Michael ellis

Choose the road less traveled: The lifestyle of a boxer and dog trainer

Many of you may not know but I am a student of the sweet science. I went to several boxing gyms before I found my home at eastern queens boxing gym. I trained hard and ended up with 2 amateur fights. Most people don't know the struggle.

The 2.5 hour workouts for 5 days a week( which is nothing crazy in the boxing world). This included the ab work. Punching until my arms were numb and then keep punching. Focusing on technique and strategy. Eating the blandest food known to man. Going to restaurants sucked because everything had salt or something else I cut out of my diet. I ran every morning.( I hate running!!! But then again what decent human being doesn’t). I would spar a bunch of rounds at least twice a week. I would also do mitt work too. It's like a part time job along with working another job and going to school. No going out drinking with friends( barely). Trying to sleep early because I had to get up the next day to train. But I loved it so I did it.

Dog training is similar in a way. It's very time consuming. It takes a lot of patience and techniques. I love the science behind both. I spend a lot of time working dogs and learning about them. I’ve spent countless hours reading books, watching what other trainers do, and even hiring a dog trainer to see what he would do in a given scenario. When it comes to working with dogs I do many short sessions (5 min max) and I do it frequently(6-8 times a day).

I’ve recently was introduced to the protection dog world after attending MIchael Ellis school in California. I have since came back to New York and have linked up with a guy who has championed a dog and been doing this for a long time. He is teaching me to become a certified decoy in French Ring. As soon as I put on the bulky suit I realized that I wasn’t in shape for this. It like the difference between being in shape and being in fight shape in the boxing world. I had to learn to get accustomed to running, jumping, and pivoting while the dog was coming at me from 25 feet away and being weighed down in the suit. I will add that it is pretty scary the first time a dog is running at you at full speed with full intent to bite you with all of their might. Even if you have the suit on you can still feel the bite. Its like someone took pliers and squeezed them on your leg with as much pressure as they could.

Some people even ask me why I do it because it seems painful. Others tell me I should go back to school and forget this dog training stuff. Some even say that I should go for something with a guaranteed paycheck. I even hear that I’m getting old. (HAHA). I don’t listen to none of it. I choose the road less traveled. I am determine to make my legacy. I challenge you to push past your comfort zone with me. To actually enjoy what you do. To dream and live how you want to live. This is why I do it.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said:

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

My experience at the Michael Ellis School for dog trainers

Three words described how I felt in that Santa Rosa county for those 2 weeks… I LOVED IT.

I couldn’t imagine that it would be so eventful and relaxed. As soon as I arrived I was welcomed on campus. Everyone was friendly and included me in whatever dog activity they were doing. I was the only one who stayed on campus but wasn’t there for the 17 week immersion program. Everybody else seem to already got acquainted and I was finding my place.

It was a quiet area which was dark at night and the only thing close was a Spanish restaurant across the street. The food was ok, but I had better. The tacos were thin and the meat didn’t have that fresh taste like Don Nico( my favorite spot in queens right now).

As far as my living space, I ended up boarding in a small room in the staff building. Besides the fact I had to walk outside and go about 150 ft to use the bathroom in the next building because the staff building had no bathroom, I enjoyed it. I also had no kitchen. So I had to go to another building to cook and to shower. This was an inconvenience, but being in this building had it’s perks.

I was close to the staff so I would watch the staff as they worked with their dogs for a competition. I would ask questions and take note to what they did. I remember one staff member specifically training for IPO. If you seen my Instagram you will see photos of the staff yard.

You will also see pics of the loner dog I was given named Phoneix. She was a Belgian Malinois and I fell in love with her. At first she really didn’t care for me. I was introduced to her on Tuesday, the second day of class.

On Sunday we were beginning to develop a minor relationship. On the following Tuesday we were beginning to become closer physically and emotionally. She was a lot more engaged with me in the training room. When it was time to leave, I didn’t want to leave her. If I had a lot of space I would of taken her with me, but then reality hits me.

Now for the meat and potatoes. Class time. You ever felt like you was just made to do something and it was effortless to do it? Well that’s how class felt. It wasn’t like sitting in a boring classroom.

