Local San Diego Service Dog Success Story

Fifth Grade can be challenging. Especially if that 5th grader suffers from severe anxiety. Local North County 10-year-old Dakota Smith was suffering from debilitating anxiety and had trouble with things such as sleepovers, school and new situations. So, her mom, Alix, a foster parent for Second Chance Dog Rescue, was beyond thrilled to see a unique bond form between her daughter Dakota and a one-year-old Basset-Daschund mix named April.

Ironically, this sweet mixed breed arrived in April 2018 and was among a group of 104 puppies and kittens rescued from out of state. April was just a day away from meeting her fate at a facility that is not a no-kill facility. Through a serious of events, April ended up in the Smith home, some 4,000 miles away…and that’s when something amazing happened.

“Dakota had lost her dad abruptly, was bullied and had been struggling with anxiety her entire life,” says mom Alix. “But when she was around April, her world changed…she became confident, organized, and more communicative. With April in her life assisting her, she now loves school, has sleepovers and she even went tubing behind the boat. She truly is a different girl because of April,” she added. One day Dakota said, “Mom, April is like my therapy dog. When I have a bad day at school, I come home and lay with her and I feel better.” That’s when Alix began researching the steps to get April trained as a service dog.

Alix had heard about Pro-Train through a friend. She made that call to Pro-Train shortly thereafter. She was reluctant at first to leave April for the five-week stay at the Pro-Train facility…both for her daughter and the canine that narrowly escaped being “put down.”

But the training results exceeded her wildest expectations.

“April is a very fast learner,” according to Saheed Lawal, head trainer at Pro-Train. “This beloved dog learned her commands and learned how to become a certified service animal in record time,” he added.

School is back in session now for Dakota. She has April to thank for a whole new season of coping with her disabilities in a way where she will flourish and learn.

Pro-Train Founder, Mark “Dogman” Castillero, said of this incredible pairing: “We couldn’t be happier for the Smith family and for their trust in our team of trainers.

If you have someone you know that could benefit from a certified service dog, don’t hesitate to reach out to Pro-Train. With over 10,000 dogs trained, the experienced trainers will guide you through every step of the journey. For more information, call us at 760-749-0897. Please pass this along to a friend who may need to hear about Dakota’s inspirational story.


Strategies for Helping Your Dog Lose Weight 

As pet owners, we have a big responsibility for the well-being of our fur babies. This includes keeping their weight down.

In 2016, a record 56% of dogs in the U.S. were clinically overweight or obese. Largely, dog obesity stems from their owners. Many owners are prone to overindulging their pets, which in turn creates a cycle where the dog expects more treats.

Much like personalized dog training therapy, the key to canine weight loss is developing a plan that suits your pet’s individual needs. To cut down on calorie intake, develop a monitored dietary regimen for your dog that follows expert advice… and stick to it!

Canine Calorie-Counting

It’s actually more convenient to track your dog’s caloric intake than your own!  It’s relatively easy to monitor how often, how much, and what type of calories your dog is being fed.

To develop an appropriate dietary plan, the first step is to find your dog’s ideal body weight and develop a weight loss strategy to meet that number.  This can be achieved through consultation with your local vet, but the generally-recommended approach is to cut your dog’s calories by one-third.

That number includes doggie treats, which you can still feed to your dog, because who doesn’t deserve a nice reward? Aim to cut your dog’s body weight by about 1% per week (or 3-4% a month) for safe weight loss. In order for you to assess the regimen, you must weigh your dog regularly, ideally at the same time each week, to track his/her weight.




The Role of Dog Exercise

Managing calorie intake is the most important aspect of canine weight loss, but exercise is still important for your pet’s overall health. Plus, your dog’s digestive system certainly impacts his/her body weight.

To jumpstart everyday fitness for an inactive dog, the American Animal Hospital recommends that dogs be walked three times a day for five minutes. More active dogs should have about an hour of play time per day, preferably in the late afternoon or evening, when it’s cooler outside. Swimming is a good option for doggy exercise, although dogs unaccustomed to swimming should begin with a life vest.

A healthy diet as a puppy sets the stage for a healthy overall life.

