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Puppies Go to Kindergarten

You may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but you can certainly teach a new one—or at least try. Owners hoping to teach their new puppies to sit on command and walk beside them brought their furry friends to Puppy Kindergarten at the Easton Community Center Monday night.

Trainer Julie Zbriger coached the owners on how to get the pups to lay down when asked before being given a treat, but many of the dogs were more interested in meeting each other and eating kibble that fell on the floor than learning how to listen.

Judy Wolochuk, who brought Derby, her seven-month-old Australian Shepherd, to the class said socializing him is important to do while he is young. “You have to do the exposure, rather than just keeping them home and isolating them, because then they don’t see other things and they become very fearful,” she said. “If you have a dog that’s not as fearful, then you have one that’s more compliant and less likely to cause problems.”

The owners learn to get their dogs to respond to basic commands like sit, stay, down, come, leave it, watch, and settle. They will also learn how to walk on a loose leash, how to limit biting and chewing, how to control barking, as well as potty training, something some of the dogs at the session had yet to master.

Zbriger emphasized the importance of training dogs while they are still young.

“Just like kids, the earlier you start, the better. if you start training them at a young age, then they don’t have the time to develop the bad habits. And once you have a bad habit it’s a lot harder to take it away or to teach them not to have that bad habit,” she said.”If you just start from the beginning with good behaviors it saves you a lot of heartache and frustration down the road.”

The ECC hosts Puppy Kindergarten Mondays from 6 to 7 p.m. and adult dog obedience classes from 7 to 8 p.m. until Aug. 16. For more information call (203) 459-9700.

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