Indiana Gazette from Indiana, Pennsylvania on October 27, 2002 · Page 10
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Indiana Gazette from Indiana, Pennsylvania · Page 10

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Indiana, Pennsylvania
Issue Date:
Sunday, October 27, 2002
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Page 10
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A-1O - Sunday, October 27, 2002 REGION (§nzctte Class offers training know-how People and pets often don't see eye to eye Continued from page e class was mil, with The class was mil, with 14 other dogs and their handlers streaming through the gates into the exercise yard. I suddenly became concerned that my dog might not socialize well with some of the other pooches, but everything seemed kosher after a brief whiff and sniff. Our instructor, Horses and Hounds owner Marie Winters, greeted everyone by name. Cody defecated. "The pooper-scooper is right over there," she said cheerfully. Already embarrassed and quietly cursing my dog, I cleaned up the mess as Winters continued with a few words of wisdom that seemed appropriate — don't get mad or frustrated and always use positive reinforcement. All dogs have a signal that lets you know they want to go outside, and it is the human's responsibility to learn what that is, she said. If a dog has an accident in the house, she said, it's the human's fault for not being attentive and the dog shouldn't be punished. The signal can be obvious (a loud bark) or subtle (a silent, unflinching stare). One good idea is to attach a bell to a doorknob and jingle it every time you let the dog out. Eventually, the dog may jingle the bell on his own to let you know what's on his mind. As I listened intently to the instructor, I glanced down. Cody was eating grass. "Pay attention," I whispered, sheepishly grinning at the woman with the pug next to me. Week two The second week, we started with the basics — how to get our dogs to sit and lie down. No problem, I thought, since I'd had great success with those commands. Not surprisingly, Cody wasn't able to pay attention with all the activity going on around him. I looked around and discovered that most other people's pets were responding quite well. Frustrated, I brought Cody home after class and told my wife of our many failed attempts. "Strange," she said, "he always listens to me. Let me try." Sure enough, Cody repeatedly lay down on command. My wife grinned; I cursed again. This would have to be something we worked on. Week three Having practiced the "sit" and "down" commands during the week, Cody did much better during a review. Then Winters covered what I most wanted to learn — how to prevent your dog from jumping on people. Her instructions were simple: Keep the dog leashed before guests arrive, Continued from page A-1 that is more humane has also become the norm. "The philosophy has become a lot more humane," more positive and, therefore, more enjoyable, she said. "We get these critters to share our lives with." The positive approach fueled an increase in popularity of obedience classes because dog owners are more willing to praise a dog than to scold it, Winters said. Winters is a big advocate of the reward system and has attended seminars by Ion Dunbar, a veterinarian who is credited with popularizing the positive approach to obedience training. Ten years ago, Dunbar founded the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, an organization of 3,500 professional trainers. Nowadays, pet owners are enrolling dogs as young as 8 weeks old, as opposed to 6 months or more. Like humans, dogs learn best when they're young, hence the phrase "you can't teach an old dog new tricks," although that's not entirely true. Dogs have their full intelligence by the time they're 8 weeks old, Winters said. For that reason, Horses and Hounds offers a "puppy kindergarten" class for pups younger than 4 months old. Dogs in that class learn primarily how to socialize with other canines and humans — dogs should ideally interact with at least 100 people by 4 months, she said — and handlers learn how to prevent their dogs from biting. Winters said she started the class to "keep young dogs out of animal shelters; up to 60 percent of new pets wind up there, she estimated. Other offerings, besides die basic obedience class, are agility classes and more advanced training, which includes lessons on off-leash heeling, long-distance retrievals and out- of-sight stays. The cost is $70 for six one-hour les-' sons and includes treats — for the dogs. But merely attending a six-week class for an hour a week won't turn an excitable puppy into a well-behaved lapdog. Winters likened it to teaching multiplication tables to children; handlers must repetitively but patiently work with their pets in an environment that is relatively free of distractions. Winters grew up in Cherryhill Township and helped with her sister's dog-grooming business. She used the money she made to support her hobby — showing Airedale terriers. "I've had a love of animals all my life," she said. In 1983, Winters opened Horses and Hounds along North Fourth Street. She moved to her current location two years later. As far as she knows, the only person in Indiana County who offers obedience classes is Winters' sister, Connie Winters, the owner of Connie Winters Kennels along Airport Road in White Township. Connie Winters offers an eight- week course in the spring, summer and fall every year. Classes are one hour once a week for about 10 people per class. The cost is $80 and includes two training leashes and a choke chain. Dogs must have up-to- date shots. then use the "off" command