While dogs have been described as the best friend man can have, Shelly Leibowitz has made it his quest to make man’s best friend their very best. With over forty years of experience working with dogs, it’s no surprise Shelly’s name has been synonymous with all things canine. This founder of Shelly’s School for Dogs and Green Leaf Pet Resort is one of the most sought after dog trainers in the United States.
Born in Brooklyn, Shelly’s passion for dogs began at a young age when he started walking dogs in his neighborhood. As a teenager, he began his career training companion dogs for various training facilities throughout all five boroughs in NYC and surrounding tri-state areas. His dedication led him to expand his expertise to training dogs for law enforcement, contraband/bomb detection, personal protection and guardwork. Throughout his career, Shelly has successfully employed his dog training skills with pet owners, private dog clubs, municipal departments, law-enforcement agencies and private businesses. He has become an expert go-to consultant for law enforcement and supplies working dogs for homeland security. Shelly has also trained and worked with two generations of Bat Dogs for the Trenton Thunder baseball team, the AA affiliate of the New York Yankees. Rookie, the latest bat-retrieving dog for Trenton Thunder is a regular guest at Green Leaf Pet Resort, where he loves to splash around in the aquatic center, socialize with friends in doggie daycare, and get pampered by his favorite canine caretakers.
One of Shelly’s true passions is Schutzhund, a sport that involves training dogs to compete and excel in three main categories: tracking, obedience and protection. Selected to represent the United States on the Schutzhund World Team (regarded as the Olympics of Schutzhund), his dog obtained the highest tracking score (99 out of 100) in the 2000 National Schutzhund USA trial.
When speaking about how the training has changed from the earlier days, Shelly says, “It’s so far superior now. I’m constantly learning more with every dog.” This ideal is the crux for Shelly’s method to working with dogs. Every dog is seen as an individual – each with their own personality and their own drive. It’s this innovative perspective that Shelly has taken to develop his comprehensive “whole dog” approach on dog obedience training. He calls this method “control through kindness.” By following the philosophy that no two dogs are alike, no two training methods should be either. “That’s why I find this field so exciting because every dog is different – an individual. My horizons are wide… thousands and thousands of dogs have taught me.
“It’s not a 9-5,” he continues, “It’s not just a job. It’s a way of life. Otherwise, you can never be good at it.” This method has become his modus operandi, along with the individuals he has personally mentored into professional trainers. When asked about the best advice on success he’s received, he stated that it was his personal motto to “follow his dreams.” Perhaps the greatest successes aren’t just documented by the miles of awards that adorn his two state of the art facilities, but by the smile he wears when speaking about what matters to him most: the dogs.