Hello! I’m Keith, and I am the trainer at Good Times Dog Training. Our mission is to help people connect with and train their dogs using all positive, force-free methods. I do group and private classes in the Kanab and St. George areas in Utah.

MY STORY

I have been passionate about animals ever since I can remember. When I was 8, my family adopted our first dog, a mutt with a heart of gold, named Smudge. She quickly became my best friend and constant companion. We hiked through the woods and marshes together, biked over to my friends’ houses together (I shudder now to think of her running next to my bike on roads!!!!), and spent almost all my free time together.

It was a different era, and there were very few organized things to do with your dog, and certainly none with a mixed breed. How I would have loved to have classes or clubs to go to, or a chance to do agility or rally or freestyle!

But such things weren’t available, so Smudgie and I learned together. We did basic obedience, what are now rally exercises, jump and obstacle courses, sled pulling, freestyle type routines without the music, just about anything I could think up! I could never get her to retrieve (I could now that I know more, and she would have loved it!), or herd (my rabbit Freddie just sat and ate grass).

I got my first horse when I was 15. Riding and horses then became a big part of my life (and of course, Smudge’s). When I graduated from college with a degree in English Literature, I turned to horses to make my living. I loved the work, but found working for others forced me to do things I didn’t agree with. Nothing awful, for sure, but things like rushing a horse’s training to get him competing before he was ready.

So I went into business for myself.  Black Cat Farm was started, and my descent into poverty began! Wow, did I struggle financially, although I loved the work, the animals, and the people. How does this tie into dog training? The kids who came for lessons, 4-H, and Pony Club were very interested in the way my dogs listened to me, and what they could do. So we started informally working with their dogs, and my passion for helping people train their dogs was born.

I decided to choose another profession to make my living in, and keep my horse and dog activities as a sideline. This way I would have the freedom to enjoy working with the animals without the financial pressures.

So I went back to college, and graduated with a BS in Nursing and became an RN. I worked as a nurse for 30 years, until I “retired” to go back into dog training full time.

HOW DID I CHOOSE MY METHODS?

When I was about 10, my father brought home my first (and one of the extremely few at that time) books on dog training. I read it cover to cover many times, and learned a lot. But some of the methods struck me as not very nice.

The first thing was an explanation of how to put on and use a choke collar. I had actually found one in the woods, so I put it on Smudgie, making sure it was on correctly. The book explained how to make corrections with it. I looked at Smudgie with the collar on, promised her we wouldn’t do that, took it off and hung it in the basement. So far as I know, it hung there until my parents sold the house 30 years later!

I loved the chapter on heeling. I loved the concept of my dog maintaining her position at my side on a verbal cue, on or off leash. She already basically did that, but the book gave me ideas to improve it. Of course, the author recommended a leash correction, or popping my dog on the nose with my hand if she forged ahead. Again, I looked at trusting Smudgie and told her we would never do that!

Smudgie was a dog who loved to DO things. She wanted to be with her people and interact. I trained her with no treats or toys as rewards, just praise, my joy at her getting it right, and our interactions. And I often remind my students now–use your energy, smile, interact, give feedback!

Echo
Echo

But I now use a lot of treats and/or toys as rewards in training. Why? The majority of dogs need them as reinforcement, especially when training new behaviors (and many owners struggle with being happy and upbeat when training). And the dogs who would do it for the joy of working with you (my Border Collie, Echo) get that much more pleasure from training with treats or toys. And that is what it is all about. Finding ways to have your dog love learning and obeying cues, so you are both having fun!

THAT BRINGS US TO THE PRESENT

Good Times Dog Training offers classes and private sessions, in Kanab and St. George. I also work with The Woof Center (now doing update renovations, so temporarily on hold) in Santa Clara.

I work closely with Best Frienbs Animal Society’s Canines with Careers program. This program helps find and train dogs as service dogs for folks with a disability, or for those looking for therapy dogs or Search and Rescue dogs.

I’ve been involved with K-9 Search and Rescue with my own dogs for many years, and presently work with Kane County and Washington County, helping with the training of their dogs.

I once read a quote (that I will totally misquote) from a child’s thank you note to his Aunt. “Thank you for the book on giraffs, I learned more than I ever wanted to know about them”. You are probably feeling that way about this introduction!

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. I would love to read them. Or contact me directly at keith@goodtimesdogtraining.com.

And give your dogs all a pat from me!

All the best,

Keith Hightower
goodtimesdogtraining.com

8 thoughts on “ABOUT GOOD TIMES DOG TRAINING

  1. Hi Keith, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your bio – the foundation was always there wasn’t it and then you got busy with making a living(RN is a great field) then found your way back to making a life. I love that you used your own instincts about what was right and wrong, I too made my own decisions as a child what was right for my animals. They were my friends and I knew from the beginning they had feelings too. Love your work !

