Zorro was a pretty well behaved dog

Before starting at Cottonwood Ranch and Kennel, I thought my dog Zorro was a pretty well behaved dog.  My first day at work, Ted Hoff, owner and trainer was demonstrating his basic obedience training tactics on an older dog.  He used simple commands; sit, stay, heal, come, lie down. Ted was consistent and thorough, never missed an escape.  Just in a twenty minute session, I witnessed the change in the dog.  Because Ted used all positive reinforcement, never yelled or raised a hand in his training, the dog didn’t even know he was being made to do things he’d never done before.  It enjoyed the verbal reward of “good dog” and the soft calming hand reaching into praise.  No longer did the dog control the situation, but it’s eyes never left the trainer as it sat ready, wanting to please.

Over the next few weeks, I learned a great deal at Cottonwood Ranch and Kennel. I began to realize as I saw dogs come in and leave as a totally different dogs that maybe it wasn’t too late for my own dog to learn a few things.  Zorro is just over two years old, and never been to a dog trainer.  He was more than my pet, he acted as more my kid or best friend.  So one morning I brought him into work as requested by Ted.  While we talked about his habits, Zorro did well in displaying them as he tried to steal my attention from Ted.  Zorro sat on my foot, wiggled and squirmed.  He whined and he whistled and rolled around on the ground.  He nudged at and nipped and licked at my hand.  He pawed at my feet and jumped up on my legs.  And finally, when he was just sure I didn’t love him at all, he sat on my foot and let out an exasperated sigh.  I had a whole list of things to improve but overwhelming him with commands would do me no good. One day at a time, with Ted’s coaching me through and stepping in when Zorro was working me over, and sure enough my little spoiled dog became a more enjoyable pet.  He isn’t any less cute or less loveable now that he sits straight without wiggling and doesn’t insist upon jumping all over me when saying hello.  We’ve established grounds so he knows when he can be silly and when it’s not acceptable behavior.  Now, I am like a proud parent wanting to show everyone my improved dog!

Dog trainer and owner of Cottonwood Ranch and Kennel, Ted Hoff changed my relationship with my dog.  This isn’t a rare occurrence by any means, he turns out better dogs to happy clients on a daily basis.  I am so blessed to work for and learn from someone with such a great knowledge of all breeds of dogs and with such great dog training abilities.  While he may have a favorite, I’d never know.  As I watch each day, he puts the same effort and care into each dog, changing certain training tactics for specific dogs needs to insure a final product of a more obedient, enjoyable dog.

Positive Training Techniques: Establishing Boundaries and Basic Dog Obedience

When I left my good job in Portland, Oregon and headed to Colorado to pursue a career in dog training,  I had no idea the changes I would witness in the industry more than 21 years later.  Dog ownership is at an all time high, and dogs are no longer just pets, but intimate members of owner’s families.  I call it dumb luck on my part, but dog training is a labor of love and twenty years ago it was a slim market and even narrower market was my focus on hunting dogs.  Today I train dogs from Aspen, Grand Junction, Montrose, Telluride, and across the United States.  Today’s dogs are highly valued pets from loving families, that go to great extents to have the best possible training and/or boarding experience available. I work with All breeds and types of dogs,  large or small.  I am so happy to have a large ranch to accommodate all our four legged visitors and so grateful that I am a professional dog trainer.  Being a trainer is a huge advantage to understanding how to handle all the different dispositions, temperaments and general canine behaviors, good and bad.

With the explosion of new dog ownership, comes a large population of wild young dogs that have trained their owners through their daily routine of less desirable behaviors. The number one training issues of the dogs that visit the ranch these days is, jumping on people and the pulling of the leash while on a walk.  The dogs are successfully controlling their situation through pure strength and quickness while jumping and pulling.  My job is to establish boundaries and basic obedience by calming the dog and positive training techniques. I no longer engage in the dogs strength or high energy.  I train positive behaviors while interacting with humans, creating an entirely new relationship between owner and pet.  Practiced daily, and slowly adding real world distractions, the young dogs learn to observe activities, and remain calm until released.  Dog owners have a long life with their dogs, so it really is worth the effort to train proper leash walk and human interaction.  Watch the video below, as I work with Aspen, a beautiful Golden Retriever on establishing new rules, through positive reward and repetition.  In the long run everyone is much happier including the dog with the new training regime.  Thanks for watching, Ted

VID (Very Important Dog) Club

One year ago Cottonwood Ranch And Kennel, and Colorado Dog Trainer, Ted Hoff, introduced the Very Important Dog (VID) Club to our customers. This was our way to say thank you, and to reward our loyal and valued dog boarding and training customers with a special opportunity to join our membership.  Due to popular demand, and the success of the club in 2011, Cottonwood Ranch And Kennel has begun the 2012 Very Important Dog (VID) Club membership drive. Exclusive membership to the VID Club rewards include substantial savings, convenience, and increased services included.  Our Vid membership is kept to a small group, and the opportunity to join is limited to our spring membership drive.  As the new year begins, now is the time to think of future travel plans and dates for your spring trip. Membership to the VID club offers savings and peace of mind, knowing that your dates for your dog are covered with a guaranteed reservation at Cottonwood Ranch And Kennel.


Cottonwood Ranch And Kennel’s VID Club details.

