Chris Perondi is a difficult guy to catch up with! He travels across the country with multiple dogs performing stunt dog shows. The most incredible thing about Perondi is that his stunt dogs were once shelter dogs. He, and his pack, are proof shelter and rescue dogs can do anything—given the opportunity!
In addition to stunt dog trainer, Perondi carries these titles with him: owner, entertainer, celebrity dog trainer, hype-man, show producer, agent, and author.
Q: What got you interested in becoming a stunt dog trainer?
A: I adopted my first dog when I was in my early twenties. I wanted a friend and a companion and thought it would be fun to have a dog. I researched and found out herding breeds were good at catching flying disks and that sounded like a fun activity to do with the dog I wanted to adopt. From that first dog, I started the first northern California disk dog extreme club. We won a west coast regional championship.
Editor’s Note: Dogs, young or old, and of virtually any breed can be taught to catch a flying disk. Chris Perondi shares tips for making it a great game of catch with your pooch.
My first dog, Pepper, changed my life. In 2001 I went full-time into training stunt dogs and traveling to events.
Q: How long, on average, does it take to train a shelter dog to be a stunt dog?
A: It takes a good year and a half to fully train one of our performance dogs. We take it slow and make it fun.
Q: Is there a trick you always, or most always, start a show with?
A: Yes. We always start with something fun and high energy like Frisbee dog tricks, skateboarding, walking on a barrel or jumping through hoops.
For the excitement of the crowd, we will typically have multiple dogs doing individual tricks to kick off a show.
Q: Why do you think rescue dogs make the best dogs for your stunt dog work?
A: It’s not the simple fact they are rescue dogs, but more the fact that they are trainable dogs – just like any other dog. Dogs from breeders are NO different or better than dogs in a shelter.
We have proven this time and time again. Many of the dogs in shelters are purebreds; in fact, 40% of the dogs in shelters are purebreds. But a mixed breed dog, any dog, can learn and be trained to do stunts or simple tricks.
Q: I hear you’re now an author?
A: Yes, in March of 2019 a book I co-authored with Larry Kay of Positively Woof, will be released. It’s called, The Big Book of Tricks For Training The Best Dog Ever. With the book, we’re trying to change the mold and the mindset about shelter dogs. My life has been changed by all my adopted and rescued dogs. If a shelter dog is given a chance and given a job, they are the ideal family companion. Any dog who is left to his own devices and who doesn’t get exercised, will start to destroy things—and (often) that’s why they are surrendered. If families addressed boredom, their dogs would be happier.
I’d been wanting to write a book on dog training for more than ten years! This was an opportunity to make a dream come true. I want people to read the book and I encourage them to spend more time with their dogs. Teaching them new things, like tricks, enhances the bond between dog and human.
Q: How many dogs do you currently share your life with? Any why choose rescue dogs?
A: Twelve and yes, they are all rescues!
Any dog can be trained. Shelters are so overcrowded and there are so many dogs who need homes before they are put down. Did you know more than 80,000 dogs and cats are euthanized every week in America? That’s horrifying. I want to do my part to rescue them, train them and highlight how amazing shelter dogs are.
Q: If anyone wanted to get into dog training what are your best recommendations for the pet parent who wants to do this with their dog?
A: Shameless plug here, but I’d read a few training books like Larry Kay’s first book, Training The Best Dog Ever, or Karen Pryor’s book, Don’t Shoot the Dog—or our upcoming book!
The biggest piece of advice I can offer is to have fun with your dog. Watch dog training videos online to familiarize yourself with training dogs successfully. You can watch my training videos, too. Find a positive reinforcement trainer and work with him or her.
Q: What is your best bit of advice to someone who may want to follow in your footsteps?
A: Remember that sometimes doing what you love requires risk and sacrifice. For example: I had to quit my career in Information Technology, sell my house, and buy an RV—to even have a chance to do what I do for a living. It wasn’t always easy, but I like to encourage everyone to follow their dreams!
My dream is rescuing and training dogs and showing people who come to our shows how amazing these dogs are.
Robbi Hess, award-winning author, is multi-petual: She shares her home with two Devon Rex kittens, three adult rescue cats, a mini poodle, a Goldendoodle, three lizards and two ferrets. When not caring for her pets, she is an editor, speaker, time management and productivity guru, content creator, social media manager and blogger. She writes at All Words Matter, My Divas Dish, and is the story editor and chief cat herder at Positively Woof.