Linn Boyke and Zen4K9s was a miracle when we needed one the most. My boyfriend, Randy and I rescued a one-year-old shepherd/ pitbull mix that we named Captain. We thought we were doing a great thing by taking him into our home but it turned out that we weren’t cut out for the job. The first few days were great. He had been neutered and he also had kennel cough so he was calm and docile. I was very worried about his health so I spent a lot of time babying him and making sure he was comfortable. From the get go, neither of us presented ourselves as “pack leader.” And sure enough, as soon as he was healthy, he became head of the household. He lead us on walks, decided when he would dig through the trash, and followed us from room to room to make sure we were in his sight at all times. The worst of the problems were when we left home. As our pack leader he couldn’t handle us leaving him behind. His separation anxiety was destructive and dangerous. He tore through the window onto the balcony, ripped through the molding around the door, and hid in ridiculously tight areas that he couldn’t get out of. We tried to put him in a cage but he broke out of it time and time again.

Another area of concern for us was his behavior with other dogs. We tried the dog park many times but we always left after other owners condemned his aggressiveness and our lack of control over him. Things were very difficult for a while and we tried every method we could read about or hear about, but nothing worked. At one point someone at a dog park even told us that if we growled in his face every day, he would respect us and obey. It’s very embarrassing to admit it, but we were so desperate that we even tried that.

We took Captain to the park that surrounded the dog park. We wanted to “train” him with the distraction of the other dogs. As soon as we pulled into the parking lot we saw a man surrounded by at least 15 dogs that were off-leash. It was absolutely stunning. However, thinking we had everything under control, we walked right past him and proceeded to do our training exercises. To our horrible embarrassment, he watched the spectacle and approached us when we had given up. Within moments, he was holding Captain’s attention calmly while he explained Zen4K9s to us. We signed up almost immediately and handed Captain over to Linn.

Once Linn came into our lives, we finally realized that the problem was us all along and that Captain just needed a great pack leader to bring out his full potential. Now, Captain is living a balanced life and we continue to be the leaders Linn taught us to be. Linn is a gentle but assertive man who truly cares for all his clients, especially the K9 clients. The humans are generally the ones who have done the most damage, and his patience and directness gets that point across without insult. He is genuinely interested in the well being of the dogs and his focus never differs.

Throughout the process of working with Linn during the 30 days, we really began to understand everything we had been doing wrong. His guidance and coaching not only to Captain, mostly to us, has been invaluable. We now have a great relationship with Captain. Taking him to the park or on a trip is possible now and watching the freedom he can experience brings us pure joy. He walks with us off-leash, relaxes in his kennel at home while we are out, and gets along with other dogs. We don’t rely on obedience anymore, his behavior is simply balanced and we continue to be the pack leaders. The picture of Captain and me was taken on a 5-day backpacking trip in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Before Linn, there was no way that we could take Captain on a trip like that. He was off-leash virtually the entire time, even with the distraction of the other 2 dogs that were with us and with the distraction of the vast wilderness. We live by Linn’s methods now, and life with our dog has been great!

Alina and Randy