Commander in Leash Dog Obedience & Behavior Training

Your Knowledgeable & Experienced Certified Professional Dog Trainer

About Us

Your Trainer: Rob Kortus

There are leaders & then there is everyone else. At Commander in Leash, I take pride in my professionalism & knowledge. I ensure that I focus on commitment, quality, & reliability. "I" means "Rob." YOU work with Rob & not some in-house trained staff member or non-school/academy trained individual. "We" means "Rob & his Demo Dogs." Proudly serving the Charlotte, NC & surrounding communities. Commander in Leash is Veterinarian Recommended.


When you are dealing with an animal who is your canine companion, the tools you are taught can make the difference between moving forward and struggling day-to-day. At Commander in Leash, we are "committed" to ensuring you have the proper tools to succeed.


Our standards are high. Rob has over 2,400 hours of in-house dog trainer academy time alone from the Jo Thor's Dog Trainers' Academy (private vocational school accredited & certified by the state of GA). We are in a league of our own. Commander in Leash is synonymous with the "highest quality" in dog training.


It seems to be old fashioned nowadays but we do what we say we're going to do. Our word is our promise, and that applies to being professional and meeting our customers needs. At Commander in Leash, that means returning calls, emails, and texts in a timely manner. We will be on time for lessons and if not, we will ensure you are notified.  (see our reviews below)



  • AWARDS: TOP 12 BEST DOG TRAINER 2018, 2019, 2020



Commander in Leash Services


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We look forward to making YOU the Commander in Leash of your canine companion! Contact us now!

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We cover Charlotte and all surrounding communities

(828) 545-0445


Reviews 2018/2019/2020 (WA)

Why These Dog Trainers?

We Looked at 156 Dog Trainers serving Charlotte and Picked the Top 12.  Our goal is to connect people with the best local experts. We scored dog trainers on more than 25 variables across five categories, and analysed the results to give you a hand-picked list of the best dog trainers in Charlotte, NC. Commander in Leash Dog Obedience & Behavior Training was in that Top 12.
Our Selection Criteria:
1. Reputation: A history of delighted customers and outstanding service.
2. Credibility: Building customer confidence with licensing, accreditations, and awards.
3. Experience: Masters of their craft, based on years of practical experience and education.
4. Availability: Consistently approachable and responsive, so customers never feel ignored.
5. Professionalism: Providing service with honesty, reliability, and respect.

Greg and Debra Haralam (Lincolnton, NC)

Rob Kortus, owner of Commander-in-Leash (Dog Obedience and Behavior Training) came highly recommended by veterinarian Roberta McFerren with Lincolnton Animal Hospital.  She had been treating our dachshund mix Ollie with medication for anxiety and hyperactivity. Rob came to us with concise instructions for training our pet through demonstrating techniques, coaching us with same, review through video and with printed hand-outs.  He impressed upon us the necessity to practice the techniques often each day.  He was also very calming when handling ALL OF US.  Because of this Ollie passed his training with much praise from his new friend Rob!  We know that we can contact him at anytime if we have follow-up questions which gives us peace of mind.  We highly recommend you try Commander-In -Leash for your pet.

Lisa Bruton (Gastonia, NC)

So glad our vet recommended Rob as a professional trainer for our dog, Wylie. I consider him to be one of the Best! The leadership skills he taught me allowed me to know how to properly train our dog. At first, Wylie had some behaviors that were off the chart but Rob taught me how to effectively correct them. His videos were also a great supplement to the lessons which helped me remember what we covered. Rob made himself available for questions and has even followed up to see how things were going with Wylie. Can't thank him enough for giving us a great start with our new dog!  

Valerie & Maarten (Cramerton)

In our family, Rob truly is the "Commander-in-Leash." He took a sometimes feisty, sometimes terrified, sometimes unsure dog named Chaka and helped her find a bit of structure in her life. Our Chaka is a great, beautiful dog. However, what we believed was missing from her was discipline. She would snarl and bark at other dogs as we would pass them on our daily walks, and the doggie parents would sometimes steer clear of us. What they failed to realize is that Chaka wasn't acting out of aggression; she wanted to play. She always wants to play. Rob taught us to give Chaka boundaries and to behave like the doggie queen she believes herself to be. We would not hesitate to recommend Rob to any of our doggie parent friends whose four-legged family members may be a little wayward. In fact, we've already recommended him to two families. Rob not only taught Chaka a thing or two, he also taught us, the humans, in how to best deal with her and her little idiosyncrasies. We believe Chaka will continue to thrive in her new way of life and continue to be a blessing to our family. Thank you so much, Rob!

