To lead, one must know oneself

LeadershipPenguinsTo improve one’s leadership and management skills, it is helpful to know what ones’ strengths and weaknesses are. There are various self assessment tests available on the internet. Once such assessment is the United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service’s, “Leadership Assessment Instrument”. My results on the assessment was as follows:  Focused Drive, 29; Emotional Intelligence 30; Building Trust / Enabling Others, 31; Conceptual Thinking, 33; and Systems Thinking, 32. Placing the scores on their graph showed them to be very consistent with each other. My scores of 30 and above indicated I had “relative strength” in each of those areas. Scores of 24 or below would have shown a possible development area, scores lower than 18 were “development areas” and scores of 12 or lower show “possible blocks.”

I knew I would score well on the assessment but it was surprising that the graph showed a fairly straight line across the five categories.  However, with further introspection, I realized that I have spent a lot of time developing my leadership skills from a young age starting in Boy Scouts of America as an Eagle Scout; to coaching fellow high school wrestlers; teaching federal officers in topics such as Officer Safety and Self Defense, Gang Identification, Sex Offender Management; to training, leading and managing employees in my business. As a professional dog trainer, I am a very positive and balanced trainer.  Whether it is training dogs, managing people, or holding personal beliefs, I strive to have a balanced outlook and practice.

Taking this assessment brought back memories of taking another assessment during my freshman year in college.  My colleague was taking an Abnormal Psychology class and the assessment he asked me to take contained 500 multiple choice questions. I do not recall the stated intent of the assessment  but the result was that it measured how consistently someone answered the questions that were asked many times but in different ways. Surprisingly to him, my consistency score was 100 percent.  He joked that 100 percent consistent was “abnormal.”  However, since a young age I have been taught to be consistent in my actions and thoughts.

Being consistent is usually what differentiates dog trainers and dog owners. Dogs learn best and thrive when the expectations are consistent.  It makes learning fun and therefore, rewarding. I am very consistent when training dogs and I help my students become more consistent as well. So based on my upbringing and the earlier assessment test, it is not surprising that the five categories are in balance with each other, almost in a straight line.

You can find the  “Leadership Assessment Instrument” by clicking on the following link: To learn more about becoming a dog trainer and how leadership and management skills are crucial to have as a business owner, contact Michael Burkey, President of Michigan Dog Training LLC in Plymouth, Michigan or call 734-634-4152.

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Community Canines earn their titles 10/28/13 at Michigan Dog Training

akc-community-canine-logoOn October 28, 2013 four dogs became Community Canines by earning their American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen Advanced (CGCA) titles at Michigan Dog Training LLC in Plymouth, Michigan. They are:

  1. Jennifer King and her dog Rock Candy Ranger, a German Shorthaired Pointer of Milford, Michigan.
  2. Jennifer King and her dog Masaya’s Chiefess Sakima, a Doberman Pinscher of Milford, Michigan.
  3. Wendy Bemis and her dog Fleetwood, a Beauceron of Grosse Ile, Michigan.
  4. Michael Burkey and his dog Starbuck Von Burkey, a German Shepherd of Westland, Michigan.

Congrats to all!  To learn how your dog can earn their Canine Good Citizen Advanced (CGCA) title, contact Michigan Dog Training LLC at or call 734-634-4152.

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AKC creates new title; Canine Good Citizen Advanced (CGCA)

akc-community-canine-logoFor years, the American Kennel Club (AKC) has conducted a Canine Good Citizen (CGC) evaluation to promote responsible dog ownership.  The 10 step evaluation entailed responsible care and training of one’s dog.  Recently, the AKC has enhanced that program and created an Advanced CGC program called the Community Canine.

The CGCA program is also a ten step evaluation which evaluates the dog’s responsible behavior in the community or simulated real world situations rather than a class setting or dog show ring that the CGC is usually conducted at. To earn the CGCA distinction, a dog must be registered with the AKC, previously earned a CGC and pass the following ten skills: 1. Stand, sit or lie down and wait under control, 2. Walk on a loose leash in a natural situation (not in a ring) and does not pull, 3. Walk on a loose leash through a crowd, 4. Walk past distractions and does not pull, 5. Sit-stay in small group (three other people with dogs), 6. Allow a person who is carrying something (backpack, computer bag, etc.) to approach and pet it, 7. Walk by food and follows owner’s instructions to “leave it”, 8. Down or sit-stay at a 20 foot distance while the owner walks away, picks up an item such as a shopping or training bag, clipboard, folder, etc. and returns to their dog, 9. Recalls with distractions present (coming when called), and 10. Sit or stand stay while owner enters/exits a doorway or narrow passageway while the handler holds the leash in one and and a cup of coffee or similar item in the other hand.

