The Story of The Wolfkeeper
I remember wanting to become a dog trainer when I saw the movie The Amazing Dobermans back in 1978. I was absolutely fascinated by how well-trained these dogs were—the obedience they demonstrated and the tricks of which they were capable. After seeing the movie, all I wanted to do was set up agility equipment in my backyard and teach my dogs how to jump and crawl on command. I saw Mel Gibson’s movie Mad Max 2 and fell in love with his sidekick Australian Cattle Dog, named simply “Dog,” and fantasized about traveling the U.S. in a Corvette Stingray with my faithful road dog. Later, I enjoyed the movie I Am Legend with Will Smith, because I saw myself walking the empty streets of Chicago with my American Bulldog, Diesel, fighting vampires. I grew up loving every component of owning a dog. I didn’t mind the smell of dog poop and I loved getting our kennel area ready for any new dog that we adopted into our family. I loved going to the pet store with my mom and paying $25 per week until we paid for the Shih Tzu puppy that we had on layaway. I was always so excited to go buy dog toys and pick out dog food, but had no idea that one day this would be my full-time career and life’s passion. The first time I saw a professionally trained dog was in 1983, when my family went to a kennel in the country to purchase a fully trained German Shepherd named Rebel. I recall being amazed by the level of control the dog trainer asserted over his attack dog, and his ability to turn the dog on and off like a light switch.
The first dog I tried to officially “train” was a Boxer named Brandy, which my mom bought for me in 1986. I would read my little dog-training book and then go attempt to train Brandy using the techniques in the book. I loved Brandy so much, more so because it was the first time I felt like this dog was all mine. I would walk her every day after school and let her sleep in my room. It was one of the saddest days of my life when Brandy was taken from me by my stepfather, who seized her in the divorce between my mom and him. I realized then, at the tender young age of 13, that losing a dog is like losing a human, whether to death or desertion, and even after all this time I have never gotten used to it.
In 1996, I acquired the first dog I ever purchased for myself—a Boxer named Soldier, and this was the first dog that I trained completely by myself. Soldier was such a special dog to me and I loved him with all my heart. My girlfriend at the time, Autumn, used to travel one hour every week out to the country to visit our puppy before I could afford to take him home. One day I came home and as I walked in Autumn yelled “Surprise!”, and there was Soldier, sitting on the couch—she had picked him up for me. I loved that dog almost like a child, and he had a major impact on me wanting to become a dog trainer. I used to walk around Minneapolis with him and train him on the street so much that people would ask me if I was a trainer. I realize now that I have always just had a love for the game and had no idea that it would ever become a career. I just did what I loved, and everything else was a by-product of my passion for and obsession with dogs.
After Soldier was hit by a car and killed, I vowed to teach all my future dogs extreme obedience, and I would later add a vow to teach humans how to better train their dogs. Around that time I met another professional dog trainer, and that’s when it all fell into place for me. I knew that I wanted to be a professional dog trainer, or what I refer to now as a Wolfkeeper.
I had always joked that when all was said and done, I was going to move to the country and start a dog farm. Well, after ten years in Minneapolis in the music industry doing marketing and promotion, I was fired from my job for freelancing for another record company—one week after my son Baraka was born to my then-wife, Melyssa, and me. I moved back to Chicago with my family, into my grandmother’s two-flat where I grew up.
For about two months, I searched for jobs, not knowing exactly what I wanted to do. Then, one day, just like that, I decided that I would work with dogs. I had seen an advertisement in the job section in the newspaper looking for a kennel attendant and went down for an interview. I got the job and was in charge of riding in a van throughout Chicago and picking up and dropping off dogs for doggie daycare.
During my doggie daycare days, I learned a lot as I extracted sometimes-unwilling wolves from their dens. I observed dog behavior daily as I acted as the shepherd for over 70-plus dogs running around a 10,000-square-foot warehouse. I broke up numerous dog fights and had to care for many injured dogs due to this failed concept of doggie daycare. It is not natural to force a group of dogs to play together in what we consider a social environment. Doggie daycares and doggie parks create multitudes of behavioral problems and should only be used as environments to test/prove obedience training.
While I was working at the doggie daycare, I also started working at a dog training facility, and studied my mentors closely for two solid years. In addition, I volunteered at Animal Care and Control and various other shelters in order to hone my dog training and observation skills. I trained a wide variety of dogs and talked to lots of different families and individuals until I felt extremely con- fident in my dog training skills. I started off by going to people’s homes and having small group classes, and then I started running doggie boot camps out of my home. At one point in time I had up to ten dogs in my home in doggie boot camp. I was only supposed to have one dog in my two-bedroom apartment, so I had to smug- gle the other nine past my landlord every day. This forced me to quickly train eight to ten dogs at any given time not to bark, not to pee/poop in the house, and how to get along in my wolf pack. When you live with ten dogs that all have behavioral problems, you are forced to be the Alpha leader!
Most households lose control over their family pet because no one in the household has assumed the role of Alpha leader. When the pack hierarchy is controlled by the dog, that household is living with a dangerous dog that will eventually challenge or bite another family member or stranger out of dominance. While it’s happening, most people don’t realize that their dog has taken the role of Alpha leader of the house, and they will eventually get rid of the dog in order to take back control over their pack. Excessive barking at strangers, having to put the dog away when guests come to visit, any form of aggression towards humans or other animals, and separation anxiety are a few examples of how your dog has gained Alpha status in your pack. In some instances the behavior is so extreme that the assistance of a professional dog trainer will become necessary.
Wolfkeeper Training The Trainer Course Overview
1. Must be available Wednesdays at 6pm-9pm and Saturdays at 8am-12pm.
2. Must have a Dog to train over the course of 4 weeks.
3. Must complete all Reading Assignments on time.
4. Must sign a Non Disclosure Agreement and pass a basic background check.
Reading Toriano Sanzone's Book "Dog Training Methods with Love" and comprehending all the concepts.
-Learn how the Energy of the owner effects the energy of the Canine.
-Understanding Dog Yoga invented by Toriano Sanzone and learning how to do all 15 Stretches.
-Learning the purpose of "Interview Stance" and learning how to adjust the walk of a Dog Owner.
Basic Obedience 1
Learning Wolfkeeper Basic Obedience and practicing on various different dogs.
4. Left Turn
5. Right Turn
-Learn how to conduct a Group Class of 10-15 people.
-Learn how to work with Bootcamp Dogs and Client management.
Basic Obedience 2
1. Recall / Come
2. Climb Command
3. Urban Agility
4. Rocket Sit
5. Rocket Down
1. The New Trainer must understand how to teach a Wolfkeeper Group Class.
2. The Junior Trainer must demonstrate that their Demo Dog can complete a Good Canine Test.
3. The New Trainer must pass a Wolfkeeper Oral Test.
4. The Junior Trainer will be evaluated by a Master Dog Trainer with over 30 years of Experience.
Tuition Cost is $5000 for the 4 week Course
Wolfkeeper Train The Trainer
Toriano Sanzone has been training Dogs in Chicago and around the world for over 17 years (Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Miami, Minneapolis, Seattle, Berlin, Amsterdam, Palma Mallorca, and more). Over the last 17 years Master Toriano has trained with some of the Best Master Dog Trainers in the World, The Late Great Walter Ward, The Late Great Lenny Dragonski, The Late Great Todd Bartelstein, Master Michael Stratton, James Morgan, Cesar The Dog Whisper Millan and many more just to name a few.
It is our Goal with THE WOLFKEEPER TRAIN-THE-TRAINER Program to make an individual the most proficient Canine Professional in the world.