Lacey and Adah (Dallas)

I highly recommend Rob - "Commander in Leash" - for anyone's canine training needs. Rob came out to work with myself and my canine companion, Adah. Rob’s lessons enabled me to continue the required training techniques after each session. Adah is a 3 year old Black Labrador Retriever who is very hyper and strong. After numerous training sessions once a week, Adah has become an entirely new dog, with the same personality of course! Even family members and friends have noticed what Rob’s training has done for her! Adah hardly ever jumps on visitors from excitement anymore, she hardly pulls and tugs on the leash when walking or running with her, and she rarely steals food now! It’s actually quite amazing how great this turned out. Rob is great to work with, he is also very understanding and kind. I unfortunately had a temporary financial situation due to being laid off at my job and having to go to the hospital within the same week. He was completely understanding and he asked that instead of payment for the training that I donate the money owed to charity, such as an animal shelter, when I am financially able to. I believe Rob is in this business because he cares for the dogs and their owners, and wants the best for them. With that said, I highly recommend Commander in Leash Dog Obedience & Behavior Training for your canine companion training needs.

Ian and Karen (Lake Wylie)
After 20 years of rescuing older dogs we took a chance on a 10 month old mixed breed puppy. We were totally unprepared for a spring-loaded, undisciplined wild creature. Rob made a huge difference from the first session. 5 weeks later our puppy is still energetic but she listens to us and behaves like a champ. The biggest part of dog training is teaching the owners. Rob taught us how to train our dog. We recommend Rob to everyone.

Joyce McCallister (Belmont)
​From the outset you will be pleased with the results you begin to see with your dog with the training and expertise of Rob.  Simply having the correct collar made walking Josie a pleasure the very first week. Very helpful to the hands on class instructions are the online videos which review in detail the previous lessons and reinforce techniques for at home practice. Printed handouts each week also spell out home training directions and encouragement.

Rob is also generous with his time in offering to address any concerns or questions by email so that an issue does not go unresolved or corrected before the next week. Each session involves a verbal check up on how the week at home has progressed at which time Rob is spot on at making suggestions to help with any particular concern. Extras you might not expect like a device to calm your dog plus the impressive graduation certificate and photo will further convince you that you made absolutely the best choice.

Shannon (Belmont)
"Just finished the beginner obedience training and still can't believe the difference just a few classes have made! We are all SOOO thrilled with the results. Walking our high energy young Aussie has at last turned from a stressful chore, into a calming pleasurable experience we all look forward to!!. Even her previous stubbornness to respond to the basics (sit, stay, down) were conquered almost instantly. Robs approach to training was awesome! Sessions were always well prepared, structured and extremely professional all the way around; delivering the right tools and guidance to train (ME!) with effective methods to gain confidence, trust and respect with really great results. We had fun too and enjoyed our 4-legged mentor visits from Sophie & Sully. I'll be the fist to admit it takes patience and discipline, but with the right tools now in place it has paid off 10-fold. Far exceeded expectations...thanks Rob!! "

Stephanie and Clayton (Charlotte)
When we first got our chocolate lab puppy we were so excited and happy.  Unfortunately, she began displaying some intense behavioral issues.  We knew she was very smart and lovable but struggled showing it and needed serious guidance.  We were referred to Rob from a family member who had been successful with his training.  Our puppy, Copper, instantly responded to Rob and within a week was a completely different dog.  After the six weeks, she walks very nicely on a leash, knows several commands, and best of all, she is obedient. Commander in Leash taught us  effective training methods that allowed Copper to manage her behavior and shine as a smart, lovable dog.  We know that consistently working with Copper has led to amazing outcomes and we will continue our efforts!  We are so happy that we hired Rob to guide our “family” in the right direction! 

Luci (Charlotte)
My sweet rescue dog Mikayla passed her basic obedience course yesterday. This may not seem like a big deal to a lot of people,but for her this was a huge accomplishment. We see rescue dogs who have the physical scars of abuse, however there are some who look perfectly normal, but are suffering with mental scars. Mikayla is one of these dogs. She looks like a regular dog but she was so skittish and traumatized it was painful to see.

