While one can take a class, study books and manuals, or train under a mentor, there is no substitution for being completely immersed in one’s surroundings to achieve a true depth of understanding. After almost 20 years, thousands of dogs and tens-of-thousands of hours of hands-on experience in his field of dog behavior, Dave Cugno has that kind of understanding, that level of experience that few will ever attain.
A native of Southern California, Dave moved to the east coast in the early 90’s in search of a better life. In 1996, not realizing how the opportunity would change his life, he took work with a dog kennel outside Philadelphia. While he had dogs in his family growing up, he had no inkling of pursuing a career in the animal care world; at the time it was just a job. As the only other person on staff at the time, Dave spent his days trying to find ways to maintain peace and balance among the dogs in his care. The more dogs they took on, the more challenging that became. While living at the facility, working over 12 hours a day, 7 days a week and eventually taking on several dogs of his own, he began to realize that he had a knack for the work. He even began to let the dogs socialize in groups in the yard.
By 2002 the owner of the kennel wanted out of the business and Dave was left with a choice – start over, or take the biggest risk of his young life and buy out the company. Dave made the arrangements with the kennel’s owner, brought in two partners and took over. In early 2003, Perfect Pooch was born. Within 30 days, the business turned a profit. By this point, he began to recognize that he had something different than other people when it came to dogs . . . something special.
Dave would cultivate this passion and deep understanding over the following years by spending all of his time working with dogs. For the bulk of each day he would work with clients and their dogs and tend to the dogs in the socialized yard. After hours he would work with his own pack which eventually numbered 8 dogs (many of which were aggressive rescues). Unlike most people his age, he would forgo a social life for the passion and commitment to his calling. Dave was truly immersed in his work.
Over the next 7 years the business grew beyond anyone’s expectations. At times there were more than 125 dogs in the yard at once. Dave’s reputation for being a true “Dog Whisperer” spread and he was training several new dogs every week. The company grew on referrals alone. By 2008, Dave realized he had come to know dogs at a very deep level. The fine barrier between knowledge and true understanding had dissolved. He looked forward to spending a lifetime helping dogs and their people.
By 2010, it was becoming a challenge to focus on training and dog behavior due to the sheer quantity of dogs going in and out each day for boarding and daycare. Dave felt it was time to scale back the business in order to maintain the quality and stability for which he’d become so well known. At the same time, his partners wanted to expand into a larger facility to accommodate even more dogs. Dave knew it was time to reinvent himself again. He decided to part ways with Perfect Pooch and, in August of 2010, he reopened his business as David Cugno’s Canine Center.
Today, completely focused on top quality training, boarding and socialization, the Center is more successful than ever. Dave continues to stay immersed in his chosen path and continues to help dogs and people live happy and harmonious lives together.