Mixed breed and purebred dogs may take the Community Canine evaluation. For more information as to how your dog can earn it’s CGCA title, contact Michigan Dog Training LLC at or call 734-634-4152.


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New CGC Star – White Shepherd “Cloud”

CloudCGCOn Monday October 7, 2013, “Cloud”, a White German Shepherd trained and handled by Venita Bentley of Canton, Michigan passed her Canine Good Citizen (CGC) evaluation at Michigan Dog Training LLC in Plymouth, Michigan.  The evaluation was administered by professional dog trainer Michael Burkey and witnessed by MDT’s Certified Dog Trainer Wendy Bemis.  Congratulations to Cloud and Venita!

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New CGC Stars at Michigan Dog Training in Plymouth, Michigan

On Wednesday September 25, 2013 all six students and their dogs in the Michigan Dog Training LLC “Canine Good Citizen (CGC)” group dog training class passed the American Kennel Club‘s CGC evaluation. It’s ten step program measures a dog’s skill in obedience training and good manners around other dogs and people.  The dogs’ handlers also pledged to be responsible dog owners. The evaluation was administered by MDT Certified Dog Trainer Wendy Bemis and witness by MDT’s President and Dog Behaviorist Michael Burkey.

The dogs were of various breeds and a couple of them were Feisty Fidos at one time, meaning that they didn’t particularly feel safe around other dogs and showed their insecurity by barking and lunging at other dogs. However, through private training lessons at MDT followed by the CGC class, their confidence grew enabling them to become good canine citizens.

MDT congratulates the following dog teams for passing the CGC evaluation:

1. Denise Fuller and Paisley, Standard Poodle of Canton, Michigan

2. George Shay and Murphy, German Sheperd of Belleville, Michigan

3. Carol Eisenstein and Molly, Newfoundland of Plymouth, Michigan

4. John Fishback Jr. and Dixie, Southern Blackmouth Cur of Garden City, Michigan

5. Julie Nelson and Bentley, German Shepherd of Plymouth, Michigan and

6. Lauren Zialkowski and Zelda, Miniature Schnauzer of Livonia, Michigan

The next set of group classes start the week of October 21, 2013. For more information, visit Michigan Dog Training or call 734-634-4152.  MDT also offers a wide variety of group classes and private training services.

standardpoodle newfie murphy minschnauzer fishback bentley

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Testimonial – Dog gets another chance to remain with family with specialized dog training at Michigan Dog Training LLC

Sweet but Excitable Daisy

Sweet but Excitable Daisy

Daisy, a hound mix attended our puppy socialization and basic manners group classes.  She received the socialization and training that she needed as she was on the shy side but her family realized they needed more specialized help. Therefore, they enrolled her in Michigan Dog Training’s Day Camp program. Day Camp is like board and train but without the boarding.  Dogs attended training three days per week for four weeks and receive training and supervised socialization play times throughout the day from several instructors. There is certainly time for play but the emphasis is on the training and socialization.

On September 11, 2013, Daisy successfully completed the Day Camp program with five stars and her mom reports her behavior at home has improved dramatically. We were very honored to receive this testimonial and puppy pictures of her during the past four weeks.

    “Thank you for helping us to train Daisy. Daisy first came to the puppy socialization class with Wendy. My puppy was afraid of the other puppies, and I can remember her hiding in one of the dog tunnels. She now looks forward to playing with other puppies and dogs, and does well in interacting with them.

    She then went on to the Basic Obedience Class with Wendy. She learned basic manners of sit, down, stay, wait, etc. while on a leash. She was able to do well with this class. However, at home when not on a leash and during her play time, it was a whole different story. It was like “No, Off, and Down” was in a foreign language. We needed some extra help and her teeth were razor-sharp. We were able to enroll her in their day camp with Michael, Wendy and staff.

    During a holiday weekend, there was a point that we thought we would have to

Daisy goes from shy to playful

Daisy goes from shy to playful

re-home her. They were right there to help us, and we were able to keep her. I am especially amazed with the remote collar training. This way, she can be in the yard, and we can reinforce what she has learned with consistency. Michigan Dog Training (MDT) is an amazing team – so dedicated. ….Daisy’s mom S.S.”

We are also excited that Daisy will continue her learning and socializing with us in the ongoing Dog Day Care program.

Michigan Dog Training LLC specializes in helping high energy dogs become ideal companions via their K9 Camp (board and train), Day Camp, Dog Day care, in-home lessons, private lessons, and group classes.

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Testimonial for highly excitable Lakeland Terrier after Michigan Dog Training’s board and train program

Jax with his mom and dad

Jax with his mom and dad

Jax, a Lakeland Terrier of Belleville, Michigan recently completed our four-week K9 Camp (board and train) dog obedience and dog behavior program.  He is one highly excitable guy and we loved working for him.  He made such improvement such as being able to walk on a loose leash and working toward being off leash reliable, to bring back and give up balls instead of growling to keep them, to sit, down, stay and go to place with duration, distractions and distance.

