Parting Wisdom from my Mentor, Jonathan Klein

The Take Away Lessonjonathan

Jonathan Klein trained thousands of dogs, and their humans, over the course of 30+ years. His recent passing has left us all very sad, yet we’re also endlessly grateful for the positive change he brought into our lives. He founded, “I Said Sit!” School for Dogs, and improved the lives of countless families through dog training.  He also helped dozens of us professional trainers to get our start in this rewarding career.

After every “trainers training” meeting, he would always ask us to recount our biggest “take-away” message from his lesson.  When I think back to the hundreds of hours he spent coaching me, and the constant new skills he’d surprise me with, it seems just so wrong to try to sum it up into a “take-away” message from our entire time together.

But here it is.

Whenever I’d ask him to answer a question about dog behavior in general, he always refused. Example: I’d ask how to stop a dog from digging in the yard. He’d say, “I’d need to see the dog and the yard and know more about the situation. I’d need to know why he was digging and what goes on before and after the dog digs.”

He wouldn’t generalize.  That is one key take-away lesson.  That’s why we meet clients and their dogs in person. That’s why we do consultations and follow-ups.

One afternoon about a week before Jonathan died, I asked him three or four very specific questions at the same time. Each involved a different dog, a different family and very different unwanted behavior.  He didn’t have the time or the energy to get into details, and so this was perhaps the closest to a generalized answer I ever received from him.

He turned to me and said,  “Get your clients to STOP ALLOWING their dogs to practice the unwanted behavior, and teach them how to reward their dogs for practicing desired behavior.”

That’s my huge take-away. As a professional dog trainer, I can see how this could work for leash pulling, barking, aggression, and so much more. I also see how this generalization isn’t specific enough to help a new dog guardian who hasn’t spent years working with Jonathan Klein.

That’s why we are here at “I Said Sit” School for Dogs, and why we are proudly carrying on Jonathan’s legacy.  We look forward to meeting you and learning about your dog and her specific needs!

1 Comment
  1. It’s all too often that we don’t ask “WHY??” our canine friends are doing the behavior that they are doing.

    He was a great trainer and will be remembered by those in our community.

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