Our Training Philosophy
We are balanced dog trainers. We are specially skilled at each aspect of training and treat dogs like individuals. Our training is never one-size-fits-all.
We believe strongly in the importance of a good training foundation so we use positive reinforcement (rewards) to teach basic commands and behaviors in a fun way. We focus on confidence building, the relationship between owner and dog, structure, rules and meeting the basic needs of each dog. All of our foundation training is done using a slip lead and food reward as our “training tools.”
Once dogs in training have a solid foundation, we use training collars, such as prong collars and remote e-collars, as needed, to make sure the training is reliable in public and around distractions. We never use training collars on young puppies and we never train any dog using force or intimidation. Our training always has the dog’s best interest at heart.
Our training focuses on three key principles: Communication, Motivation and Relationship. We communicate with the dog to teach him what we want. We motivate the dog to be obedient and responsive to commands. And strive to foster a working relationship with the dog based on mutual trust and respect. Our goal is to have an obedient dog without relying on rewards or equipment. We use a common sense approach to training and seek to do what’s best for dogs and their owners.
A well-trained dog is a pleasure to own and has a great quality of life!
We focus on quality over quantity and keep our training programs small. Here at Valor K9 Academy, we offer private lesson training, small online group classes, board and train programs and stay and play boarding. We’re proud of the reputation we’ve built and work hard to meet the needs of our clients, both two- and four-legged. All of our services are done in-home; we do not have a facility at any of our locations currently.
Private Lessons can be done in your home, our home, in a public location or online via Zoom. Each lesson is one hour and it’s catered to meet your wants and needs. We work individually with you to help you train your dog. We offer lesson packages to ensure that we have enough time with you to reach your training objectives. And we welcome all types of training topics: puppy training, obedience, off leash training, service dog training and mild rehabilitation training.
We offer several online Group Classes for your convenience. These include Puppy Classes, Basic and Advanced Tricks Classes and Basic Obedience Class. These curriculum-based class sessions are designed to reach specific training objectives. Classes are offered a few times throughout the year.
Board and Train
Our Board and Train program is our best program for getting results quickly. You drop off your dog, and we do the work for you! We put in the thousands of repetitions it takes to teach all the behaviors on your goal list. We have programs specifically for puppies, for friendly but untrained dogs, for service dogs and for behavioral cases such as aggressive and fearful dogs. And we have a catch-all option called the Custom Board and Train that’s open for any and all training goals.
Stay and Play Boarding
Our fourth program is called Stay and Play. This program was created when we realized that our clients were leaving their dogs at boarding facilities who weren’t taking good care of them or with family members who didn’t understand their dog’s training. The dogs were getting injured or getting away with murder! You put a lot of work into your dog’s care and training and just want to go away for a quick trip or a long vacation. We’re here for you. We take great care of your dog so you can leave and trust he’s in good hands. We maintain your dog’s training and even offer add-on training so you come home to a well-behaved, happy, healthy dog.
Service Dog Training
If you are specifically interested in Service Dog training, we can help! We offer PTSD, TBI, Anxiety and Cardiac Alert and Response, Mobility Support and Autism Service Dog training. We can help you find the right dog and get the dog through training from start to finish. (Our Boise location is our Service Dog specialty location, but all three locations can help with different aspects of the process.)
Locations and Services
Meet the Owners
Amy Pishner is founder, co-owner and head trainer of Valor K9 Academy. She founded all three locations and has trained thousands of dogs in her career. She is now responsible for training and mentoring all the trainers on the Valor K9 Academy team, and she is in charge of accounting, human resources, business management and marketing. She is in the process of writing her first book, a how-to guide on dog training.
Amy grew up training dogs. As a child, her four-legged companions were her best friends and now, as an adult, not much has changed. She is most comfortable around dogs and has become obsessed with learning everything she can about them. As a dog trainer, dogs are her teachers and she is devoted to being a lifelong student.
