Here you will find comments and testimonials from the many satisfied clients I have helped. If you require more information, some of my clients are willing to give verbal endorsements. Just contact me and I can make those arrangements. Hopefully this can help you make a decision on using Natural Dog.
Jill and Dave H
Neal Espeseth was a super help with our young very nervous French bulldog. He gave us some very real insight in to how dogs think and what really motivates them. With Neal’s guidance and your continued work with your dog you will succeed. I highly recommend Mr. Espeseth for any type of dog training and we shall be in contact with him for now on.
Miles & Brittany F.
My wife and I just finished up our fifth and final session with Neal. I can’t recommend this training enough. Neal taught us so much about our dogs behaviour but more importantly he taught us about our behavior in dealing with certain situations.
Our dog Piper is now three years old and has anxiety issues and also can’t be around other dogs. We used to socialize her all the time with other dogs when she was a pup but suddenly after she turned one she would react to any dog she came in contact with. This made us extremely nervous to have her in any situation where she could come in contact with another dog so she hasn’t socialized in a long time.
Neal started our training very easy and slow which really focused on us getting Piper’s attention when we asked for it. We stuck with the training and put a lot of work in and began noticing changes in her behavior right away. They weren’t major changes for us but they were huge for her.
We now feel more confidence with Piper and with ourselves. We know that it is going to take more work to get her socializing again but she makes baby steps everyday. We were even able to go on a walk with Neals dog right beside her for short periods.
Neal is very knowledgeable and supportive and answered any questions we had along the way.
Colleen & Tony
We cannot speak highly enough of Neal’s expertise with us and our 3-year-old dalmatian, a dog with high levels of fear and arousal. Our dog was afraid to leave the house, warning nipped at us while on leash walks, never sat still in the house, and fence fought with the neighbors’ dog. Neal really understands dogs and why they behave and react the way they do. Neal is an excellent and patient teacher. Since we do not live in Edmonton, he provided us with multiple ways of learning: in-person lesson to start, handouts, phone-calls and emails to trouble-shoot. His program uses an accountability system for owners, which really worked! We now have the knowledge and tools to continue to self-manage our dog’s disposition – who is now much calmer, less fearful, no nipping, and we can recall from fence fighting. After several different obedience classes and other trainers, it was with Neal that we found a humane and effective solution. Thank you Neal!
Jo-Anne & Rick K.
We had been dealing with coporphagia from the time we brought our 8-wk. old Labrador puppy home. He ate both his own stool and that of other dogs at off-lease parks and during walks through the neighborhood. We tried everything the vet, the trainer, research and other dog owners recommended. He eventually stopped eating his own but it was getting to the point where we considered avoiding dog parks all together. A client of yours recommended we speak with you. Our dog was 9 months old and we had little expectation that you could recommend anything we hadn’t already tried. We were at a loss but not ready to give up. If we could use one word to describe how we felt after your first visit, it would be “hopeful”.
It took patience and consistency but your method worked! Our dog is now a year old and we can say that coporphagia is no longer an issue. We have the occasional set back but have the tools and strategies to correct the behaviour immediately. The progress we have made with your help and support, considering where we were, has been phenomenal. Your approach, knowledge, wisdom, guidance and support has been invaluable.
Jocelyn & Nick G.
Before we contacted Natural Dog, our Rotti/St.Bernard Eddy was a big boy that was giving us even bigger grief. He was highly anxious on leash walks, had zero recall, and would act out aggressively in unknown situations. Neal has armed with a lot of useful information, science, and practice to really target key stressful situations for us and Eddy. After 4 sessions, not only have we seen a change in Eddy to being more calm, but we’ve been able to regain trust in him. We have a much better approach to mitigating bad situations or respond to them more effectively. Our own stress levels have gone down tremendously as well. My favorite aspect of Natural Dog is Neal’s approach to having reasonable expectations from Eddy and not being hard on ourselves or Eddy when things don’t go exactly as we expect the first time. It’s up to us to put in the time and effort, but Neal has opened our eyes to the possibility. Thank you Neal!
Shay & Taylor H.
We couldn’t have had a better experience with Neal of Natural Dog Behavior.
After going through fear issues with our 1.5yr old Bernese Mountain Dog, and trying various other training and socialization classes, I can assure you “helpless” is not a strong enough word for how I was feeling.
There are so many services in our city that offer dog obedience/training. We didn’t need that. Our dog could do all the tricks. She listened very well in our house, she was house trained, she loved other dogs…the list goes on. In fact, when we took her to these classes, she started picking up habits from the other doggy classmates that we didn’t like. I couldn’t help but feel that there had to be someone out there that focused on dog emotions, dog behavior, dog’s brains and how they learned. I found him.
