When James Collier earned $50 for training a dog — big money for a 13-year-old — it set his course for becoming a premier obedience and hunting trainer.
Now, some five decades later, Collier Kennels, located in Alvord, Texas, just northwest of Dallas, attracts clients from coast to coast who want their puppies and dogs trained — whether in hunting or obedience.
In hunting dogs, Collier simply enhances their natural instincts.
"You want to put the dogs in the right circumstances to bring out their hunting instinct," says Collier, a second-generation dog trainer whose two sons have followed him into the family business. "All I do is direct those genetics and train the dog in the direction (the owner wants) them to go."
As a lifelong animal lover, Collier's training method was developed by watching his parents. His father trained dogs, but his mother worked with children.
"I'm using a lot of the same philosophies to motivate dogs as you would kids," he says. "What works for children works for dogs."
His positive, reward-based system, coupled with his unique, innate ability to communicate with animals, has resulted in a high success rate. At any given time, Collier and his younger son, Jackson, are working with 80 to 120 dogs.
A dog in training spends two weeks one-on-one with Collier, allowing him to develop a relationship with and understand what motivates that particular dog.