Wednesday, 24 May 2023
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Michele’s Dog Training helps canines master basic training – Midland Daily News

CLARE — Training your pet can be challenging, and one dog-loving professional trainer is looking to make your life as a canine owner easier with her courses.

Michele Henderson has been a dog lover since early childhood and first began training dogs over 20 years ago.

Henderson founded Michele’s Dog Training which is dedicated to helping owners with in-home dog training and classes held at Mid-Michigan College in Harrison.

Henderson holds titles in many dog sports, such as canine freestyle and dog dancing. She holds a four-time world championship title in dog dancing, and now travels and performs with the Coke-A-Cola dog team performing with eight dogs in dog dancing, agility, and high jumping.

“I did train at one of the big box stores for a while, and then I went down to Florida and did some certified training,” Henderson said. “When I came back, I wanted something a little bit more personable, so I went and started my own business in 2009, Michelle’s Dog Training. It was supposed to be a hobby, and it’s kind of went booming.”

Henderson runs her training business with the help of one other employee. She teaches classes in both Mount Pleasant and Harrison.

She has 11 dogs that she personally owns and trains with, and makes regular visits around to local nursing homes and area schools where they perform for audiences.

Henderson, and some of her dogs, have made appearances at Weidman Sawmill Days to perform.

The courses she teaches at Mid-Michigan College focus on basic training and helping owners learn how to comfortably handle their pets.

“We do use some rewards to start off with and then we talk about how to get rid of them,” Henderson said. “It is done with all positive reinforcement. The most challenging part as a trainer is until you meet that dog, then you got to think on your feet.”

One of the dogs Henderson spent years training and performing with, Zeeva, is now retired but was a master at over 40 different commands in her prime.

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Henderson said her favorite aspect of working with the dogs is performing and being able to share the high energy of competition with her canine partners.

One of the dogs Henderson owns and works with, KenZee, has only 5% of her hearing and is fully trained with hand signal commands.

KenZee was adopted from Speak for the Unspoken, a rescue organization out of Ohio that focuses on dogs with special needs in finding homes.

“I used to be very, very shy growing up,” Henderson said. “When I started performing with my first poodle star dog, it really brought me out. Whenever I have a dog around me, I love the performing aspect of it. It’s kind of cool to see how dogs can bring everybody together, whether I’m working for a local cop, or the mayor or whoever, they all come together and can see their dog as a fun aspect of the community too.”

Henderson and her team have also performed at the Harrison Street Fair and she often tries to offer discounted prices for local performances and training.

She said she enjoys the local performances in nursing homes and schools as they can be more interactive and personal.

During smaller performances, Henderson said the dogs enjoy them as well because they get to say hello to audience members and get friendly pets.

“It’s funny to see their facial expression,” Henderson said. “If you start applauding the dogs you can just see them perk up, but also when they walk in and realize that it’s not set up like a huge show and they get to go say hello after their faces do they get this smile on their faces like they’re so happy.”

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Henderson is currently working with two new dogs, Breelah and Yara, who are learning and growing up quickly. Some of the tricks the dogs learn include climbing a six-foot ladder, walking a tightrope, landing aerial tricks, and catching objects.

With her training classes for owners on the basic techniques she uses Henderson focuses on affordability for clients.

“I want to be able to help the dogs and help the community out,” Henderson said. “Dog training should not be so extremely expensive that you have to turn your dog over to the shelter. That does not mean you’re getting less training or that we aren’t capable of doing it, it’s that I see the need for the training out there.”

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Henderson works hard to create positive bonds with her clients and will often stay in touch with some even after the classes end to follow up on progress and answer questions.

Moving forward, Henderson is aiming to expand and open another class location to have additional room for dogs to work on skills.

She is also working towards getting more shows started and has been networking with communities around the state on scheduling potential shows and is hoping to expand into Mecosta and Osceola counties in the future. 

“We are looking to expand whether it be through a nursing home or school groups as well,” Henderson said. “My goal is to get out there and share my knowledge and my dogs with communities.”

For more information on Michele’s Dog Training visit the business’s Facebook page at


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