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Midwest Dog Training Digs North Sioux City for Expansion
Nearly three years ago Chris Ford traded his office job for the chance to overcome unruly dogs. His computer has given way to electronic dogs collars, a firm voice and the dedicated spirit of an entrepreneur.
Chris and his wife Jennifer are the dynamic duo behind Midwest Dog Training, a dog obedience business currently located at the Village Square Mall in Dakota Dunes.
In 2005, Ford, a Gateway employee, decided it was time for a career change.
"I saw the writing on the wall. I weaned myself off of Gateway after three months," Ford explained. "By that time it was just getting to a point where I had too many dogs in my house anyway. So, we got the location in the Dunes in 2020."
After two years and a few months in the Dunes, this pup of a business has grown in leaps in bounds. By Late September, this Wynstone couple will be breaking ground on N. Derby Lane in North Sioux City, as they build, expand and relocate Midwest Dog Training.
Gone to the Dogs
"It's definitely something we're growing or expanding. Instead of just doing the training, we're going to be doing a lot more," Ford explained of the new business location.
"We plan to have it built by the time it snows. So, late November it should be done," Ford explained. He hopes to have the doors open for business before Christmas.
The new 2500 square foot facility will offer 40 kennels for overnight boarding, doggie daycare, grooming and a small retail area, in addition to obedience training on site and at client's homes.
Doggie guests will be treated to spacious 5 feet x 5 feet indoor kennels with bacteria resistant floors, 3 outdoor dog runs and 1 indoor dog run. The four legged guests will also enjoy the acre and a half grounds, complete with a 6 foot privacy fence, alarm system and video monitoring.
A Proven Style of Training
You won't find clickers, choke chain collars or bags of bite sized training treats at Midwest Dog Training.
After researching the dog obedience industry by studying and observing trainers from California to Des Moines, Ford has found a method that has worked for thousands of dogs.
"I have taken the best pieces of the best programs and put them all into one," Ford explained of his techniques.
His current services have been requested by pet owners from Kansas City to Minneapolis and many points in between.
"The company has grown fairly fast, and the popularity of the program has helped with that. Because of the growth of the business, it has allowed us to take this risk, or take on the challenge," Ford explained.
Ford's program includes the use of a specific electronic collar. The e-collar emits a vibration that acts like a muscle stimulator to communicate with the dog. Being skeptical, this reporter tested the sensation, and found it to not be a shock collar at all. The vibration from the collar was like a tickle, that made the skin in the palm of my hand mildly itchy.
"We specialize in properly using the e-collar to communicate with your dog," Ford explained.
He likens the e-collar to an invisible fence or leash, and will allow anyone to feel the e-collar vibration before putting it on their pet.
"Our program includes positive reinforcement along with leash training too, so it's not all e-collar training, but that is the foundation really, so that's why our customers are able to get the control their looking for," Ford explained.
With a dose of patience and an e-collar, Ford trains dogs of all breeds, ages and levels of aggression.
On and off leash control are an important part of his training. Ford feels many dog training programs never go past on leash control. When a pet gets loose from his leash, all the training commands are ignored by the pet. Ford's techniques and commands are designed to be effective both on and off leash, near strangers and in new indoor and outdoor environments, such as a park.
Two Types of Training
Midwest Dog Training offers two methods of obedience training.
Ford will pick up the pet for boarding and an obedience program, where all the work is done at his facility and home. After 3 weeks, you dog is returned, fully trained.
In home training sessions work with the dog as well as the pet owner. In two sessions, each two hours in length, Ford claims he can make your pet learn eight essential commands; come, sit, down, place, weight, off, quiet and release.
"We show people how to use appropriate motivation and how to give the command," Ford explained of the program that promotes consistency. "Also, how to use the collar and how to be comfortable with the training."
And eventually, dogs trained with Midwest Dog Training won't need to wear the e-collar.
"I show the people how to wean their dog off of the collar, so potentially they don't have any stimulus other than their voice," Ford explained.
He even offers unlimited follow-up phone calls and email for the life of the dog he has trained. Dog owners are encouraged to participate in a lucrative referral program, where Ford will pay back your training fee in exchange for 5 successful referrals. The business also offers a discount for multiple pet homes. When two dogs are enrolled in an obedience program at the same time, the second dog's training fee is at half price.
All Levels of Aggression Accepted
"In almost three years, I've trained a thousand dogs. And many of those are vicious dogs, that want to bite people," Ford mentioned in the wake of a hot controversy over a Pit Bull ban in neighboring Sioux City. "A lot of dogs are confused about what they should be doing. We train dogs not to be vicious."
Ford contends bully breeds can be trained successfully with his program.
"Leash training doesn't teach the dog to not be aggressive. The e-collar shows they can't be aggressive," Ford explained. "It's all about setting boundaries for the dog. Obedience training is nothing more than offering stimulus to get a dog to do what you want."
Ford's customers have been pleased with his services.
"A lot of times they are overly impressed," Ford explained of the reactions. "When you have your dog off leash, and you control him off leash, your bond is stronger."
More to Come
This fall, Ford plans on sending a mailer to Dakota Dunes residents offering a free doggie daycare day pass, so residents can learn more about Midwest Dog Training's new services.
A small retail section at the North Sioux City business will offer Innova Evo pet foods. Ford considers himself a dog nutritionist who has researched many pet diets. In the future he'd like to add a weight management program to his business offerings. Pet owners could board their pet and have Ford put them on a diet and exercise regime designed for optimum health and weight management.
In the coming year, the business will also begin breeding Belgian Malinois, to be sold primarily to police agencies. Ford will train the dogs to be used in police enforcement.
"By this time next year, we should have a program for bomb sniffing dogs," Ford said.
But until then, Ford will focus on the newly expanded business opening in North Sioux City, and his growing family. This Fall, the Ford's will open their new facility and be the proud parents of their first child.