We're EJ and Heidi, a husband and wife dog trainer team, and CK9 is our home. We're dedicated to helping your dog be their best, and helping you be an amazing leader! We started CK9 in 2006 to offer dog owners a unique approach to training in a comfortable environment. It immediately took off! Over the years we've trained over 2,400 dogs together from all walks of life, enabling us to adapt to virtually any dog that comes our way. We love what we do and are eager to show you what your dog is capable of. Read about us below, or learn more about our Training Program here.
I have been surrounded by animals all my life. I was raised in a pet-loving home where the pets were treated like family. There was always some creature around - dogs, cats, rats, birds, or fish.
In 2003 that lifelong interest in animals led me to the Exotic Animal Training and Management Program at Moorpark College, in Moorpark, California, the only accredited animal training course in the world. Accepting only 50 students a year to study and manage a zoo of nearly 200 exotic and domestic species on top of a full course load, the program was intense, to say the least. But I was fortunate to have my loving and hard-working husband support me as I put in 6-7 day weeks for two years to pursue my passion.
I was given the amazing opportunity to work with an incredible variety of animals, including primates, birds, exotic cats, livestock, reptiles, and yes, even a dog! I had the privilege of studying animal behavior, training methods, basic veterinary medicine, and animal care under some of the leaders of the animal world, including the co-founder of the Animal Behavior Management Alliance (ABMA), a former Director of the Los Angeles Zoo, a former Treasurer of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), a former Chief Veterinarian of the Los Angeles Zoo, and many others. I held internships with movie production companies, the Los Angeles Zoo, and the San Diego Wild Animal Park (now called Safari Park), where I got to train and manage cheetahs, elephants, giraffes, chimpanzees, and other amazing animals.
I learned the latest techniques in animal training which utilize natural behavior and work with what motivates each individual animal, rather than training with bribery or force. It was an incredible experience and taught me more than I could have imagined.
In the end I finally found my calling: dogs. Though not as glamorous as lions and tigers and bears (oh my!), they are appreciated in the animal field as a truly unique species capable of so much more than their exotic counterparts. Dogs are fascinating and rewarding to work with in that they have a special bond with humans. They need you. So, after graduation, I took a temporary position as a veterinary technician and pursued a career in dog training. I began professional dog training in 2005.
With the support of my husband, EJ, CK9 was started in 2006. And I love it! There is something unique about the bond that is shared between dogs and humans. Dogs cherish our leadership and companionship. And in return they offer us their unconditional love. Through training I have seen the rewarding result of refining the relationship between dog and owner in order that they can communicate more effectively with each other. With the owner in a position of leadership, and the dog able to trust their owner for guidance and structure, both can lead a happier and much more peaceful life. My hope is that I can help you achieve this wonderful and rewarding relationship with your dog!
I have always had pets in my house. Unfortunately, my family didn’t really understand what it meant to be a “pet owner.” We had taken in a stray bulldog mix named Tina who was a boy’s best friend, especially when being chased around the backyard by an angry mother. Tina would chase after my mother if she saw her coming after me with her sandal! Well, my mother decided it was time to take Tina to the park and let her go.
I also had two other great strays, Bear and Queeny. But when they became too unruly they were also taken to the park and let loose.... Come to think of it, whenever my mother grew tired of taking care of my pets it was always time for a trip to the park!
I fell into professional dog training by way of marriage and have since learned how much of a difference it makes to have a well-trained dog! I have always loved dogs, but growing up I had learned that whenever a pet becomes an inconvenience you just take it to the park, or give it away, or put it to sleep, etc. Professional dog training offers dog owners a much happier option. A few easy steps and a lot of dedication and people can learn to work with their dogs and enjoy having them around.
At CK9 we don’t just train dogs. We teach dogs and their owners how to communicate with each other. We want every owner to learn that pets can be a wonderful part of your life as long as you’re willing to commit to them. And part of that commitment is teaching your dog how to be a great friend. Having personally been through the giving-up-on-the-dog experience, I am particularly passionate about educating dog owners on how to have their best friend fit their life.