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McMurray Musings

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Not Your Usual Suspect… Ryan Stubbs

Considering that he was, by his own admission, “scared to death of dogs” as a child it may seem unusual that Ryan Stubbs now chooses to work as a behaviour-based dog trainer, often dealing with the worst kind of canine delinquents.

“BAD BARK, BAD BITE, BAD BEHAVIOUR – the more difficult they are the better I like working with them,” says Stubbs, the trainer behind the new Fort McMurray-based Stubbs Obedience. Stubbs owned his first dog, a German Shepherd-Malamute cross, as a young adult and developed a deep bond with the dog that left a lasting impression. He began the process of researching dog behaviour, and an appreciation for the nature of dogs and training based on their innate behaviour followed.

Stubbs is particularly enamoured with the dogs and breeds considered to be difficult, including pit bull terriers. After the rescue of a pit bull and the subsequent work involved in rehabilitating her as a companion animal Stubbs decided to pursue dog training as a hobby, eventually turning it into a job.

“I like the chronic bad behaved dogs,” says Stubbs. “The ones that the owners can’t take anywhere, the ones who have been a problem for years. I am a head-on kind of person so if you tell me your dog attacks when someone comes in the front door I am coming in the front door and we are going to work on dealing with that behaviour.”

Stubbs’ training is based not on fear or treats, but on educating dogs on basic etiquette and expectations of behaviour. “Consistency, rules and boundaries with no fear involved is how I work with dogs,” he says. “I just present them with the rules and I expect them to follow them.”

Based on creating an environment where the dogs behave in polite and respectful ways, Stubbs has dealt with dogs that are considered “last chance”, on their way to euthanasia due to loss of their owner’s trust, and behaviour issues that seem to be unlikely to be resolved.

“I want to avoid those phone calls to the vet clinic,” says Stubbs. “Dogs only have so many tools, and so you need to work with the dog’s issues – although a lot of training is about training the owner to recognize the signs and interpret their dog’s behaviour too,” he adds.

Stubbs is serious enough about his adventure in dog training to have started a local business designed to improve the canine-human bond by working with problem dogs and their owners, and is even pursuing an opportunity to travel to the United States to learn from one of the great masters of dog training – Cesar Millan.

The calm and assertive Stubbs is the perfect match for dogs that may be aggressive or anxious, projecting an attitude of confidence that allows the dogs to trust in him. “You have to be confident and trust in your abilities to handle the situation,” says Stubbs.

Ryan Stubbs may not be your usual suspect in Fort McMurray but there is no doubt he is making a difference in the lives he touches, both human and canine, and contributing to the development of stronger bonds between us and our animal companions.


A freelance writer, blogger and professional communicator who is passionate about her child, her work, her pets, her community and the power of words, Theresa Wells believes perfection in life is achieved when she is surrounded by amazing people, fantastic stories, cold gin and really hot shoes.