VID Club Membership Features Include:

  • Guaranteed Priority Reservation
  • Free pick up and Delivery
  • Free Bath and Brush at the end of each stay

VID Club Membership Benefits include:

  • Dog owners never have to worry about whether or not there is room for their best friend at the ranch.
  • Huge savings with free transportation , especially with multiple reservations through the year.
  • A clean and brushed dog on return after a busy stay ranch a huge savings  and time saved on dog groomer appointments.

Annual VID Club Membership Fee:
$500  (100% credited to future Dog Boarding and Dog training )

All dogs while at Cottonwood Ranch And Kennel are cared for with the same attention to detail, providing medications, special food or supplements. We take pride in exercising, socializing and playing with you dog while in our care.  We love all breeds large or small.  Our kennels have great heat in the winter months and are kept cool in the summer.
To  Join the Very Important Dog club please click this reservations link,  fill it out, and in the comments section type “VID”.

Any questions please call 970-921-7100, or email  to info@cottonwoodranchandkennel.com

See you Soon, Ted Hoff Owner/Trainer

December training Tip: Why does it matter?

I received a comment the other day on one of my recent training videos, How to Train a Chocolate Labrador, found on my Colorado Dog Trainer YouTube channel. The question posed was  “Why does it matter if the dog sits sideways especially if it is more comfortable for him?”  This is an excellent question and is in response to my training video, the place where I am correcting the crooked sitting Labrador, and requiring a straight, square sit.

Once I have started an obedience session  “On Leash” with a young dog, I have a very simple set of verbal, hand and whistle commands that I train repetitiously:

Sit, Lay Down, Heel, Come, and Ok.  As a trainer I am watching closely for the instant follow though of each command, that I quickly followed with positive verbal praise and a calming touch rewarding the good behavior.  From this point I am watching carefully for any slight change in body language that I label an escape, or obvious avoidance to the control of the desired command.  I have a list of escapes, deliberate body language displayed by the dog to try to leave or acting as if distracted during training.    My list of escapes includes, but is not limited to:

  • Sitting Crooked – In the sit position the dogs hips are askew. The dog often starts with a straight sit and then rolls to one side as if to ask “Will this do?”
  • Breaking a sit prematurely- The dog in training simply gets up from a sit command and tries to exit stage left.
  • Shaking of the ears – Classic blow off of your commands, “were done right?”
  • Scratching with rear foot – The most apropos time, right after trainers command.
  • aying down while on sit command – Lay down is a great command, but you want to make sure the sit does not evolve into a lay down.
  • Sniffing the ground while on command – We know the dog’s nose works terrifically but there is a time and a place, but that does not include in the middle of dog obedience training.
  • Vocal Whining, avoiding eye contact, and any other deliberate distractions that some how seem more important to the dogs, especially in the beginning of the training session.

Why it matters is because I make progress with my dog training by catching the escapes as soon as they begin and quickly acknowledging the attempt, and reinforcing the correct command.  Recognizing an escape, combined with the timing of the correction and positive praise, is what makes a good dog trainer.  With consistent training all the great escapes disappear. Please watch the following video:

Thanks Talk soon, Ted

Welcome to our new Colorado Dog Training Blog

Thank You for visiting Cottonwood Ranch and Kennel’s new site and Colorado Dog Training Blog.  I am Ted Hoff the owner and Colorado dog trainer at Cottonwood Ranch And Kennel near Crawford Colorado. I have been professionally boarding and training all breeds of dogs in Crawford, Colorado for 21 years and have had the pleasure of hosting dogs from across the United States.  We have designed our ranch to be the premiere dog training and boarding facility situated on our 322 acre ranch located on the Western Slope of Colorado.  Our world-class Colorado training and dog boarding facility serves a large geographic area in Colorado, including Aspen, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction, Montrose, and all the way south to Telluride.

At Cottonwood Ranch and Kennel our main focus is the daily activities, important for a healthy and well- trained dog.  These activities include various forms of socialization, exercise, positive reinforcement training, playtime, and a time to calm.

I am a strong believer in matching the appropriate exercise to the dog according to their age, breed, veterinary issues, and general conditioning.  Many dogs are built to run, but exercising a dog through too much running can be detrimental to the health of your dog.  Exercise routines should start slow, and build gradually as the dogs ‘s level of conditioning improves.

Cottonwood Ranch And Kennel, uses swimming in our daily dog exercise program..  The Benefits of water work are numerous, including low impact exercise, and a great way to exercise the dogs during warmer temperatures.

A Typical water session starts with the dog on land and then released into the water to make the retrieve and deliver the retrieved item back to the handler on shore.  Repeating this sequence offers a great workout and excellent training opportunities.

This summer at Cottonwood Ranch And Kennel our water exercise is anything but typical. During Colorado’s hot afternoons, we have added a new twist to the swim exercise. The dogs follow me in the water with my paddleboard. The casual pace of a paddleboard is a great way to extend the swim time and focus on overall aerobic conditioning of your dog.  Our paddle workouts are fun, great low impact exercise, and the dogs stay cool. I have also found that it is a great training opportunity to connect with the dogs at my side, keeping them engaged and focused. With the paddleboard, a dog training/exercise session opens up a whole new opportunity to interact with the dogs while standing on the water with them. Watch the video and enjoy the end of summer workout with the dogs.


I welcome comments and any questions and am available any time at 970-921-7100, or email  info@cottonwoodranchandkennel.com

Enjoy your dogs, and get outside with them, the benefits are big for all.
Ted Hoff
Owner/trainer  Cottonwood Ranch And Kennel