The School Newspaper of Vista Ridge High School

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Puppy Perfection: Freshman trains dogs in spare time

Nicholas Dunn, Guest Reporter

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She presses the button on the small clicker twice, the dog doesn’t respond. She tries calling the animal’s name, still with no reward. She gets on one knee and and places a hand on the dogs back, it looks back wagging it’s tail. She smiles, and tries the clicker along with a treat, the dog sits. With a nod she repeats the process, trying to get the small dog to associate the sound with food. Dog training isn’t always easy, but for freshman Alayna Clark, it’s extremely rewarding.

Clark has trained dogs as a job and a hobby for almost eight years. Over the years, she has learned some effective methods of training that have helped her train countless animals.

“I started training when I was around seven,” Clark said. “I used to watch videos of well trained dogs all the time, and I was already dog sitting and dog walking. The videos intrigued me and I did some research and started training my neighbors dogs for money and my own dogs for fun.”

Clark trains her own dog, a mix of doberman, German shepherd and an Australian shepherd named Dasher,  for around two hours after school every day, taking small breaks every hour for water or to just play around.

“Some dogs take longer getting focused after breaks, so I take shorter breaks and longer training sessions with those dogs,” Clark said. “My dog on the other hand has a very strict focus command, so he can have a longer break.”

When she was nine, she got a puppy as a birthday present, she spent a lot of time teaching him basic commands, like sit, stay and lay down.

“He got more stubborn. I stopped the training for about a year due to school being hard and moving states,” Clark said. “He started to lose his commands which is when I realized I really needed to start training again.”

Clark doesn’t normally charge for her services. She wants people to want their dogs to be well behaved.

“I used to charge about $10 an hour but nowadays I don’t typically require payment,” Clark said. “I won’t train someone’s dog for free if they think it’s an easy way out of paying a trainer, but if someone truly wants me to work with them to benefit theirs and their dogs life, then I’m completely fine working without pay, as I also enjoy training dogs.”

Although she enjoys training dogs, Clark admits that it can be pretty frustrating when a dog doesn’t feel like listening.

“At the time I had two dogs, both in training,” Clark said. “I was working with one but the other kept sneaking over and stealing treats, even though I had commanded him to lay down and stay down. it was frustrating but a bit funny at the same time.”

She sees it as a great way to bond with animals, she uses treats and other small rewards to give the dog something to work towards.

“If you want your dog to behave or act well, then start training early, since puppies are very curious and easily influenced by their surroundings,” Clark said. “Don’t give up if your dog is stubborn, try using a clicker and treats to get them to associate the click with food, and eventually you’ll have a well behaved and happy dog.

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The School Newspaper of Vista Ridge High School
Puppy Perfection: Freshman trains dogs in spare time