James Kohout has always loved animals, especially man’s best friend. He attended college to become a veterinarian, but discovered a different calling along the way — to train dogs.
According to Kohout, after seeing many dogs put down for aggressive behavior, he wanted to help those animals heal and grow.
Kohout then created Canine Manners, a training ground for dogs. On top of standard obedience classes, pooches are trained as professional therapy, service and emotional-support animals. His dog-training service started in Ohio, moved with him to Denver, then transplanted to Grand Junction four years ago.
“It keeps me on my toes.”
In 2002, Kohout attended University of Massachusetts in Amherst to study animal science and pre-veterinary medicine. He also attended Animal Behavior College online to continue his education. Kohout then became certified through National K-9 School for Dog, another online program, in 2007; he believes he is the only person in Colorado’s Grand Valley holding those credentials.
Since founding Canine Manners, Kohout trained more than 5,000 dogs. He recently moved to a 40-acre farm in Whitewater where he hosts a canine residency program. It focuses on training dogs with hyperactivity, aggressive tendencies or difficult behavior problems. In-home trainings continue after a residency portion is completed.
“Each [dog] learns differently,” Kohout said. “I take each dog and figure out the best way they will learn, and then look at the owner to make sure they can keep up with training.
“It’s like my motto, ‘training humans, one dog at a time.’”
The most common training package is $650, which includes the residency program and six follow-up, at-home trainings.
Nicole Campbell, a Grand Junction resident, contacted Canine Manners for instruction after treat-training didn’t work with her American pit bull terrier, Rico. The pup was becoming a “bully.”
“Rico believed he could behave however he wanted because he was receiving treats,” Campbell said.
After six weeks of at-home training with Kohout and Rico, she said the pooch became a “completely different dog.” The pooch is even a certified therapy dog and recently passed the canine good-citizen test.
“I cannot thank [Kohout] enough for his work,” Campbell said.
Campbell added that the best part about training with Kohout is once classes are over, you are instantly part of Canine Manner’s family.
“If there is ever a question or problem, I can just give [Kohout] a call and he will help me figure out the best solution,” she said.
Shelter operations manager for Roice-Hurst Humane Society, Dorothy McClure, additionally supports the importance of dog training. She said it goes long way, especially for dogs coming from shelters.
“They all have various backgrounds,” she said.
WHAT ARE SERVICE DOGS?
According to Kohout, service dogs are allowed anywhere their owner goes per the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“Think of them as a crutch or a wheelchair,” Kohout said. “The dogs are a piece of medical equipment to assist their owner.”
Dogs don’t need certification as long as they are trained to do tasks for the owners, like picking up objects or opening doors, he confirmed.
Therapy dogs are those brought into nursing homes or hospitals to brighten patients days. To become a therapy dog, canines need initial testing. Then they learn basic obedience training, like commands — including sit, stay and heel. And emotional support animals, or ESA for short, are dogs that help owners with therapeutic benefits alleviating symptoms of a disability, like autism.
“It provides a comfort for the owners,” Kohout said.
For more information, visit www.caninemannerscpt.com.