After contacting Neal, I received a prompt response. This response was different from the other “dog behaviorists”. The others quoted me pricing, with little to no encouragement or description of service at all. Neal very simply wrote “I would love to have a conversation with you about your dog.” That evening we talked on the phone about everything that we’d been experiencing. He explained the science behind how fear works inside dogs brains, and how he could help. He encouraged me. For the first time in months, I felt hope. Little did I know the process would end up as not only behavior therapy for my dog, but for us as a family.
We got to work right away. Neal came to the house to assess our dog & our behavior toward the dog. From the very first meeting he was very straightforward about the plan, and realistic about expectations. This is no “magic pill”. This is no “one size fits all” obedience or training class. This is a program tailored specifically to you and your dog, that only works if you’re willing to dedicate the time and effort.
He expects that you communicate weekly with him about progress. Which I loved. This weekly communication often resulted in a phone call of encouragement and guidance. Quite often we learned it was just small adjustments that we as dog owners had to make.
The program itself is rewarding, and FUN. We enjoyed (almost) every minute of it. Just like any great education, it pushes you out of your comfort zone. He had an educated, scientific answer for every question we asked. There was always a biological, or psychological reason why.
If you’re searching for a less “cookie cutter” program, I highly recommend Neal. He is as authentic as they come. He is very intelligent, and is absolutely an expert in all things dog. You can feel that he has a genuine passion & love for dogs both on a personal and professional level.
Owning a dog with separation anxiety is stressful and insanely heart breaking. My dog suffered with severe anxiety for a year and a half before I reached out to Neal. She was destructive, fearful, defecated and urinated when left alone. She would scratch at all exit points until her nails would start to bleed. After going through a whirlwind of emotions, I decided to call a specialist because anything that other people suggested simply did not work. Believe me, I tried it all; thunder shirts, relaxing scents, busy bones, exercise, vet prescribed medication. You name it, I tried it. It all failed. Neal was able to provide us with proper relaxation protocols and training techniques to help her have the confidence to be by herself. He helped me understand what boundaries and training my dog required. What works and what doesn’t work. At the end of the day, my dog is proof that Neal’s methods work. To this day she stays home alone. I don’t stress out anymore when leaving the house and I come back to happy dog. I’m sure she will slip every now and then, but I now have the tools to work with her to correct this behavior.
We are extremely happy with Natural Dog. We were at such a loss as what to do with our aggressive dog Banjo. We were a bit nervous as what to expect but we were soon put at ease with Neals knowledge of dogs. He taught us things about behavior that made so much sense and soon proven over the course of a few weeks. We can know go to any off leash park with no worries at all. The best choice we ever made for our dog. Thank you Natural Dog!
This was simply the best training I could have received for me and my dog Cholo. I had been to other trainers but this is the first time I used a behaviourist – what a difference.
He told me what was wrong with my dog and why, and then we spent 6 sessions fixing it. The change was immediate, but mostly for me – its seemed Cholo knew what to do all along, it was me that needed trained!
Thank You Natural Dog!!
My experience with Natural Dog was amazing. I learned so much and although it was hard work, my sessions were well worth it. Ivan does not mince words and does not allow you to slack-off. My dog is a different animal now and we achieved this without harsh training methods. I am so grateful!
Our family adopted Hector, a wonderful 2 year old boxer who needed to learn expectations for family life. Using the deference over dominance approach was a perfect fit for both Hector and me. I knew this method would take time, but I loved that the philosophy is based on all things positive to the animal. Hector is a completely different dog! He is no longer anxious,he walks well on a leash, comes when called, and has learned to be social with other dogs and humans. It’s a fantastic feeling to understand the little ways your dog communicates with you and without Neal’s help I would have continued to miss Hectors’s efforts to engage me.
John & Sandy R.
When we got our new 8 week old Pointer, I was overwhelmed with the various puppy training literature and family/friends’ opinions on how to train a dog. A good friend recommended Neal to us for puppy training help. It was amazing to learn his simple, and effective way to train dogs! The methods and philosophy are logical, positive and actually feel good. It is beautiful to see the man-dog relationship which develops under mutual respect and harmony. We are totally grateful for Neal’s help. Our pup is now 8 months and a perfect joy in our family. Thank you Neal!
