Paws Up for Pets: Have a new dog? Trainer can help you smooth the transition

Shay Maimoni, founder of Loxahatchee-based Woof Dogs, has trained dogs for many roles, including police, service and therapy. With him here is Asia, a 6-year-old Dutch shepherd who is a trained patrol and drug detection dog. Photo provided

By Arden Moore

Whether you recently adopted a puppy or rescued a dog from an animal shelter, brace yourself for the first year you share with that canine. I dub it the Wonder Year.

You wonder where your sanity went. Unfortunately, fast-growing pups do not come with owner’s manuals. Shelter adoptees often need time to adjust to life inside your home.

Yep, expect shoes to be chewed, potty piddles to dampen your rugs and plenty of puppy mischief to occur. And, kiss goodbye your uninterrupted sleep at night as your pup’s bladder develops and he works on his bathroom etiquette skills.

But these disruptions and destructions are worth it. With the right training, your canine pal will blossom into a well-mannered dog you are proud to take on walks and trips and hang out with at home.

During this time of year, a lot of pups and dogs are trying to adjust in homes after being adopted during the holidays. The best gift you can give your new pet is to invest the time and patience to school him on the basic doggy commands like sit, stay and leave it, as well as hone his social skills in meeting other dogs and people and walking politely on a leash.

That’s why I reached out to Shay Maimoni, head dog trainer and founder of Woof Dogs, where his team’s motto is, “We speak your dog’s language.”

Born in Israel, Maimoni didn’t grow up with a dog. But while he served in the Israeli Navy and then the Air Force, his officers noticed the natural affinity he had working with the military dogs in training.

“I asked a lot of questions to the canine handlers on the base and after feeding and walking the dogs, I got to get into dog training and the head of the base told me that I was a natural at it,” says Maimoni.

He moved to Florida, and for nearly two decades he has trained all types of dogs, including police dogs, service dogs, therapy dogs, aggressive dogs as well as friendly family dogs that needed to learn doggy manners.

He continues to expand his knowledge of dogs and is an in-demand speaker at dog training and behavior conferences. Recently, he launched a dog trainer school at Woof Dogs for people interested in entering this profession.

When it comes to working with aggression in dogs of any size, Maimoni follows three rules:

“Ignore fear, encourage curiosity and correct aggression immediately,” he says. “Never pet a dog if he is afraid or shows signs of fearful aggression. Use praise and treats to encourage desired behaviors and if a dog lunges at another dog or a person, correct that dog immediately with a leash and collar.”

Because no two dogs are alike in temperament or attitude, Maimoni customizes training for his clients.

Among them is Ellen DeRogatis of Delray Beach. Ten years ago, she hired Maimoni to help her train Bonaparte, a bichon frisé affectionately nicknamed Bones. Her beloved dog died recently and DeRogatis is back for training tips for her bichon frisé pup named Cassidy.

“What Shay does in dog training is just magic,” says DeRogatis. “When Shay worked with Bones and me, my dog listened to him immediately. He understands dogs and taught me. I had the most excellent pet in Bones and I owe that to Shay. Now, he is working with me and Cassidy. He makes it easy to learn.”

The happy and fast-growing Cassidy is learning sit, down and come, as well as resisting the urge to leap up to greet guests in the home DeRogatis shares with her husband, Brad Keller.

For her, training Cassidy is worth the time and the financial investment.

“Training enables you to have a pet you can really enjoy without the worry of the dog damaging your things, jumping on guests or doing annoying things,” she says. “Shay is teaching Cassidy and me about being consistent and repetitive in our training sessions.”

Maimoni shares his home in Loxahatchee with UT, a Belgian Malinois; Harley, a German shepherd he rescued from being chained in a backyard; Auggie, a Dutch shepherd; Lychee, a senior Cavalier King Charles spaniel, and Onyx, a Staffordshire bull terrier.

With his dogs, training is always part of the daily routine. Maimoni has used all the tools, including his training techniques plus the use of CBD oil to tame thunderstorm phobias in Auggie and improve mobility in 14-year-old Lychee.

“With dogs, it is generally all about giving guidance and building trust so that they feel comfortable around you and then are open to learning,” he says. “I feel very fortunate to be able to devote my life to training dogs and their people.”

For more information on Woof Dogs’ one-on-one, in-home training, group classes and its doggy boot camp, please click on If you are interested in becoming a dog trainer, learn more at

Arden Moore, founder of, is an animal behavior expert and host of the Oh Behave! show on Learn more at

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