Dave Kroyer, Working Dog Professional, National BMX Racer & Classically Trained Musician
Dave Kroyer, Working Dog Professional
Dave Kroyer is a 53-year-old, 12-time world championship competitor, IGP and Mondioring competitor, IGP helper, ring decoy, Mondioring certified judge, professional dog trainer, national level BMX racer, and classical trained professional musician.
A few IGP and Ringsport highlights of Dave's amazing journey:
• 2001 USCA S.Central Region FH Champion
• 2002 WUSV World Team, Austria, Dax HOT
• 2003 WUSV World Team, Italy, Dax HOT
• 2005 WUSV World Team, France
• 2006 FCI World Team, Slovenia,
• 2006 AWDF Vice Champion
• 2007 FCI World Team, Italy
• 2009 USMRA MR1 Vice Champion
• 2011 FCI World Team, France, Italo
• 2012 FCI World Team, Hungary, Italo
• 2012 USMRA MR World Team, France
• 2013 FCI World Team Captain, Germany
• 2013 Mondioring World Team, Spain
• 2014 WUSV World Team Captain, France
• 2014 USCA S. Central Region IPO3 Champion
• 2015 USCA S. Central Region IPO3 Champion
• 2015 WUSV World Championship Team, Finland
• 2016 USCA S. Central Region IPO3 Champion,
• 2016 WUSV World Team Captain, Germany
• 2017 USCA South Central Region IPO3 Champion
• 2017 FCI World Team
• 2017 3rd place NARA Cup FR3
• 2018 2nd place NARA Cup FR3
• 2018 2nd place NARA Cup of Americas FR3
Dave grew up in German Town, Wisconsin. He was the youngest of five children, with a mother that was a second-generation Hungarian and a father that was American. While the family had dogs, including a German Shepherd, they did not play a significant part of Dave's early years. Dave's first love was music.
Dave Kroyer & Hector vom Warkonhaud. 2023 AWDF National Championship, Little Rock, AR.
By the time he was in high school, he was playing drums with jazz fusion bands. As soon as he was old enough to apply for a driver's license, he would drive into town at night and play with bands in jazz bars. On nights he didn't play in bars, he attended night courses at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music.
After high school, Dave moved to Los Angeles to attend the Percussion Institute of Technology (PIT) for advanced drum study. He also studied piano and took night classes at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). He made friends with most of the instructors involved in bands, and they would offer him opportunities to play. This relationship created opportunities to sit in as a substitute in their bands and be recruited for commercial studio work. As a student, he pieced together gigs to make ends meet, playing everything from Bar Mitzva weddings to nightclubs. He often walked into a studio, sat down, was handed sheet music and expected to nail it within one or two takes. It was an exciting time in Dave's life, fast and unpredictable. He played everything from pop culture, western, jazz from the 30s to the early 90s, classical, South American, Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, Reggae, Soca & Calypso. He earned an associate's degree from PIT and soon after received an offer to travel with Marky Mark on a world tour. After this, he landed a spot on a world tour with Cher. These gigs would be his first experience with extended work, and while they paid well for a young musician, he found once the tour ended and he was back at his apartment in downtown Los Angeles. There, he had to start from the beginning, networking for work.
After the last Cher tour, he felt a little lost and decided to try something different. He took a gig as a drummer on a Carnival Cruise departing out of Miami. He jumped on a Greyhound bus with his drums in boxes and set out for an adventure. He arrived at the bus station in Miami with no transportation or money to get to the cruise ship. He found an abandoned shopping cart and loaded his drums. He barely made it in time to board. The gig with the cruise provided income and a brief stint of stability.
After Dave fulfilled his contract with the cruise ship, he felt recharged. He had a little cash and decided to move to New York, where he hoped to get involved in the vibrant music culture he had heard about. But money soon ran low. He had no car to get his gear around, and he found it hard to break into the network circles the way he could in Los Angeles. With spirits at a low point, he took several jobs that eventually found him back in his hometown. He found work playing with a band that performed gigs for with the Department of Defense at military bases worldwide. When he was back home, he would teach music at night.
One summer night, while enjoying a beer and weed with a friend, he got inspired to adopt a dog. The next day he headed down to the kill shelter, and he found his first German Shepherd. She was a scared and quivering, a white-coat female named Loki. He adopted her and went about learning how to live with a full-size dog in a one-room city apartment. The dog went everywhere with him, and people noticed how well Loki would respond to Dave. It was only a short time before people asked him if he offered professional training.
Dave lived in the Soulard, a hip arts district in St. Louise. It had a lively nightlife and full of acentric and colorful characters. He started dating a girl who had an obsessed ex-boyfriend who was an undercover vice officer. One day the ex-boyfriend and his narcotics team raided Dave's house and turned it inside out. They found marijuana, and Dave was arrested for a night. Dave hired an attorney and had charges dropped because the search was conducted without a warrant. The experience served more than just a good bar story; it was a catalyst for Dave to take a new perspective considering a change in his career. While Dave's love of music would stay with him throughout his life, his desire to live the life of a professional musician had started to lose its romantic allure. With people on the street encouraging how well he interacted with Loki, he decided that becoming a dog trainer could provide a more stable life and fulfilling career.
Dave enrolled in Tom Rose School of Dog Trainers and continued to play gigs at night to support his new education. He would bring his dogs to the nightclubs and train in the parking lots. He was learning AKC obedience, behaviors, puppy training, Schutzhund, and protection. He would come home at 2am and wake up at 5am to go back to the dog training school for tracking. Most people at the school lived there and hung out. Dave was not part of their clique because he was playing in a band at night and because of this, was a bit of an outsider.
