I am a dog person and a novice handler. I have known Tommy for many years and I have been amazed over the years by his, love for dogs and even more his skills as a trainer and a handler of dogs. He has a large knowledge of breeds and behavior and also a understanding how to motivate a dog to preform in any activity, Rather it be Personal Protection, Obedience,Companion dog or just a good pet . Behavior is the key and Mr. Tommy Gross is a solid dog trainer to work with and for shaping any dog into the dog a dog lover/ owner desires. I am grateful for what he has done for me and my dog.
It was literally life or death for Shadow. I adopted him when he was 1 ½ years old and living in a family’s garage, because their son kept playing too rough with him. Shadow hadn’t been socialized with other dogs, he wasn’t crate-trained – in fact, he wasn’t trained at all. When the mother opened the door to let me in, Shadow raced outside and across the street and her children had to run after him to catch him. Clearly not a habit that allows for a long life expectancy.
I brought him home and signed up for the typical obedience classes – only to get kicked out when the dog trainer discovered he didn’t get along with other dogs. This trainer suggested I bring the dog-equivalent of mace with me on walks, as a way to manage his response to other dogs. In other words, she refused to work with us. Shadow’s world was very small at this point: he couldn’t go for walks because he went out of control when he saw another dog and he couldn’t go for rides in the car because he wouldn’t get in a crate and kept trying to sit in my lap as I drove (he weighs 60 lbs!). I felt desperate and didn’t know where to turn.
Then, a dog groomer told me about Tom. She had heard rave reviews from her customers who had dogs with similar difficulties. I called him. He responded immediately. I didn’t have to wait for a class with 16 other people to fill up. I didn’t have to pay the whole amount up front. And I didn’t have to know what I was doing. Tom was encouraging, supportive, and clearly an expert. I warned him about Shadow and other dogs. Unfazed, Tom told me to bring him to class on Sunday. I chickened out that first Sunday. I didn’t show. Tom called to make sure I was okay, and I confessed I was just too worried about what would happen. He explained why Shadow was having the response he was having and what I might be doing to contribute to it, and he promised me he wouldn’t let any one get hurt, including the dogs. I went the next week and for the following 10 weeks, learning skills and gaining confidence. No one ever got hurt and Shadow learned every behavior we taught him!
I had to move across country before we finished training, so Tom scheduled special, extra classes for me and Shadow, to prepare us for the transition. He has called to follow up with me and has been the only trainer who understood how to connect with me and Shadow. I have hired other trainers here in California, and the sessions were not successful. I wish I still lived in Pittsburgh. It turns out Shadow is a quick learner, a natural tracker, and a strong protector. I know with Tom’s guidance, Shadow could realize his full potential.
Where every other trainer failed, Tom succeeded. It was a long drive from Pittsburgh to California, and Shadow behaved beautifully the whole trip. I truly don’t know what I would do without my friend Shadow. But I do know Shadow never would have made it, if it weren’t for Tom. Tom saved his life by teaching him confidence and obedience. Every morning when I wake up with Shadow at my feet and every night when I come home with a happy dog to greet me, I am grateful. Tom stepped in when every other trainer stepped out. A thousand thank you’s are not enough to say how grateful I am.
We have a 2.5 - year old German Shepherd named Lailah. Smart, obedient, totally submissive to us, good with kids - a perfect dog for the family and, if you ask me, the best dog ever.
Things have not always been like that. Hard to believe, but several months ago this same Lailah was the most dangerous dog in our neighborhood and we were really considering getting rid of her (which in that case meant putting the dog down). Now it is all in the past, and we are deeply grateful to Thomas and Darla for "bringing" Lailah back.
We took her as a 2-month puppy from the breeder. And pretty soon she started to guard us from the outside world - was extremely aggressive towards other people, dogs, … anything. When walking with Lailah, I was always alert - keeping muzzle handy and maintaining "empty" space, so that no one was close to me. And if, God forbid, somebody tried to approach me or even talk to me – she would attack viciously. Needless to say, people were not very fond of it – and pretty soon we’ve become the outcasts of our “dog friendly” neighborhood - walking alone deep in the woods, trying to avoid any possible contacts with humans and dogs – not the lifestyle I dreamed of.
Yet she was beautiful at home - completely submissive - kids could do anything with her (say, my 2-year old girl could give her a treat, and then open her mouth and take it back). Kids could play with her toys, play in her crate, and even ride on her. She always was very patient and gentle with them and never showed any kind of aggression toward the four of us.
And at that time she was so protective outside! Yes, she was dangerous, and that was clear!!! Still I hoped for her to change – she could, I truly believed, be good with the outside world as well. We tried different obedience courses and private trainings. Lailah was usually quick to learn new command, but still we were unable to control her protective behavior. Promising and optimistic over the phone, trainers were quick to give up, scared by the dog (and by more demanding work), pretending they did not want to get hurt. We didn't give up though; we knew that we just needed a VERY GOOD trainer, a true professional. And thank God we found Thomas.
