Keith Benson is co-owner and president of the Starmark Animal Behavior Center. (Photos by Zacharia Washington/Community Impact Newspaper)
Back in 1995 in Tucson, Arizona, Keith Benson, President and co-owner of Starmark, realized that he was not happy with his career as a psychometrician, conducting forensic psychological testing.
He had a dog at the time that he trained, and after a long, stressful day at work, he enjoyed training his dog. This passion led Benson to find a hands-on dog training program in Missouri, where he met business partner Jerry Wolfe.
Benson and Wolfe then founded the Triple Crown Dog Academy, which began as a six-dog kennel in Wolfe’s Arizona backyard. The business continued to grow and two years later it was renamed the Starmark Animal Behavior Center. From there, Starmark found its home on a 300-acre ranch in Hutto.
“The focus of our work has been improving the quality of life between people and their pets through training,” said Benson. “We’ve embraced all kinds of training methods and techniques and been busy learning more about dog training and behavior.”
There are three separate companies under the Starmark umbrella – Starmark Animal Behavior Center, Starmark Academy and Starmark Pet Products.
The Starmark Animal Behavior Center offers feeding and training for dogs. Service options are basic board or luxury board, which includes dog ice cream, interactive toys, a massage, and a nature walk.
At Starmark Academy, dog trainers certify through one of several programs ranging in duration from four to 16 weeks.
At Starmark Pet Products, all products are designed and engineered in-house. A product called the Pro-Training Clicker allows owners to mark the precise moment when good behavior occurs, resulting in rewards for the dog.
“It’s a great way to bond with your dog. It’s a great way to mentally train your dog, too,” said Academy Instructor Rosalyn Garcia.
Starmark also works closely with local shelters and groups to improve their adoption services.
More than 150 dogs come to Starmark every year through the school for dog trainers. The dogs are trained for up to 16 weeks, then they are adopted as fully trained dogs at the end of the program. Starmark has helped around 5,000 dogs get adopted.
“At our core, we’re about improving the quality of life between people and their pets, and there are so many ways to do that,” Benson said.
Starmark Animal Behavior Center
200 CR 197, Hutto
Opening hours: Mon.-Fri. 7 a.m. – 6 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., closed on Sun.