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Why I do things the way i dO

Over the years I have found that the hardest part about training for people is doing the work... I get it!

There is something magical about sharing our lives with a dog. It could be the estimated 15,000-33,000 years of coevolution, but we all know puppy-eyes play a big part. Sometimes that magic can feel hampered when we are not sure how to connect with the dog in front of us or feel uprooted by behavior problems we were not anticipating. Or, it can feel a little like gambling as we make the big decision to commit to the life of a new dog but are afraid of getting more than we bargained for. Since 2006 I have dedicated my life to training dogs because I find a lot of joy in helping people live better with their best boy/girl.

We all know that training our dogs in some capacity is necessary. It is a human-centered world after all! Over the years I have found that the hardest part about training for people is doing the work- because we are all busy and when we are learning something new it takes us more time, energy, and sometimes the results can fall flat.

I get it! I have two kids, three dogs, a partner, and I work. That is why I have hung up my hat on offering standard private training sessions and classes. I don't think they work for many people. I want to help you live better with your dog by doing the leg-work for you. Your involvement is still important but I want to help you focus on getting the magic and not have to worry about teaching and proofing skills to the level you need them.

how it works


Meet for

60 minutes
1 time

Orientation is the first step and includes your dog, anyone in your household, and me- your trainer.

I'll use this time to set you up for success during your dog's training time by:

  • Diving into your motivation for training and ensuring that you are joining the best program for your needs.

  • Learning your current routine.

  • Walking you through how optimize your home and your dog's routine in a way that fits your schedule.

  • Discussing how I should enter and leave your home and where I can find your dog's gear.

*Once you have enrolled in a training program the cost of the orientation will be deducted from your total 


Relax during

60 minutes
3 times per week

This is the bread and butter of your program. I will come to your home to work 1:1 with your dog for 60 minutes every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.


Each training session will build off the next as I take your dog from what they can do the day they begin to the objectives of the program.


You don't attend these sessions. Having me, a professional certified trainer, do the work for you is the beauty of it.

After each training session you'll receive an update via text or email letting you know how things went. 


Connect for

30-60 minutes
1 time per week

If training sessions are the bread and butter then coaching sessions are your time to eat-up. Will meet for 30 to 60 minutes once a week at a day/time that works best for you. We have the flexibility to meet at your home or in another location that is in-line with your dog's current stage of learning.

I'll show you what your dog has learned and coach you through proper handling skills so you can maintain their training.

Since you live with your dog day-to-day and will be there for their entire life your participation is very important. These sessions protect the investment you have made in their training.


Get together for

30-60 minutes
3 times

Once your dog completes the program and we have our final coaching session I'll hand your dog's leash over to you. But you wont be left alone! We'll meet for 30 to 60 minutes in a location of your choice approximately 1 week, 1 month, and 3 months after your program to follow-up.

In the follow-ups we'll dedicate our time to making sure any lingering questions you may have are addressed and ensure that the two of you are doing well together. 

You may purchase additional follow-up sessions after completing a full program as you wish for a rate of $110/hour.

A lab mix is sitting nicely with its head cocked to the right side.
A rough coated blue merle Border Collie is sitting pretty.
A muscular pit bull mix is waving at the camera with its right paw.
A wire-haired dauschund is wearing a red harness and walking nicely on leash while looking up at its owner.

Ready to get started?

This 15 minute call will give you a chance to get to know me and to make sure I am the right trainer for you.

Certified professional trainer, Sam Haeusner, is sitting on a stone wall in front of the San Juan mountians with her pit bull mix Azzie and her corgi/border collie mix, Mal. Azzie is standing on the wall next to Sam and Mal is on her lap giving her a kiss.

SAm's Story

Dog training has always been a part of my life.

Living with and training dogs has always been a part of my life. I grew up in a dog-family and I credit my parents and extended family with my obsession. Life without a canine companion feels foreign to me. My family did not have a lot, but we had dogs and they were everything to us. On the weekends my dad and I would take our English Springer Spaniels hiking. We'd work on their recall and heeling while we enjoyed their antics as they leapt in and out of tall grass like gazelles. Other times we taught them tricks and watched them play for hours in what we all deemed "dog tv". When I was sad they always came to comfort me. It was all of the magic of having deep relationships with dogs. 

My early career was a crash course in professional dog training.

In 2006, at the age of 18, I started training professionally at a PetSmart in Colorado Springs. It was a crash course in what was one of the corporations busiest stores for dog training at the time.  I worked with the region's head-trainer to assist training new trainers and lead beginner to advance obedience classes, trick classes, and other specialty classes as well as board and training add-ons for the store's PetsHotel. In two years with the company I trained over 300 dogs. My time there sparked a love for learning and I left the company right before my 21st birthday to pursue an undergraduate degree at Fort Lewis College and I have been in the Durango area ever since.

I am a certified dog trainer.

Training is an unregulated field and because of this anyone can call themselves a trainer. I saw the issues with this while working at PetSmart and have spent my years making sure that I obtain the education and experience needed to insure that I am not just winging-it in a vacuum of my own understanding. I hold the industries leading two certifications. One is from the independent certifying agencies in the US for dog trainers, the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers; and the other is through the internationally recognized Karen Pryor Academy. In addition to these two achievements I am working on my third, advanced certification, through the Academy of Dog Trainers. These certifications hold me accountable and require me to stay up to date on the latest science and best practices in the field. Links to verify my credentials are provided at the bottom of this page.