There are angels who are put in this planet to give animals a second chance.
Two of them are are Quynh-Nhu Pham, foster mom and Rob Kortus, trainer. Quynh fostered Mikayla and her four pups who were picked up as strays. She kept Mom and her pups until they were weaned and adopted. Due to Mikayla being so skiddish, she was hard to place, and Quynh didn't want her put in a place that would do more harm. I read the story Quhyn wrote about her and how she was such a sweet Mom, and not aggressive in any way that I wanted to help her out.

I have always had at least one dog, and never needed a trainer, but after a few months I felt that in order for Mikayla to relax and come into her own I would need help. Rob (Commander In Leash) was recommended by a friend. So Mikayla's journey began.

Rob came by the house and evaluated her. He taught me how to train her and build her confidence. He showed me that I may need to let Mikayla be a little uncomfortable in order to gain confidence. Mikayla has come so far with Rob's help.


She would cower and tremble in a corner of the room whenever she was approached
She would inhale her food and be ready to run. You could see the wildness and fear in her eyes.
She was terrified of cars or anything that made noise. Walking was a series of walking and freezing until the car passed.
Going to the vets office was so painful to watch her in such a traumatic state
I had to pick her up and put her in the car because she was terrified of enclosed areas.
I have a dog door and Mikayla quickly learned to have this in her line of sight so,she could run from me. She had become very good at avoiding people.

She still sits in the same corner of the room, but is more relaxed when I or anyone approaches her
She is more relaxed when she is eats and is not inhaling her food
She now walks comfortably on leash and doesn't even notice if a car or motorcycle goes by.
She goes to the vets office,Petsmart, Lowe's and even enjoys sitting outside at restaurants.
She gets in the car like she has been doing this all her life
She is beginning to come to me so that she can have her head rubbed.

Thank you Quhyn for taking Mikayla and her pups in, and Thank you Rob for helping me give Mikayla a second chance. I would recommend Rob to anyone considering a dog trainer.

Leslie, Steve, Cramer & Maverick (Dallas)
My husband and I have two boys, both very large, very head strong Boxers.  The boys weigh 80 and 95 pounds and were hard to handle when they keyed in on something or someplace they wanted to go.  I saw a post on Happy Dog Cafe for a beginner obedience class with Commander In Leash Dog Obedience Training. "I’ll take the baby since he is already so big at 70+ pounds and a year old.” Off we went to our very first class.  Maverick did phenomenal! Rob saw his size, compared to mine and tailored his training to that.  Five classes later we were graduating with flying colors!  Rob was very patient, very calm with the dogs and us (which is hard sometimes since the dogs listen better than we do) as well as extremely knowledgeable about the temperament and energy level of the individual breeds.
After Maverick passed I thought it would be good to take our older one.  He is six years old, very nervous in new situations and with unfamiliar people.  He was the challenge…older, much larger and set in his ways.  Again, patience and knowledge from Rob helped Cramer to be more confident and less terrified with unfamiliar surroundings.  He was able to go downtown Charlotte and not be tore slap out of his frame with his surroundings after completing the class.

I have always wanted a therapy dog.  Our first boxer, Baxter had cancer from the time he was two years old.  He had the most even temperament and loving personality.  Sadly, I could not make him a therapy dog due to his health problems.  Maverick came from Blue Ridge Boxer Rescue.  Rescued from a puppy mill in Fountain Inn SC with 143 other animals, he and his siblings did not have the best start in life.  I met him the day after he was taken from there and fell in love, solid white and willing to give lots of kisses.  Once we were able to bring him home I noticed something….same temperament as Baxter, calm, loving, very easy going and laid back. During Mavericks obedience training with Rob he noticed this as well and said he felt Maverick would be a great therapy dog.  What??  A therapy dog?? Yes!!  Finally, I was going to have me a therapy dog.  Maverick and I completed our therapy training with Rob and we are now a Registered Therapy Dog team!!  

Thanks to the help of Rob (and Sophie) and a Gentle Leader collar, I can now walk both boys, by myself and not worry about them getting away or being scared in new situations.  We are more confident than before and I have Rob Kortus to thank for that!  

