After being hugged from behind by a tall young man
in the post office, large men scared him.
Additionally, he had been jumped on by another dog
and developed a fear of dogs.
Another trainer had heightened his fear of strangers
by insisting on entering our house, even though
I explained that my dog was very afraid.
Finally, my dog was prone to extreme car sickness,
due to sensory overload/hypervigilance.
He also has chronic ear infections, which most likely
influence his behavior -
(I know I’m less tolerant when I’m sick!).
Jim is also a service dog.
I have Type 1 Diabetes mellitus and hypoglycemia
unawareness. This means I can’t feel my glucose fall,
even when it plummets to deadly levels.
My dog is my lifeline. He tells me when I’m unsafe and
retrieves food before I have a seizure.
Two years ago, I planned to move to California to live
with my fiancé, whom Jim had never met.
I wanted to bring my dog, but I knew I couldn’t, as he was.
I needed to get him help, but I was very nervous about
trusting another trainer.
Enter, Larry! Our training sessions were ANTICIPATOR
– and that makes all the difference in the world.
Larry helped me pinpoint strategies to address stimuli
that most likely would trigger Jim’s fear and aggression
and stop it. By shutting down the fear before it became
aggression, we hoped to eliminate it entirely.
We utilized several methods – walks with Larry to
introduce Jim and him, sessions with Rufus, Larry’s
life-sized stuffed dog decoy, daily practice walks with
the family to help Jim function acceptably with neighbors,
walks with friends to help Jim learn acceptable behavior
with strangers, and numerous telephone calls with
Larry for feedback.
Larry respected Jim’s space and never insisted on
entering our house to perform training.
These strategies has had amazing results!
Jim successfully drove across the country with me,
utilizing the Calming Cap that Larry recommended
during the day. This reduced his ability to see distinct
shapes whirring by us and reduced his nausea.
Jim knows every park here, and while dogs still make
him nervous, I’ve learned how to watch him for the
queues that he’s becoming overwhelmed so we can
walk the opposite way.
Jim has made a friend down the block, a
five year old girl who he just LOVES to play with.
His body language with her is loose, and his tail
NEVER stops wagging.
His mouth hangs open in a smile that’s almost
as big as his face.
Jim and my husband, Justin, are inseparable buds!
They snuggle in bed and watch movies together while
awaiting my return from work!
You can see them together in the picture below and
in others of our family at the Back View Park in
Jim rarely barks at strangers, even when they come
to the door because he’s learned through positive
reinforcement that treats appear when he’s quiet
Because of Larry’s diligent training in dog body
language, I easily spot changes in my dog before
he feels the need to increase the intensity of his
expression of discomfort.
This keeps him calm.
I still refer to Larry’s handouts and inform him of
I often say that Larry Stevenson is the best animal
trainer in the Philadelphia area, but he’s the best
animal trainer, period in my opinion.
I highly recommend him!
Thank you for all that you do, Larry
Melissa, Jim, and Justin Krakes
The following Testimonial is from a long distant Client
Larry is working with in a remote Alaskan Island
in the middle of the Bering Sea.
This is an example of the Family Paws
program, educating another family,
planning for a baby in the future.
Socks is a child reactive young dog acting
aggressive to children under 7 years old.
When we realized that our 8-month old dog was afraid
of small children, my husband and I panicked.
We knew we wanted to start having children within the
next two years and started trying to expose our dog,
Socks, to toddlers and babies.
He was not pleased and exhibited behavior
that frightened us, and him as well.
I decided it was time for me to look up a trainer, but
unfortunately we couldn’t find anyone who had
previously worked with dogs that had a fear of children
or one who specialized in working with dogs and
families with children.
We were also at a geographical disadvantage
because my husband and I work 9 months
out of the year in an Alaskan rural village on
St Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea!
One evening I was frantically searching Google to try
to find a trainer in Pennsylvania since we spend our
summers there with our families.
I found Larry and sent him an email right away with
some information about my dog and the
unique situation we were in.
Within 5 minutes of emailing him,
he called me telling me
what steps I could take next to ensure he get the
necessary information he needed to
start his work with us and Socks.
I asked him if he has worked with dogs
and children and he happily said that he specializes in
working with families with dogs and children and how
to educate them on dogs and children living together.
He seemed to be very confident in the fact that we would
be able to start working with Socks by having
conference calls, video chats, and by sending
informational emails and taking part in discussions
through written messages.
I was so happy that day!!
After that, I filled out a very thorough informational
form for Larry to look at and evaluate Socks on.
