Gregory C. DiFranza, Ph.D.
I've owned dogs all of my life. Sometimes I was a good pack leader, other times not. I have owned a variety of dogs, but mostly big dogs (Great Danes, German Shepherds, English Mastiffs, and now my wife and fellow pack leader, Lisa, and I own Rhodesian Ridgebacks named Koa and Malu). And yes, I've been bitten by dogs in the past, not just mouthed by them. For the most part, I can point to my own poor decisions, behavior, and energy that triggered those bites.
I got along very well with the large, roving packs of feral dogs that I would encounter while I was a deputy with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office in the ghettos of the city. I even calmed two very large and aggressive Rottweillers that were owned by a notorious drug dealer so that we could execute a search warrant on the house (water and affection at the right time go a LOOOONG way!). As a former Tactical Unit member and training coordinator and now owner of WinFirst International, Inc. (an advanced police training company with years of global instruction experience), I saw -- and now teach and show -- how tactical teams can best utilize Police Canine Units to their advantage by learning the pros and cons of working with dogs, and then creating live-action dynamic scenarios to practice those skills in real-time. Oh, and how to NOT get bitten in the process.
Kamp K-9 started as a fitness joke. A group of us -- Dan, Margo, Sarah, and I -- walked our pack almost every morning on Jacksonville Beach and Dan suggested we start a fitness routine and call it "Kamp K-9". You know, sprint with your dog, stop and do pushups, sprint some more, stop and do squats, etc.
But it was apparent the more we walked on the beach with our balanced dogs, the more unbalanced owners we saw trying to control their dogs -- you know, the dog walking the human! And it's comical at first, then it's sad, and ultimately it's dangerous. Moreover, the more I talked with these owners the more apparent it was that they had no real knowledge where dogs -- theirs or someone else's -- were concerned. So early in 2014, I put together a free short class on dog behavior and tool usage -- recognizing what dog behavior truly is, how to WALK a dog, and the keys to a happy, healthy pack. Of course, dogs were welcome and it ended with a big pack walk around the park -- past ducks, kids, people, other dogs -- with no incidents. Of course. That one event has grown into traveling nationwide and giving talks on Pack Leadership and visiting clients to help with their dogs.
I now help owners to rehabilitate their dogs away from the frustrating issues that might keep them from fully enjoying their pack members. Additionally, I have been a Level 3 (all behaviors) volunteer dog handler at the Jacksonville Humane Society. I have attended Cesar Millan's Dog Behavior Fundamentals 1 & 2 courses and have returned by invitation to his ranch in California as an assistant during those same courses I have a lifetime of teaching and presentation experience, and my degree specialty is in Adult Education. I pride myself on making learning fun and immediately useful. Dogs are pretty easy to teach and very rewarding. With the wrong energy and the wrong frame of mind, humans can be a bit more challenging...
So, with this blog, I'll share the insights from all of us about how to create balanced packs, improve ourselves, and have fun!
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