Today we received a lovely update from Jax’s mom Linda. This is what she said:

    “I just wanted to tell you how wonderful it is to walk Jax now!! He really is enjoying his walks instead of being so hyper and distracted by anything that he couldn’t enjoy it. Yesterday was a real test for him. We live pretty rural on a dirt road and while walking he saw the horses in the pasture. In the past this put him in a complete frenzy. Yesterday he stood and watched with his tail wagging. He was simply taking the time to enjoy it instead of barking and going off the deep end. I don’t know how you worked your magic on our little guy, but I thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!! Talk to you soon.. Linda

It is such a joy to work with client’s dogs.  At Michigan Dog Training, we help high energy dogs become ideal companions.

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New CGC Star – Zeus, Miniature Poodle

Zeus, CGC

Zeus, CGC

On August 27, 2013 Melinda Peterson and her dog Zeus, a Miniature Poodle of Ann Arbor, Michigan successfully passed the requirements for the American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Good Citizen (CGC) program. The evaluation was conducted at the Humane Society of Huron Valley in Ann Arbor, Michigan by Wendy Bemis, Certified Dog Trainer for Michigan Dog Training LLC.

The CGC is a new AKC title event and it evaluates a dog’s obedience in public forums as well as the owner’s care and relationship with their dog. Congratulations Melinda and Zeus. For more information about dog training and/or the CGC program, contact Michael Burkey, President of Michigan Dog Training, LLC or call 734-634-4152.

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New CGC Stars at MDT Grand Opening

michigan dog trainingOn July 20, 2013, Michigan Dog Training (MDT) LLC celebrated the grand opening of its Plymouth, Michigan site. Amongst the many distractions (large crowd of people, visiting dogs, flash photography, and people food), four canine teams entered and successfully passed the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen (CGC) evaluation. The certified evaluators were Michael Burkey and Wendy Bemis, dog training instructors at MDT.


MDT congratulates the following canine teams:

1. Cathy Drapeau and Kinnon, Rough Coat Collie of Allen Park, Michigan

2. Sheryl Pokorski and Cayos Von Alanya, German Shepherd of Oak Park, Michigan

3. Elaine Chan-Whitlow and Bean, Bichon-Maltese of Walled Lake, Michigan

4. Elaine Chan-Whitlow and Casper, Bichon-Maltese of Walled Lake, Michigan

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Wendy Bemis earns promotion at Michigan Dog Training LLC

Wendy Bemis CDT and Flettwood CGC, R3

Wendy Bemis CDT and Flettwood CGC, R3

On July 1, 2013, Wendy Bemis a dog trainer at Michigan Dog Training LLC achieved a promotion to “Certified Dog Trainer.” She earned this distinction based upon her knowledge, skills and abilities in training dogs and their human companions and after having completed an intensive three-month training course with Michael Burkey, a professional dog trainer and President of Michigan Dog Training LLC in Plymouth, Michigan. Additionally, Bemis recently became an American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Evaluator.

Bemis has been a dog trainer since 2008. Prior to that, she served as a dog coordinator in a local rescue, served as a foster parent and volunteered in various shelters training dogs and preparing them for adoption. She enjoys spending her spare time traveling with her dogs, hiking, swimming and boating as well as attending dog training seminars.

Her passion is to help families and their dogs meet the level of training needed so that they can enjoy their lives together.  A well-adjusted and trained dog is able to go on family adventures and live a high quality life. Wendy knows this personally. She successfully modified her own dog’s (Fleetwood, Beauceron) reactivity to other dogs enabling him to go more places with her such as group dog hikes, kayaking as well as earning a Championship Trick title and Rally title with first place finishes. She has a special interest in teaching puppy classes, advanced tricks, and providing solutions to behavior problems.

Her personal dogs include:  two certified therapy dogs, three Canine Good Citizen dogs as well as one titled in Rally Obedience and Championship Trick Dog. Her current dogs are:  1. Fleetwood Mes Yeux Vigilant, a Beauceron, CGC, TDI, NR, TDCH and trained shed antler dog; 2. Gina, a Dachshund, CGC, TDI; and 3. Adrian, an adorable deaf Toy Australian Shepherd. Her dogs who have passed over the rainbow bridge include: Archie, an All American mix, CGC, adopted at ten years of age; Scooter, a hound mix, adopted at 13 years of age; and Taz, a doberman mix adopted at eight years of age. Here is a link showing Wendy earning her Trick Dog Championship Title with her dog Fleetwood.

Michigan Dog Training (MDT) LLC is proud to congratulate Bemis on her accomplishment.

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