This was great for my husband and me to fill out because
it made us think about Socks’s whole upbringing and
all of the experiences and exposure he has had with
people and children.
Larry had looked at, commented on, and was ready to
discuss the form within a week of us sending the
We discussed behaviors that we wanted to look at first.
Larry then sent numerous amounts of highly
useful resources for my husband and me to
He would always discuss these resources
with me and answer any questions I had about what
we were reading and discussing.
After that, Larry took the training even further by taking
part in a great number of emails, conference calls, and
video chats with me.
He viewed videos of Socks and his behavior that
I would send him and we would discuss
body language in pictures as well.
Larry was always responsive in anecdotal stories that
I sent him about Socks and any interactions he was
having with children.
One of my favorite discussions with Larry was when
we were in a video chat call and he was able to pull
up various videos I sent him of Socks.
He was masterfully able to allow me to watch the video
on my screen while discussing the body language of
my dog through the video chat!
It was amazing and such a wonderful help!!
Since talking and working with Larry,
Socks has improved so much!
Socks has done a lot better with children and is really
taking steps towards becoming a family dog.
We look forward to continuing our work with Larry!
We appreciate how much he was able to work with
us despite our schedule, geographical location,
and unique situation!
From C & G Brancalone, Savoonga Alaska
GREAT NEWS ! ! !
Fast forward two years and we now have a wonderful baby boy and Socks is almost 3 years old. During my pregnancy, I was able to use advice, resources, and previous discussions from Larry to work on training Socks and preparing him for the arrival of a newborn baby. Larry helped me by using the Family Paws Program, which is absolutely excellent! I desensitized my dog to different sounds and experiences that he would now see with the addition of a newborn baby. My husband and I trained him with other people so that he would be used to other people holding the baby other than us. We also made sure to train him with different baby noises, which included loud crying, laughing, baby toy sounds, and feeding. Lastly, we desensitized Socks to the new baby rockers, bassinet, and toys that we had in our possession already. All of this training really helped him with exposure to things he had never seen or heard before! Thanks to help from Larry and the Family Paws program, Socks was definitely prepped for the baby.
Our son is now over 2 months old now and Socks has done amazing with him. We still do daily training and follow rules set by the Family Paws Program and Larry when exposing the dog to the baby. This experience has been very eye opening and I am so grateful to have been coached by Larry on dog behavior! If we didn't have Larry's help and guidance, I fear that the dog would not have been able to handle this addition of a baby into our household.
I highly recommend Larry Stevenson of Gentle Approach Dog Training LLC for his dog training services. He was recommended to us by our vet. We hired him to help us introduce four dogs to come together to live in one home; 1 aggressive dog with 3 other dogs who were a pack of their own. We didn’t think it would ever be possible to do b/c the one dog had severe aggression behaviors that we didn’t think he could ever be around other dogs (yet alone live with other dogs). But Larry taught us so many techniques and he really trained us (the owners) on how to teach the dogs how to behave and how we should behave as owners. We followed what Larry taught us and implemented it. We stuck to the course of training and did it on our own. And it worked! We really learned that an old dog can learn new “tricks” as these were all older dogs set in their ways. And we brought them all together to live in a home and they are all now best buddies. It was like a miracle really. We think Larry is spot on with his training. He really cares about the dogs and wants to see them and us as the owners success. He wants the best outcome for everyone. He is really patient. He follows-up quite a bit and makes himself available. He’s thorough. And really spends the time with you, getting to know you and your dog (dogs). His questions may seem long when he meets you and first works with you, but trust me, all those questions he asks you are certainly needed. He really takes his time getting to know you and your dog, and that is really important part of a successful training program, and it's what makes Larry training program so successful. We thank Larry for the services he has provided to us. And provided to us. And absolutely recommend him.
From Shawn & Matt from Philadelphia
Nucky had Severe Separation Anxiety
Things are actually going wonderfully with Nucky!!
We employed several of the tactics you recommended in conjunction with one another and success resulted.
When we get home we will typically find him still chewing on his toys or even napping on the sofa.
Either way, we always find him happy. He usually comes to the gate to greet us when we arrive with a wagging tail, but not overly exciting and jumping uncontrollably as he used to.
Overall, the process of leaving him home he is a completely changed dog.
Thank you very much for your help and your tips with training, Nucky, Larry.
Before you came to our home to help us with him, we were really at the end of our rope with him and just didn't know what else to do. We were at the point where we would virtually never leave the home for fear of what he would do. Now we know we can securely leave him if we need to and that he will be safe, secure and happy.
