OAKHURST – It’s soft, cute and cuddly. It smells amazing. You got it from a box in front of a supermarket, or at a shelter, a pet shop or breeder. It’s a little puppy, sweet as an infant and you are thrilled beyond belief.
That is, until you realize your new puppy, the one with the razor sharp teeth, has the energy and judgement of a five year old kid. That’s when it’s time to think about training.
Canine expert Gail Hawksworth thinks about training all the time. She is the owner of MySham for the Love of Dogs Training and Care, and has been handling the education of dogs and their people since the 1980s. Hawksworth has a kind and easygoing manner that makes her great at teaching humans to properly manage their dogs.
Hawksworth is the breeder and owner of several champion Irish Wolfhounds and has garnered scores of accolades on their behalf. She is a Therapy Dog International (TDI) certified evaluator and American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Good Citizen (CGC).
“I tell people who have a new puppy, ‘congratulations, you’ve just received a newborn baby,'” says the experienced animal lover. Using a familiar grade-school analogy, Hawksworth likens young puppies to “kindergarteners,” while dogs older than six months are more like “sixth graders,” she says.
Puppies are not the only dogs who can use a little advice from Hawksworth. More mature canines are subject to correction, too.
“Dogs are never too old for training,” she says, “and they can never get enough interaction. People can bring their animals back for different variations at each training session.”
Hawksworth can arrange private training and lessons for behavioral modification year round, and has a class in “Fun and Agility” that combines dog and human energy for a great workout.
Some who’ve taken Fun and Agility with their dogs have been surprised at the results, says Hawksworth. They didn’t realize until then that athletics and aerobics could be gained and weight could be lost just working out with their four-legged friends.
Besides private classes, Hawksworth gives group lessons, as well. Scheduled now are two 5-week dog training sessions starting on Tuesday, Sept. 10. Pet owner orientation and enrollment for both sessions begins at 6 p.m. at Oakhurst Feed and Pet Supply. She has a Puppy Socialization program for dogs six months and under, along with a Basic Training for dogs which are older than six months.
While some trainers combine all ages in group class, Hawksworth prefers to keep the babies separate from the older ones when it comes to canine age and training.
“Puppy’s attention span is not as long as an older dog and their durability is shorter in terms of performing and dog socializing. This is not so in the other class,” explains Hawksworth.
The group meetings include everyday training and take place both in and outside of the building. Hawksworth recommends that small breed puppies be carried in and of class for their safety and comfort.
One important note about the first class on Sept. 10 for enrollment and orientation: do not bring your dog. Do bring any papers to certify that your dog has adequate protection in the form of vaccinations, but please, says Hawksworth, leave Rover at home. Classes after the dog-free orientation will be 6 p.m. for Puppy Socialization and 7:15 p.m. for Basic Training (as of Sept. 17). Each class is expected to last approximately one hour.
Hawksworth requests that anyone interested in any of her canine classes call her for more information as she is often available to answer questions on the phone.
Gail Hawksworth can be reached at (559) 658-7122 and looks forward to speaking with dog owners prior to enrollment.