The lectures were filled with practical and useful information and the practical helped us dog trainers there bring the imaginative into reality. At first I thought to myself, “how much can we possibly talk about obedience”?

Little did I know that Michael Ellis breaks it down into little tiny details. “If you give a reward with the same hand you can affect a dogs finished behavior” “You are turning your hand too much to the left that’s why the dog is crooked”. These were some of the sentences he would say as he would correct some trainers who thought they were already doing the correct mechanics, but couldn’t figure for the life of them why they weren’t getting good results.

Eventually everyone realized that it wasn’t as easy as it seemed. Michael Ellis was easy going and chill. He is a real down to earth person.

Since I spent my labor day here. I might as well tell you how that went.

First we did have dog training class that day. But like I told you already, I love this stuff so I didn’t want to skip class anyway. We ended up having a Barbeque. Bring your own meats and booze! I brought ground beef and a friend bought whiskey. It is safe to say that I did not miss NY at all as I was having a great time.

A couple of shots in and dog training was all we could talk about. We talked about what we were going to do when we got back home and conversed about various dog training topics. Typical signs of obsessive people. I think we performed better after a shot. Many people felt they could relax under the attention of 30 people and Michael Ellis.

Outside of training I felt horrible. No one told me it was cold in Northern California. I bought shorts, tshirts, a couple long sleeve shirts ( I didn't think I would need), 2 pair of jeans, a hoodie, and a light blanket. I was freezing every night. Not to mention my allergies out there were the worst I’ve ever experienced.

I was sneezing and coughing all the time. I thought maybe it was because I had a loner dog in my room but I was feeling like that before I met her. Someone saw me and explained that their allergies were acting up to. Then came the story of a botanist who decided to plant some weird plants in the area causing that area to be the worst place for allergies. Just what I wanted to hear. I just bared the pain and tried to look on the bright side- this was a great opportunity.

Overall I can’t wait to go back to the Michael Ellis school for dog trainers for other courses. If that's the prerequisite course I can’t wait to be in the other classes.

The Cesar Millan show!!!

Recently I just went to a Cesar Milan show in Westbury Long Island. I had a great time. He definitely put on a show that was entertaining with jokes and demonstrations.  He talked about his story coming from Mexico and being surrounded by dogs with no leashes yet the dogs followed him.

It was this sort of primal energy that he was putting off that seemed to not be accessible to our modern technological world. I loved this talked as it fed my hunger for nature and returning back to a simplier time and way of living even if only in my mind.

I watched demonstrations of Cesar taking a dog that was pulling a volunteer around the room. Cesar took that dog and within seconds was able to walk with the dog only the leash with 2 fingers.

Many were surprised. I watched this guy for a while and its what I expected. Cesar also had words of wisdom too. He talked about dogs following you and the state of mind that they are in when they were demonstrating certain behaviors. Some dogs were too hyper and he gave them a chance to relax first.

This was something I liked about Cesar. He is big on being fair and setting the dog up for success. Even though he has a dominance theory of how dogs are like wolves in a pack he believes in fairness. You know dog psychology stuff.

I went with an open mind being that I had to because I didn't know we were going there until my girlfriend and I pulled up to the theatre with her car. And also because I always feel like I can learn something as a dog trainer.

I do think people don't realize that Cesar shows is mostly for entertainment not for you to go home and start practicing on your dog. I have clients that immediately start to shhhh their dog and tapping them the way Cesar does. Without knowing what state of mind their dog is in and just guessing, they attempt it. Every time their dog "acts up" they think he is being dominant. I believe that there are dominant dogs but most dogs are opportunist.

Also  realistically for some of the behaviors that dogs have that Cesar fixes on his show he needs more than an hour to do. There is a lot of editing and showing you quick results. I am not discrediting Cesar because he is a professional and knows what he is doing. I just don't want people to get the wrong idea about trying this at home.

These are the thoughts that went through my head as I drank some red wine after the intermission. Maybe it was the wine making think more intensely, but truthfully I think like this about dog training on a regular. I wish I got more footage of Cesar. Too bad I wasn't a VIP member. Maybe next time. Can't wait for the next stop- Michael Ellis dog trainer in Cali.