Shawn M & Matt S
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From Jeff, Paula, kids and Silas!!!
This is Silas our American Bulldog/Cur Aussie mix. When we got Silas we admittedly didn't know much about him or how to train him. We began looking for a trainer and Larry Stevenson came highly recommended.
From our first meeting with Larry we found him to be very thorough with getting as much information about Silas as possible. He was very serious about our puppy's health. He told us the best foods to get, discussed vets, and safety. We were very impressed with his care of Silas.
From day one Larry taught us how to be better dog owners and held us accountable. This was important because so often dog owners blame the puppy for its behavior.
We have consistently utilized the techniques that Larry showed us. We are amazed at the great behavior of Silas and how quickly he adapted. We owe that to Larry.
To date Silas is a thriving 5 month old puppy who has brought great joy to our family. Through Larry's tireless assistance, our children and we have learned to become better dog owners. The happiness that Silas has brought us would not have been possible without the guidance of Larry Stevenson.
Thanks Larry, Jeff, Paula, kids and Silas!!!, Elkins Park, PA
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From: Christopher, Debra & Benson
My wife and I are writing this letter to let others know how satisfied we are with Larry Stevenson and his Gentle Approach Dog Training. As a first time dog owner, we had no idea of the basics of dog training, or what was involved in caring for and raising a puppy. We contacted several trainers in the area, and Larry was the first one to get back to us.
Even before we hired Larry and had him into our home, he was immediately a big help to us. Over the telephone and via email, Larry gave us a lot of basic and important information to get us started raising and training our dog.
For example, he contacted our local pet store for us and explained to them the things we would need when we came in later that week. He also gave us names and numbers of area veterinarians and local dog walkers: everyone in our local dog community knows Larry and what a great job he does!
When we finally hired Larry and had him into our home to meet our new puppy Benson, we were immediately impressed. He is kind, knowledgeable and very flexible. He was able to fit into our schedule, was always punctual and was in constant contact with us over email and phone between appointments. In 6 weeks, he basically showed us everything we needed to know to care for and properly train Benson, our new puppy.
Larry went over everything from feeding to leash training to house training.
He showed us how to properly discipline Benson, taught us how to make Benson “mat”, “sit” and “stay” and gave us techniques to alleviate Benson’s separation anxiety when we would leave the house to go to work.
Overall Larry was a great dog trainer - an invaluable asset to us. He was fair, professional and a wealth of information on dogs. My wife and I would recommend Larry for new and experienced dog owners alike.
Warmly, Christopher, Debra & Benson
Benson on Mat
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Letter from Rachel & Jeff
Would you have ever have thought that blind dogs need training?
Well, we are proof that they do. We were the proud owners of two blind Pugs, Woody and Cassidy.
Sadly, Cassidy crossed The Rainbow Bridge in December 2011.
Just because they could not see, believe us, they are normal dogs in every sense of the word.
We adopted Cassidy in October 2008 and Woody in May 2009. Cassidy was a blind puppy mill rescue. Cassidy was a good girl. Cassidy got around our home just fine. Our main problem was trying to get her to trust us to go down steps.
With Larry's help, some treats and a lot of patients Cassidy conquered her fear of steps.
In May of 2009 we adopted Woody. Woody was an owner surrender. His previous owner had other bigger dogs in the house and they would pick on Woody and abuse him. As a result of that abuse, Woody lost an eye and he is blind in the other.
Now that Woody has the good life; he also had a few issues that we needed Larry's help with.
Whenever we took Woody out for a walk, he would pull a lot on his lead and he wouldn't listen to us. If he sensed another dog's presence, he would freak out. The hairs on his neck would stand up.
Larry spent a lot of time with us and Woody. He told us what to look for with signs that Woody is starting to stress out. Larry also gave us suggestions on how to get Woody's attention and how to get him to listen to us too.
Since Larry gave us the tools and knowledge; Cassidy had no problems going down steps and it’s a pleasure to take Woody out for a walk. Woody hardly ever stresses out when other dogs are in the same vicinity. The other day Woody totally ignored a crazed barking dog outside and just went about his business.
If you are looking for an excellent dog trainer, look no further!! We would and have recommended Larry to anyone and everyone.
Rachel & Jeff
Woody & Cassidy
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I began working with Larry about 4 months ago when my 13 year old Poodle,
Mickey bit another dog.
