Ken Berenson grew up with a mother and brother afraid of dogs in an apartment in the Bronx, N.Y., close to Yankee Stadium. He didn't think his life would be filled with wagging tails and wet noses, but one summer with a friend's German shepherd changed everything. "I was encouraged to make friends with Yank, and it changed my whole life," Berenson said.
He has been training dogs for more than 30 years. His education came from years of apprenticing with other trainers and learning effective and humane ways to teach obedience to dogs.
After graduating from college in 1969, Berenson started working for the New York City schools. By 1972, he had begun working with a trainer who taught classes at the Round Hill Community House in Greenwich, where Berenson has held his classes ever since. "After I started apprenticing myself to different trainers, they told me training is teaching," Berenson said. "They saw I had a talent for both people training and dogs."
In 1983, Berenson won the Breed division at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show. "I have also competed at a high level in obedience, which is what I teach, and agility," he said. "[Agility] was the most fun I ever had with dogs."
Berenson worked his way through the dog world and is an American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen Evaluator. He teaches beginner and novice classes at Round Hill Community House. "People don't realize the commitment it takes to teach a dog," he said. "The average dog doesn't gain muscle memory calling him off a squirrel at a dead run unless you've done it about 6,000 times. That is where the commitment comes in."
He came across his current dog, Sugar Bear, through trial and error with his former owners. "A miniature poodle does not fit my image," he said. "Over the years I've had Dobermans, bullmastiffs and a boxer. Bear was with me through my losses, and he's like a Velcro dog. He doesn't leave my side."
Berenson said he could not picture his life without dogs. "They make you relax and give you a tremendous sense of accomplishment when you communicate with another species that doesn't speak your language," he said. "The sense of accomplishment and relaxation I get working with dogs makes life very enjoyable."
Have you taken your dog to obedience classes? How has it worked out? Leave a comment below or on Facebook !
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