My career so far.

I have been training dogs professionally since 2006 and have had the honor to work in the industry in a variety of ways. Besides the usual experience of assisting more senior trainers and training through my own business I have also had the privilege to work for the Karen Pryor Academy (KPA) as the Alumni Relations Coordinator assisting my fellow KPA Certified Training Partners by running the alumni support program and working at the ClickerExpo dog training conference. Most recently I have worked in a pet tech with Companion Labs, helping to design training protocols as well as the dog and human experiences for their automated training and enrichment device powered by AI and computer vision technologies. My experience with both these companies has elevated my understanding of dog training to a whole-new level and has given me access to the top animal trainers in the world. I am excited that in 2023 I'll get to ground myself back in the Durango community and bring this knowledge and experience to our beautiful corner of the world.

Training Methods & Approach

No pain, all gain

I use reward-based and fear-free training methods. Not because it "feels" nice, but because study after study has shown that this style of training is the most effective and safest way to train your dog. It is not that other methods like shock collars or other forms of correction-based training don't work (I grew up training dogs this way). It’s that they have been proven unnecessary and have the potential for unwanted behavioral side effects. You don't have to hurt your dog to train them to any level. But don't just take my word for it. The leading organizations in the industry have all come to this consensus (AVSAB, SVBT, APDT, CCPDT, IAABC, and more). Want to learn more. Click here to read an article by the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) to dive deeper into the topic.

What reward-based training looks like

With reward-based training I focus on what motivates your dog to behave a certain way and use that to my advantage. What motivates a dog depends on the individual dog as well as the behavior we are targeting. Common motivators are treats, play, attention, access to other dogs, access to sniff spots and more. All of these can be used to teach your dog new behaviors and to reduce unwanted ones.


Here is a list of the equipment that I most commonly use.

  • Regular flat collar (standard)

  • 6 to 8 foot leash (standard)

  • Harness

  • Martingale collar

  • Head Halter/Gentle Leader

  • Longline/Dragline

  • Crate

A brown leather collar and a red nylon leash.


How do i get started?

To begin all you need to do is schedule an introduction call. This free call is approximately 15 minutes and will give you a chance to get to know me, tell me about your dog, and have your questions answered. If you are getting a new puppy or dog don't hesitate to schedule this call before they come home. 

My goal in an introduction call is to make sure that I am the right trainer for you. I'll happily recommend another local or remote-based trainer if I think your needs are better served another way.

Can i be involved in training sessions?

The goal with having a professional trainer do the training for you is so that it is as effective and efficient as possible. Training sessions done without your presence means fewer distractions and more focus for your dog and your trainer. I have found that having guardian's present means less gets done because questions will come up and that takes time away from your dog. 

This is not to say that your participation is not important. It is really important and I want your questions! I just reserve the time for questions and teaching you the handling skills needed for coaching sessions. That way I can focus on the task at hand during training. 

Which program should i choose?

If you are unsure about which program to choose I recommend choosing the one that addresses the issue you struggle with the most. During our introduction call we'll talk so I can understand your goals and make sure you are in the best program for your needs.

Schedule your free 15-minute introduction call.

These programs are pricey! Can't I just take a class?

Sure you can! There are a number of wonderful dog training classes offered in town. The one downside I have seen with classes is that dog guardians don't do the homework because they get too busy and then the training never gets done. You can learn a lot in classes but your dog wont get trained unless you put in the work. So classes are not for everyone. This is why I started offering the services I do. 

That makes sense, but they are still expensive.

I believe in delivering lasting results and making sure that the training your dog gets is working where you need it. This means I put in a LOT of work with your dog, both while I am with them and by diligently planning each session so no time is wasted.


I'll meet with your dog 3 times per week for 60 minutes each time to give them the practice they need and to internalize their skills. We will also meet weekly so you can keep up and reinforce your dog's improvements. And I don't want to say goodbye right as we wrap up. I want to insure that things have stuck, so we will meet for 3 follow ups 1 week, 1 month, and 3 months after training is finished. 

I'll be doing the hard part for you so you can enjoy the rewards! It is investment that you'll enjoy for your dog's entire life and beyond as you'll be learning things along the way that you can apply to future dogs.

what is your cancelation policy?

Consistent training is important to your dog's success. So that you can see results in a timely manner we will stick to your session schedule as closely as possible. This helps to protect your investment and insures that others waiting for training to begin can start as scheduled. The exception is with the longer term programs like the Ultimate Leg-Up and Dream Dog. With these programs we can schedule 1 to 2 week breaks in to fit your own scheduling needs and the needs of your dog. 

If you need to cancel a session please give me 48 hours notice so I can accommodate an change in our schedule. So that cancelations don't cause scheduling conflicts for other clients I can only reschedule one session. Having to cancel more then one session will forfeit the additional sessions. I know that emergencies, illness, and weather events can happen! I'll handle those events on a case-by-case basis. 

when is payment due?

Payment for orientation ($110) is due at the time of booking. The $110 will be deducted from the program total. Payment for the program you choose is due before training begins. You can make payment by check or credit/debit card.


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Karen Pryor Acadmey Certified Training Partner badge
A Certified Professional Dog Traininer- Knowledge Assisted badge
An International Association of Animal Behavior Consulting supporting member badge
A Behavior Works, Living and Learning wiht Animals, certificate of achievement badge from 2016
A Association of Professional Dog Trainers member badge
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