Having a properly trained dog is important no matter the setting, but it’s especially crucial in the High Country, where dogs can mistake porcupines, elk, bears and even other, unfriendly dogs for playmates and get themselves into trouble.
That’s why the Frisco Adventure Park is partnering with certified professional dog trainer Louisa Morrissey, owner of High Country Dogs, to offer three skill and obedience classes this summer.
“I look at obedience as really manners,” Morrissey said. “It’s not jumping on people, coming when called, having some skills for self-control. It’s really important in Summit County because it’s a really busy county out there. There’s a lot of people, a lot of dogs, and trails get crowded. Especially in Summit, having well-behaved dogs is really important when having them out in public.”
Morrissey will teach the classes in a small-group setting, allowing for more personalized attention. Three classes will be offered: CORE Puppy Class for puppies ages 5 to 8 months, which focuses on socialization and positive training techniques that help puppies build confidence; Squirrel, which teaches how to get and keep a dog’s attention even in the face of irresistible distractions such as squirrels; and Agility Fun for You and Your Dog, a six-week introductory agility course for dogs and their humans.
The CORE class will be limited to only five puppies, Morrissey said, and the other two courses will be limited to 10 dogs each.
“Dogs do learn in different ways and so do people,” she said. “I focus on the people-dog relationship, as well, training dogs and teaching people how to train their dogs. With smaller classes, I get to know the students and each dog really well, and it allows more one-on-one time with each student, so I can figure out how to connect with both the dog and the human.”
Morrissey said she would have an agenda for each session, adding that all of the classes are action-based, so there’s very little sitting around, and each one will end with handouts to take home and practice the skills learned in the lesson.
“In puppy classes, we build week by week,” she said. “In Squirrel, we build week by week on what we did before. There’s usually a scene, we do a review, I present the new information and do examples, and then I set up ways we can practice that throughout the class. I end up breaking down the information into small bits throughout the class, working on one small bit and then another and then another, so people aren’t overwhelmed.”
For the agility class, Morrissey will begin with basic handling and safety on the obstacles. She recommends a grab tag, or short leash, for that class because the area is not fenced; the dogs will stay on leashes for the other two courses.
“Each week, I’ll present some different obstacles,” she said. “They can work on those as well as what they’ve worked on before.”
Using positive reinforcement
The three summer courses are now open for registration and provide an opportunity to build confidence between human and canine in an environment based in positive reinforcement, which teaches a dog what to do and sets him up for success.
“My training style encourages patience and understanding,” Morrissey said. “And one of my favorite phrases is ‘there’s always a dog,’ meaning that just like people, there are always those dogs that break the mold so even though you can sort of generalize, it’s important to keep in mind that dogs are ultimately individuals.”
For questions about any of the dog classes, call Morrissey at (970) 406-0158 or go to http://highcountrydogs.com. For more information about Frisco Recreation programs or help with registration, call (970) 668-2558 or email Linsey Kach at firstname.lastname@example.org.