Dog Day Classroom: Dog Training Classes in the Chicago Area
My cat does not approve of this article. Baba Ghanoosh believes that any animal that needs training has no business in a civilized household. As a dog person who was adopted by this cat I try to convince him otherwise, but to no avail. He will not be budged.
However, millions of pet people do opt for Canis familiaris. Many of these millions find that to properly integrate their hound into the household some training is necessary, or at least useful. The Chicago-area offers many opportunities to train your pooch and turn him not only into your best friend, but an educated and erudite friend!
The Anti-Cruelty Society is perhaps best known for its animal protection services and for its Stanley Tigerman-designed dog-face façade. Perhaps less known is that they also provide a school of dog training for companion dogs and their people. While classes run the gamut from "Puppy Pre-School" to "Trick Training", their most popular program is "Pet Dog Training 101."
On a recent Monday evening seven dogs and their persons show up for the "Pet Dog Training 101" class. In attendance are a chocolate Labrador, a Chihuahua, a Husky, and more. One might expect a roomful of young, energetic pups to be utter chaos, but by this sixth meeting of the eight-week canine class the students are surprisingly well behaved. "It wasn't like this the first week," Jessica and Matt Albaugh tell me. But their 11-month-old chocolate lab, Greta, and her classmates all seem to be enjoying the class, and, to my untrained eye, learning.
Instructors Karen Okura and Lisa Lipinski put their class, human and animal, through their paces. Exercises include a variety of "Stay" commands, challenging the dog to lie down, sit, and stand, for increasingly long periods of time and from greater distances. Another exercise is "Leave it", where the animal has to resist pouncing on food or other items tossed on the floor. Dogs that successfully complete the exercises are rewarded with treats, praise, and affection. While unwilling to be interviewed, the dogs certainly seemed to be having a ball!
The eight-week class is not without its homework. The instructors recommend practice of "at least 20 to 30 minutes every day in one or two sessions." Practice can be done at home, in a backyard, or other enclosed outdoor area where there will be few distractions.
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Illinois
School of Dog Training
157 West Grand Avenue
Chicago, IL 60610
Canis Sapiens offers force-free, reward-based dog training both in client's homes and on Chicago's south side. Founded by Hyde Park residents Jane Masterson and Claudia Misi, Canis Sapiens provides a variety of training options including "Puppy Kindergarten," "A Taste of Agility," and "Rally Obedience." Private and semi-private lessons are also available. Some classes are offered on an on-going basis, allowing students who can't attend regularly to participate when convenient. They do stress that regular attendance is recommended.
Canis Sapiens Dog Training
Hyde Park and environs
Billing itself as the "World's largest dog training company," Bark Busters's "Dog Behavioral Therapist"- franchisees provide in-home teaching to dog owners. Their mission is to help dog owners to communicate with their dogs in a language that the dogs understand.
A dog can be a wonderful companion, greeting you affectionately when you return home while protecting your home while you were away. Taking some time at the beginning of your canine relationship to teach your pooch proper animal behavior can be a great way to strengthen your bond and make your dog's life a happier, safer, and more fulfilling one!
Photos by Paul Segedin and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Illinois.