I just wanted to thank you again for help with my dog. Pokey and I have practiced Deference today already. I can’t begin to explain how your teaching has already impacted myself and my relationship with Pokey. I have been lost for words to describe the experience and even though I understand the simplicity of what we went over, the only word that comes to mind to describe what you do is “special”.
Anyway, thanks again for all that you do for everyone who cares enough about their dogs to get the help they need.
..the only word that comes to mind for what you do is special
Candice & Paul G.
When we approached Neal,our dog whose food motivated behaviour was driving us nuts! His constant scrounging, and focus on food meant that not a crumb was safe and we were getting really fed up with our dog. This wasn’t a dangerous problem, but one we needed to solve. Neal took it (and us) seriously.
Neal taught us simple and effective ways to work with our dog. He always spoke with us as equals and shared his knowledge as well as his methods with us. We liked this non-aversive method and gentle and humane approach, and they were effective.
My relationship with my German Shepherd, Vince, had become serious and desperate when we contacted Natural Dog Behavior. I couldn’t take him anywhere without the fear of coming across another dog or person as he had become so aggressive towards people and animals and uncontrollable around children, bicycles. I was initially struck by Vince’s response to Neal. Vince was calm and focused, despite the busy environment. Neal taught me how read the body language of my dog, when to respond and how to focus his attention on me and away from his old habits.
More importantly, Neal’s help has given me back the relationship with my dog that I was missing. We know spend lot’s of time with him outside and have been back to the dog park! I don’t dread taking my dog on long walks and I am no longer anxious if I see another person or dog. Vince listens to my commands and responds better than ever before, easing my stress and making our walks relaxing.
I am certain that without Neal’s guidance I wouldn’t have been able to handle Vince and I shudder to think what may have happened to him. The knowledge I have gained has given me the confidence to work through any situation with my dog and it has made us closer than ever.
Sara & Jared
About a year after adopting our German Shepherd, AJ, we had several issues during “the walk” as well as a few quirks in the house which brought us to the point where we felt we needed help.
For me, walking the dog was no longer enjoyable but more an anxious guessing game of what AJ would do next. He seemed unpredictable as he would aggressively bark and pull towards some dogs and to other dogs be very friendly. He was a different dog on the walk then when he was in the house. At home he acted shy and timid and was scared to go upstairs or to be pet by anyone other then my husband and I.
Our initial consultation with Ivan was a real eye opener. We did not have a shy timid dog but rather a dominant one that only did things he wanted to do. AJ had us wrapped around his paw and Ivan was going help us put an end to that. Ivan helped us see that AJ was longing for leadership and direction from us and we were not providing it.
Through simple techniques and vast knowledge of dog psychology Ivan showed us how to gain respect and be a pack leader without having to yell or use fancy choke collars. Ivan showed us that we have a great dog but how we were inadvertently sending mixed messages to him on the walk. We learned how to read AJ’s body language and triggers that were setting him off on the walk. No longer were we guessing what AJ was thinking or going to do next but rather anticipating and reacting to a situation before it escalated into a bigger issue.
The walk is much more enjoyable as we have the tools to handle anything on our path. The quirks around the house have totally disappeared as AJ seems more calm and relaxed. This is no miracle quick fix but rather a path towards helping your dog achieve balance. Ivan is there every step along the way and if you put the work into your dog you will see the results…we did!
I contacted Ivan after perusing his website in our search for help. My dog had developed a disturbing habit of menacing young males around our home and at the dog park. The initial telephone contact with Ivan was most encouraging and we set up an appointment for a full assessment in my home. I immediately felt that I was in the hands of an expert. He was so caring toward my dog and so knowledgeable about all aspects of dog behaviour.
We followed up with four ‘hands on’ sessions at the dog park where he patiently taught me many skills and strategies for dealing with my concern. Ivan’s prompt attention to the problem as well as his knowledge, skills and caring for dogs have helped me become a more confident, knowledgeable dog owner. He has provided me with valuable tools to carry on with the necessary training and I heartily recommend him as a very competent, caring dog behaviour consultant.
I did enjoy our conversations and discussions about living and working with dogs. You taught me a lot and gave me the confidence to manage them in any situation. I have tried (with Gilbey) other traditional dog training in groups but found that they did not really give you the true sense of working with your dog. I appreciated that you came to my home and to the places and parks where I walk them and worked with me in their normal day to day activities.
Rhonda & Mark
I was very impressed with Ivan from the very first phone call. We completed Ivan’s Core Program with both of our Bernese Mountain dogs and the changes have been significant. My dogs both responded very quickly to Ivan’s behaviour training and to how we now relate to our dogs. He was also able to show me a side to my dogs that I never even knew existed. We are a much happier family now thanks to Ivan.
