By Janet McAfee

Val Masi grew up enjoying the loving companionship of dogs. She watched Lassie and Rin Tin Tin on television and wished her own dogs could perform heroic deeds and obey commands like these canine stars. Now a Coachella Valley dog trainer, Val works with all kind of dogs with all kinds of issues at Best Paw Forward Dog Training. She provides group training classes, individual sessions, home visits, and boarding training. But her real passion is helping dogs that have been abused, the ones that cower in fear, ones that have aggression issues, those animals now struggling to get a second chance with that new owner who has the faith they can succeed.

Val completed a formal dog training program at National K-9 School of Dog Training. She earned a degree in Exotic Animal Training and Management at Moorpark College. With 30 years of experience under her belt, she has encountered and solved almost every training issue imaginable. Val explained that ultimately the dogs themselves were the true teachers, and she learned more about their issues from working hands on with them.

Val has lots of advice for dog owners. “Dogs use their bodies to communicate. If we observe carefully they will tell us many things. There is no cookie cutter approach to training a dog, what works with one might not be the best technique with another.” She makes a distinction between the old fashioned methods of dog training that used punishment and could become abusive if taken to the extreme. For example In the past, some recommended using a loud, scary voice to train a dog, but Val believes that can actually shut down some animals.

Val Masi is a huge supporter of rescue animals and wishes more people would adopt from shelters and private rescues. She volunteers some of her time helping rescue dogs who were neglected or abused by their previous owners. She also provides expert dog handling assistance at the spay and neuter clinics sponsored by Animal Action League and Loving All Animals.

Val has noticed an increase in recent years of severe behavior problems and mental illness attributable to the interbreeding that occurs in puppy mills and backyard breeders. This irresponsible practice of breeding related animals for profit results in both physical deformities and personality defects. Yet another reason to “Adopt Don’t Shop”.

A friend complained to me that his pure bred Golden Retriever was biting him, the last thing he expected from a breed known for its gentleness. He paid a lot of money for the dog from a private breeder. The situation escalated when the dog became aggressive at the dog park. Knowing Val’s expertise with large dogs, I referred my friend to her. The relieved owner reported back, “I was amazed how much my dog improved after several sessions. Things have gone from conflict to a whole new relationship where I can relax and enjoy her company.”

The adorable dog pictured here with Val experienced abuse and neglect in his two previous homes. Under Val’s loving tutoring and fostering, Brandon has learned to interact happily with other dogs and trust humans. He is an exuberant, playful boy. However, he will require a special owner with lots of patience, high energy to match his, a home with a large yard, maybe another dog that is “well balanced” and folks that have lots of time to provide loving interaction. Val thinks Brandon would do well in a home with older children who would play ball and other games with him.

Dogs love to learn new things, and they relish new experiences. They cherish time spent with their people, respond to a gentle touch, and wag their tails in happiness at your spoken words. Their resilience and ability to

transform is inspirational. A well trained dog is a happier dog, and his human a happier pet owner. Great information for dog owners can be found on Val’s website You can contact Val Masi at (760) 885-9450 or email

Pet ValerieBrandon