Jason Young

Professional Dog Trainer & Instructor


The shout—almost a scream—would flash through the blackness of the night like a lightning bolt, sending a charge as powerful as a jolt of electricity through the armed men on combat patrol. The shout came from the dog handler, who would have just released his canine from restraint, and the big dog would race in and out among the squad of men like the Angel of Death looking for a place to land.

Jason Young and the other men in his unit, alerted by the shout, would freeze instantly in their tracks, forcing themselves to remain motionless while the dog raced among them, hunting for a target. Within moments, the dog—as it was trained to do—would nail anyone still moving, and bring him to the ground. Hopefully, this would be an Iraqi insurgent who, the Americans were betting, would be the only man on the scene who didn’t know to freeze when he heard the scream.

This was Jason’s introduction to highly trained canines and some of their uses in combat. It came in the Middle East, where Jason served multiple tours in Iraq as a Green Beret, and in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the region, where he also served. Jason and the other men grew to love these dogs for the valuable contributions they made to the rest of the team and to the security of the people on it.

“On missions, we’d almost always have sniffer dogs (for bomb detection) or protection dogs,” Jason said. “They were incorporated in our missions. I worked with them every night of the week for seven years.”

Jason took his honorable discharge from the Army and the Green Berets as a senior noncommissioned officer in 2006, after 10 years of service, and moved to Camano Island to operate Camano Island Kennels with his wife, Dianna. Together they train not only canines, but people as well, honing them into smooth-running dog-and-master teams that function nearly flawlessly together. Few dogs that pass through Camano Island Kennels these days receive training in the kind of aggressive endeavors at which the military dogs excelled, although some do take training in police-service work and personal-protection work. Most of the canine students, however, come here for basic or advanced obedience training; to learn—along with their owners—how they can become enjoyable and dependable members of the family “pack.”

Jason’s military background prepared him well for his role as an instructor in civilian life, as Jason—who speaks Arabic—served as senior adviser and trainer to the Iraqi 36th Commando Battalion during combat operations. He also advised and commanded an 80-man Iraqi counter-terrorism force, and served in other military-instructor capacities while training and advising both foreign and American forces. He also applied his extensive tactical knowledge to his own performance, on the ground. The Army awarded him two Bronze Star Medals, one for his service in combat in Iraq, the other for his service in combat in Afghanistan.

Since his discharge from the Army, Jason has taught close-quarters combat tactics for Washington state law-enforcement agencies, and has provided dog training for such agencies.

This background has polished his skills as a dog training instructor, and students in his private and group canine classes on obedience or behavior modification find that the direction they get from him is clear, correct and to-the-point.

Jason is a certified official evaluator in the AKC (American Kennel Club) Canine Good Citizen Program, in which he is authorized to test dogs and qualify for certificates those that meet the AKC’s high ten-part standards of good manners at home and in the community. In addition to providing classes, Jason also advises animal-shelter staff members and veterinary-clinic staff members on behavior-modification techniques and on methods of interpreting canine body-language. The training is aimed at improving relations between patients and staff for the benefit of both.

“It might surprise you, but some veterinarians aren’t very well versed in canine behavior,” Jason said. “For example, sometimes when a new patient comes into a clinic, the veterinarian might try to lead it into an examination room and the dog will refuse to cooperate. That’s often because when the veterinarian met the dog, he or she ‘oogled’ it.”


“Yes, that’s where the vet gets all effusive and talks baby-talk, and tells the dog, ‘Oh, what a sweet, sweet, doggy you are!’ The dog sees this as submissive behavior, and he thinks he’s in charge and is going to give orders to the veterinarian. If the vet just came out in a business-like way and snapped on a leash and led the dog to the back, there wouldn’t be a problem.”