EP 15: Training your own Dog with Ken Sullins, DVM in Phoenix, Arizona

Ken Sullins, DVM, with Sara and Jaeger

What you’ll learn in this episode:

  • The benefits for you, your dog, and your relationship when you do the training.
  • The importance of considering genetics when choosing a dog to fit your lifestyle.
  • Dog training is challenging and frustrating- but important never to lose your temper with your dog and to have a sense of humor and understanding and acceptance.
  • Dogs are a great reason to get up in the morning and can help you through very difficult times.
  • Learn to trust your dog.

Welcome to another episode of Free Range Dogs

In this episode, Web talks with his friend, Ken Sullins, who is a Veterinarian, Board Certified Surgeon, and the Chair of Veterinary Medicine at Midwestern University in Glendale, AZ.  He has been a veterinarian for just about 50 years and has a broad range of experiences with animals. Ken discusses his journey of moving to Arizona from Virginia and acquiring two German Wirehaired Pointer puppies, two years apart, from an Arizona breeder. They are Sara and Jaeger, and he has trained them both himself as bird dogs. 

Web and Ken talk about the process of bringing up puppies and training, and the importance of genetics in facilitating the process of bringing Sara and Jaeger along to be bird-hunting companions.  They discuss how training can sometimes be very frustrating and challenging, but how important it is to  NOT take your feelings out on your dogs as that will only complicate the process and harm your relationship with them. Web emphasized the importance of sometimes just walking away and laughing and learning to trust your dogs and their process.

Ken reflects on how training his own dogs strengthened his patience and forbearance and increased his understanding of them and their behaviors. Usually, when a dog does something it shouldn’t it isn’t its fault- it’s our fault for allowing the situation where that happens. For example, if a dog is chewing things in your house, put away anything he might chew so he doesn’t get into trouble. Web mentions his observation that, when you correct a fault in a dog, you usually end up creating a new one. Therefore, it’s important to be clear about what you consider to be a fault that you can’t live with.

Finally, Ken talks about how vital his dogs have been in his recovery from a bad car accident. They, along with his physical therapist, have pushed him to get out and move around and have brought him from only being able to walk 100 yards with a walker to walking two miles in challenging terrain while bird hunting with Sara and Jaeger. No matter how bad he felt, he would get up and get out with them and realize he had a big smile on his face while walking in the field with them.

As Web says, dogs are a gift that helps us live better lives. 


Ken Sullins, M.S., D.V.M., DACVS

Board Certified Equine Surgeon

Chair, College of Veterinary Medicine at Midwestern University, Glendale, AZ