Choosing the Right Dog Food for Weight Loss

When selecting food for your pet’s dietary regimen, look for dog food stocked in essential proteins, vitamins, and amino acids. It’s also important to give your dog lots of water, especially with meals and during exercise, to help them digest food properly.

Portion out your dog’s diet carefully and monitor how much he/she eats. For a dietary plan to work, everyone in the family and/or relevant dog sitters need to be on the same page. If one of you fails to go by the plan, the dog will continue to expect more treats and fail to adjust to the new regimen.

Like their human owners, dogs lose weight with the right combination of calorie reduction and exercise. And like small children, dogs love routine, even if they don’t appreciate the cut in food intake. Your dog will be best trained to eat less through reliable methods of routine and practice, even when it’s hard to face their puppy eyes. Ultimately, it’s up to you to make a plan and stick to it.


GPS Tracking for Your Dog

Our dogs become like extended family…and many of us refer to our dogs as our “kids”.  Our kids’ safety and health are a top priority. And just like we can use GPS tracking for humans, so too can we use it for our beloved canines.

But where do you begin? Whether you are a new pet owner or have had Fido for many years, a GPS tracker may be a good option for your situation. For pups who like to go on walks (without their owners) or cats who love to wander, a pet GPS is a great option to give pet parents peace of mind.

Our friends at are huge animal lovers, so their team was excited to tackle the task of finding out which trackers were the best. They sought out models that had top of the line technology, a long battery life and accurate tracking. And, of course, ease-of-use and an intuitive app. Check out all your options here and drop us a line and let us know what you think.



Preventing Your Dog From Destructive Chewing

Photo by Florencia Potter on Unsplash

All dogs love to chew. It helps relieve stress and releases pleasurable endorphins into the body.  Some breeds have a worse reputation for chewing than others, notably Jack Russell Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, Golden Retrievers and Labradors. Destructive chewing could be part of your dog’s DNA or genetics, but what training techniques can you implement to prevent this unwanted behavior in the future?



When It’s Alright to Chew

Photo by Ryan Walton on Unsplash

Puppies explore the world through their mouths. And when they begin teething, chewing can really help to alleviate the symptoms. This can go on for six months, so it’s best to comfort them and provide something cold they can put in their mouths to soothe the pain. Ice cubes work well or putting a favorite rubber toy in the freezer. Start training your puppy on what’s acceptable and not acceptable to chew, focus on encouragement and rewards for chewing their own toys.

As they get older, their desire to chew will continue but it’s important you channel it in the right way and recognize any behavioral triggers. Dogs will rarely chew to annoy you, but by understanding any possible causes of destructive chewing you can put appropriate measures in place and tailor training methods accordingly.



Why Do Dogs Chew?

  • Older dogs may chew because they are bored or want attention.
  • They might chew to relieve nervousness or reduce any feelings of fear.
  • Separation anxiety is another cause of destructive chewing. Your dog might become stressed anytime they’re left alone.Medical reasons. Chewing can be a result of an unbalanced diet, too little calcium or gastrointestinal issues.

Preventing Destructive Chewing

Whatever the reason for destructive chewing, there are strategies you can put in place to help. First, it’s important to “dog-proof” your house. Tidy things away that you don’t want your dog to pick up and consider leaving your dog in a crate or utility room when you’re out of the house.

Photo by Anita Peeples on Unsplash

Everyone knows a tired dog is a happy dog. By providing enough physical exercise and mental stimulation, you can help release any excess energy and avoid issues with boredom. Hiding treats, indoor play and plenty of interaction will all tire your dog out.

Training your dog to chew their own toys is essential. This review of which toys work best to stop unwanted chewing could help. There is a variety to choose from and it helps to rotate them to maintain your dog’s interest. Kongs, Nylabones and Dental Sticks are all worth consideration. You can also discourage any destructive chewing on specific items by spraying them with unpleasant scents. To help prevent your dog from becoming “Chewzilla” consider some of these tips on how to prevent your dog from destroying woodwork.