After 13 years of being spoiled with love and affection, being the "King of the house" and calling the shots, I began to realize that by trying to just provide only love and affection,
I had neglected teach him how to socialize with other dogs and how to do things that were asked of him.
Larry was truly the best thing that happened to Mickey.
Larry is the most nonjudgmental, caring and gentle person!
He showed me how to provide positive reinforcement for Mickey when he was listening to me and how to provide Mickey with the guidance he needed to make him feel even more secure, loved and happy!
I was always so impressed with how invested Larry is in ensuring that Mickey was learning and that I was provide the training in the most effective way.
He was always available when I needed some extra encouragement throughout the week, developed a well thought out training plan and was always coming up with new and interesting ways for Mickey and I to bond over the training.
Thus, instead of the training being a punishment for Mickey, it was something he looked forward to and would always get excited to see Larry at the door! Larry was able to help me improve Mickey's behavior more in 4 months than I was able to do in 13 years!
I would highly recommend Larry without hesitation to anyone who is looking for a trainer who is caring, knowledgeable and truly invested in the well being of your pet.
Amy C., Philadelphia, PA
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Larry was a tremendous help to us in training our spirited German Shepherd puppy.
We knew we needed to work out some behavior issues before the puppy grew into a large adult.
Larry gave us concrete, workable solutions to problems that were frustrating us,
particularly nipping and mouthing. He has an expansive knowledge of dogs and training/literature that is truly impressive.
We highly recommend Larry and believe all new puppy owners would benefit from Larry's services.
Barbara, Philadelphia, PA
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We adopted Lola in December, a Jack Russell terrier, approximately 2 yrs old, the only history we had on her is that she was a "puppy-mill" dog. Lola is all white and her four legs were stained yellow apparently from her previous living conditions, just one of many physical problems we discovered shortly after bringing her home.
I searched for the best dog trainer available since we did not know what type of behavioral problems we potentially could be facing.
An avid dog lover, I successfully raised two beautiful Doberman Pincers and worked with several dog trainers in the past, without a doubt Larry Stevenson is THE best trainer in the Philadelphia area. He was highly effective in creating a strong relationship between our family and our newly adopted dog, Lola. He uses fun, positive methods, that are easy to learn and gave us very quick results.
Larry accomplished in one session what other dog trainers in the past took 3 or 4 sessions to complete. You get your moneys worth with Larry Stevenson, he is the real deal. Any negative behavior we see with Lola is directly related to our lack of follow through with Larry's advice.
We were amazed at how quickly we were able to train Lola and it has been 6 months since we hired Larry and we have had no problems with her. Lola is the absolute coolest dog on the planet, and we are so thankful to Larry for making her transition into our home smooth and easy.
Annmarie, Conshohocken, PA
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Kevin and I want thank you for everything you have done to help us. With the experience we suffered with having to lose Roxie, our American Bulldog, I was unsure about getting another dog, needless to say, didn’t plan on getting two! We honestly believe that having you come in and not only help train the puppies, but also teach us how to react, praise and train them has made the world of difference.
Zook (Jack Russell Terrier) and Max (Jack Russell/Pomeranian Mix) are two fun, loving, well behaved puppies. But more importantly, there are no negative actions or reactions. Your positive methods of training (dogs and owners!) has made this process of raising two puppies so much fun for all of us.
Whenever someone comments on how great the puppies are we are always quick to tell them about Larry Stevenson!
ZOOK & MAX
Kevin and Christine G., Philadelphia, PA
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Before I became a pet parent, I knew of Larry Stevenson when I saw his card at Worldwide Pets and Aquarium. The words, "Gentle Approach Dog Training". impressed me.
A short time later and not prepared, I rescued a Four year old boxer, named Zoey.
I knew I need help, and Larry was the dog trainer I was looking for in order to help my dog adjust. Larry is teaching Zoey and me to relate through patience, love and positive discipline. When I have concerns about Zoey, Larry is a phone call away, and this is a plus for me.
Dorothy P. , Philadelphia, PA
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Kevin M.'s Letter,
I want to thank you for helping my mother out. When she bought her dog on an impulse and then came to a quick impasse, I was glad you were there to assist her.
She hadn't had a dog for at least Thirty years and was never involved with any house training, etc. . .
I knew she needed help.
More than lay the ground work for training you were able to give her encouragement.
Like you told me, it is equal portions, the owner and the dog. You definitely put her on the right track and you can see the improvements after she contacted you.
Your thoroughness can not be duplicated and you put her at ease with herself.