The magic worked from the first day. He listened to us and understood. "If Lailah is good with kids - we can help you." He calmed us and reassured that the dog was all right, though indeed there were many things to correct. And so we began…. It was a pleasure to work with him and Darla. Anything we needed to correct - they also explained me the reasons why did that happen, and taught me how to deal with that. Magically, every "how to" thing they taught us - worked. Moreover - it worked IMMEDIATELY. Very honest and responsible, from the very first day Thomas gave us this feeling of being in good hands - he was always there, in person or over the phone. I remember, one day we had some unpleasant situation, called Thomas and he came within an hour. He is also dedicated to a success - he does not watch the time and can spend as much time with you as needed.
Our dog has improved tremendously. Yet, she has not become "happy-face" friendly Lab, ready to lick anyone or anything. But that's OK! That's what German Shepherd is all about! She still does not socialize with every dog – especially with those irresponsibly unleashed dogs, running around in public places, expecting everyone to share their fun. Lailah is still a protective dog, but she is not that unpredictable weapon anymore. She never attacks people, and has become indifferent to dogs she does not want to play with. She is so much reliable! Once we tell her that a person is a friend - she becomes a friend too - can even eat from his hand.
I am not scared to go out with her anymore; and, instead of trying to avoid any potentially "dangerous" situation, I am looking for them - as for an opportunity for me to correct my dog. I never fail!
Thomas has shown us that “dog trainer” is a profession – it is hard, complex and requires deep understanding of dog’s (and human’s) behavior. He has also shown that one should never give up on a dog once he believes that a change is possible. He literally saved Lailah, he changed our attitude and built up our confidence.
Thank you Thomas!
My husband and I have had our two black labs for about 3 ½ years. They are sweet girls and fit very well into our family. Soon after we got them, however, we started having problems with them showing aggression toward other dogs and strangers. When we took them on walks, they would lash out at any other dogs we passed as well as bikes. We could barely control them. We even got nipped a few times trying to restrain them. Things were so bad that we feared taking them on walks. Our walks got fewer and fewer.
They were also very territorial and did not like when people came over to our house. We had to go through an elaborate series of steps in order to introduce them to people. We were always afraid that eventually they would bite someone. They were perfectly sweet and well behaved dogs when it was just us at home, but visitors always set them off. Because of our fear, we invited people over less and less or kept the dogs locked in the crates when we had company.
Last June, we found out that we were pregnant with our first baby. We were thrilled, but also concerned about how the dogs would take the transition. We knew that the way the girls reacted to things out of fear would not be conducive to life with a baby. Our vet actually suggested that we put the girls down. We were appalled by his suggestion but knew that something needed to change. There were only two options as we saw it: find a trainer that could help us stabilize the girls’ behavior or give them up.
Luckily, we came across Tom and Canine Concepts. When we contacted Tom, he was very professional and began working with us right away, while we were still pregnant. He came to our house and showed us ways to work with our dogs in their environment. The improvement was immediate. Because of Tom’s work, we are no longer afraid to take the dogs for walks. In fact, we are even able to go on walks as a whole family with the stroller.
Most importantly, Tom helped us transition the dogs to the arrival of our baby. The transition was so smooth that it was almost as if nothing had changed. The dogs accepted our daughter into the “pack” without incident. They never showed any signs of aggression toward her. We are now able to trust them around her. They sniff her and lick her hands and toes. I doubt we would have been able to achieve this without Tom’s help. His expert training has allowed us to keep our family together. We are so grateful and would recommend him to anyone!
Spring of 2014, after losing our 11 year old Rottweiler to osteosarcoma, we adopted a 2 year old Rottweiler hat was abandoned and starved. We brought him home not knowing how he was with cats or other dogs. Well, he was not receptive to the cat and as he became comfortable as this being his home, he started to show aggressive behaviors toward other dogs. We were very diligent in doing leash training and slow introduction with cat within our home but wanted to nip this "aggressive" behavior in the bud. Our Rottweiler connection did not have her facilities completed so Tom came highly recommended! From the very first time we met with him, it was obvious that he knew what to do with our boy. After the first time, our Rottweiler was eating and sleeping next to our cat! We had to take different approach with other dogs. The transition was amazing!! Unfortunately, our boy was diagnosed with lymphoma and past a short 4 months later. But with Tom's expertise and dedication we were able to provide a balanced and loving environment and it all showed when we were at the vet with all kinds of other dogs and he was relaxed amongst all of them! I would highly recommend Tom and thank him from the bottom of my heart!