John Armata has been working with dogs for more than 30 years, at times putting his own safety at risk in order to do what he feels so strongly about. Growing up on a farm, he had the opportunity to learn a great deal by practical experience and has worked with many types of animals including horses, rabbits, cows and of course dogs, beginning with German Shepherds.
Mr. Armata believes that prevention of problem behaviors is key. Therefore, anticipating an issue before trouble develops is half of the battle. The veteran dog trainer has many accomplishments to his credit. A few were outlined in a recent article featured in the Watertown Daily Times on April 8, 2013. However, Mr. Armata’s credentials extend far beyond those mentioned in that article, including testifying as an expert witness on canine behavior for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in a high-profile dog attack case in the Albany area. He has also worked closely with the ASPCA of Pittsfield, Mass. and has worked with the American Malamute Rescue Organization.
Mr. Armata not only rehabilitates canine “problem children,” he is also a writer and for more than a decade had a featured monthly column in a popular animal newspaper, Creature’s Corner News before moving away from that area. The newspaper is operated and owned by Lucy McNulty of the Vermont SPCA.
His work these days is dedicated to helping owners of dogs with problem behaviors that may result in surrendering of the animal or euthanasia if behaviors remain unchecked. As a trainer of problem animals he has been exposed to a number of dangerous situations and has even suffered serious injury on more than one occasion. Yet, his passion for dogs keeps him coming back.
The dog trainer visits the homes of the dogs he works with, observing them in their own environment and getting to know the family. This allows him to work with the dogs where they live, which make it easier to understand triggers for specific behaviors. He says home visits provide one on one opportunities that working in a class setting does not.
Mr. Armata follows a “prescription” in his approach to every training challenge. “I do not teach tricks,” he adds. His approach is grounded in a solid understanding of canine behavior. He begins a home visit by having the owner complete a one-page questionnaire. This allows him to accomplish two objectives simultaneously: Gathering helpful information about aggressive or destructive behavior and other vices such as food guarding, excessive barking, chasing cars, etc.
This exercise also allows the canine student the opportunity to grow accustomed to his presence, including the sound of his voice and mannerisms. He eschews clickers or any other gadgets in his training, preferring to adhere to “old-fashioned” proven methods. Mr. Armata believes that using one’s voice is an important aid in training, but also likes whistles. His style encompasses basic counseling techniques, belief in one’s instincts and listening to the inner voice. Learning to “think like a dog” is also important, as is utilizing the “old ways” with healthy doses of common sense.
The training basics include:
- Positive reinforcement
- A fairness approach to discipline
- Crate training
- Use of a dog whistle
- Use of the voice
- Education for dog owners
His technique is all about the proper approach and continuing education of pet owners who are invested in changing their canine’s behavior. During the course of training he will often recommend informative books to aid in the process.Mr, Armata’s goal is to help rehabilitate dogs that are headed for trouble, and are headed for, or coming from, the SPCA or similar agencies. His work tends to focus on the more difficult cases of canine behavior, but this is his passion.
You may contact John Armata at 315-938-7562 and visit his website for further information and to schedule an appointment.
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