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October 16, 2018

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Sit Means Sit owner Fred Hassen has turned dog-training videos into a viral sensation


Bill Hughes

Fred Hassen (the human) and Nash (the dog)


Doggie Paddle and Play Day
September 19
9 a.m., $5
Black Mountain Recreation Center

Kohl, a 4-month-old black Labrador retriever puppy, actively tries grabbing a bit of Styrofoam cup from 2-year-old Nash, a Belgian Malinois who’s trying to drop it in the trash per the instructions of Fred Hassen, who’s shooting the whole episode in Sunridge Park in Henderson on his iPhone. It’s just one of the three training videos he’ll shoot that day. Hassen, the founder of Sit Means Sit, is the MacGyver of training videos, using whatever’s available to show his techniques to his millions of YouTube fans. Spotting a small row of tires in sand on a playground, he shoots another video, using them as “tunnels” for agility training. He works using a whistle and a remote, muscle-stimulating, training collar, which he places on my wrist to show how benign it is. When he pushes the button, it feels like someone’s lightly scratching my skin. I nod in agreement.

These videos are serious business, exposing Hassen’s dog-training company to a worldwide audience. They’re also the source of most of his customers, who come in for either dog-training classes or to set up their own franchises. “It took three years to get 3 million views,” says Hassen, who began posting a new video every day last November. “In the last few months, I’ve been getting 2 million views a month.” He’s now a YouTube partner, has 47 franchises throughout the U.S., Canada and Australia, and has appeared on Animal Planet and ESPN. And you thought the only YouTube dog videos worth watching were ones involving sleepwalking and leg-humping.

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