By Amy Brase
Every dog needs a job. It might be as an agility competitor. It might be as the buddy who calmly lies by a child as he learns to read. It might be respectfully greeting every neighbor on the block and retrieving wiffle balls for kids practicing t-ball.
Regardless of the job, this golden tidbit of wisdom is reflected in the plethora of canine classes and training opportunities available to pet owners. Whether it’s learning simply to come—perhaps the most important but often under-learned command—or training to be a therapy dog who visits senior citizens, the possibilities are endless.
Classes for Smart, Difficult and Bored Dogs
Why try a class with your dog? Beyond the practicality of a good dog who sits and stays upon command, classes improve the relationship and bonding between dogs and owners, help combat boredom and help owners to better understand how to work with their dogs.
“I just love both Tricks and Agility classes,” says Tina Hince, canine coordinator at Leashes and Leads. “It’s neat to see the dogs think through different things and then to see the light bulb come on as they learn to pick up their toys, sit pretty or roll over for the first time. Dogs really like agility because it’s like obedience in the fast lane.”
Allow your mind to roll over with possibilities. Could your puppy learn to do search and rescue work? Do you have dreams of letting your dog run off leash on the beach? Maybe you just want your puppy to go potty outside. A wide range of classes suit every need and desire.
“Most people are looking for a reliable off-leash recall or wanting to work on behavioral issues such as dog-to-dog aggression,” says Annalissa Johnson, owner of Good Dog Camp. “Or they’re having issues with the dog and their child (or are trying to prevent those issues).”
Good Dog Camp’s classes are unique in that they are all one-on-one. “I’m working with just the owner and dog. Everything I teach is geared to the dog that in is front of me. I want to help give people the best dog they’ve ever had.”
Sara Reusche is the owner of Paws Abilities Dog Training. “My favorite classes to teach are Beginning Reactive Dog Rehab classes because they’re so rewarding in terms of the progress that the students and dogs make. People often sign up for this class as their last hope before euthanizing their reactive dog,” she said. “I feel like the classes are about half training class and half support group, and I love being able to give owners new hope for their difficult dogs.”
Amy Brase is a writer whose dog has benefited from puppy and obedience classes, as well as a session with Annalissa from Good Dog Camp.
A SAMPLING OF CLASSES
FOR NEW PUPS ON THE BLOCK
Get started on the right paw! These classes help teach your dog to come when you call, walk politely on leash and socialize appropriately with people and other dogs.
Puppy Preschool. If your pup is between 7–16 weeks, this 2-hour, one-on-one session in your home offers crate and house training tips, handling exercises, first aid knowledge, and recommendations for games and toys that boost mental development. Good Dog Camp
Puppy 1 & Puppy 2. Introduces socialization skills and basic obedience commands. Leashes & Leads Training
Beginning Obedience. Paws Abilities Dog Training
Housetraining. Good Dog Camp
FOR GOOD MANNERS
It’s every owner’s dream – a dog who blesses everyone he or she meets.
Canine Good Citizen Prep Course. This class is named after the American Kennel Club’s (AKC’s) Canine Good Citizen (CGC) program. As a next step after obedience, this is a great class before progressing to sports or therapy work. The ten addressed areas include loose-leash walking and appropriate reactions to distractions. Paws Abilities Dog Training, Good Dog Camp
Obedience. Considered a “must-do” by many. Your dog will learn essential commands like sit, down, stay and come. Leashes & Leads Training
Outdoor Adventures. Field trips to fun places like a baseball field, shopping center, pond and restaurant train your dog to be reliable in real life situations. Paws Abilities Dog Training
Courteous K9. If your pup fails to respect guests’ personal space, constantly begs at the dinner table, and strongly dislikes the crate, this is the class for you. Leashes & Leads Training
Good Dog Boot Camp. An opportunity for your dog to stay and train in trainer Annalissa’s home for 10-14 days. As your dog is safely integrated into the pack, he will be taught to become the calm, happy dog you’ve always wanted. In addition to practicing house manners, training in obedience and behavior modification, Annalissa will take your dog on field trips, teaching him how to handle any situation in any environment. Good Dog Camp
Bringing a New Baby Home. Good Dog Camp
If you’re constantly apologizing for your dog as he barks, growls or jumps on everyone who comes to the door, this might be the type of class for you. Gain confidence in managing your dog and lower both of your stress levels.
Reactive Dog Rehab. Beginning or advanced. Paws Abilities Dog Training
Leash Pullers’ Anonymous. If your dog is pulling you down the street, this class will fine-tune your dog’s leash manners. Paws Abilities Dog Training
One-on-One Training. Good Dog Camp
FOR SPORTS TRAINING
Perhaps you’ve seen it at the fair or on television. Dogs weave effortlessly around poles, over teeter totters,and through an obstacle course of jumps. It’s exciting, competitive and a great supplement to formal obedience training.
Rally Obedience. Also called “Rally-O” by enthusiasts, this dog (and human) obedience sport combines characteristics of sports car racing, dog agility and traditional obedience into a new, fun sport. Leashes & Leads Training
Taste of Agility. An-8 week sampling of what’s involved in agility training, a dog sport in which the handler directs a dog through an obstacle course in a race for both time and accuracy. Leashes & Leads Training
FOR MAXIMUM FUN
You didn’t get a dog just because you wanted to make life harder. Your canine companion loves to play just as much as you do. Why not have fun together?
Tricks. A mentally stimulating class that will teach you to use your clicker properly as your dog learns a repertoire of fun tricks. Leashes & Leads
Canine Freestyle. A choreographed performance organized with music, illustrating the relationship between dog and handler. Paws Abilities Dog Training
Beginning K9 Nose Work. Encourage your dog to use instinctive scenting abilities. This class is chock-full of confidence-building games and is a great way to exercise high-drive
or excitable dogs. Paws Abilities Dog Training
Conformation. Designed to prepare beginning competitors for the show ring, this class works on proper gaiting, stacking and presentation. Paws Abilities Dog Training, Leashes & Leads
Therapy Dog Prep. This is not the test itself, but the course will prepare you and your dog by covering common hospital and nursing home policies, visiting etiquette, training requirements, and how to handle various situations. Available to non-aggressive dogs who have earned their Canine Good Citizen certification. Paws Abilities Dog Training
2-Day Therapy Dogs 101. Discover the various roles and opportunities for therapy dogs, receive educational materials, become familiar with medical equipment, and practice necessary skills to pass the therapy dog test. Leashes & Leads Training
Puppy Play Groups – Socialization is so important! Whether your dog is pint-sized, shy or just a puppy, there’s a group where he or she will fit right in. Paws Abilities Dog Training
FOR PRIVATE LESSONS All three featured training centers offer private instruction on site or in your home.
Paws Abilities Dog Training www.paws4u.com • 507-624-0190
Locations: Rochester – Rochester Feed and Country Store
Kasson – K-M Regional Veterinary Hospital and Surgical Center
Byron – Byron Dog Daycare and Grooming (Em’s Playplace)
Minneapolis – Agile Canines Training Center
Good Dog Camp www.gooddogcamp.com • 507-261-3913
Leashes & Leads Dog Training Center www.leashesandleads.com • 507-282-2710
All training centers require dogs to be vaccinated before participating in classes.
For more Rochester area classes, visit: Petsmart: www.petsmart.com Petco: www.petco.com Ruff Break: www.ruffbreak.com Minnesota Dog Training: www.minnesotadogtraining.com