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Leaders Of The Pack


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Chris Burns and friends on a winter hike.

I have a seven year old who steals food. When annoyed, he is prone to throwing dirty socks  around the living room. And when he’s fed up with how much time I spend working on the computer … he barks, long and loud.

What, you didn’t really think I was talking about the kids, did you?

Actually, I should put all of those statements in the past tense because my dog doesn’t do any of that any more. Not since he met Chris Burns and Natasha Hiden-Burns, the husband and wife team that run Dog’s Best Friend. The Verona-based business combines traditional neighborhood dog walking with training, as well as off-lease hike-and-swim dog field trips into the mountains of northern New Jersey. They can help you pick the right dog for your family and help your family to be better dog owners.

“They do a great job teaching and working with the dog,” says Verona client Lisa Freedman. “But what is so great for our house is how good they are with the kids as well and with teaching the kids how to be dominant over the puppy.  They walk my kids to school one-on-one to help them with walking the dog and then spend some time individually training the dog after with their dogs.  It works out great for the whole family.”

The Burns’ base their business on finding balance in the three things that dogs need from their humans: exercise, discipline and affection. “We teach people to understand the signals that they are getting from their dog,” says Chris. Though he had had a dog since his childhood in Cedar Grove, he didn’t get into the dog business until he was completing his degree in elementary education. Natasha teaches children with autism while pursuing a master’s degree in behavioral analysis.

I have to admit that, at first, I really didn’t care what my dog was saying. I needed him to understand that a $19 piece of Parmesan cheese was meant for my bowl, and not his.  But if the bad behavior was going to go away, we had to communicate better. I had to see that my dog was acting out largely out of boredom and he had to see that, in our household, I am in charge. Chris Burns helped me to create activities for my dog that satisfied his natural instinct to search and find, and to establish boundaries in the kitchen that kept the dog away from where food was being prepared.

The training was stressful and confusing–for both of us. But my older dog did learn quite a few new tricks and when the Burns’ find us the right shelter dog to adopt, he will be a great big brother.

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected].


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