Would you be impressed to know that Jimmy Buffet’s little Maltese can dance on cue to the question, “What do we do in Margaritaville?” We sure were! And it’s all thanks to expert dog trainer Babette Haggerty’s pro doggie training skills! Do you want to learn the secrets to Babette’s pawwesome success?! Read on to learn more about the celeb dog trainer and her amazing life working with our favorite furry friends! Most importantly, keep an eye out for her new tail-wagging book “The Best Dog Tricks On The Planet.”
1) What inspired you to become a dog trainer?
I grew up in a dog training kennel. Dog training was not the respected and common profession it is today. It is said that my dad, “Made dog training a respected and valued profession.” My first time being away from the dogs and the training I was in college. I went to a dog show and I called my dad and said, “I miss being around the dogs, I want to get a show dog.” My dad responded and said, “There is no money in that. Why don’t you start training?” This was a time when there was maybe one or two dog trainers in big cities, before the big box stores and before it was a noted profession. Trainers were commonly those who competed with their dogs as a hobby. So I ended up handing out my business card and the next thing I knew I was all over Palm Beach training dogs full-time.
2) There are so many dog training techniques – what is your style?
I use all tools and techniques. I spend my days working one on one training every day families to have once in a lifetime dogs. I like to use balance; lots of praise, love and discipline when needed.
3) What are your Top 5 Training Tips for someone at home?
1. Exhale and relax.
2. Be consistent.
3. Practice a few minutes each day.
4. If you are frustrated, put the leash away.
5. If your dog is not listening, it is because he doesn’t get what you want yet. If is is not working, try something else.
4) Tell us about your pet menagerie at home?
1. Babe my French Bulldog. Named for Babe the Pig. She is a retired show dog.
2. Peanut. My Pembroke Welsh Corgi. We adopted him at 9 years of age so we didn’t change his name. My 12 year old son wanted a Corgi and said, “Mom, let’s adopt an old one that no one wants. I don’t care if he only lives a year or two.” How could I not reward such kindness? We ended up adopting a 9 year old and 12 year old Corgi last year. They were losing their home due to a divorce. We took both of them. Sadly, Chessie, the 12 year old died last month.
3. Stevie. My German Shepherd puppy named for Stevie Nicks. My boyfriend had given me a little mixed breed 23 years ago who ended up living to be 18. Since he gave me such a great dog I let him name her Stevie. I tell him he is hers. I have had Shepherds my entire life. My last one died suddenly two years ago at 10 years old and I was dying to get another one. I volunteer for Garden State German Shepherd rescue and had been watching the dogs that came in. A friend of mine who was inspired and mentored by my dad, trains and breeds Shepherds for police departments and government work. He had this little one left in the litter and she really is too much for an average pet owner and not enough for a working dog. He knew that I was dying to get another so he called me up one day and said, “If you want her, she is yours”. That was it.
4. Sam. A Norfolk Terrier that I got from rescue two months ago. He is my newest little trick dog. He already had the name so we kept it.
5. David our rescued Guinea Pig. Cute little guy. I promised my daughter a guinea pig. He is named for Dave from Alvin and the Chipmunks. Even though he is not a dog, I have grown quite fond of him. He is very shy and very sweet.
6. A beta fish named Mr. Fish. He is my son’s and that is the name my son wanted. He is four years old and I amazed how long we have had him. In the past four years, my daughter has had four Betas and they keep dying. It is very sad.
5) What is the funniest trick you ever taught a dog? Why?
I worked with Max Fisher and his family. Max was a philanthropist, a staunch Republican and an advisor on Israeli affairs to every President between Nixon and Clinton. He taught his little Havanese that when asked “Would you rather be a Democrat or Dead Republican?” he would fall over on his side and play dead.
6) What are your pet causes?
I currently support my local animal shelter Ramapo Bergen Animal Refuge. Each year, I run an annual food and toy drive for the homeless dogs and cats. We also bring food to the local food bank for those families to feed their dogs. The food is distributed to rescue groups with the greatest need. I also contribute annually to the AKC Canine Health Foundation because they are researching many different dog diseases. If we can find cures for those diseases we can then use that information for humans as well.
I am also forming the non-profit Captain Haggerty Foundation for Dogs which helps Four Legged Warriors to Get Back on All Fours. Last year, I conducted a food and supply drive to help the dogs and cats of Sandy. We brought two truckloads to Gerritsen Beach in Brooklyn and the Jersey Shore to help some of the smaller rescue groups. I have done these drives over the years, the first one after Hurricane Andrew in Miami. I would like the foundation to be available for dogs and other pets to get the help that they need after a disaster. Whether it is supplies, fostering, etc. My dad was always one to show up with the dogs whenever help was needed no matter the capacity and I want to be able to continue that but with a larger wallet.
7) Do you train cats?
I have had cats but don’t train them. However, I did have a cat named Polly. She was a polydactyl, hence her name. I got her from the shelter. She lived in my training center. She was trained to come and sit when called and she would heel down the street with me when I walked the dogs. She also would help train the dogs taking direction from me and working as a distraction.
8) What are some fun celebrity dog training stories! Did they ask you for the specific training requests?
Having been voted Palm Beach’s Favorite Dog trainer I have worked with a lot of amazing people over the years. They never had specific requests other than to have their dog behave, but I did surprise them a few times.
Jane and Jimmy Buffet’s were so happy when I showed them that I taught their little Maltese to dance on cue when asked, “What do we do in Margaritaville?” Jack Nicklaus turned bright red and beamed with joy when I surprised him Christmas Eve morning. I was at his house, working his Golden Retriever, Cali. He had no idea on the trick I was teaching her. “Cali, how many times has Daddy won the Masters?”. I have to say that it was not the hardest thing I ever taught a dog but probably my most proud moment training. The look on his and his wife Barbara’s face was pure joy!
Another client had a birthday party for her dog in her oceanfront home. Complete with a DJ and black tie service. We each got a Tiffany bone shaped charm. I had it engraved with my little mixed breed’s name on it and wear it on my charm bracelet. That is the one that lived to be 18.
Thanks for the furtastic advice Babette! Check out Babette’s latest book www.HaggertyDog.com
THE BEST DOG TRICKS ON THE PLANET