I can’t wait until his book comes out as I will be the first in line. I will always be committed to channeling my inner “Ivan”.
Lorena & Andrew
From the first phone call with Ivan i knew he was beyond capable of helping our family with our dog Jasmine (1 1/2 yr old rotti). She was becoming very aggressive with children and i felt during the day she was becoming too much to handle around our son. Ivan’s knowledge and patience was amazing! In 4 sessions not only has Jasmine become a more balanced and happy dog, but our home is such a better environment for us all. Jasmine is tolerant, alert, respectful and she amazingly doesn’t even bark at kids anymore (let alone try to attack them).
The difference in her is like night and day and i know that if we didn’t call Ivan our lives would be completely different. The time and effort Ivan put into our FAMILY is truly what made this so special, he puts everything on the table and gets right down to the root of the problem and that is priceless. There has been a huge weight lifted off our shoulders and we could not be more grateful for the knowledge and skills we have received. When we’re with Jasmine now, there is no fear, anxiety, anger, guilt or worry… We have a great connection and she knows her place in our pack as a well balanced dog and thanks to the tools and help from Ivan, we are her well balanced leaders.
Devon & Garret
Ivan Stewart knows dogs, perhaps even more importantly he knows humans. Ivan helped us to provide consistent leadership to our Border Collie Shelby by paying close attention to us! He corrected our inconsistent messages which was a relief to us and the dog – Ivan is good natured, clear, and consistent with humans and dogs. We continue to use ‘our inner Ivan’ with Shelby who is coming along nicely now everyone knows who is in charge – us!
Snow & Brent
Never in a million years did we think we’d be able to bring our Miniature Pinschers, Scout and Mini, to an off-leash park—and have them behave. Ivan has taught us valuable skills on how to properly interact with our energetic dogs that have allowed to us regain “ownership” of our once chaotic house. With the knowledge and skills that Ivan has taught us, we no longer fear the embarrassment of our dogs excessively barking when friends come over or that they will “destroy” the house when they are on their own at home.
We would recommend Ivan to dog owners that want to reclaim the lost “control” of their homes and wish to develop a better relationship with their dogs. Thanks again, Ivan – we wish we were aware of your services when we first got the pups!.
Mikko is our very affectionate Jack Russell Terrier of 9 years. He is an integral dynamic in our family. It was not until I became pregnant did we see there was an issue. He lives with my parents , our family is very close so my husband and I are over a lot, and vise versa. My mother was diagnosed with MS and Mikko was her faithful companion.
So getting to the point… Our daughter was born and we read all the books on introductions with family pets. But nothing prepared us for the dogs reaction to the baby. We did all the steps like having her blanket there for him to get used to the sent…ect but the moment he laid eyes on her and heard her, we lost total control of him.. his whining would match her intensity of a cry, and barking and jumping . Lets just say Christmas was about 45 min long because of his out of control behavior. We tried time and time again, and no luck if anything he got worse to the point that he was in another room and we could not even talk. We were at a loss..I could no longer visit my parents as it was way to stressful and not enjoyable. We needed Mikko to see our daughter as a part of out unit.. as Ivan would say our “pack” So I decided to do some research. Ivan’s website stood out right away. I wanted to get to the issue, not play games with food and rewards.
The call went out for help, and Ivan was in contact with me immediately. He taught us that there needs to be limitations and boundaries for a dog, as well as he needs to be balanced. He inspired our family to take matters into our own hands and realize that we create what we want. It took a lot of hard work, and Ivan helped us through every step of the way. I can proudly say that we are a family again,, we can have our 4 month daughter over at grandmas and granddads there are no issues. Of course we constantly work on improving and working at giving Mikko what he needs, which is exercise, discipline and affection in that order. He deserves to be happy and balanced and Ivan was the integral key to understanding our true relationship with our natural dog!
I would like to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to spend an evening with our 4-H Club. Our canine club benefited immensely by your demonstration; showing the club members how to work with their dogs as the “leader” and how to have their dog focus on them and pay attention.
I know our club has several dogs that require more help than June or I could give and by you taking the time at the end of the evening to have private discussions with the parents and children, we now have some direction with these animals. Also, June and I (my co-leader) had confirmation that the direction we were taking and the work we’ve been doing with our club has been on the right track.
We would be more than willing to recommend you for “owner training” as we could see that it’s more often the human response to the animal that causes the issues.
Bonnie Kluthe and June Van Brabant, Canine Leaders
Double Diamond 4-H Multi-Club