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Humane Society kicks off dog training courses

Sit, stay, be good.

The Suffolk Humane Society began their first dog training classes Monday at the Magnolia Ruritan Club building.

“We’ve had such a big response from the community,” trainer Paula Dayton said. “We’re really hoping to teach people to communicate with their dogs what is expected of them instead of just getting rid of them.”

Trainers are Dayton and Vanessa Vance, who have a dog adopted from a shelter. Both are members of the Suffolk Humane Society and members at the Merrimac Dog Training Club in Hampton.

So far, the classes have been well received by the community. There are 26 people signed up for the classes and more on the wait list.

“I’ve been really excited about the classes,” said Lori Drake, who brought her 11-week-old puppy, Lola.

Drake drives in from Franklin for the classes she hopes will teach Lola “to be a good puppy.”

“I’ll be happy if she comes when she’s called,” Drake said.

The classes won’t be all fun and games though. The trainers will teach owners how to communicate with the dogs, but owners have homework to do with their dogs every week. They are provided with handouts and sheets explaining the work.

“The success of the program really depends on the pet owner,” Dayton said. “If someone is having problems with their pet, we want to see if we can’t help them work it out.”

The couple approached the humane society with the idea of offering the classes with a tri-purpose: to help pet owners, pets and the humane society.

“The humane society has been raising funds to build their own facility,” Dayton said. “We’ll do anything we can do to help further that a long.”

Besides funds for the shelter, Dayton said she hopes classes open the communication between pet and owner and ultimately cut down on the number of pets given up.

“We’ll teach them five basic things every dog should know, plus controlled walking so owners aren’t dragged all over by their dog,” Dayton said.

The five basic instructions being taught are: sit, down, stand, stay and come.

“Once you get a puppy, if he grows up and isn’t trained the likelihood of him going to animal control is so much greater,” Dayton said. “The earlier you teach them, the better off they’ll be.”

Dayton said there is a chance more classes will be offered in the future and expand the program to include a Canine Good Citizen certification depending on how the current classes go.