Dog Training Review by Julia K.

Spencer had Dog Aggression

Testimonial by Julia K for Spencer

I have always had a dog, and every dog I’ve had has been raised from a puppy. When my last dog Axel passed, it took me about a year to consider filling the void. To this day, all my dogs are such a vivid imprint in my heart and mind. A testimony to the relationship you can build with an animal. Mike and I were ready, but we decided to adopt this time.

We felt a strong need to rescue a dog and visited the shelter several times without finding a fit. So I set out on an internet search. We didn’t have any specific breed mix in mind I was just worried about being able to carry my dog if needed, so I was aiming for 40 lbs or less. As Axel got closer to her last days, we were getting up with her in the middle of the night and carrying her up and down the stairs. She had always slept by my bed, and she wasn’t about to change that; no, sir. She was bound and determined to get up those steps! Stairs had always been a part of her life, so I was her elevator. She weighed every bit of 65 lbs with a barrel chest so that you can understand my desire for a smaller dog.

Meet Spencer

After weeks of searching, I found some excellent candidates. Baxter was a cute pup past the puppy age, but what a handsome boy! We liked the idea that he was with a foster home so we could get a lot better feel for his habits and personality, so correspondence began. We almost missed getting him. Another couple had taken him home for a test run, but he is a Boxer/Staffy mix and not allowed in their apartment complex. We had a video conference first, then off to meet him. He was just as cute in person and was very well-mannered in the house. He knew basic commands and was house-trained.

Now for the challenges: Spencer focuses on moving cars when out for a walk and wants to chase them. He still needed work walking on the leash, this boy has a lot of energy. He got along great with his two larger housemates and had been around a small child around age 7. Remember, I have been around dogs all my life I thought these would be easy to overcome. When we got him home, we made it a point to have a few days off to acclimate him to his new environment. Our daughter’s dog is named Dexter and much too close to Baxter, so a name change was in order, and Spencer it was.

So far, so good! He is fitting in – except…the walk; we went through a choke chain and a Murphy collar and ended up with a harness. As it turned out, Spencer didn’t care too much for some other dogs walking with their owners. And he did like cars, day or night; he just wanted to go after them – not chase them but act like he wanted to attack. I think his reaction was to lash out when he didn’t care about something like the size and noise of the car.

We Became Frustrated

I needed help. The things that worked for prior puppies were not working for Spencer. My shoulders were so tight after our nightly walks from his constant pulling that my level of irritation was starting to grow. On top of that, we have a 1-year-old granddaughter. And while Spencer has never touched her, he did appear just shy of giving her a correction, and we were concerned. I started searching first with referrals. A highly recommended referral told me I had a bad dog and should put him down. Heartbroken, I reached out to his foster parent and told him I might need to give him back. He had offered to take him if things didn’t work out for some reason, and he encouraged me to keep looking.

Then We Met Ralf

I found another trainer, but they recommended I leave Spencer there. I had taken him with me, but I got the distinct feeling Spencer was uncomfortable, so we left. Then I found Ralf from Happy Dog Training through Thumbtack! He came to the house for a mutual interview, and he made sense of everything he said. He was very educational, explaining the behavioral aspect, why, and how to overcome it. We decided he was the right one for all of us. Ralf has helped us soo much! Showing us the correct tools (proper training collar, better leash, reading material) and working with us through routine sessions.

We were seeing results almost immediately. The focusing on and bolting for moving cars ceased within a couple of weeks. Spencer still wants to pull a little, but he is no longer dragging me down the sidewalk. He lets me go first out the door. This happened after the first training session and 3rd attempt. His anxiety level has dropped significantly. Every once in a while, we run into a dog with high energy, and we go back to some basic steps, but the amount of time it takes for him to calm down has improved 10-fold.

Even our family that stayed with us six months ago recently made a return visit and commented on his improvement. All three of the kids were competing for his attention, and Spencer was loving every minute! He’s a wonderful dog and great addition to our family, and thanks to Ralf, we are all loving life!

 —  Julia K. (Read the Review on Thumbtack)

Services and Area

We are located in Southern California and train dogs nationwide. Happy Dog Training currently offers local dog training services in the following counties. Riverside County, Orange County, San Bernardino County, Los Angeles County, and San Diego County. In addition, we offer our board-and-train program nationwide and all virtual training services worldwide.

