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
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.
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)
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
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.
Behavior and Training Associates, Inc.
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