Bianca Bharti, Daily Herald
Jason Arsenault grew up his entire life around dogs. His dad, who was a member of the RCMP, would train dogs for the police and often as Arsenault to help out.
“He’d get me to run and hide in the bush and he’d send the dog to come find me — stuff like that. I was always intrigued by it,” Arsenault said.
German shepherds would be trotting around the house all the time and his love for man’s best friend grew. At age 24, he got his own dog, which he trained to detect oil leaks for companies.
That’s when he became interested in training dogs, though it would be quite some time before he would start Arsenal K9 — a new dog training business that Arsenault opened up in May.
Instead, he initially pursued a career as a cop and helped out with police dog training, such as bite training and tracking. He spent about 15 years on the force before an event happen that led to post-traumatic stress disorder. He didn’t go into much detail, but it was clear it affected him.
Rather than waiting around for workers compensation to start rolling in, Arsenault began dog training part-time on the side.
Then, he went to a training seminar out in British Columbia, soon finding himself at another training seminar in Edmonton. Out there, he met a guy from Germany — the country where a top-notch training program was developed.
Arsenault travelled to Germany in 2015, where he stayed for a month learning about the program, Schutzhund.
Schutzhund initially started out as a sport but transformed into a way of training protection and police dogs, according to the United Schutzhund Clubs of America. It measures the dog’s mental stability, endurance, structural efficiencies, ability to smell, willingness to work, its courage and its trainability.
He quickly became even more serious about training dogs. He moved to North Carolina with his family where he spent six months training police dogs and earning more certification.
In May, he turned his passion into a full-time job. He opened up Arsenal K9 in Prince Albert and the reception has been great, he said. “It’s been really busy.”
A typical day for Arsenault involves getting up at 5 a.m. to train puppies and dogs on his property just south of the city. Then he heads into town to work with clients one-on-one, teaching both the owner and the dog obedience tips and tricks.
After, he drives back home to train his boarded dogs more.
Arsenault offers two main services: six private sessions and board and train.
He usually spends private sessions providing obedience training.
With his board and train service, clients leave their dogs for a month with Arsenault where he runs daily training sessions, takes care of the dogs and provides three private training sessions at home once the month is up.
In special circumstances, he can offer protection and police training for dogs too.
He advised that not every dog is meant to be a protection dog. “Dogs have to have certain personality and temperament,” he said.
“Any dog you have as a pet is taught biting a person is bad behaviour, so you can’t expect the dog three to five years down the road to think it’s okay to bite somebody. Most dogs won’t do it, they have to be bred for that purpose.”
Usually German shepherds, Dutch shepherds, German malinois and some mastiffs make good protection dogs.
He recalled a funny instance he encountered with a client, where she had two small dogs — less than four pounds each. Whenever a person rang the doorbell, one dog would get scared and start barking a lot. This annoyed the other dog and he would start biting and fighting the one who was barking.
“First we talked basic obedience and taught him another behaviour instead,” Arsenault said. “We trained the dogs to run to their kennels whenever someone came to the door and to come out once it felt safe.”
Arsenault held a barbecue Sunday in appreciation of his clients. Guests praised Arsenault’s training.
Terry and Kenny Huculiak had their English mastiff Meadow trained by him after seeing him nominated for Prince Albert’s Best of the Best Awards.
“We used to call her the spawn of Satan,” Terry laughed. Meadow would “lose her mind” whenever someone came over to the house and she would give the Huculiaks a hard time getting into the house.
“We didn’t want to give up on her so we figured we’d give Jason a try and it worked out really good,” Ken said.
“Life is just so much better with a trained dog,” Terry added.
The couple opted for the board and train program and it was completely worth it, they said. “He’s amazing. He has so much patience and he stays calm and I think the dogs pick up on that. There’s no stress or tension.”
Ken also said that patience also extends to his clients. “He realizes sometimes the dog has bad habits because of the owners too of spoiling them.”
Arsenault offered up some professional training tips and tricks after serving up some hamburgers:
“If you’re getting a new puppy, my biggest tip would be to feed your him from your hand, don’t free feed your dog. That way, your dog always knows where the food is coming from and it has more focus on you than on its bowl.”
It helps formulate a relationship and bond with your dog, he added.
Another tip he provided is if you have a new puppy, keep it on a leash inside the house. That way, you know where it is at all times and it won’t relieve itself if you leave it unattended and it wanders.