About Ivan - Ot Vitosha Malinois & Ivan Balabanov
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About Ivan Balabanov

Two-Time World Champion | Coach
Malinois Breeder | FCI Working Judge

Hello, my name is Ivan Balabanov. I am extremely fortunate to live an extraordinary life surrounded by Dogs.

I am the creator of the revolutionary dog training system Training Without ConflictTM. I have been testing my method of training dogs against the best in the world for over 20 years, competing in the most demanding dog sports and winning 12 national and 2 World Championships. I am world renowned dog trainer and teacher with more than 30 years of experience in the competitive dog sports. I’ve taught, coached, mentored and advised extensively to a very diverse group of trainers:

  • National and World competitors
  • United States Police Canine Association (USPCA) certification and workshops
  • ATF Special Canine Units Task Force
  • Search and Rescue groups (SAR) in the USA and abroad
  • Service dog agencies (guide dogs, hearing dogs, etc.)
  • Certified Professional Dog Trainers

My patient style of teaching, unparalleled experience, knowledge and credentials have made me the most popular coach of trainers in USA.  I have given over 900 seminars and workshops in the United States, Canada, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Greece, Italy, Czech Republic, Belgium, England, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Australia, South Korea, Hong Kong, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Venezuela … that’s well over thousands of days of lecture and practical work in the last ten years alone.

I am considered one of the driving forces in popularizing modern dog training approach around the globe. An award winning author of the book “Advanced Schutzhund” and the best-selling Dog Training videos. With my dogs I have appeared on local channels as well as on Animal Planet, Fear Factor, and pretty much all dog sport magazines around the world. In the early 1990’s after moving from Belgium to San Francisco, I worked as a Guide Dog instructor for 5 years at Guide Dogs for the Blind Inc. in California. I successfully trained more than 300 dogs and students. After Guide Dogs I accepted a very challenging position as Animal Behaviorist at the San Francisco SPCA, (which became the first “no kill” facility in the world). For five years,  I was responsible for the evaluation and rehabilitation of some of the most hopeless aggression cases towards people or other dogs, dogs with extreme phobias and anxiety. During the same time, I created the SF/SPCA Dog Trainers Academy, which included writing the curriculum as well as teaching the students the most modern and advanced methods to train dogs and solve problems.

Ivan Balabanov at the German Shepherd World Championship 2008

I am also the Founder and president of the American Working Malinois Association (AWMA), and FCI International licensed working judge. Additionally, I am the Breeder of the finest Belgian Malinois under the kennel name Ot Vitosha Malinois.  I first started training dogs in my native country – Bulgaria, then moved to Belgium and began training dogs professionally prior to moving to the USA.

OT Vitosha Malinois Champions

The average dog owner is not aware but, yes the best of Dog Trainers do compare each other’s skills and abilities through variety of dog sports! Winning a first place at a local dog show does not say much about the abilities of a Professional Dog Trainer. Winning a national championship is whole different story, but to become the best in the world, one must win a world championship. I have done it twice back to back with a dog that I bred, raised and trained – an accomplishment no other dog trainer has ever achieved. Competing against the best 120 dog trainers in the World and winning is a statement!

While such a win does not bring any money, it brings the recognition and envy among other trainers. The problem is – for the last 20 years there are only 20 world champions. What are the chances that one lives near you? What are the chances they would offer dog training right here in Tampa Bay to anyone who owns a dog?

Ivan's Accomplishments

  • World Champion – International Dog Federation (FCI) All Breeds IPO3.
  • World Champion – Belgian Shepherd World Federation (FMBB) IPO3.
  • 7 x National Champion American Working Dog Federation (AWDF) IPO3.
  • 7 x National Champion American Working Malinois Association (AWMA) IPO3.
  • National Champion United Schutzhund Clubs of America German Shepherds IPO3.
  • 2021 DVG America National Champion IPO 3
  • 2000 FMBB Homburg,Germany Belgian Shepherd World Vice Champion
  • 2000 DVG America All Breeds Nationals IPO 3 Champion
  • 1999 DVG America All Breeds Nationals IPO 3 Champion
  • 1998 DVG America All Breeds Nationals IPO 3 Champion

Professional Experience

  • Worked as a Guide Dog instructor for 5 years in California where he trained more than 300 dogs and students.
  • Worked as animal behaviorist at the San Francisco SPCA (a “no kill” facility) and was responsible for the successful evaluation and rehabilitation of some of the most difficult cases.

Worldwide Presence

Ivan has given over a thousand seminars and workshops to organizations in more than twenty-five countries in North America, Latin American, Europe, and Asia, including:

  • United States
  • Canada
  • Germany
  • Sweden
  • Finland
  • Switzerland
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Czech Republic
  • Belgium
  • England
  • Bulgaria
  • Ukraine
  • Australia
  • South Korea
  • Hong Kong
  • Colombia
  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Venezuela
  • South Africa

Coach and Consultant

He lectures at the annual United States Police K9 Association Events, is a trainer for ATF special task force K9 units, and other special K9 organizations, including:

  • US Special Forces
  • United States Police Canine Association (USPCA)
  • ATF Special Canine Units Task Force
  • Search and Rescue Organizations (SAR) worldwide
  • Military Forces around the world


  • Award winning author of the book “Advanced Schutzhund”, published 1999
  • Founder and Curriculum Designer of the original SF/SPCA Dog Trainers Academy

Awards, Certifications, & Accreditations

Be sure to browse our extensive gallery of certificates!

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