Dog trainer specializes in fear and aggression – Dog Park Speakers Series February 22

Diane Aaron

Next up in the SaddleBrooke Dog Park Speakers Series will be Jay Smith, known to many as the rattlesnake and Colorado River toad avoidance trainer.

His talk will be Thursday, February 22 at 4:00 p.m. in the SaddleBrooke TWO Ballroom East. There is no charge for this talk.

“We’ve invited various dog behavior experts to come to SaddleBrooke to share their expertise and firsthand knowledge, believing that educated owners make for great dogs,” said Kathleen Dunbar, board president of the SB Dog Park. “Our first in this speakers series was a full house so we’re now in a larger location.”

Smith has been a professional dog trainer for 22 years and besides rattlesnake and Colorado River toad avoidance training, he specializes in fear and aggression in dogs and helps pet owners try to understand what the dog is thinking so they can live in harmony with as close to a stress-free life as possible. “You can learn a lot about yourself when you learn how to communicate with another species,” he says.

He also added how most families overlook how important it is to stop aggression from an early age. “Most families, when they first get a dog, are busy sorting out the right resources for the dog that they don’t realise their dog suffers from overly aggressive behaviour. They buy a new bed for them, the right food, toys for them and look for insurance from places like Pets Best ( but many people discount how important it is to identify aggressive behaviour.”

His topics for the February 22 talk will be leash aggression; understanding the dog’s behavior; integrating a new dog into the park; established dogs welcoming a new dog into the park.

Smith has volunteered for many rescue organizations over the years fostering, training volunteers, sometimes having as many as 23 foster dogs in his care at one time and many times taking on cases that nobody else would or could handle.

One day per week, Smith goes to the Pinal County Shelter to evaluate dogs on the kill list to see if they are adoptable. “The goal is a no-kill county shelter in Pinal and with your help we get that much closer every day,” he says, asking others to consider volunteering to walk dogs at Eleven Mile Corner in Pinal County.

Smith volunteered four years at Florence and Eloy Correctional facilities teaching inmates how to train dogs for pets and for people with disabilities. Jay developed the program Shaping for Success and implemented it at Sycamore Canyon Academy, a school for male youth at risk, modeled after the adult prison programs.

He also worked at the state and federal level training teenage boys. “It wasn’t easy,” he explains, “but it was a success and many young men benefited greatly by learning responsibility for another living thing as well as new communication skills. And we saved a few dogs along the way.”

Besides dogs, some of Smith’s other interests include archaeology, cribbage, carpentry and hiking in the desert.

Some of his dog training beliefs and sayings include: 1. Set the dog up for success. 2. You’re smarter than your dog…use your brain to get the dog to do what you want. 3. The better you get at yes training the less you need no training. 4. Nothing in life is free. 5. Dogs communicate with each other using body language not the English language. 6. Teach reliable solid attention and the rest is easy. 7. Don’t stand at the bathtub with nail clippers and say “come.”

There is no need to pre-register for this talk, but if you want more information, please contact Kathleen Dunbar at