Separation Anxiety

If you think your dog is experiencing separation anxiety, start introducing training techniques early to encourage independence and calmness. Establishing yourself as the leader and getting your dog to respond to commands will all help increase their confidence. It’s important to remember to avoid scolding or yelling at your dog if they do destroy something. Unless its immediate discipline, they won’t know why they are being shouted at.

By taking these preventative measures, understanding your dog’s behavior and encouraging appropriate chewing through positive training and reinforcement, you should get the results you want and avoid any destructive chewing in the future.

Want to talk to a professional about further training for your beloved Fido? Mark “Dogman” Castillero has trained over 10,000 dogs in his 40-year career. He and his team at Pro-Train Innovative are ready to help.

Support Animals: Tips for Individuals with Disabilities

Specially-Trained emotional support animals can make all the difference in the life of a disabled person.

For individuals who are living with a disability, having a pet can be a huge help. Some are specially-trained emotional support animals, while others are simply loving pets that provide comfort and company to those who need it most. Some pets can be trained to complete physical tasks that are too difficult for their human companions, such as opening doors or carrying shopping baskets.

Whatever your needs are, there’s sure to be a pet for you. It’s important to make sure your pet’s needs are met as well, however, by giving him lots of attention and care. This begins the moment you bring him home, meaning you’ll need a good plan for keeping him happy and healthy. Bonding time is especially important for support animals in order to keep a connection that will last a lifetime.

Here are a few of the best tips on how you and your support animal can take care of one another. Guest blogger Ashley Taylor of shares some great information here.



Maverick and his owner, who is deaf, have bonded well! Another Pro-Train Success Story.

Form the Bond

As soon as you bring your pet home, the bonding should begin. Clear your schedule as much as possible so you can play with your new pet and let him assimilate to his new home. Allow him to explore his surroundings and, if possible, only have immediate family there when he arrives. Keep things calm and conversational, and let him meet everyone at his own pace. This will set the tone for your relationship and will give him a sense of trust, which is imperative when it comes to support animals.

Stay Social

Pets can help you stay social and active, which is important for many individuals who are living with a disability. You might visit a local dog park for a walk after dinner, or join local events that include pets. Emotional support animals can be extremely beneficial when it comes to loneliness, but it’s helpful to get out and spend time with other people as well. Talk to your doctor about which exercises are best for your needs and which ones you should stay away from so that you and your pet will stay safe, especially during colder months or when the weather is inclement.

Just like a baby or toddler needs extra attention, so too do our pets upon arriving at our home. Make sure its safe your new Fur Baby.

Pet-Proof Your Home

Many animals will explore their new home eagerly, so it’s important to make sure each area is safe and free of trip-hazards, toxic plants or foods such as chocolate, and exposed wires or cords that might look like fun chew toys. Take a look at the outside of your home as well, especially if your pet will be spending a lot of time there. The yard should ideally be fenced in to keep him safe, and should be free of any rocks or small items that could damage his paws. For more tips on how to get started, click here.

Traveling with Your Dog

Traveling long distance can be challenging. There is a lot of prep work involved and it’s important for you to research which mode of transportation is the best suited for you and your animal. Did you know that train travel is fast becoming the most rewarding way to travel with your pet? Give this great thought for your next long distance trip! It may be the best decision, other than proper training, that you make!

Pro-Train has trained thousands of service and assistance dogs.

Proper Training

All new pets, like children, need a bit of guidance so they can understand the rules. Even those that have been specially trained as emotional support animals may need to learn how things will work in your home. Go over basic commands to ensure he knows how to sit, heel, and stay, and make sure your family members understand the rules as well. Keeping everyone on the same page will ensure that your pet doesn’t become confused.

If you need help with service dog training, Pro-Train is a top pick for people with disabilities. Founder and owner Mark Castillero has a phenomenal staff who he has mentored and trained. Whatever the disability, your dog will be trained with your specific needs to your specific situation. Lifetime guaranteed.


Having a pet can make a world of difference for an individual with a disability, but it’s necessary to choose the right animal for your needs. Whether you’re a dog person or someone who loves cats, making sure you are compatible with your pet is essential. After that, it’s just a matter of loving and being loved.

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Dog Trainer in San Diego: The Dog Man Can.