  2. I need some assistance in training my dog. 5 month old lab, named Bailey. I have had 2 other labs in the past but this one is a Marley.
    My husband passed away on February 4, and he was the firm, loving dad that she listened to. Please call me to discuss training. Someone at the Washington dog park gave me your information. 801-558-8437

    1. Hi Patti,
      Sorry to hear about your loss. I’m sure both you and Bailey are missing your husband. I would love to help you with Bailey, and will call you today to discuss training options. Thanks for contacting me. Keith

  3. Hi Keith Hightower:

    Last Spring (March / April 2018) We Signed Missy Our 50 Pound, 5 Year Old Brown & White Female Pink Nose Pit Bull Terrier up for Your Woof Basic Obedience Training Class with 4 or 5 Other Dogs and Attended the First Two Sessions Before My Wife Had to Fly to Texas Leaving Me to Do the Classes with Missy.

    I Was Recovering from Hand Surgery So Only Had One Good Hand to Work With. But….. During the Third Session Missy Pulled Me down to the Plastic Turf When I Tried to Hug Her for Doing a Good Job Resulting in a Bloody Rug Burn on My Leg and One Good Arm. I Excused Myself and You Told Me to Call You about There Maybe Something Could Be Done on a Personal Basis at Our Home after I Was Healed and Had Two Good Hands to Work With!

    Well…….. Susan and I Are Both Medically Sound Enough to Each Have Two Good Hands and Would like to Understand What the Options Are and Cost Associated with Getting Your Assistance in Training Missy Here at Our Home.

    Missy and I Walk about 2 Miles Around the Neighborhood Every Night after about 9:oopm When the Chance of Meeting a Jogger or Another Dog Walker Are Lower. Missy Seems to Think that Everyone Loves Her and Wants Her to Kiss Their Face So She Tries to Jump Up on Them and Even If a Dog Is Locked up Behind a Fence She Wants to Meet Them and Play with Them So She Tries to “Walk on Air” and Pull Me over to Them. While We Have Been Able to Train Missy to Sit, Stay, down and Quiet She Seems to “Go Deaf” to Our Commands When Another Person or Dog Is Present.

    I Know She Will Respond Well to Any Training You Think Will Rid Her of the above Bad Behavior.

    Please Call Susan or I and Let Us Get a Plan Decided on Where to Go from Here.

    Very Respectfully, Thank You Very Much!

    Susan & John Cole
    2523 East 2830 South
    St. George, UT 84790
    (702) 354-7559 (Sue Cell)
    (702) 354-7558 (John Cell)
    (435) 986-4103 (Home)

    Copy to http://WWW.goodtimesdogtraining.com

    1. Hello,
      I certainly remember your girl! A heart of gold, but lots of energy. We can definitely help her with impulse control and learning how to contain herself when she sees other dogs.
      There are some basic exercises we can work on that will help her a lot, keeping her enthusiasm but helping her control it.
      I have contacted you directly to set up some times for us to work on this with her. Keith

  4. Service dog for the blind-
    Hello Keith,
    I met a woman at Costco in St. George who has macular degeneration and was accompanied by a service dog. She shared your name but didn’t have contact information with her.
    My Stepmom has macular degeneration and is almost blind now. We recently began talking about a service dog.
    Can you be if assistance to us in discussing a service dog for her?
    Sincerely, Lisa

    1. Hi Lisa,
      Sorry to hear your Stepmom is having serious vision problems. I have helped people with impaired vision train a service dog for themselves. If she is actually nearly blind, she would probably need a true seeing eye dog. Their training is beyond the scope of what I do. They need to learn things like watching overhead clearance, and making judgement calls about what is safe. This takes hours and hours of training with a sighted professional, before the dog works with a blind person.
      I train dogs for people who have some vision, but are liable to misjudge distances, or lack peripheral vision and walk into things. I actually train the person to train the dog. We work together on training tasks, but the dog lives with the person and gets much of his training and reinforcement from his person. We usually meet once or twice a week, check progress and plan how to proceed.
      For someone who has to completely rely on their dog to move through the world, they need a dog trained by someone who specializes in seeing eye service dogs, trains the dog, and then trains the dog/person team.
      Unless I’m misunderstanding, I think your Stepmom falls outside the scope of what I can do. If you need suggestions of true seeing eye dogs, let me know.
      If you would like to talk about this more, you can email me directly at leucavorin@yahoo.com
      I wish I could be more help, and wish you and your Stepmom the best! Keith

Leave a Reply to JOHN & SUSAN COLE Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *