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Idaho Statesman Article
September 30th 2007

Gone to the dogs—and loving it!

April Stoppel Jantz trained her first dog at age 11 and now owns Scotch Pines Training School

By Jeanne Huff -

Edition Date: 09/30/07

Sit. Come. Stay. Heel. Stop barking! Oh no, not my flowers. Yikes! Please, don't put your nose there — it's really cold.

If you own a dog, you may have said these words a few times. If you own a dog who has never been to obedience training, you may have said them until you were blue in the face — while Fido just sat there looking at you, panting and wagging his tail. (Or was he secretly laughing at you?)

Meet April Stoppel Jantz. Jantz, 28, is the owner of Scotch Pines Dog Training School, a local dog training school that specializes in basic obedience training. Jantz has been training dogs since she was 11 and says dog training benefits owner and dog. It also greatly enhances the owner/dog relationship.

"I trained Hoyt, my beloved Rotti Shepherd (Rottweiler, German Shepherd mix), when I was 11. The next summer I was hired to train a friend's dog, and then another and another.

"I loved the feeling of taking a completely out-of-control dog and shaping it into a wonderful companion. I loved the time spent with dogs and with other dog owners," Jantz said.

That first training experience was in California. Jantz and her mother — and her mother's Rhodesian Ridgeback — were the first in the family to get the dog training bug. When Jantz and her family moved from California to Idaho about 15 years ago, local veterinarians who were impressed with Jantz's dogs' discipline and manners, nudged the family into doing it full time.

The family took a dog training tour, researching well-known schools and methods across the United States.

"We still felt after seeing all that that we had found the method that worked with all dogs, every time, with great results and happy obedient dogs," Jantz said. So the family took up dog training as a career.

"I was 14 the year Scotch Pines Dog Training held its first class," Jantz said. "I helped out at classes and answering phone calls. It was, and still is, a family-run business."

The basic dog obedience class lasts 10 weeks. Dogs and their owners meet once a week for two hours, then take homework for daily, 15-20 minute training sessions. Dogs are tempted with distractions such as the other class members, plates of raw hamburger, and live billy goats, rabbits and bouncing balls.

"You want your dog to listen to you and obey you in real-life situations, not just in a sterile class environment," Jantz said.

Jantz has four children: Shaun, 8; Bridgette, 6; Heidi, 4; and Claire, 2. Before she took up dog training full time, she had a brief career as an early childhood education teacher. But Jantz credits her dog training education as helpful in raising her children.

"Everyone should train a dog before they have kids," Jantz said, laughing. "There are so many similarities. For instance, I only tell dogs one time; I only tell my children one time. You earn their respect."

I talked with Jantz last week about life — and dogs.

Q: The Koehler method of dog training, started by William Koehler, is probably the backbone of most basic dog and puppy training methods. It was used by the Walt Disney people for 20 years and incorporates some form of choke chain corrections with lavish praise. But these days, many dog trainers have modified the approach, using more positive reinforcement.

How would you describe the Scotch Pines method?

A: I do think we have modified the Koehler method. Our belief is that dogs need structure and a handler they can respect.

Dogs are extremely intelligent and so the idea of food or toy bribes tends to defeat the entire training process and frustrate the dog. A dog needs stimulation but also needs understanding and praise to deepen that bond between humans and dogs.

With the Scotch Pines Method, we use an approach that puts the handler in control of the dog with the dog fully understanding what is being asked of him. We teach in a group setting which teaches the dog obedience in real life — with other dogs, people, bicycles, tennis balls, food, etc.

If a dog is trained in a quiet, calm setting with no distraction then when he is taken into real life he will not know how to react. Dogs trained in Scotch Pines classes can go anywhere and are obedient in any setting, whether it's a quiet back yard or the hustle and bustle of a farmer's market.

I am a certified Koehler dog trainer, but would rather be known as a good dog trainer than specifically a Koehler trainer.

Q: What kind of dogs do you have? Did you train them?

A: I have always had Rottweiler mixes of some kind until Cowboy. My dog Cowboy is a German shepherd/Australian shepherd/border collie mutt.

He was found wandering in a park where I was holding a class and an officer in my class impounded him. A few days later, when I asked about him, they told me I could come pick him up if I wanted him. I trained him at 8 months and he is an excellent family dog, wonderful with my children and a delight every day.

