Dani Santanella, with just one pair of eyes like the rest of us, is able to see countless signals a dog is giving at any single moment.  She sees miniscule muscle movements, gentle gleams in their eyes and the natural flex of their bodies.  She can read, simply from that, what a dog is saying and what a dog needs.

Eva’s Play Pups Countryside Dog Camp is very selective about which trainers we agree to work with and our reasons why.  Dani Santanella of Urban K9 is one of those trainers.   Dani has been educating dog owners on how to have better lives with their pooches for the past ten years.   She works under the philosophy that open lines of communication between the canines and their owners.  Without a doubt, this can make a happy home for all. 

“It is rare to find a trainer who has such diverse dog training skills as Dani,” says Eva.  “She can help a dog owner with a wide range of behavior issues in their dog.  On top of that, she loves dogs and is always ready to donate her skills and time to our rescue dogs at Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue who are in need of behavior modification and training.  It is the combination of her skills and her love for dogs that is the winning combo!”

We recently interviewed Dani in a quick Q&A session about the challenges and rewards of being a dog trainer in Brooklyn.

First off, what or who was the major inspiration in your life to become a trainer?

“I was exploring animal careers for years in my twenties trying different jobs as a zookeeper, volunteering at an aquarium and working in vet offices and boarding kennels.

I knew I wanted to work with animals but I did not know specifically what I wanted to do.

My dog, a husky/shepherd, Mila, was aggressive with dogs and that made walking her in Brooklyn very frustrating and embarrassing. I wanted to fix this so I went to training school first in NY then I found a school in Texas (at the time it was called Triple Crown).  I went and then trained Mila, and her behavior improved so much. It was really motivating to see how much can be accomplished with training. It took time, but I learned so much and wanted to share that with people. So I guess my dog was my biggest motivator.”

You're constantly going to seminars to continue your education. What motivates you to improve yourself in this field? 

“Challenging cases definitely motivate me to want to learn more. You realize how much there still is to learn. There are so many different scenarios. It's important to keep learning and evolving as a trainer. The more knowledge and tools I have the more I can help people and their dogs. It's not only training the dog, but training the owner and working well with the owner - which in my opinion is truly the hardest part.”

What is your training process like after you determine what the individual dog needs?

“It varies from case to case.

It depends on what the individual person can commit to and what the dog needs. I offer private lessons, group classes, board & train and day training. Training takes time and the most successful cases are when the owner follows through. I like best when people commit to fully training their dog, but in many cases people want quick fixes and that is not usually helpful in the long term process. If people committed to training their dogs from the start many of the behavioral issues that develop could be avoided. Their lives would be easier and less stressful.”

Dog training is obviously a very intimate business, how do you represent yourself to the public as a reputable trainer?

“Most of my business is word of mouth but I have definitely gotten a lot of business from the Internet as well. I worked for other trainers for years building my skills and confidence. I also have built relationships with other trainers and pet professionals as well and that helps tremendously. I try to provide the best service I can. If you do a good job and help people with their dogs, they will refer you to others.”

What is the most crucial component of dog training?

“The most important aspect of Dog Training is getting the clients involved and motivated to do their part. Without the owner's’ follow through, training does not hold. It's really about teaching people to develop the relationship with their dog. Not all behaviors can necessarily be rehabilitated and fixed but the more training and the skills both the owner and dog have the better the outcome.”

Dani works all over Brooklyn and Manhattan.  She books appointments through email at dani@urbank-9.com or by calling 347-416-2535.  You can learn more about her success stories, classes and pricing by visiting  http://www.urbank-9.com.

 Article Contributed by: Natasha Domanski