We are thrilled to interview a very in demand dog trainer here in San Diego. We first met when two of our VERY treat motivated four-legged clients intentionally knocked over a fire hydrant treat holder at the pet store he worked. We were beyond embarrassed and he simply laughed calmly. These dogs vacuumed up the treats faster than the best vacuum on the market, and the rest is history. Now that we are collaborating in business, with our clients becoming his and vice versa, we would like to introduce you all to Joe!


Joe Bottcher is a certified dog trainer and founder of San Diego Canine LLC. His passion for animal science and helping dogs, has guided him over the last 15 years in the animal industry. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science, dogs became his main focus. Joe is formally educated and certified by Michael Ellis and The Michael Ellis School for Dog Trainers. He also has experience managing and working for various dog facilities throughout Wisconsin, Colorado, and California- including rescue organizations, veterinary hospitals, and dog training facilities. His skill set and passion for animals helps drive the mission to help dogs and educate dog owners.

How long have you been training dogs?

I have professionally trained dogs (and their owners) since 2014. After completing my bachelor degree in Biology in 2010, I began working in veterinary clinics, boarding & daycare facilities. This eventually led me to dog training companies in both Colorado and California. I have had the unique opportunity to be formally educated and certified through Michael Ellis and the Michael Ellis School for Dog Trainers. I also spent time as a certified Petco Senior dog training mentor.

Tell us about your partnership with Thrive Animal Rescue?

As a dog trainer for Thrive Animal Rescue, I teach foundational obedience and help socialize all incoming dogs. I evaluate dogs and help them gain confidence as they prepare to go to a new forever home. Post adoption support is also a crucial part of my role as a dog trainer for Thrive Animal Rescue. I educate families about their dog’s requirements, as well as give handlers the skills they need as their new rescue dog settles into the family.

Which dog training success story stands out most in your mind?

So many great success stories still drive my vision and motivate me today. One in particular is a small white Maltese named Quincy. He had been to seven different homes, and no one (before me) was able to get him to trust and begin building a relationship with him. I truly believe there are no bad dogs, just bad circumstances that produce unwanted behaviors. Quincy was so fearful and acting out. He had zero obedience commands, no structure, and no one he trusted. Yes, he was a biter, but simply from fear and too much pressure. My first goal was to build a relationship with him so he felt comfortable and didn’t view me as just another human that was going to stress him. We walked, we played food games, we engaged in play and over time he began to see me as someone he could rely on and trust. This was a breakthrough and being in a better state of mind, allowed him to learn and me to teach. Over weeks of training and relationship building I was then able to transfer this relationship over to a great family in Rancho Sante Fe where they live happily with one other small dog which Quincy loves. Love that!

Do you have any funny stories about our four-legged clients you also train (We do have some goofballs!)?

Not Funny, but super cool! I had the pleasure of meeting one of the coolest and fun dog families I have ever met through Kimberli at The Fittest Dog. This was a BIG DOG family of five, including a Great Dane, Bernese Mountain Dog, Shepherd Mix, and two Anatolian Shepherds. To me it’s just so cool to see a family of fun loving big dogs all coexisting and being obedient in the home, while living great lives.

We look forward to seeing Joe’s progress in San Diego, and especially with the rescue dogs from Thrive who have the pleasure of calling you their trainer! 

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