Why I Started Trail & Bone

published on 04/21/2021

For Those who don’t know me or what we do, my name is Jon Somers and I’m the Owner of Trail & Bone. At Trail & Bone, we focus specifically on helping owners of aggressive and/or reactive dogs rehabilitate their dogs. 

There are several reasons Why I started Trail & Bone, and for anyone who is interested in reading about it, for some reason, that’s what this blog is all about. So let’s do it.

Reasons I started Trail & Bone (in no particular order):

  • My dog, Gibson, was an extremely fear-based aggressive dog who had a bite history and I couldn’t find any trainer who could fix him. You can read that story here.
  • Basic but true, I love dogs and working with them for a living and their owners is a dream come true. Especially fulfilling to help turn around an aggressive dog.
  • There are millions of dogs put down because of aggression every year.
  • The business I started and ran before Trail & Bone was unfulfilling and lacked any true purpose for me.

As you might know already, Gibson is my dog, currently as of writing this, a 4-year old, 50 pound Shepherd Mix. I adopted him when I was 16, in agreement with my parents, from a shelter in the suburbs of Chicago, where I’m from.

I won’t rehash the story of Gibson and his issues now, I wrote about it at length here if you’re interested in that, but the summary of it is, he showed serious fear and anxiety from the outset, and I never addressed it and that turned into aggression quickly. He bit someone for the first time at about 5 months old and later sent someone to the hospital to get stitches for a bit when he was about 1 year old.

So the problem of having an aggressive dog hits home for me. The stress, the worry, the paranoia of what could happen can be overwhelming. Having friends and family come over is horrible: you either spend 5-10+ minutes introducing the guest to the dog slowly, which makes everyone (especially the dog) uncomfortable. And it’s embarrassing. Or you put the dog away while friends are over and you have to answer the questions about him every time. Also embarrassing.

Not to mention the feeling after a bite happens, the helplessness, the uncertainty, the guilt. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. After the serious bite happened, my mom was not in a good place, and understandably so, since it was her friend that Gibson bit and sent to the hospital.

And that day, when I was told by a family member that because Gibson clearly had a serious problem which was weighing on all of us… maybe it was best for everyone just to send him back to the shelter and move on. As you could probably guess, I was having none of that, but the feeling you have as a dog owner that you might have to get rid of, or put down, your best friend because you failed him… like I said, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

So that feeling, that’s what drove me to start Trail & Bone. Because my family and I had to endure that feeling for almost 4 years with Gibson, I want to help other people in the same situation, now that I know how to help. 

And that leads me into the next reason which is, throughout all the aggression issues we had with gibson, I couldn’t find a trainer who could fix him or help me fix him. And I looked everywhere, I talked to several trainers, some of which never responded and others who gave me answers like:

“Well, I can’t guarantee we’ll ever be able to get rid of the aggression, but we can definitely manage it and then who knows, he might turn around.”

“If we follow the steps and you work with him every day, in maybe 6 months we could start seeing some good progress”

“Just tie him to the couch and when people come over, drop treats and he’ll come around”

Side note: The third guy had me pay up front, in full for 4 lessons, then missed the first lesson, so we rescheduled, then after the first lesson I never heard from him again.

None of those answers gave me any semblance of confidence that if I paid thousands of dollars for their services, that I would get the sociable, playful, and confident dog that I knew was in Gibson. I didn’t care if he could stay in “Place” for hours on end, or if he could spin around my legs then fetch, or if he could hold a competition-style heel… I didn’t care about any of that, I just wanted a dog I could live my life with confidently. 

And don’t even get me started on the advice you’ll see on blogs and in videos. I’ll tell you now “redirecting” aggression to toys or food will NEVER work. Ruthlessly punishing the aggression out of a dog will NEVER work. In the first example, you’re actually rewarding the aggressive behavior and it’ll only get worse. In the second example, you’re just beating the life and joy out of the dog and it’ll snap far worse than ever before eventually. That behavior is disgusting and far too common in the dog training world.

But, thankfully, I was able to eventually find a trainer who fixed aggressive dogs, time and time again, so I reached out multiple times, never got an answer. He gets hundreds of messages a day, so I understand and don’t hold it against him. 

So I decided to consume every bit of content he had out and learn for myself how to fix Gibson. It was like piecing together a puzzle, but eventually I was able to put together a plan based on his concepts and methodology, and I put it into action with Gibson

And it worked. And having the same loving, playful, energetic, happy Gibson that I see every day at home show up around other people and dogs in all settings has been a gift. It’s changed both mine and Gibson’s lives for the better in ways I can’t begin to describe. It’s just amazing.

But putting together that plan took a lot of time, effort, and trial-and-error. And also, I had a bit of dog training experience before discovering him, so I had a frame of reference that helped me understand and implement what I was learning. Things not everyone has the time to be able to do. So i felt like I could make a pretty big difference in some people’s lives by showing them how to do what I did and change their lives too.

So that’s why I started Trail & Bone. If you read this, then thank you, I hope you found it interesting.

If you have an aggressive or reactive dog and you can relate to my experience, then click here, and 6 weeks from now your life will change.

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