Steven Appelbaum started as a professional dog trainer in 1980.  Within sixteen years, his company had grown from a single proprietorship to the largest of its kind in North America.  Not satisfied just educating dog owners, Appelbaum then went on to create a school dedicated to training dog lovers to be dog trainers.  In just five years, this school grew to the largest of its kind in the world and, to this day, continues to grow.


In 1986 Appelbaum pioneered a unique profit sharing and marketing plan with Petco Animal Supplies, Inc. (Petco). This plan involved Appelbaum’s company, Animal Behavior and Training Associates, Inc. (ABTA) supplying dog obedience training classes for Petco stores in the Los Angeles area.

By 1995, Appelbaum’s foresight and proven track record resulted in Petco naming ABTA as the exclusive provider of dog obedience classes for the entire chain of Petco stores. In 1998, ABTA was named exclusive provider of dog obedience classes for all Canadian Petcetera Warehouse stores. These arrangements
, coupled with numerous others, allowed ABTA to employ over 525 trainers in forty-three states, Washington D.C., and every Canadian province west of Quebec.


In February 2004, Petco and Appelbaum concluded a negotiated agreement in which Petco hired ABTA trainers in the United States and took the obedience program in home. This freed Appelbaum to focus on his school for dog trainers, Animal Behavior College, Inc. (ABC).


ABC is a highly innovative school for professional dog trainers, veterinary assistants and pet groomers. Founded in 1999 by Appelbaum, ABC programs take approximatelyl twelve months to complete and focus on giving the student everything they need to succeed in their chosen profession. Under Appelbaum, ABC’s growth has been dynamic. The school enrolled 75 students in 2001, and is projecting over 4,000 in 2013. ABC currently has students/graduates in all fifty states and in Canada. In fact, ABC's alumni group consists of over 7,500 members and is the largest group of pet dog trainers in North America.

Aside from his ground breaking work with ABTA and ABC, Steve Appelbaum also works with a number of pet product manufacturers by assisting them in capitalizing on the strong influence dog trainers and groomers have in stimulating pet product sales.

Appelbaum has a successful book called “ABC Practical Guide to Dog Training, published by Howell. He has also had numerous articles on business building and marketing published in Off Lead magazine. His work with Off Lead is typical of Appelbaum. Starting as a free lance writer his talents were recognized and he was made a featured columnist on business building for Off Lead. After writing a popular column for 14 months, Appelbaum was made Editor of the publication - a position he held for 18 months.


Currently Appelbaum is a columnist on dog and cat behavior for Pet Product News International.

Appelbaum has been featured as a speaker at several venues, including the American Boarding Kennel Association’s (ABKA) annual conference, Barkleigh’s Animal Behavior West conference, Hershey Groom and Train Expo, and the IACP annual conference.

Appelbaum has also been utilized as an expert witness on dog/animal related legal cases. It is his wide experience with pet behavior and the pet business coupled with high ethics and reasonable prices that has fueled this business.

Steve Appelbaum is a former Board of Directors member of the International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP). He also belongs to the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT), Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC), Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Appelbaum is also an honorary friend of the Southern California Veterinary Medical Association (SCVMA)

Animal Behavior College

Animal Behavior College, Inc. (ABC) was founded in 1999 by Steven Appelbaum. At that time, Appelbaum’s other company, ABTA, was experiencing a shortage of qualified dog obedience trainers. The ability to find and hire qualified dog trainers nationwide was imperative to continue ABTA’s dynamic growth. Additionally, since there was no state or federally recognized testing procedures to measure an obedience trainer’s knowledge or skill, it was critical to create one. At the time, there were only two types of dog trainer schools.

The first type involved a student traveling to a school and living on or near the campus for the duration of the program. While this type of paradigm was effective, it severely limited Appelbaum’s need to create an outstanding educational process with national reach. Cost was also prohibitive, since the average dog loving person wanting to become a trainer could not afford to relocate for months at a time, nor pay tuition costs that often totaled $5,000 to $12,000.

The second type was a traditional correspondence course. While this type of training program was far less costly, it was also far less effective, as it lacked the all important hands on component necessary for anybody to become an effective dog trainer.

Appelbaum created a third type of school. Through in home study, ABC students received comprehensive training information through written material and audio tapes. However, after learning and mastering the theoretical principles of training, ABC students took part in observing and ultimately assisting in the training of real world obedience classes. This was accomplished by allowing ABC students to partner with professional dog trainers working at Appelbaum's other company ABTA. Since only ABTA had this type of national reach, this allowed Appelbaum to create a unique model for ABC that was instantly accessible to people in every location ABTA taught in. Overnight, ABC became a national school for dog obedience trainers.

Part of the ABC vision is to improve shelter dog rehabilitation and adoption. Toward this end, ABC expanded on its original model by creating a continent-wide database of trainers and animal shelters. This allows ABC students to partner with trainers through shelters and rescues across the US and Canada. In a typical scenario, ABC pays the trainer to work with dogs in an animal shelter. The shelter receives the training at no cost and shelters understand that trained dogs are more adoptable with far lower rates of recidivism. ABC students observe and participate in the training conducted by the professional instructors. Not only will this help the shelters, but it will foster a “give back to the community” attitude on the part of the next generation of ABC Certified Dog Trainers (ABCDT's).

In August 2004, ABC was given permanent approval by the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE). Currently the school is going through the process of obtaining accreditation.

Today ABC is the largest vocational college of its type in the country and is expecting to enroll 4,000 students in one of 3 main programs and a number of continuing education programs. ABC also works with military families through Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA) and since 2010 has worked with over 2,700 military families by helping spouses of active duty Military personnel learn viable animal related professions

Animal Behavior and Training Associates, Inc.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR AND TRAINING ASSOCIATES, INC. (ABTA) was, from 1995 through January 2004, the largest independent dog obedience training company in North America. The company was founded in 1985 by Michael Steinberg and Steven Appelbaum who both had previously owned dog training businesses. In 1994, Steinberg left ABTA leaving Steven Appelbaum as the sole shareholder.

ABTA initially taught only private lessons in the home. The company focus was and still is on problem solving and basic obedience using positive reinforcement methods. As noted above, Appelbaum pioneered a unique profit sharing and marketing plan with Petco Animal Supplies, Inc. (Petco) that allowed his small Los Angeles based company to grow to an unprecedented size.

ABTA’s standards for hiring professional obedience instructors were always stringent. As the company grew, it became obvious that a way of testing trainer knowledge and skill needed to be developed, as 70% of all trainers taking ABTA’s trainer entrance exam failed it. This was one of the reasons that ABTA assisted in founding Animal Behavior College, a school devoted to creating a fair balanced certification process and to training the next generation of ABC certified trainers.

ABTA still conducts private lesson dog training throughout Southern California, as well as all of the obedience classes for the thirty-seven stores in Petcetera's chain in Canada. During the last decade, over 250,000 dog owners took ABTA classes in North America. The company is still privately held and carefully managed.

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