In 2008 after graduating from Carthage College, magna cum laude with degrees in International Political Economy and Spanish, Amy joined the U.S. Air Force to follow her grandfather, father and brother before her. She worked as an Intelligence Specialist and in her free time, she volunteered at the local animal shelter, earning volunteer of the year in her local community. She also volunteered as an ESOL (English as a Second Language) instructor for local immigrants, building on her previous work as an English teacher in South America.
In pursuit of her passion for training, after separating from the military in 2013, Amy dedicated a full year to learning how to train dogs professionally. She attended Starmark Academy for Dog Trainers, Vohne Liche Kennels and later, the prestigious Michael Ellis School for Dog Trainers. Over the years she has continued to travel and attend workshops, seminars and conferences from world-renowned trainers such as Ivan Balabanov and Karen Pryor.
In creating Valor K9 Academy’s training philosophy and methods, Amy has used a little bit of everything she learned from different trainers as well as a mix of her own techniques. She believes strongly in the importance of a training foundation that relies on communication, motivation and relationship. The only “tools” used in the beginning are a slip lead and food reward. After foundation work is done, which is approximately fifty percent of the total training process, then training collars can be layered in to hold dogs accountable for their behavior. The goal is a dog who’s happily obedient and knows what’s expected of him. Amy believes each dog is different and no two dogs will ever be trained exactly the same.
Amy became a first-time mom in June of 2020. After that, she took a break from doing hands-on training with client dogs. Her focus now is on being the best mother she can be while also supporting her team and helping her business move forward.
Amy believes dog trainers should unite and work together. For this reason, she offers weekly mentor sessions to trainers around the world. She also hosts an annual trainer retreat to 10 trainers from around the country. And she offers multiple six-day shadow programs to trainers from around the world each year. To date, Amy has mentored and trained several hundred trainers who have then gone on to bring better training to thousands upon thousands of dog owners across the globe.
Amy has three wonderful dogs: Zoey (black-and-white Australian Shepherd), Havok (sable German Shepherd) and Yedi (blue merle Australian Shepherd). Amy adopted Zoey when she was five months old. At the time she was semi-feral and extremely fearful. Through training, Zoey became a certified therapy dog and Amy’s working service dog for six years before retiring. She has various titles including Agility, Rally, Therapy Dog, Canine Good Citizen and Tricks. Havok is Amy’s high drive working line German Shepherd. He is the epitome of a working dog and brings great energy and enthusiasm to everything he does. His favorite activities are Search and Rescue, Detection and Bite Work. He is Amy’s trained Personal Protection Dog. He is super social, highly obedient and a trained protector. Yedi is the goofball of our pack. He loves to train and lives to eat. He enjoys NoseWork, being a Demo Dog and learning new tricks. All three dogs are invaluable and have helped train 1000s of dogs in obedience and rehabilitation.
Amy and her husband, Justin, live in beautiful Horseshoe Bend, Idaho, with their adorable daughter, Emma. Amy enjoys working out, hiking and training her dogs!
Justin Pishner is the co-owner and lead instructor for Valor K9 Academy dog training. After attending Boise State University, Justin joined the U.S. Air Force. He was selected to be an elite SERE (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape) Specialist. He served for 15 years in numerous locations across the US, along with a year-long assignment overseas and two deployments. After 15 years of Active Duty service, Justin transitioned to the Air National Guard in Boise, Idaho, where he continues his work as a SERE Specialist part-time.
For Valor K9 Academy, Justin wears many hats. He helped build and equip our facility in Spokane. He helped create the curriculum for our 450-hour Train-the-Trainer 3-level course. And he helps with Taxes, Human Resources, Business Management and other various aspects of small business ownership. Justin’s sub-specialty in the military was Adult Education. He teaches our trainers how to grow their skill sets to best teach our clients.
In 2021, Justin plans to continue building our training center here in Horseshoe Bend, Idaho. We have plans for a 60×80 building that will be fully customized to meet our training needs for group classes and events.
Justin lives in Horseshoe Bend, Idaho, with his wife and business partner, Amy Pishner, and their daughter, Emma. Justin and Amy have three dogs. Zoey and Yedi are both Australian Shepherds, and Havok is a working line German Shepherd.
Justin enjoys riding his Harley, hunting and being with family.