Category Archives: Training

Jaded but grateful….

I’ve been away from dog training for a few of weeks.  Up in the mountains, in the cool, with hikes in the snow with my own dog Keeper and the family.  I tried not to think about dog training to much while I was there.  Sure, I did a bit of hunting work with Keeper and worked on his directional training for finding birds but nothing else.

It was interesting though when I came back.  My first day back at work and I saw clients that I worked with for one or two sessions a little over a month ago.  When I met with each of them this week they all told me in their own way that “their lives had been changed” and that they were grateful for the work that I did with them.  I was sort of stunned and speechless but I believe that I uttered “my pleasure” to each of them.

I rarely think of what I do as “life changing”.  I guess I see it as the workday job that everyone else goes to.  Sure, I have a skill that I guess not that many other have but I’ve honed it over Many Many Many Many years and I do think of myself as “good at it.”  But life changing for clients.  I don’t know.  I am, however, grateful that they feel that way and that I get to help people and their pups in some small way that improves the world we live in.  Big words for a small job but there it is.

So a brief thank you to my clients this week for letting me know I helped and a big thank you to my clients for having me out to work with you.  That, I am truly thankful for.

Steve Haynes



Patience with the puppy PLEASE.


Gomez on the rock



How I stopped worrying and learned to Love training the puppy…


Puppies are cute. Puppies are funny. Then it changes, puppies bite. Puppies chew….you get the idea.


As a dog trainer, and a damned good one at that, I had an interesting project this year. A very good client of mine hired me to find a certain type of puppy for them which I did. The only problem was that the puppy was going to be available 2 days after this client was leaving on vacation for three months. No problem, we agreed, I would keep this little guy and train and raise him like he was my own until they get back from vacation. This is DEFINITELY something I would do if I could afford it myself. I mean, someone else potty training your puppy for you! Crate training! Oh yeah, sign me up NOW! Here is the check.


I’ve raised puppies before and I’ve board and trained dogs many times, but this long term board and train of a brand new puppy is something a bit….shall we say, different, it’s neither fish nor fowl. He’s a puppy and he’s living with me as my personal puppy but he isn’t mine. I can’t give him all the leeway he needs to learn things in a timefrarme without a deadline….right?


The connundrum for me as a trainer is that I know this puppy has to be “ready” for his owner when they arrive back in town. He MUST master certain skills and display certain abilities by the day I turn him over to his owner. The problem is, that he is a PUPPY and learns things at his own rate. He’s smart, no question. He learns things fast fast fast, no question. But I’ve had a constant fear that he “won’t be ready” in time to go home. We have a program, a path, a plan, but still….the clock is ticking.


Then, just this week, I realized something. This puppy is what he is. He’s not perfect yet (though he’s better than your puppy I pretty much guarantee you), he doesn’t perform 100% in chaotic situations yet (no dog does ever), and he still chews on shoes if you leave them on the floor in front of him (every puppy will). He’s a puppy. A very well trained, obedient, and well socialized, confident puppy but just a puppy and will absolutely still be one the day I turn him over to his owner.


While fretting out loud about the situation the other day my wife reminded me to deliver a note with this puppy when I turn him over. The note she said should be:


“This is a puppy. If you leave shoes out on the floor he will eat them, and if you play with him for to long before taking him outside to pee, he WILL have an accident in the house.”


That pretty much sums it up. This puppy will heel of leash, come when called quite readily, sit and stay for a reasonable amount of time, go to his place and into his kennel on command, jump up and get off of things on command, back away from something when you tell him to, high five, shake, roll over, play dead, fist bump, retrieve, leave it, and wait on command, wipe his whiskers after he drinks water automatically, but he’s still a puppy and he damned sure will chew up your Manolos if you leave them on the floor in front of him.


I’ve loved this project, and am supremely grateful I’ve gotten paid to raise and train this puppy. Ownership by proxy I suppose one might call it. This is the sort of long term project I would like to do move of in the future. My only worry is how to make people understand that despite the hundreds, or dare I say thousand(s) of hours I spent training him, he’s still a puppy and not a machine. He’s going to eat something valuable at some point. I’m just glad he didn’t go for my wife’s Manolos while he was with us.


867 dog training lessons in 2013!

At the end of every year I run some reports from my systems that we use to find out exactly how many lessons and whatnot I did for the previous year. 2013 was sort of a banner year.

