TEAM
TEAM
Ethan Wilhelm has been a dog trainer and world-class competitor in the sports of Dog Agility, Flyball, Dock Diving and he is a Disc Dog World Champion. As Vice President of The Canine Stars, he tours North America with his rescued dogs performing in Stunt Dog Shows.
Ethan Wilhelm

The Canine Stars
Founder

Since
2012

Specialty:
Emcee, Production, Video

Wyoming
United States
CanineStarsCanineStars

THE CANINE STARS TEAM

Founder

BIOGRAPHY

Interview with

Ethan Wilhelm

April 8, 2021

By

@CANINESTARS

Q: What’s your specialty in The Canine Stars shows?

I’m the Founder and VP of The Canine Stars. I participate in all aspects of the production. From designing and fabricating new equipment, to being the emcee for our arena performances. Putting on a production of this scale with dozens of dogs takes a lot of work behind the scenes. You will see me driving the Canine Stars tour bus, building our sets, creating our social media videos, welding new equipment, as well as playing with my dogs during the shows. I would say that my specialty is doing whatever needs to be done at a given moment to make sure the show goes as smoothly as possible for everyone involved. Except accounting. I HATE accounting. My dogs are very talented and we can participate in virtually any stunt that we do during our shows, just don't google me trying to jump rope with Layla. My favorite things to do with my dogs in the shows are freestyle frisbee, dock diving, and the box jump stunt.

Q: Tell us about your pack…your family of dogs.

Keri and I have 14 dogs together. Most of our dogs were either found on the street, adopted from shelthers, or are foster failures. I get to spend a lot of time with our dogs. They have become not only my best friends, but they are also my children. With two to three production units running on our summer tour, Keri and I usually have to split up for the summer, which means she takes some dogs with her on her tour and I take some with me on my tour. We try to work with our go-to dogs more so that they have a better bond with us. My go-to dogs are Arrow, Bootzilla, ChickPea, Kokonut, Tiger, Whoopie Pie, Nicholas and of course Shazam!. It is really important to me to make sure that the dogs know I am proud of them no matter what. I am very lucky to get to travel the world and perform with my best friends!

Ethan Wilhelm

Ethan Wilhelm

's

performing dogs

Shazam!

Shazam!

Border Collie
Chick Pea

Chick Pea

American Pitbull Terrier
Nicholas

Nicholas

Boston Terrier
Chinese Crested
Tiger

Tiger

Mixed Breed
American Pitbull Terrier
Whoopie Pie

Whoopie Pie

American Pitbull Terrier
Sugar

Sugar

American Pitbull Terrier
American Bulldog
Arrow

Arrow

Border Collie

Ethan Wilhelm

's

retired stars, and those waiting at the bridge

Bootzilla
Kokonuts a.k.a. Jazz

Q: What are your favorite Canine Stars shows and adventures?

It is really hard to pick a favorite show. Every show is it's own adventure. One of the special things about what we do is traveling around the world with our friends and family and showcasing the amazing relationships we have with each other and or dogs.

We have filled a 5000 seat arena 6 times a day, and we have performed 3 times a day for the same 20 people. The feeling that you get with the roar of a gigantic crowd or the smile on a few families faces because of something that your dog did is indescribable. When you are performing with your dog, there is no one else. No crowd, no lights, no emcee. It is just you and your best friend. When you are done and you give your dog a kiss and look up to see people smiling and cheering because of something your dog did, it gives you chills. All of the work you have put into the training, all of the labor to set up the show, all of the miles behind the wheel, every high and low, it all comes together into the greatest adventure you will ever experience.

But I guess if I HAD to choose a favorite show, it would have to be either the Alaska State Fair or Calgary Stampede Dog Bowl.

Q: What are your top FOUNDATION skills that you like to train?

Most of the games and stunts we do in our shows require some sort of toy drive, whether it is a freestyle frisbee routine or dock diving. My most important foundation skill is tug drive. I start out with using a fur or felt tug or a stuffed animal with a lot of limbs and squeakers. I run away and make crazy noises or push the dog away and take off. What ever I can do to make the dog engage with the tug and make it the greatest game ever. After that I start transferring the game to maybe a game of fetch to tug. Then I start changing the toy up maybe to a frisbee or to a tennis ball depending on what game we are playing.

Another important foundation skill is just getting the dogs used to performing in front of people. We start this by taking our young dogs to public places such as home depot or Petsmart and do basic behaviors with them. Asking them to sit and stay, or lay down. We always have a treat pouch full of high-reward treats such as steak or hot dogs. We also have to get them used to loud noises. We will often set up our sound system in our training area so the dogs can become acclimated to the sounds of our voices through the speakers as well as loud music.
The most important foundation is a strong recall. This means when you call your dogs name they come no matter what. It is really important to have a strong recall for when things happen that are out of your control such as thunder or fireworks or your dog gets loose some how. We are constantly working recalls with our dogs. I have a treat pouch and I occasionally call the dog to me and when they come they get a huge reward. This conditions to dog to associate coming to you with happiness and safety. I also give the dogs rewards every time they go into their crates so they know where to go when I say kennel up. This is especially important if you ever have a scenario where you need to put your dog somewhere safe in a hurry.

Q: What are your favorite TRICK skills that you teach all your dogs?

Q: How did you get started in dog sports and dog training?

I got started training dogs when I was 10 years old. My mom was taking a Dog Agility class and did not want to go by herself. She made me go with her and I HATED it. But slowly I started making progress with my little Yorkie, Polly. We became one of the best Jr handler teams around quickly. I then got into flyball. My mom was a nurse and my dad was a police officer. Both of them worked weekends and holidays so it was difficult to go to the tournaments as they were pretty spread out around the country at the time. Thankfully my family friend MariAnne was traveling to all of the tournaments and my parents let her take me along. Thanks to MariAnne, I was able to travel to many different states and compete with Polly. If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't be where I am today. Also, because of her, I was introduced to Keri, would go on to become my best friend and eventually, the love of my life. When Keri and I moved in together we started really competing together in Flyball, and Frisbee. Our flyball team became on of the best in the world with several placements at the world championships. We also started placing at many disc dog competitions and I even won the Skyhoundz X-treme Distance World Championships in the micro dog division with our beloved Kaya. We started getting out of competitions and into show business around 2011. We performed with many different dog shows. We wanted to create our own production that emphasized the importance of pet adoption as well as creating an amazing bond of love and trust with your pets. And here we are today.

Q: Outside of performing with The Canine Stars, what is your “normal” life like?

I got started training dogs when I was 10 years old. My mom was taking a Dog Agility class and did not want to go by herself. She made me go with her and I HATED it. But slowly I started making progress with my little Yorkie, Polly. We became one of the best Jr handler teams around quickly. I then got into flyball. My mom was a nurse and my dad was a police officer. Both of them worked weekends and holidays so it was difficult to go to the tournaments as they were pretty spread out around the country at the time. Thankfully my family friend MariAnne was traveling to all of the tournaments and my parents let her take me along. Thanks to MariAnne, I was able to travel to many different states and compete with Polly. If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't be where I am today. Also, because of her, I was introduced to Keri, would go on to become my best friend and eventually, the love of my life. When Keri and I moved in together we started really competing together in Flyball, and Frisbee. Our flyball team became on of the best in the world with several placements at the world championships. We also started placing at many disc dog competitions and I even won the Skyhoundz X-treme Distance World Championships in the micro dog division with our beloved Kaya. We started getting out of competitions and into show business around 2011. We performed with many different dog shows. We wanted to create our own production that emphasized the importance of pet adoption as well as creating an amazing bond of love and trust with your pets. And here we are today.