Whitney & Branden (Charlotte)
"Working with Rob has been a lifesaver in puppy parenting. When we first got Charlie, she was feisty, unruly and trying to figure out her place in our family. We had major biting problems and it was evident she didn't respect or listen to us. Rob didn't just train Charlie, he taught US how to train her so she would respect us and see us as her leaders. Within a week we saw a complete change in our puppy, and she only continued to improve through the rest of the program. By the end of the program, our 16 week old puppy was able to sit, stay, and lie down on command. She politely walked right next to us, rather than pulling, and she lied down under our table for an entire dinner out. Most importantly, she learned to listen to and respect us. While we still have a highly energetic puppy, we are so proud at how much she has learned and how well behaved she is. We get so many complements on how good she is! And since the training, Rob has been there for us and is quick to respond to any questions or concerns. Rob helped us build a foundation for a wonderful dog, and we can't wait to grow up with Charlie."

Emily & Graydon (Charlotte)
"My wife and I have two dogs ages 6 and 5 years. Although these little guys were an exciting addition to our family, they have also been a cause of stress and angst for my wife and I. Before moving to the Charlotte area, we lived in Detroit and Chicago, in areas that were very dog friendly; everyone loved dogs...with the exception of our dogs! Our dogs seemed to hate every dog it came into close vicinity with. They both barked, growled and snipped at any dog or dog owner that walked near us.  Their issues did not cease after we got home from our walks, if someone came over to the house, we would have to put our dogs in a separate room to prevent them from growling at, barking at, and making our guests feel uncomfortable. Needless to say, after paying two different dog trainers, our dogs’ behavior issues remained nerve-wrecking and unimproved.

After moving to the Charlotte area, my wife read about Commander in Leash and mentioned that she really wanted to try it out for one last chance of helping our dogs. While doubtful that anything could help our boys, I agreed to have Commander in Leash come anyways. Within 10 minutes of meeting Rob I knew my wife had made the right decision in calling him. Besides making a custom training plan for our dogs he suggested different collars and leashes to use to aid in their training/behavior.

Rob from Commander in Leash came to work with my wife and our dogs once weekly for six weeks and I can honestly tell you that I am astonished by the progress that our dogs have made! We can now walk our dogs not only in our neighborhood past other people and dogs, but also in downtown Charlotte without concern of them barking, growling or biting. They have been completely transformed into well-behaved companions.

Rob truly gave us our lives back by teaching us the tools to help change our dogs bad behavior and we are forever grateful." 

Kim (Mount Holly)
"I'm so very happy with the results Axel and I have received from Commander-in-Leash! My very anxious 4 year old Boston Terrier has learned so much within our six week period! Over the term of the course, Axel's anxiety has lessened and his eagerness to receive commands and obey them with ease has become common knowledge for our perky pup! I love walking out in public with him and showing off his new found skills and everyone is impressed by his obedience. Rob's teaching strategy was so easy to understand and I loved that he took such a comforting personal interest in the progress of each dog in our group. I would recommend this program to anyone with a fur baby that they love. I'm grateful that Happy Dog Cafe took the time to research such a reputable dog obedience trainer as well as opening up their facilities after hours for us to take part in such a fantastic program! The program worked as a great refresher for both Axel and myself and now my little one has even mastered getting her best friend to sit stay for dress up parties!" 

Charles and Monica (Belmont)
"Thought I would give you an update on Freddie. We have a Polaris RZR and Freddie loves, loves, loves going for rides in it! Two Saturday's ago we rode down to our local Deli to have lunch. The weather was great with cooler temps so we decided to take Freddie along and eat outside on the patio. Freddie found his "place" between Monica and I and laid there just taking it all in. We frequent here so the owner, Chris, showed his appreciation by scrambling a couple of eggs for Freddie, which he gobble right up. After we finished, I gathered up dishes to take back inside while Monica put Freddie in the razor which was parked next to the sidewalk at the entrance. As I was going back out, a stranger was in front of me and as he opened the door he saw Freddie and said, "well hello there big boy". He walked right up to him, gave him a good back rub and scratch without Freddie caring at all. Of course Monica and I just stood there with jaws dropped looking at each other not believing what just happened.

This is just the first of several things that have improved in Freddie's social behavior since the classes at Happy Dog Cafe, Boutique & Spa. He has even let a child that he has been absolutely terrified of - pet him! Freddie still is wary of strangers and cowers from time to time but is getting much better with every introduction. It also doesn't take him as long to overcome his shyness when meeting strangers. Thank you so much for working with Monica and I so that we can become better trainers for Freddie. As his confidence in us grows and his recognition that we are in command, the more he has relaxed in know that we will take care of him. Thank you again!" 

