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Announcement on CCTV about upcoming Community Education class "Bringing Home Fido"

Concord Journal Announcement August 2015

In case you missed it, this is the front page of the Concord Jounral for 1/12/2012!

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PHOTOS: Proper Paws Dog Training

By Kimberly A. Hooper/Staff Writer

Wicked Local Concord

Posted Jan 13, 2012 @ 06:34 AM

Concord — Rajani LaRocca of Concord watched her almost 2-year-old Havanese dog Boomer trot through the forest at the Old Rifle Range conservation land Tuesday morning during a small group dog training session, smiling when Boomer came right to her when he was called.

“It’s an amazing thing having him trained,” LaRocca said as she rewarded him with a small piece of cheese. “It makes our relationship even better.”  LaRocca is just one of the many dog owners in the area who have had their pets trained by Judy Bernard of Proper Paws Dog Training.

Bernard, who lives in Concord, has always loved dogs. She became interested in dog training when she researched places to have her golden retriever puppy trained many years ago.  “I couldn’t find any classes that met my schedule,” Bernard said, who at the time was raising young children.

As Bernard’s children started playing sports, she got the idea to start a dog training business when she saw puppies on the sidelines at the playing fields. After getting a small group of friends with dogs together to train, Bernard said word soon leaked out and people were calling her, interested in having their dogs trained.
With more than 15 years of training experience, Bernard is a certified personal dog trainer, a professional member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, an approved evaluator for the AKC Canine Good Citizen Program and AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy Program and a Therapy Dog International evaluator.

Through private and small-group training sessions, Bernard is able to train dogs in familiar surroundings, which for her is among the most important aspects of dog training.

“A lot of puppies learn better in their own environment,” Bernard said.  Training dogs and their owners through training courses with each dog, Bernard is able to teach owners about the importance of socializing their dogs and also about commands that will transform any mischievous pup into a well-behaved family member.  “Once the dog learns how to sit down, stay and come in its own environment, we then take those skills out into the public,” Bernard said. “It’s one thing to learn it in their kitchen but it’s totally different teaching them in public.”

LaRocca, who got in contact with Bernard after searching for local trainers on the Internet, said training Boomer when he was a puppy was the best thing she ever did.  “The training has been great,” LaRocca said. “He loves us so much and wants to make us happy.”  During the first couple of weeks LaRocca was training Boomer, she said it felt as though she was taking care of a baby because it took a lot of time and effort to get him to listen and obey her.  “But because of Judy’s amazing support we now have a well behaved dog in our family,” LaRocca said. “Boomer loves her and all the dogs Judy trains just love her. She makes training fun not just for my dog but for me too. Training doesn’t have to be a chore.”

Bernard is also a skilled dog matchmaker. She strives to make play dates productive by socializing dogs in small groups instead of at dog parks where owners could find dozens of dogs, with all different behaviors and training levels, roaming around.  “Socialization is the most important thing you can do for your puppy,” Bernard said. “Many times when it’s cold people skip that part, but without socialization, dogs end up timid, shy and worried and are often turned back to where they came from or put into a pound.”

Liz Ruark, a veterinarian at Lancaster Animal Hospital, said the earlier a puppy is exposed to a variety of people, other dogs and surroundings, the better socialized it will be.  “Dogs who spend their puppyhood inside the house, with the same people day after day and little exposure to other dogs may become fearful,” Ruark said. “It’s much easier to prevent dogs from becoming fearful than to cure it once it’s already happened.”

National Train Your Dog Month
For the past three years, the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT), a professional organization of individual trainers who are committed to becoming better trainers through education, according to their website, has named the month of January “National Train Your Dog Month.”

Bernard said it’s important to train a dog using only positive training techniques and recommends the APDT website to those who are looking to find trainers or for tips on socialization and training.  “I don’t like witnessing trainers using old-school methods to train dogs,” Bernard said. “Negative punishment works faster but it sure doesn’t last. Positive motivation works better because it’s not fear based.”  Mychelle Blake, executive director for the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, said the APDT chose to make January “National Train Your Dog Month” because it is a month full of New Year’s resolutions and new family puppies.  “Even if you’ve already had a dog for a long time you can start this month by taking it to a class,” Blake said. “The other main reason we chose January was because a lot of people tend to adopt or buy puppies around the winter holidays. It’s prime time for puppy classes and socialization.”

For new dog owners, Bernard suggests finding a good DVD or book that encourages training.  Besides resources for dog owners, the APDT also offers resources for owners of cats and rabbits.  The APDT has just set up free online webinars on a variety of training and behavior topics, as well as live Facebook “chats” with professional trainers, according to an APDT press release.  For new dog owners, Blake doesn’t recommend going to the first person listed online or the one offering the most inexpensive classes.  “Go and check out their classes first,” Blake said. “Interview them and make sure you feel comfortable with them. They are going to train both you and your dog so you need to find somebody you can learn from and feel comfortable asking questions to.”

Bernard agreed and said get educated about dog trainers.“Find the one you’re comfortable with and don’t ever have someone tell you to do something you don’t want to do,” Bernard said. “Be your dog’s advocate.”

Copyright 2012 The Concord Journal. Some rights reserved

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