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Reno local opens dog training franchise

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Chris Bergman has always owned dogs, and he’s been told he’s pretty good at training them. When he felt his job in the cannabis industry was no longer serving him, Bergman decided to pursue a new career in dog training. He opened his own Reno outpost of Dog Training Elite as a way to help others.

“When it came down to deciding what I wanted to be when I grew up, I really wanted to focus on dog training,” he said.

After a lot of research, he landed on becoming a franchisee of Dog Training Elite, one of the country’s leading obedience and training franchises headquartered in Utah. He underwent the formal training to open a Reno location and started taking clients. 

“I did a lot of vetting when I decided to leave the industry I was in,” Bergman said. “I took it really seriously and wanted to make sure I did it right.”

In addition to the company certifications and intensive training program, Bergman has been training his own dogs for 15 years—and not just the basic sit and stay commands. He previously had three pit bulls living in the Czech Republic with him, all of whom had EU passports. To achieve that feat, a veterinarian had to sign off on the dogs’ impeccable behavior, above and beyond what most pooches are capable of. 

“I actually consider that one of my highest achievements in the dog world,” he said.

After moving back to the States, Bergman got Leroy, his only dog at this time. He describes Leroy as “a classic, lazy, goofy pitbull.” His obedience isn’t near the level of his last dogs, but he’s come a long way.

“Leroy had some challenges that he had to get through… a lot of things that I learned in class I’ve been able to work with Leroy on and see success in my own life,” he said. 

After correcting negative behaviors, Leroy is happier and more adventurous, and Bergman can include his dog in more activities. 

The level of training provided by Bergman ranges from general obedience to special service animal training. His training starts in-home, and dogs can graduate into group classes to hone their skills. Often, he will take dogs on field trips to places like Home Depot so they can practice obedience in public.

One of the biggest hurdles Bergman acknowledges with dog training is how quick people are to assume dogs are aggressive. In reality, he said, most aggressive behaviors come from a place of fear. So, by helping dogs build trust with their owners and removing the fear of objects, animals, people and situations, the “aggressive” or reactive behaviors will subside. 

Bergman said Leroy was very reactive and scared of his own shadow. He wouldn’t take treats from people and couldn’t go places in public with Bergman. He lacked confidence, which made him shy. Bergman freed Leroy of his nervous demeanor by helping him see the world as a not-so-scary place and assuring Leroy that Bergman would take care of him. Leroy didn’t need to be on edge all of the time. 

Leroy is not perfect, but he’s confident, Bergman said. “I’d rather have an outgoing happy dog that isn’t afraid of the world.” 

Many of the behaviors Bergman works to correct with clients include fence biting, barking, bad manners and defiance. Bergman said he considered going on his own with the dog training business but ultimately decided to franchise. A huge part of that decision was the backing of a nationally recognized company. 

In addition to a two-week intensive training program, Bergman attends weekly calls and monthly roundtables with the entire training staff. With those connections, they can share advice and get help when a complex case arises. 

“That’s super invaluable,” Bergman said.

While most of his offerings are in-home obedience classes, those who graduate from the obedience program can attend more intensive programs, including therapy dog and service dog training. The goal is to help people live their best lives with their dogs. 

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Contact Dog Training Elite Reno at 775-204-9402.

Nora Tarte
Nora Tarte
Nora Heston Tarte is a long-time Reno resident living on the southside of town. In addition to food, her hobbies include wine, hiking, yoga and travel. She is also the managing editor of a regional, lifestyle publication and freelances for other publications most frequently in the travel space. Nora received her bachelor's in Journalism from California State University, Sacramento before graduating from University of Nebraska, Lincoln with a master’s in Professional Journalism. You can follow her travel adventures, and local exploits, on her Instagram account @wanderlust_n_wine.

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