once the dog jumps while yanking him downward. For practice, Winters approached each dog with arms wide, goading them to leap. "Are you a jumper?" she asked Cody. "Is he ever," I answered. But, just to make a liar out of me, he didn't jump once, even when Winters later approached him at a jog. Week four During the fourth class, we learned what Winters considers the most important command: "come." There are instances when it is essential that your dog respond immediately, she said, such as if a fire breaks out in your home or your dog gels loose and is romping in the middle of a busy street. To teach the command, we let our pooches to the end of their leashes and called them to come near. No matter what, Winters said, do not punish your dog after uttering that command because you do not want it to gain a negative association. Winters' assistant, Jennie Crytzer, illustrated the point with her dog, Shania, a professionally trained therapy dog and graduate of several obedience courses. Crytzer asked Shania if she wanted a treat, wanted to go for a ride, even wanted to go for a walk. Shania just sat there, patiently. "Shania, come," Crytzer said. The dog bolted toward her and sat at her feet, for which she Jennie Crytzer, with her dog, Shania, assists Connie Winters with the instruction during the obedience classes. (Gazette photo by Thomas Slusser) was rewarded with a treat. "Teacher's pet," I groaned. Week five Our homework the previous week was to find something edible that our dogs would go wild over. When we got to class, we all put the treats — hot dogs, scraps of roast (Cody's favorite), bacon — in a large, clear bag. The exercise was designed to really get the dogs' attention (it even worked for Cody) so we could again practice the "come" command. First, we let our dogs get good whiffs of the bag. Then, as Winters restrained the dog on a 50-foot leash, we retreated and called the dogs. If they responded immediately, our pooches each got one of the treats from the bag and a hearty rub. But if they didn't trot over right away, we were instructed to feed the treat to the nearest dog. If our own dogs failed to respond after trying again, we were to take the treat and another dog out of sight for a few minutes. "Basically what you're doing is breaking your dog's heart," Winters said. Luckily, it never came to that. Toward the end of class, we were put to the test in front of the rest of the class. Each dog and its handler were timed while the dog was guided through a pattern of commands. Cody's time was 12 seconds; the rest of the class ranged from 6 to 36 seconds. I was proud. But we were expected to do better when we were timed the next week, and the team with the lowest time would get a bag of treats. Week six (graduation) I worked diligently with Cody that week. "We'll win you those treats," I assured him. During our second timed test, 1 frantically shouted the commands, and this time we cut our time in half! We were sure to win — until some husky beat us by a measly 1 second. We were crushed. Well, Cody didn't seem to care; he seemed suddenly interested in his tail. My wife insists that means he graduated second in his class. Then again, she wasn't there to see what really went on. In the service Franklinn Alexander HOME — Marine Corps Pvt. Franklinn M. Alexander, the son of Constance L. and Gerald A. Alexander, of Home, recently completed basic training at Mai- rine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, S.C. Alexander is a 2002 graduate of Marion Center Area High School.' Joseph Radzanowski Air Force Airman Joseph E. Radzanowski of Indiana has graduated from basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. He is the son of Deborah Schleilner of Pittsburgh and Edward Radzanowski of Indiana, and is a 2000 graduate of Marion Center Area High School. Rachael Pavlik Marine Lance Cpl. Rachael A. Pavlik, the daughter of Mary B. Vallorani of Blairsville, recently reported for duty with 2nd radio Battalion, Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune, N.C. Pavlick is a 1999 graduate of Greater Latrobe High School and joined the Marine Corps in Sept 1999. Matthew Rethi HOME — Marine Corps Pvt. Matthew D. Rethi, grandson of Charles and Judy Jadzak of Home, recently completed basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, S.C. Rethi is a 2002 graduate of Marir on Center Area High School. Mitchell Trinkley KENT — Marine Corps Pvt. Mitchell L. Trinkley, son of Debra A. Shoop of Kent, recently completed basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Isr land, S.C. Trinkley is a 2001 graduate of Purchase Line High School, Commodore. Shaun Novella CHERRY TREE — Marine Corps Pvt. Shaun A. Novella, the son of Diane Novella and Dave Perry, ol Cherry Tree RR2, recendy corm pleted basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C. ; Novella is a 2000 graduate of Harmony Area High School. • HAVE A GREATER HAND I the health plan that doesn't expect you to CommunityBlue Direct gives you direc| access to quality c - '-'iat.*' " network of over 30 hospit^^t including advanced teaching h EALTH when he needs fc^jft^ * i> ull Children's Hospital. Just^f little something to mak$ ^ 'v'-S Supported by these specialty and teaching hospitals: CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PITTSBURGH. ALLEGHENY GENERAL HOSPITAL. HAMOT MEDICAL CENTER. THE MERCY HOSPITAL OF PITTSBURGH. THE WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA HOSPITAL „,„„ „,..„„, „,,, „,„,„,„ fan ,,, ul r ., f ,.,,, /v ,„ „,,„.,„„„,, „„,,.„ „,,,,„„ „„, s •r in your enrollment kit or on your identification (

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