"It’s now my mission to share my experiences and knowledge with people everywhere so that they can enjoy a better life with their dogs."

Chris Onthank



and this is my story...




From a young age it was clear that I was a total animal lover.

My brothers and I grew up living with our parents above my grandmother’s kennel in Greenwich, CT.  Both my Baba and Aunt Dee bred and trained dachshunds and bloodhounds and were respected AKC judges in the breed ring.

It was from these two remarkable women that I first learned about dogs and canine behavior. Back then dog training was based on compulsion that used fear and intimidation.

Early on, I spent time raising a variety of species. And while every species can teach you something new about animal behavior, it quickly became evident to me that dogs were my passion.  I titled several of my own dogs in AKC obedience trials and participated in Schutzhund events that test the abilities of police dogs.

It was while working at the Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, CT that I  was convinced of the importance and effectiveness of positive motivational training.

And a lightbulb went off in my  head... 

this type of training could be applied to dogs. No longer would we have to use compulsion to train our dogs as combining a dog’s natural instincts with positive motivation was a much more effective way of doing it.

The Canine Master Method of training was born!


And a new career and training
method began.

I first began experimenting and fine-tuning my method by offering training instruction to dog owners in the basement of a local church.

My business flourished and it became evident that I needed more space. In 1986 I founded Dog Gone Smart Canine Center (doggonesmart.com), an 11,000 square foot building in Norwalk, CT that offered training, boarding, day care, swimming and grooming.

I was a trailblazer in the dog world by suggesting and offering the concept of open play. A rarely considered opportunity that enabled dogs to do what dogs naturally love to do - intereact with the other dogs in a big playroom or indoor heated pool. 

It is of utmost importance to me that the dogs in my facility are stimulated and go home happy and tired from getting lots of exercise. I only hire people who love and care for dogs the way I do.

The formula has been a winning success and my Canine Center business is thriving. I have loyal and repeat clients who have had generations of dogs enjoy what we have to offer.


How my training method evolved.

Over the past 35 years I have worked with thousands of dogs and owners.

This is my life's work. My commitment to helping dogs has allowed me to help and given me the tremendous satisfaction in seeing my help change lives.

I now work primarily with dogs that have special issues, ie aggression, separation anxiety, fear, disabilities and training obstacles. For many of these dogs, I am the last chance before their owners give them up to be euthanized or surrendered to shelters because of unmanageable issues.

Many of my clients are referred to me by veterinarians, rescue organizations and other trainers who know my primary goal is simply to positively impact a dog's future.

“I have worked with Chris for many years. His outgoing personality and fun approach to learning has made him one of the most popular trainers in the New York Metropolitan and Southern New England areas. His clients (both human and canine) are highly motivated to work and thoroughly enjoy their learning experience.”

Lexie H. Greenwich, CT


And then I became involved in
pet products.

After working with clients and their dogs for many years, it became painfully evident that there was a huge need for better pet products to improve the lives of both of them. In 2006 I decided jump into the pet product industry and founded and became CEO of Dog Gone Smart Pet Products (dgspetproducts.com).

The focus of this new company was to develop high quality products and solutions for the pet industry. It was my desire to provide this industry with innovative and technically superior products that would alleviate the stress associated with pet parenting. The company is committed to finding clever and creative solutions to dog owners’ most common challenges – feeding, bathing, grooming and dog walking.

My ultimate joy is solving pet owners most common problems applying smart and cutting-edge designs to our products. Every product and solution must deliver premium quality items and also exceed the aesthetic demands of modern families. I am very proud that today Dog Gone Smart pet products can be found in over forty countries around the world.

“I like to refer to Chris Onthank as
the trainer to the stars”!

Adam L. New York City

Chris is a frequent contributor in media as an animal behaviorist and pet industry expert.

He has worked with William Wegman and Kathy Lee Gifford, and has frequently been commissioned to be the lead animal handler for TV, film, commercials, and magazine shoots.

Articles about Chris have appeared in Family Magazine, Pets International, Hamptons Pet Magazine, and Dog Magazine. He has made appearances on Fox News, the TODAY show, Martha Stewart, and numerous radio talk shows.

He currently shares his passion for dogs on Pet Life Radio by offering information on all things dog from training techniques and tips to health issues, pet products and generally how to keep dogs happy, healthy and safe.


Chris is a member of the following organizations:

  • The Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT)
  • The United Doberman Club
  • The Doberman Pincher Club of America
  • The American Working Dog Federation

Ask the Expert

Have a question about your new puppy or rescue dog? Or are you struggling to train your puppy in a "pawsitive" way? Reach out with your questions and I will be happy to help!

** Please submit your pet related questions as well as any relevant videos and photos and Chris will do his best to answer them.  Please understand that due to the volume of submission, not all inquiries will receive a response, but we will do our best!


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