I also own a cocker spaniel named Gracie who was given to me. She is still a puppy and although the housebreaking and all behavior issues are taken care of, I haven't begun formal obedience training with her yet. My winter will be dedicated to her training.

Q: How many dogs have you trained?

A: Me personally? I have no idea. From the time I was 11 until 14 I trained two to three dogs per year, and then in 1993 when Scotch Pines opened I helped out at classes with hundreds, if not thousands of dogs.

We have approximately 525 dogs come through our group classes each year, and I see about 10 per month for aggression training classes and 10 per month in my puppy classes.

Add that up over the last 14 years — we have had the pleasure of working with thousands of dogs and their owners

Q: Have you ever been bitten?

A: Yes I have, but only once in 17 years that required a doctor's visit. It tends to be somewhat of a job hazard. I usually do a quick mental evaluation of aggressive dogs, but am caught off-guard occasionally.

Q: Are there any breeds harder or too hard to train?

A: No dog is un-trainable. Some owners though... (Laughs.)

Q: What about un-neutered males?

A: Un-neutered males are usually about five to 10 times harder to train. I am a huge advocate of spaying and neutering, so I always push that in all my classes.

Q: What do you like to do for fun?

A: I love snowmobiling, swimming, painting, playing with the kids, planting flowers and renovating our 1920s farmhouse.

Q: What are you reading right now?

A: All my reading recently has been on dog nutrition as it has piqued my interest lately. I usually have a current legal drama shoved under my pillow, though.

Q: Type of music?

A: Mostly country, some old stuff: Tom Petty, Jerry Lee Lewis, etc..

Q: Anything else?

A: My soapboxes are children's health and organic living.

I come from a family of three children and was raised with a strong sense of family. When my husband and I married, we were very young, but knew early on we wanted a houseful of kids, and we love every minute of it. I love waking up in the morning and knowing everything I need is within my walls.

Along with family comes that sense of community. I think our friends and our acquaintances mold who we are. I love surrounding myself with warm, real people. Here in Idaho especially, we have an abundance of those people from every walk of life.

I love hearing the talk and laughter of happy people around me.

Jeanne Huff: 377-6483

Messenger Index -
August 1, 2007
Police Dog Worthy of Awards
Kya, a 2-year old American Staffordshire Terrier, was adopted July 16, 2006, by shine K-9. Kya was trained for drug detection and placed with her handler, Emmett Police Officer Kim Judy.
Judy and Kya then completed an 80-hour K-9 handler's course with Gary Scheihing, Idaho POST certified master instructor. Judy and Kya received their POST certification for drug detection on Sept.30, 2006.
The team then completed a 10-week obedience course with Scotch Pines Dog Training, where they earned the "Top Dog" award. On April 14, they received their AKC canine good citizen award after completing a series of tests administered by an AKC evaluator.

Idaho Statesman- October 6th, 2007
Half-Trained and Counting
My husband, Bob, brought home a seven-month-old pooch of the Heinz57 variety from the Humane Society for me this year as a mother's day gift, since all my children have flown the coop.
From the beginning we planned on taking Payton to doggy school. Sweet he was, but soon, he began exhibiting behaviors we were anxious to, um, modify. Turns out he's a bit of a digger, a moderate barker; he either got bored or spiteful one lazy summer afternoon and demolished the arm of a living room chair. He would "sit" occasionally, "heel" never and "come"-dream on.
The first evening in the Scotch Pines basic obedience class, we were surrounded by about 30 other crazy, googly dogs and their confused owners. I remember looking around, thinking, "There's no way this nice, misguided person (trainer April Stoppel Jantz) can whip this motley crew into shape."
We're six lessons and six weeks down, four to go. I am shocked and amazed at how far we've come.
Now, when I take Payton for a walk, he strolls with me, right by my side. No squirrel, rampant dog, kid on a bicycle or bird can cause him to bolt. He sits. He stays. He comes.
At class last week, a few of us giggled about it- "Can you believe it?!"
It really works.
Scotch Pines Dog Training, 461-2246. Group classes, weekly for 10 weeks, takes place at Ann Morrison park, Boise; Lakeview Park, Nampa and Storey Park, Meridian. $150. Private training sessions are $60 an hour.

Jeanne Huff