Friday, February 10, 2012

Behind the Scenes with Karen Cobb

Norman does lots of TV gigs
This post is part of a series of 'Behind the Scenes" articles on the various cast members from a TV series on Animal Planet called 'Who Let the Dogs Out'. 
One of the newer members of Tillman's K9 Athletic Team includes a very cool dog named Norman, better known as "Scooter Dog”. You only have to see Norman once to immediately recognize that he is one awesome dog. His mom, Karen Cobb is one heck of a dog trainer, and she is now a member of the cast of TV’s ‘Who Let the Dogs Out’ reality show on Animal Planet. It wasn’t long ago when Tillman and friends met Karen. They were so impressed they invited her to join the team.

Karen is a native New Yorker, she was born and raised on Long Island, New York. Later she moved to Florida and Graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in Video/Film production and graphic design. She worked briefly at an ABC affiliate doing graphics for live news. 
Mom and "son"
After rescuing her first dog Smokey, a  Shiba Inu, she discovered that her real love was training dogs. This impressed me, because my previous dog was a Shiba Inu named Koshimi who was a great dog but very independent. If Karen could train a Shiba, she must be good, I figured. She and her husband Chris started a Shiba Inu Rescue in Georgia and opened her own dog training  company called Courteous Canine.  She began doing in home private  lessons handling issues from housebreaking & Basic Obedience to aggression problems. Her Shiba Inus, which are known to be difficult to train, (I can personally attest to this fact!) became the top Shiba Inus in Agility and Obedience  competitions.

Knowing how difficult it can be to train a Shiba Inu, I asked Karen about her secret to successful dog training. She told me
"I use  positive motivational training methods. The key is to make it fun for the dog. If they are having fun they will want to learn and will try their very best.  Another important part of training is to break every behavior down to the smallest parts possible and teach each little part separately before you try to put it all together."   Awesome advice and a great approach to training, I thought. No wonder why I like Karen so much, she is a genius, and practical too.
Me and Norman New Years Eve
So how did Karen switch from working with Shiba Inus? 

After training a client's dog named ‘Norman’ in 1997, Karen fell in love with the breed. Carefully researching breed traits for many years, she finally got her own "Norman". When Karen found Norman, she decided it would fun to teach some unique tricks, that she had not seen done before.  Norman learned to wipe his feet when entering the house, wipe his beard after a drink and of course, he learned to ride his scooter.
The Cobb family which also includes animal lover Kaylee, 9 and hot rod loving Bryson 6, just finished an 8 month tour around the USA and Canada, where Norman performed his scootering skills to the delight of millions of fans.
Me with Karen & Norman!
As the newest member of ‘Who Let the Dogs Out’, Karen is a great fit to the show. She has a warm personality instantly puts you at ease when you meet. I first became acquainted with Karen in 2011 through work, and then had the opportunity to spend some time with her while preparing for the 2012 Rose Parade, where Norman performed on the Natural Balance Pet Foods float, surfing his way along the parade route. But it was two nights before the Rose Parade when I spent time with Norman and Karen on New Year's Eve. Norman sure is one crazy party animal!

I met up with Karen and Norman in San Diego, California recently for an appearance on the local Fox News morning show. Everyone in the newsroom, from the crew to the anchors watched in total amazement as Norman hopped on his scooter and did his thing. Karen beamed proudly as she watched her ‘son’ perform for the TV cameras. She has plenty to be proud of—not only is Norman a super cool dog, he is a member of her family too. Be sure to tune into Who Let the Dogs Out every Saturday morning on Animal Planet to see Karen and Norman. They sure are a lot of fun.

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