Training the trainer

Why trust between dog and man matters the most

By Patricia May P. Catan
Photos: Amper Campaña


THERE’S no denying that dogs are man’s best friend. What makes these adorable creatures easy to love is that they make good company and can give sunshine on a rather gloomy day. And for Ryan Ong Cabahug, he’s adored these intelligent furballs since he was a little kid.

Thanks to his grandmother’s interest in dogs, Ryan grew fonder of dogs with each passing year all the way to adulthood. After graduating from college and had a job, he got his first purebred and immediately explored dog shows. He went into conformation shows for dogs but it didn’t match the active lifestyle that he led.

Ryan Ong Cabahug of K9 Care Dog Sport Training Center and his pal Blue, a border collie.

It was in 2007 when he first took interest in the sport of dog agility, which he first saw on American television. He told himself that this sport was the right kind for dogs, not just for the benefit of the animal but for the handler as well as a form of exercise. Ryan looked for someone to teach him the sport, and that’s when he found his partner, Jude San Diego. It was San Diego who taught him how to train dogs, and in 2009, he officially became a dog trainer and founded K9 Care Dog Sport Training Center the following year.

Since opening in 2010, the training center was never actually open to the public, and it mostly relied on word of mouth or by referral. But the training center is open for those who are truly interested to train their dogs since K9 Care is specific when it comes to the people coming in. Ryan said they don’t train dogs alone. It will have to be the dog and owner together and not either because training is a form of teamwork and one can’t work without the other.

Trophy haul.

Indeed, teamwork is vital in the training process because human and dog must create this bond with each other, which will ultimately lead to trust and mutual understanding. Ryan also stressed that compatibility is one important factor to consider because out of the hundreds of breeds in the world, we have the luxury to look for a dog that will fit our lifestyle and not the other way around.

This is the kind of relationship that Ryan shares with his 14 dogs, most which are border collies, like Blue and Vanilla who have been with him in local and national competitions. Imported from their country of origin New Zealand, border collies may be designed for colder conditions, but both Blue and Vanilla have fairly adjusted to the Philippine weather.

As a dog trainer, Ryan shared that the most helpful quality a trainer must possess is patience, especially when you want your dog to easily trust you. The training process is never a walk in the park, but if you want to see desired results then patience is the key, and you’ll need lots of it.

Yes, it may take long, but once the dog learns basic obedience, the rest will follow, and when they get the hang of it, all that’s left to do is review. Training dogs may sound complex to some, but in reality, it’s the simplest things that make everything successful. Training is not just training but a lifestyle. “I don’t call it training anymore because it’s already part of my every day routine,” Ryan shared.

As the fruit of his labor, Ryan earned and won plenty of awards for the hard work he puts in training his dogs and others as well. One that was the most memorable for him was when he competed in Polomolok, South Cotabato and earned special awards for an overall title. But the award most precious to him is earning the trust of his dogs and the bond he created with them will forever be irreplaceable because the partnership a man and his dog has is the truest kind of friendship that makes dogs reliable life companions.

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