Humane society offering dog obedience classes

Published 10:23 am Saturday, November 14, 2009

Shelby County dog owners now have an affordable way to teach manners to their pets.

The Shelby County Humane Society is offering low-cost dog obedience classes in Chelsea and Calera.

The cost is $60 for the six-week course. For anyone on public assistance, the cost of the course is $15. Chelsea and Calera residents receive $15 off, and the course is free for anyone who got their dog from the Shelby County Humane Society.

Sarah Hatfield, the training and behavior specialist with the Humane Society, said the course is intended to teach dogs basic manners necessary to coexist with families.

“It’s basic manners, such as sit, down, stay and come when called,” Hatfield said. “It’s the basics a dog would need to be a nice family dog.”

The course utilizes clicker training, which teaches dogs to associate certain sounds and behaviors with treats. Eventually, dogs learn to associate spoken commands and hand signals with good behaviors.

The Chelsea classes are located on County Road 51 in a city-owned building, and the Calera classes are at the Calera Police Department firing range and training station off State Highway 70. The classes in Chelsea are typically on Tuesday nights, while the Calera classes are usually on Sunday afternoons.

Hatfield said the classes are currently located in Calera and Chelsea because the Humane Society was able to find available housing in those cities.

“If other cities want to give us space, we’d love to teach there too,” she said.

Hatfield said the goal for the classes is to help adopted shelter dogs get used to new environments and please their owners more quickly. The classes are also meant for anyone having problems with their dogs’ behavior.

“The reason we started offering classes is to help shelter dogs transition into their new homes,” she said. “We’re helping people who are having problems with their dogs keep their dogs. We have a lot of dogs brought in (to the Humane Society) because of really simple behavioral problems.”

The classes are typically limited to eight dogs, which allows Hatfield to take time with each particular pet and figure out what works best for that dog.

“You have to figure out what’s going to motivate your dog,” she said. “After each class, I usually ask, ‘What difference do you see in your dogs?’ Most people say their dogs pay more attention to them and listen better.”

The classes will begin again in January. To sign up or get more information, call 669-3916 or visit