Brenda Belmonte has been training dogs and their families for years. Photos by Joel Lerner.
LAKE BLUFF–If you want your new puppy trained to behave around the house, call Brenda Belmonte. If you want your canine pet trained as a dog show champion, call Brenda Belmonte. If you need anything in between when it comes to dog training, call Brenda Belmonte.
Belmonte, the owner of Two Paws Up who has been teaching the North Shore’ pets for the past 35 years, opened her own dog training center Nov. 2 in Lake Bluff just west the intersection of Route 176 and Waukegan Road.
Two Paws Up has been in business for a while but Belmonte decided it was time to give it a permanent home. She has been training people’s pets at Lake Forest’s Gorton Community Center, Yuppy Puppy in Lake Bluff and other spots around the area.
Growing up with pets, Belmonte, a Lake Bluff resident and the wife of the David Belmonte, the village’s police chief, started teaching her dogs tricks when she was a youngster. She developed a knack for it and started spreading her skills around the area.
“It started with our dogs and then I started with the neighbors’ dogs,” Belmonte said. “Eventually I started training show dogs.”
Belmonte became so proficient training her own show dogs, one of them, Crickett, a female pug, won “Best of Opposite Sex” in an American Kennel Club event.
“When you show dogs you want to win Best of Breed,” Belmonte said. “If the dog that wins Best of Breed is a (male) the Best of Ppposite sex is the best female.”
To some the award Belmonte’s Crickett won may be a crowning achievement, but most of her effort is helping people adjust to their dogs. She said a lot of what she does is helping families integrate a pet into an already busy household.
“These are families where a dog is home alone much of the day,” Belmonte said. “There are a lot of things going on at once. The kids are in school, the mom is out doing errands and then it’s dinnertime. They don’t have time to take a deep breath until 7:30.”
Some of the behaviors Belmonte will teach are as simple as training a dog to sit still while a family is having dinner. Some of the work will be done by Belmonte in the dog training center before she has a “transfer” session with the owners.
All of the training is reward based, according to Karin Seiller of Lake Forest, one of Belmonte’s customers. Seiller adopted two Rottweilers as rescue dogs and asked Belmonte to help her rid them of any bad habits acquired before she brought them home.
“Brenda spent time with them to see if they were OK and it worked,” Seiller said. “All of her teaching is based on positive rewards. She doesn’t believe in choke collars.”
Another customer, Maggie Schmude of Lake Bluff, got involved with therapy dogs and persuaded Belmonte to help train them. Belmonte started the class and 25 dogs have gone through it, according to Schmude.
Seiller said one her Rottweilers is now a comfort dog thanks to Belmonte.
Belmonte said she also offers specialized classes like canine nose work, teaching dogs to find things by their scent. She said it is similar to the training police dogs receive.
“She teaches them how to (detect) easily recognizable scents,” Schmude said. “It’s a sport you can compete in.”
People can get a closer look at Two Paws Up during an Open House from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 7, including a demonstration video, according to Belmonte. The center will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Fridays. There will also be some weekend workshops. Two Paws Up is located at 28846 Nagle Court, Suite C, in Lake Bluff (located in the Don Fiore complex), 1/2 mile west of Waukegan Road and Route 176.
Photo by Joel Lerner