beautifully! I will be sending you an email with information. I look forward to working with you!

  4. Hello! My wife and I have a 2 year old German Shepherd who loves us to death. He is the sweetest and most loyal dog ive ever had. He wouldnt hurt a fly when its just us around but as soon as a friend or family member comes over to our house he completely changes. He barks and tries to kill who ever comes over. Hes actually bitten one of our friends. You would think he is completely aggressive and beyond help. The one positive here is he loves his toys and will only some what relax over a game of fetch with strangers but even that can turn bad if they move the wrong way. Is this something that is in your field of expertise?

  5. Hi Kerry,
    My fianceé and I recently adopted a 2.5 month old terrier mix from a shelter. She is a sweet girl named Lucy who listens well and trains well, she also loves us to death. We have had the easiest time training her to be crate-trained and potty trained. The big issue is that she does not like other people. We had a friend over last night to continue trying to socialize, and Lucy was not having it. She barked and barked and barked. We all ignored her and eventually she started understanding that we ignore her when she barks and that this new person was not a big deal. The barking started becoming less frequent towards our friend. We noticed at times that Lucy was shaking so it seems to be a fear based reaction, but she never warmed up to our friend. Lucy would take treats from our friend, but that’s about it. This is a major issue because we have people over and we go places and Lucy needs to be loving other people and dogs. She is a complete angel around us and would be the easiest puppy ever if she just loved other people or at least gave them a chance. Please help. I appreciate it.

  6. Hello
    My name is Cody Morgan and I am currently in Darwin high and its our job to look for work experience in our related work places.

    if you could get back to me that would be great thanks

    • Hi Cody –
      Thank you for your message. I’m going to assume by the timestamp on this message as well as the name of your high school that you are located in Australia. We are in the USA ;)

      However, please send me an email. Perhaps we can discuss possible collaboration on some blog posts.

      Looking forward to hearing from you.

      Kerry Stack

  7. Hi Kerry I am 11years old and I have a whippet/Manchester terrior mix who is 7 months old and she is hyper and loves to bite and I wanted to know any tips or any ways to train her. Please let me know. Thank you!

    • Hi Paige –
      I sure do have some suggestions for you! That’s awful behavior she’s giving you, and I doubt that your parents or teachers would accept that type of behavior from you.

      Please give the link below a read. In it, I describe exactly how to give your dog a calm, gentle negative to the behaviors you don’t like. (Make sure you have an adult helping you.) But it also seems as if she needs a lot more exercise than she’s getting. So make sure she’s getting it! Good luck, and Pilot on!


  8. I have a female german shepard who is adorable but eats my clothes way to often and digs and scratches into my carpet way to often i love her to death but im at my wit’s end and i have a pit bull male who wont adjust to potty training inside.
    They are both friendly dogs which i like to an certain safety extent.

    • It sounds as if you’re having some separation anxiety from your shepherd, and that your pittie could use some Piloting to feel safe outside. I’d love to talk to you about it!

  9. I have a 5 yr old beagle that me and my wife rescued from a shelter. Our main problem is when we put her in her crate to leave or eat dinner she pees no matter what. She could be let out to go potty and 5 minutes later she will pee. Weve tried everything we know of. We think she does it out of spite. Is this an issue that you can fix? We are spending tons of money every month in cleaning supplies. We need help.

  10. My dog Truman is a 6 year old german Shepherd. When he was younger he ran out the door, and he was hit by a car on a very busy street near our house. Ever since than he HATES going for walks. He will pull and push in fear to get home. When he sees a leash he will hide and get very scared. I have tried Everything I can think of to help him. Any suggestions? Thanks!

    • I’m so sorry this has happened to Truman. Bear in mind fear is designed to keep us safe from threats, and he’s responding rationally (from his point of view). The key is to go about this slowly. Don’t just start taking him for a walk through a place with heavy traffic. Take him in your car to a very quiet neighborhood, take him out, and then walk that neighborhood. Too many cars at once will overwhelm him, but one every so often might be manageable. Make sure you Pilot him. Also, this article may help.


  11. I am interested in participating in your DNA study that was mentioned in the September 3, 2016 issue of Science News but have not been able to find that information on your web site. Please guide me. I have two Akitas (my 11th and 12th over the past 45 years). These two (uncle and niece, incidentally) are the most friendly Atitas of all that I have owned, not that any of the others were unfriendly, but these two have a motto: “let no stranger go unlicked.” They are still quite capable of being protective should the need arise and they are a reliable early warning system.

  12. Hi, my dog Sadie is a 1 year old pit bull terrier/whippet mix. I just adopted her 2 days ago. Today she was got aggressive in the car when I went through the drive thru. She was fine up until they guy learned out of the window then she freaked out. Now she seems to think its ok to bark at the neighbor as well. She has been completely quiet up until the drive thru incident. How do I teach her that this is not ok?

  13. Hi, My dog and I Kiah were left by my husband after 30 yrs. Kiah is 7yrs old and is a Catahoola Leapord Dog…She hates Men now!! Any man, besides my Son comes in the house, with my permission She goes nuts…she even bites!! Kiahs never broken skin thank God, but these are friends coming in to help me with the house and no one feels comfortable with Kiah!! I end up putting her in her crate! What can I do Please!!

    • Hi Claudia –

      I’m sorry to hear you’re having such troubles with Kiah. The first thing I can say is that I want you to always make sure the situation Kiah is placed in is safe. If you can’t control her around people, then the absolute correct thing to do is put her in a crate where she (and your guests) will be safe.

      Secondly, I would really like you to read the link below. Kiah is asking questions, “Is this person a threat?”, and unfortunately, she isn’t hearing any answers. So start answering her questions. Please see below for how to do that.


      Good luck!

  14. My dog Fritz is a American terrier pit bull he is 11months, he is house broke sits even hight 5.but walking is the problem. He pull try to train with treat and stop walking when he pull no luck very hard to even get around the block Help please

    • Hi Rennee –

      It sounds to me that Fitz is asking a lot of questions during the walk (“Can I pull?” “Mind if I lead?”). The answers to these questions are “no”. The article I’ve linked to below goes over in depth how to answer these questions for Fritz while on a walk. Remember, the key is to answer his questions, not to choke him, stab him with prong collars, nor give him constant treats. Good luck!


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