The Secret Language of Dogs

The Secret Language of Dogs
July 04
00:00 2013

As a toddler, Kyle Anderson spent countless hours watching his father, veteran dog trainer Don Anderson, practice his craft.

“I would sit him in the captain’s chair and he would sit there all day and watch me work the dogs. He never moved,” recalled Don Anderson, the former owner of the Skyway Kennels of Chicago. “He’s always been around it. That’s just been his life – that’s his passion.”

Not surprisingly, Kyle Anderson followed his father into the profession as an adult, founding Anderson’s Canine Academy in Atlanta two decades ago.

“Kyle really loves training,” his father said. “Kyle doesn’t train dogs because he wants to make money. He trains the dogs because he wants to do it, and he won’t do it unless he can do it the right way.”

Kyle Anderson, who moved his company to the Twin City when he relocated here 10 years ago, says training comes naturally to him.

“My great-grandfather and my father, they both trained dogs and on my mother’s side it was a horse trainer, so I guess you could say it’s in my blood,” remarked the 42 year-old. “I love dogs anyway.”

Don Anderson, who served as a postal worker for a dozen years prior to parlaying his passion into a profession, says he has always harbored a deep appreciation for dogs. As a child, he exhausted the entire canine collection at the library in his hometown of Hammond, Indiana.

“I had such a passion for it from a very little boy,” he related. “I was consumed.”

Like his father, Kyle has also possessed a boundless love for the animals, seemingly since birth, Don Anderson said.

“Kyle likes dogs even more than I do,” he stated. “I look upon them in an utilitarian way. Kyle loves dogs.”

In a time when African American trainers were largely unheard of, Don Anderson made a name for himself, teaching canines and their owners in the art of Hu Chuan, a dog training method he created by fusing martial arts with obedience techniques. Anderson Academy also teaches the Hu Chuan style, which is marked by flowing, choreographed movements.

“Everything is choreographed so you can’t go wrong. Everything is precise, which makes it much easier for you and the dog to learn what to do,” Kyle Anderson explained. “…It’s like learning a karate kata (form). Once you’ve mastered the kata, it becomes a secondary thing. It’s not even a thought to be able to correct them.”

Kyle trained his first dog, a Great Dane, at the age of 11.

“He was bigger than me – we were about the same height,” he recalled with a laugh. “But from just watching him (his father) train the dogs, I was able to go out there and do it.”

Being in the company of his father and a parade of other talented trainers over the years allowed him to hone and perfect a style of obedience and protection training that is tailored to the owner and his or her dog, Kyle Anderson said.

“It was always somebody around to learn from. We had trainers from everywhere, so I learned different concepts and put them together and made them my own,” he stated. “The training that I’ve been given, it takes me a long way.”

Although the elder Anderson has since retired from the profession, Kyle Anderson says his father – who authored a manual on the Hu Chuan style – remains an important resource for him as a trainer.

“We still talk everyday,” he declared. “He’s like my guru.”

Dog training has allowed the Anderson men to cross paths with a wide variety of people, including Elton John, Toni Braxton and Hank Aaron, all of whom have called upon the men for their training expertise.

“I get to meet a lot of outstanding people,” related Kyle, who has also bred a strain of dogs known as Pocket Bullies. “…It’s like you’re teaching their child – you become a part of their family and they become a part of you.”

Other business pursuits have slowed his training work in recent years, but Kyle Anderson said last week that he has recently returned to his first love.

“It’s a different thing,” he said of living out his passion in his profession full time. “I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s not like a job.”


For more information about Anderson’s Canine Academy, call 336-997-3198 or email

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Layla Garms

Layla Garms

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