At Dave's first evaluation at school, he proved to be far ahead of the group. The test involved IGP1 obedience, tracking and AKC obedience. Dave had rescued a second German Shepherd and trained both dogs for his certification. It was a structured and challenging foundation. The other students were surprised at how far ahead his training was compared to theirs since he was not hanging out with them during the development stages.
At graduation, the most coveted employment placement was to be selected by Triple Crown, a new state-of-the-art dog training complex in Austin, Texas at the time. His instructor recommended that Dave cut his dreadlocks for the interview. Dave refused and was hired despite the dreads. His music career was completed that day, and a new career began. He was fascinated and attracted to Schutzhund but knew his livelihood would be pet training and behavior modification. Triple Crown was the premier dog training facility in the US. It was a perfect environment to develop various methods of dog sports and obedience. They had seminars nearly weekly. Terri Arnold was an AKC trainer, one of the highest-level obedience trainers, and a significant influence on Dave.
Dave met Karen, who was a client of his with her golden retrievers she brought to Triple Crown for obedience. A romance sparked, and they shared a beginning fascination with Schutzhund (now called IGP). They married a year later. Dave's first Schutzhund dog around this time was a crazy female German Shepherd. She scared the crap out of Dave, but his curiosity provided the bravery to work through his tentativeness. The behaviors that he mistakenly attributed to aggression, he learned, were abundant drive. He trained her through her IGP 2 and IGP 3, and then they earned 100 points for their FH with no leash!
Dave earned spots on the USA world team for WUSV 2001, which would be the first of many over the next decade and a half, providing an incredible list of traveling and competition experiences. Dave quickly earned the respect of the most well-known dog sports trainers in the United States. Triple Crown owners welcomed the recognition at first, but later it became a friction point. It might be argued that their concern was they were in the shadow of Dave. Whatever the reason, they decided to terminate Dave's services in 2005.
Dave and Karen were living in the dorms at Triple Crown. So with the termination, they were made effectively homeless. With the Regional IGP Championship just two weeks away, they decided to live in their car and camp near tracking fields. They planned to figure out their life, like where they would live, after the championship. Dave won that USCA South Central Regional Championship. The fact that Triple Crown hosted the event made his win that much sweeter. That event brought another blessing when he met one of his best friends, Chris Aucoin. Chris happened to be a mortgage broker. Chris was able to help Dave and Karen secure a loan for a home shortly after the event.
Dave started a training business, Canine Headquarters, in Austin, Texas, the following year. In addition to boarding, Department of Defense contract work, and training seminars, he had many private clients. Eventually, the wear and tear of a heavy travel schedule of workshops worldwide, took its toll and rekindled memories and the feeling from his musician days that he had wanted to leave behind. He decided to wind it down and look for an alternative involving less travel.
Two-time world champion, Ivan Balabanov, is a close friend of Dave. They were on several world IGP teams together. Coincidently, they had started posting short training videos on social media. Being more tech-savvy, Ivan had the insight to notice how many views they were receiving on their short clips of training on social media and figured if they could find a way to monetize the videos, they could provide an income. Ivan led the way and inspired Dave to follow in that direction. These were the early days of this medium. In 2012 Dave began the Dave Kroyer Academy and DKA TV. It started with 50 videos and now has over 600 videos.
One of Dave's best friends is Rob Dunn, a professional trainer and accomplished world-level IGP competitor. They were part of the same original training team at Triple Crown. Rob has been there through Dave's journey from the very beginning. I had the opportunity to train with Rob. One day after training Dave's name came up in our conversation. Rob said "Dave has some of the most insane level of work ethic I have ever seen. Dave has called me as early as 7:30am, and he has already finished training, cleaning kennels and is starting his second round of training! His attention to detail is second to none."
I have photographed Dave with three distinct competition dogs. I noticed there are two Dave's: The one I see on the field who is deadly serious. The second one is off the field, the center of the fun and elevates the mood. That dichotomy was the what inspired this interview. He has rhythm, harmony, and synergy with his dogs. He is an artist at heart. And he is a perfectionist and aspires for a performance beyond what most can fathom or are willing to work for. Having had this opportunity to chat with him I was able to reconcile the two.
In closing my interview with Dave, I asked him who has been his biggest influence. He named a base player Jeff Berlin, who expressed, "If you require fun to be a mandate in something you are learning, you are looking at it the wrong way. You have to be willing to put in the repetitions."
T. Floyd, a multi-time national champion and world championship competitor (who happens also to be a world-class musician) was an early supporter of Dave and a huge inspiration, mentor, and lifelong friend.
Another influence is Carl Allen, a jazz drummer from the mid-west who made an art of learning from old cats; he said: "I like to cook- it starts throwing stuff in the pot, whatever you got, then you adapt to make it work." This concept has been Dave's road map through dog training.
Today, Dave has a promising young working dog named Hector. Dave recently competed at the 2023 AWDF. On weekends when he is not training, you will find him at the BMX race track putting in laps and preparing for the next national championship.
Cool is an overused word, so much so that its original meaning has been reduced to a filler adjective. If I had my way, the word would be reserved for people like Dave. Those who follow their dreams with abandon. Who live an authentic life. This dude is a classically trained jazz musician, an international-level IGP competitor, and a Mondioring decoy. This man personifies cool. He doesn't try. He just is.
Early days with Dave's band (archive photos)
2015 USCA Working Dog Championship with Archer
Dave Kroyer & Hector vom Warkonhaud. 2023 AWDF National Championship, Little Rock, AR.
2015 USCA South Central Region IGP Championship in Austin, Texas. Dave Kroyer with Archer.
2015 USCA South Central Regional Championship in Austin, Texas. 1st Place Dave Kroyer with Archer.
2015 USCA Working Dog Championship
2016 USCA Working Dog Championship with Archer
Dave Kroyer & Anton. IPO3 2016 USCA Working Dog Championship in Chelsea, Michigan.
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