Spencer Mak has loved being around dogs since he was a young boy growing up in Vancouver, British Columbia.
“I was showing dogs and competing dogs in obedience since I was 14 years old,” he says.
When he moved to Arizona, Mak says it “just seemed natural” that he would continue to pursue a career with dogs.
After working for PetSmart for about seven years, Mak spent the next seven-plus years growing his Mak Pack Dog Training business out of his home.
“I would train anywhere I could—in public parks or people’s backyards,” he says.
At the height of the pandemic in 2020, Mak says there was suddenly a huge demand for dog training services.
“I booked one session on Saturday mornings from 10 to 11 a.m. at the neighborhood park, and it filled up in six minutes, and then that happened with the next one, and the next one,” he says, adding that he has had a 60-day waiting list for training class enrollment ever since.
This experience inspired Mak to open his first physical location in June 2020 in Tempe. Two years later, he opened his newest facility, Mak Pack Dog Training & Boarding, in Chandler.
“We offer doggy daycare, 24/7 overnight boarding, dog training group sessions, and private sessions, and we host Arizona’s first Indoor dog park,” Mak says. “Our newest facility in Chandler is one of the largest anywhere in the nation at over 31,000 square feet. We also have dog washes and private suites, and soon we will have an indoor pool.”
Unlike some other training programs that involve dog parents sending their four-legged friends off for extended periods, Mak has built a training program that focuses on owners attending classes with their pups.
In his extensive work with dogs and their owners, Mak says that he often reminds his two-legged students that successful dog training takes time.
As he notes, dog training comes down to two key elements: information and communication.
“The depth of understanding a dog can achieve in just a few short months is astounding, but people often operate on a much shorter timeline with their puppies, and that can be really detrimental to the relationship if we don't have realistic expectations,” he says. “What you allow, what you reward, and what you correct over a period of time will serve to shape your dog into the one you want.”
Mak, who shares his Chandler home with Arlo, a 1-year-old white Golden; Loki, an 8-year-old Doodle mix; Odin, an 8-year-old black Newfoundland; and Tommi, a 5-year-old tri-colored Shepherd, says a highlight of his work is helping people to “love their dogs even more.”
“I enjoy fundamentally changing the dynamic of a relationship between a dog and their human, and getting human and dog to really level-set expectations and put their relationship in a place where it can thrive,” he says. “At the end of the day, strengthening the bond between people and dogs is really what it's all about.”
“What you allow, what you reward, and what you correct over a period of time will serve to shape your dog into the one you want."