Comments & Curiosities:

‘Dog wizard’ says he can talk to your pets

November 08, 2008|By PETER BUFFA

Got a problem pooch? Fed up with your pup? Done with your dog? Not to worry. Call Vladislav Roytapel, a.k.a. “The Russian Dog Wizard.”

Do you have to fly him in from Kiev? Nyet. Mail him from Moscow? Not. Roytapel and his wife live in Newport Beach, which is closer and a lot warmer. Apparently, there is a long history of master dog trainers in Russia, which I was unaware of, but then, I’m unaware of almost everything.

Roytapel comes by his mastery of animal behavior honestly. His grandfather was a Soviet biologist who worked with farm animals to test the behavior conditioning theories of psychologist Ivan Pavlov.


Roytapel started his career as a professor of pups early, winning top prize in a dog training championship in Azerbaijan at the ripe old age of 12. He later spent 13 years as a trainer with the Russian military, training dogs to do everything from sniffing out explosives and gas leaks to delivering mail between military ships.

I’m not sure how a dog delivers mail from one ship to another but I would love to watch sometime. I suppose he could hold it in his mouth and get a really long running start before going over the rail but I’m guessing there’s more to it than that.

Roytapel came to the U.S. in 1995 and settled in Detroit. When he set up his first obedience school, Alternative Canine Training, it didn’t take long for the word to spread about the doggy miracle worker from Russia. Totally stressed out dog owners from across Michigan then from other states started to show up with problem pooches in tow.

Roytapel has a long list of grateful clients who were at their wits end with difficult dogs who behaved way beyond badly and had no idea what either “party manners” or “use your inside voice” meant. To harried pet owners, Roytapel was nothing short of a miracle worker who could turn the most hyper, out-of-control pooch into the canine version of Barry White.

How does he do it? Simple. He talks to them. No, not like that nervous dog owner we’ve seen on a late-night show who is desperately trying to get his dog to say “ma-ma,” which he swears his dog does all the time at home. This is an actual for-dogs’ ears-only language that Roytapel calls “doglish.”

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