An avid dog-sports enthusiast, Dante has represented Brazil and Canada in various World Agility competitions. He holds titles in Rally Obedience and Dock Diving, has taught and performed Dog Dancing for nearly a decade in Canada and the United States, and has recently delved into scent work. In recent years, Dante established an online dog training platform offering multiple courses for his Brazilian audience. Dante also serves as a teacher for the Animal Behavior and Welfare postgraduate course at UNIRP University. Since 2020, he has volunteered to develop training programs and train staff at the Rio Preto Zoo.
In this interview, Dante shares his tips for becoming a better teacher and trainer and talks about the special animals that have become his greatest teachers.
What activities do you most like to do with your dogs?
The activity I like most to do with my dogs is teaching and competing in agility. It's something I have been doing for quite a few years and I really love it. I try to do agility with all my dogs. I think it's very healthy for the dogs and it's a great way to improve our relationships with one another.
What is your proudest training moment?
My proudest training moment probably comes from agility, when I was competing in my first agility World Championship in France in 2003. It was my proudest moment, not only because I was simply competing on the world stage, but because of who I was competing with. The dog that I was competing with had been rescued from a very difficult situation and had a lot of issues that required a lot of training. It was a really big accomplishment to be able to be on the world stage with that dog. That's something that I'll always remember.
Was there a particular dog/animal in your life that was your most important teacher?
The dog that has taught me the most is the dog that I competed with in the 2003 World Championship. Because of all of the special needs he had, I learned a lot about dog training and behavior. He was an important teacher, helping me understand dog training and behavior and pushing me to be a better teacher and trainer.
What do you do to continue your training education?
I’m always continuing my education. I strive to remain curious. I always try to ask people why and how things are done. Even if it's something that I don't currently do or plan to do, I want to learn about its purpose and how it is taught. I also continue to study—reading as well as enrolling in seminars and courses, especially now that they are more easily available online. Basically, I’m constantly doing something, learning something, by going through a new course or reading articles or new books. That's very motivating. It keeps me fresh and really excited about dog training.
What was your most memorable training moment?
The most memorable and probably most touching moment with an animal was actually not with a dog—it was with a 20-year-old baboon! My partner, Lais, and I went to the zoo to improve his living conditions. Up until then, his life was very limited and miserable. When we first met, he wouldn’t even come out of his enclosure; he was hiding in the dark all the time. We worked with him for almost a year and, by the end, we had a completely different animal that enjoyed the improvements, which allowed him to interact with people that could help with his care. I was very grateful to this animal, and very touched by how, through training, we were able to improve his life significantly. Everybody who worked at the zoo and who knew that animal could see how much better his life had become. This training success definitely served as motivation to keep improving my training skills and trying to help as many animals as I can.