In total last year I did 867 lessons. That comes out to about 2.5 lessons every single day of the year and that is just the lessons that I did, it doesn’t include board and train or any of the sessions that Lisa did for the company. That is a lot of dog training! When you look at something like that, and the experience that comes from working with that many clients and that many dogs every year, it makes you realize what you’re paying for. Most of the other dog trainers out there do this business as a hobby, that’s not the case here at Fidelio. This is what we do all day every day, and it’s what we’ve done all day every day for the past 14 years.

The past year has also brought pretty dramatic changes in Austin. I heard recently that Austin is the fastest-growing city in America at this point, and I can certainly tell that from the amount of traffic that were seeing. In the last 14 years I can honestly say that I have never been late to an appointment because of traffic until 2013. Things of changed traffic has gotten far more complicated to deal with, and it’s got much more difficult for us to predict how long it will take to get from one client to another. This is painful for me, because as most of you know I have always been on time to appointments in the past. Unfortunately I’ve had to resort to the tactic that most service people deal with, in that I will always call you if traffic is a problem and I am forced to be late. I apologize to any of those clients in the future that may have this happen to them, but it looks like traffic like this is going to be a fact of life in Austin from now on.

The good news is, that we still come to you. You do not have to pile your dog in the car and fight afternoon traffic to get to some group class with a bunch of other yapping and ill behaved dogs. We come to you and we work in the area of your neighborhood that’s important for your dog to behave. Part of what you pay for is that convenience. We fight the traffic for you while you get dinner ready for the kids, get rested up, and prepare for your training lesson with your dog.

So, in closing, I like to thank all of my clients for everything they did last year. Thank you for each and every one of those 867 lessons that I worked with you on, and thank you for the time and attention you gave me during them. We appreciate you more than you know.


Steve Haynes

Austin dog trainer

Fidelio Dog Works

Dogs Dogs Dogs and Jim Buck’s School for Dogs

Mr. Buck on his daily route in 1964

Mr. Buck on his daily route in 1964

Mr. Buck passed away last week.  It’s a sad day for my NY City clients who utilized his company’s services for dog walking.

To say that Mr. Buck was a legend would be a serious understatement.  I mean, have you ever been profiled by Gay Telese in the Times or been profiled in the New Yorker?  Or how about completely creating a business where there actually was none before?  Mr. Buck created the profession of professional dog walker.  That’s nothing small and it’s a very important job.  I think that all of us that hire a dog walker should sit back for a minute and silently thank Mr. Buck for what he did, even if you never knew him.  He made dog walking a valid profession and gave it a bit of Penache and dignity with how he did it.

So, if you have a minute take a look at his obituary in the Times and give thanks that your pups are being taken out today in the rain by someone who followed in Mr. Buck’s footsteps.

Farewell Mr. Buck….the pups will miss you.

Steve Haynes

Dog Training success story and a client testimonial-Dog training in Austin Tx.

Riley the Wonder Lab

Riley the Wonder Lab

It’s a lovely day to be a dog trainer in Austin, and even lovelier to have a success story from a client.  All to often dog trainers only get to hear the bad stuff  “the dog ate the power cable for the AC unit”, or “he chewed off the siding of the house while we were at Schlitterbahn”….. you get the idea.  But sometimes clients take the time to let me know how well things are going.  It doesn’t happen often (how often do you thank your car manufacturer when your car is running well…) but it does happen and it makes me extremely proud of being a dog trainer in Austin.

This is a note I got today from my client.  It’s always nice to see when dog training lessons are this successful.

Thank you guys for being wonderful clients and thank you for working with Fidelio.

“Thanks Steve for such an Amazing job with Riley. We have a white lab that is 6 months old. We had her spayed at 5 months thinking it would help calm her down and that lasted for all of 2 days. 🙂 She was CRAZY! Some friends, The Longs, recommended Steve and I told them “I would believe it works, when Steve fixes her”.

We were in this crazy cycle because Riley would want attention and want to play and we would try to play with her, but because of the jumping and biting we would give up and retreat. As a result, she became even more crazy every time we went outside.

Anyway, that’s where Steve came to the rescue. He was amazing with the dog and with my children! I can’t recommend him enough. In three sessions he has helped us teach Riley how to do so many things, including not jumping on us, no biting, laying down, walking on a leash, and staying on a “mat” wherever we take her. She is now able to come inside and stay on the mat while we eat dinner, watch TV or just do things around the house. Riley has even started sleeping on her “mat” all night without venturing off.

Riley is such a smart dog, but we would have never been able to accomplish the teachings of all these tasks without Steve. Especially in a month time period. Steve doesn’t know it, but we call him the Dog Whisperer. He has this magical quality with dogs that is innate and has been a lifesaver for our family. Thanks for all of your help!”