Do you want your new puppy trained right from the start? Are you looking for help for your fearful dog? Do you need to resolve a severe aggression problem? You came to the right place! We are experienced, professional dog trainers. Ralf has trained over 1500 dogs in over 18 years, and Sarah has trained over 1200 dogs in over 11 years. Consequently, we can help you with any dog training goal.

What We Offer

For many of our clients, we train their dogs from puppyhood, getting them off to a great start. However, we also have extensive experience training rescue dogs from all imaginable backgrounds and circumstances. Our Board-and-Train program is our most popular.

We can help you, regardless of your dog's challenges or training goals. Being a professional dog trainer means having experience, knowledge, and skill. Further, we developed a highly effective training program to specifically help fearful dogs gain more confidence and become the best possible version of themselves. Building Confidence is our second most popular training program.

Last but not least, we are experts in dealing with all types of aggression in dogs and are often the trainers of last resort after many other programs have failed. Most of our aggressive dog clients previously spent significant money on half-baked solutions without much improvement. This is different from us. We will give you an honest assessment of what goals are realistic for your dog. We will tell you what can be resolved reliably and what likely needs to be managed before we start.

Our flagship product is our board and train program. But our virtual dog training and coaching services have become quite popular over the last couple of years. Our setup enables us to deliver online dog training services from our indoor and outdoor training areas. This allows us to help clients worldwide.

Other Resources

Also, check out our Free Dog Training tips on Separation Anxiety in Dogs, Potty Training aka Housebreaking, and Leash Handling for expert solutions to common challenges.

Additional Services: Presentations and Q&As on Dogs | Professional Service Dog Training

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About Ralf and Sarah

Happy Dog Training is the pet dog training business of Ralf Weber and Sarah Gill. We are certified professional dog trainers in Southern California. We are specialized in advanced obedience training, all forms or behavioral challenges and service dog training. For behavioral training, we are known for our work with aggressive and fearful dogs. Our service dogs, through Total K9 Focus, have a nationwide reputation for their reliability, longevity and performance.


Certified Professional Dog Trainer Ralf Weber is lead pet dog trainer of Happy Dog Training. Ralf is a long-time dog owner of German Shepherds. During his career, Ralf has worked with over a 1500 dogs of many different breeds. Moreover, Ralf has a thorough understanding of all aspects of canine training. This includes evolutionary psychology, ethology, and, most importantly, learning science. Ralf is specialized in resolving dog behavior challenges—especially fear and aggression. Apart from this, Ralf trains dogs in basic and advanced obedience, service dog tasks, and GRC Dog Sports. Ralf is further certified in a broad range of other canine training areas. Last but not least, Ralf is the author of the behavioral book If Your Dog Could Talk: Understand Your Dog Like Never Before.

Ralf loves helping people have a better relationship with their dogs. He is a certified professional dog trainer in the Training without Conflict™ methodology by Ivan Balabanov (TWC CPDT). Ralf is also a member of the International Association of Canine Professionals and also holds their basic and advanced dog trainer certifications (IACP CDT, CDTA). In addition, Ralf is an AKC-approved evaluator for the AKC Puppy Star, CGC, and Advanced CGC programs and is also certified in canine first aid by the Red Cross.

Sarah Gill, Certified Professional Master Trainer

Sarah Gill, is a professional service dog trainer and handler. Sarah entered the world of professional service dog training after a car accident. As a result, she had to use a wheelchair for almost two years, trying to maneuver in a house not designed for it. No one expected Sarah would walk again. This opened her eyes and became a driving force behind pushing herself to defy the odds. When she regained some stability, Sarah attended a dog training school and learned how to train service dogs. Sarah completed her Master Trainer Certification and gained further experience by training new trainers. However, the school wasn’t accommodating to those with physical difficulties and PTSD. Hence, Sarah moved home to Dallas. In 2019, Sarah teamed up with Ralf and moved to California.

Sarah started this journey because she had a trained dog to mitigate her disabilities. But Sarah needed additional tasking for a new diagnosis. The only option she could find was getting a second dog for the new diagnosis. She knew there had to be a different way to address this. Sarah's passion is changing the ways of the service dog training industry.