Charlie (Belmont)
"One of the best value investments of my life came because I use Happy Dog Cafe for doggy daycare. They are an excellent facility that really cares about their customers and their pets. They offered a group class from Commander-In-Leash Dog Obedience & Behavior Training for six weeks. The class changed my & Maggie's life so much for the better. The trainer Rob is very knowledgeable and does a great job of transferring that to the people in the class. It's not easy and takes a lot of work to get results, but Rob gives you the tools to transform how your dog relates to you. Thanks so much!" 

Ben & Dawn (Mount Holly)
"We were looking for a personal trainer for our one-year-old Golden Retriever, Wall-E; our Groomer and Daycare, Happy Dog Café in Belmont recommended Rob.  We had a great training experience with Rob.  He exceeded our expectations and provided a well-rounded training program for us as owners and Wall-E.  Rob’s training had a very structured format, which made it easy for us to follow.  He was very knowledgeable and professional.  Rob was always quick to respond to our questions and concerns via email, text or phone.  Wall-E’s behavior has improved drastically.  He listens and responds to our commands.  We are now more confident taking Wall-E with us to restaurants, parks and other outside activities.  We have recommended Commander-In-Leash to several of our friends and will continue to do so.  Thank you Rob for making our lives easier!" 

Rick & Sarah (Cornelius)
"Rob with Commander-in-Leash exceeded our expectations. I (Rick) come from a background with working around military and police working dogs; yet, I only had the basic foundation of beginner type obedience training. Sarah has never been exposed to large dogs. However, our hearts were drawn to rescuing/adopting a German Shepard Dog (GSD). After finding Scarlet through a Chihuahua Dog rescue we knew we were in for a real treat. We purchased a GSD book from our local pet store and began our learning process. I have had large dogs to include mixed GSD type breeds before, but nothing prepared me for the awesome and exciting (yes very excitable) personality Scarlet has. Adding to the mix we have rescued two cats (yes cats). One being a senior at fifteen years – fragile ragdoll -- and the other being a stubborn five year old who stands up to anything and anybody.

We put Scarlet through a puppy kindergarten to learn the basics between her 12th week and 18th week birthdays.  But we were still nervous (pins and needles type) anytime Scarlet was around the cats, our neighbors, neighbors dogs – you get the picture – as I mentioned earlier she was very excitable to be around other animals and protective of us. So we researched online – not knowing who to go to and what type of training that we needed as Scarlet’s new parents. We got lucky and we were referred to Commander-in-Leash. We reviewed Rob’s website and immediately knew he had what it took. But as I said earlier after our first training session through our sixth training session our expectations were exceeded. The discipline Rob displays and passed on to us, the coaching, demonstrations, and assignments after each session with the evaluation of each session really helped us absorb and not just follow his lead. I regained the confidence I once had handling large dogs and Sarah learned the confidence needed to walk an eight month old GSD through Birkdale Village on a Friday night!

It is also worth mentioning that Rob personalizes the training. Rob showed us how to introduce Scarlet to other people and dogs and provided us with key training to be able to “place” Scarlet around our home (which has worked in others’ homes as well). This permitted us to feel better to let the cats approach and be around Scarlet under some supervision. To go from having anxiety anytime the cats walked by to watching Scarlet hang out while we fed the cats in the same room, speaks volumes of Commander-in-Leash’s confidence building.

Thanks to Rob’s Commander-in-Leash beginner/intermediate course we have confidence to walk, talk and approach others even in challenging situations. Scarlet has learned her place in our family hierarchy and is becoming a beautiful likeable GSD. We look forward to working with Rob in the future on more advance training to include the AKC Canine Good Citizen and more. Thank you."

Jillian Foster LCSW, LCAS (Asheville)
"I am beyond grateful for the training my dog Murphy and I received from Rob.  He literally transformed my dog’s behavior through his Commander in Leash 6 week Obedience Training.  Rob did much more than just train my dog, rather he trained and empowered me -- It required that I consistently commit to practicing the skills I learned from Rob each week of obedience training.  When I first got him from the Humane Society in June, Murphy was out of control and was totally unresponsive to my attempts to teach him positive behaviors. Rob provided me with the training and guidance to develop a working relationship with my dog. Ultimately he provided me the foundation necessary to earn Murphy’s respect. Thanks to the training we received from Rob, Murphy is on the path to becoming a registered therapy dog. I can now confidently take Murphy anywhere, including coffee shops, busy stores, and even my work environment to offer the gift of healing and happiness to my clients."