John Rubin of John’s Natural Dog Training with his dogs Amber, Stan and Leftie.
By Karen Billing (from the Del Mar Times)
John Rubin estimates that he’s trained about 10,000 dogs in the 22 years that he has been in business with John’s Natural Dog Training.
After all those years, San Diego’s “Dog Whisperer” still enjoys the work he gets to do.
“I love it, I absolutely love it,” Rubin said. “I still work six days a week and I can’t get enough. Some trainers will get burned out but I love it…I’m getting older but I just look forward to every appointment I do, I have fun with the people and it’s a great job.”
Rubin describes his training style as “middle of the road”; basic leash and collar training — no shock collars or dominance or training with food clickers.
He is passionate about dog behavior and learning everything there is to know about the different breeds because the better you understand the breeds’ drives, natural instincts and characteristics, the easier they are to train.
“It’s amazing how quickly dogs respond when you do the right thing and the right thing can be so little,” Rubin said.
Throughout the years he’s learned everyone is different and has different lifestyles and goals for their dogs and that dog training is just as much about training the owners too.
“I’ve always tried to really get to know the person to find out what they really want,” Rubin said.
Growing up in the Ozarks of Missouri, Rubin was always around animals — his mother bred dogs and his great grandfather was a cattle rancher. Rubin received invaluable experience working on the farm with cattle, pigs and horses.
Rubin got his start in animal training with horses and found he could apply a lot of those same techniques to dogs. He came out to California in 1986 and started the dog training business with his wife, Bonnie, in 1991.
Along with head trainer Denelle Curry, Bonnie started Kamp Kanine in Encinitas, located right next to the Rancho Coastal Humane Society. Rubin leases the space from Rancho Coastal and hosts a big fundraiser for the Humane Society every year, Barktoberfest.
The Rubins’ daughter Jessica is also now involved, having taken the reins for the day-to-day work which has allowed John to get back to his roots and do more training.
“She’s got a full plate,” John said of Jessica. “She’s really the backbone of the company right now, she’s fantastic and I can’t say enough about her.”
Rubin currently owns three dogs who happily spend time during the day at Kamp Kanine: Leftie, a 12-year-old German shepherd; Amber, a 2-and-a-half-year-old rottweiler; and Stan, a 6-and-a-half month-old black Labrador.
Group classes are offered locally at the Torrey Hills Shopping Center Dog Park and All Creatures Hospital in Del Mar, as well as locations in Carlsbad, Escondido and Mission Valley. Group classes are offered in beginner, intermediate and advanced. John’s Natural Dog Training also offers “Canine Good Citizen” classes for animals to become therapy dogs, and rally classes, which are a more informal version of formal obedience training.
“Our group classes are packed,” Rubin said. “We’ve been very, very, very successful and people really enjoy the group classes.”
John’s Natural Dog Training also offers in-home training, its most popular program as it is comprehensive and can be customized.
“Private in-home training is really the core of our business,” said Rubin.
As many of the issues dogs have are related to their home environment, it makes sense to train them on their home turf. At home, one-on-one, Rubin tackles house-breaking, barking, stealing food, greeting strangers and getting along with children, just to name a few issues.
Another good thing about home training, Rubin said, is that anyone in the family can get involved.
Rubin also willingly takes on clients with serious behavior issues, such as aggression or anxiety.
“For a lot of trainers it’s intimidating and difficult to deal with an aggressive dog but I love the challenge,” Rubin said.
After working with horses, he isn’t intimidated by a 100-pound dog that is dog or people aggressive. “When most trainers would say ‘Pass,’ I don’t pass,” Rubin said.
As he’s had success with more challenging clients, local veterinarians know to give him the nod.
Clients who take part in the silver, gold or platinum home training programs gain unlimited admission to group training sessions, getting the benefit of training a dog for life. As Rubin said, “You never really stop training a dog.”