Dog Training in Big Rapids, Michigan

Your puppy has a lot to learn--and maybe your adult dog does, too! At Riversbend Animal Hospital, our dog training helps you build a deeper bond with your dog through better communication. Our long-time instructor Debbie Szot teaches all our courses, offering years of experience to dog owners of Big Rapids, MI.

Debbie is an evaluator of the American Kennel Club (AKC). Through Debbie your dog can be tested for the S.T.A.R. Puppy Program, Canine Good Citizen (CGC), Urban Canine Good Citizen, Advanced Canine Good Citizen (CGCA), and Trick Dog Titles including: Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, Performer, Elite Performer. Debbie is also a Tester/Observer for Alliance of Therapy Dogs.

Debbie competes in AKC Agility and CPE Agility with her Boxer, Journey. Her youngest dog, a Shetland Sheepdog named Sketch, is in training for competition in agility. Debbie enjoyed competing with her dog Riley in AKC RALLY Obedience. Over the years Riley, Kegan, Hannah, Rusty, Zoe, Lexy, Traveler, and Britta have worked with her as volunteer Therapy Dogs. Currently, Zubie, Annie, Journey, and Sketch volunteer with Debbie and her husband David as Therapy Dogs.

Contact our veterinary practice at (231) 796-3507, to se up your next cat and dog training consultation.

dog training in big rapids, mi

What to Expect at Dog Obedience Class

We have two main classes for puppies and adult dogs. Both classes feature a mix of basic dog training as well as confidence building and social skills. The goal of these classes is to not only teach commands such as heel, sit, down, and come, but to help you and your dog live a well-balanced life. Once you are signed up, you need to come to your first class prepared with the following:

  • Standard 6-foot leash
  • Proper fitting collar. You can use a standard buckle collar or training collar. Training collars are available for purchase at class.
  • Treats! We highly encourage treats for positive reinforcement, so please bring your dog's favorite!
  • Proof of current vaccinations. Vaccines needed are rabies, DHLPP, and Bordetella. Puppies must be current in accordance with their age.

If you have any questions or you feel your dog may be overly aggressive toward people or other animals, give instructor Debbie Szot a call at (231) 796-3507.

Beyond the Basics

After your dog has completed a basic dog training, they will be eligible for more advanced training. Here are more classes to enroll your dog in:

Obedience Level Two

For this class your dog should know his basic commands. This class will give you and your dog the opportunity to have training at a higher level. Your dog will be challenged and will learn to be patient in this class. We will focus on finish commands as well as other more intricate commands. There will be distractions as well as off leash work. Training should always be fun at any level. We invite you to join us and grow with your dog!

Therapy Dog Preparation Class

This 6 week class is as much a prep course for your dog as it is for you. Firstly, you will learn what it means to be a therapy dog and handler team, and what you will be doing when you visit facilities. Then, you will have supervised visits that, if completed successfully, will allow you and your dog to test for certification through Alliance of Therapy Dogs. The final week of class is the test!

Beginner Agility Class

Agility is another competition you may consider for your dog. Through a 6 week course, you will learn basic agility handling skills while your dog learns to go over jumps, through tunnels, and work with some contact obstacles. From here, you can decide if agility is a sport you wish to pursue.

Beginner RALLY Class

For this class your dog should know his basic commands. Your dog will be taught the fundamentals of RALLY Obedience. RALLY is a fun and challenging sport whether you chose to compete in RALLY or not. Join us for a fun and exciting class!

Additionally, for more individualized training, private and semi-private lessons are available. These sessions are particularly useful if you struggle to communicate with your dog, or behavioral issues are preventing you from making progress. For behavioral consultation, please contact Debbie Szot at (231) 796-3507 to arrange an appointment.

dog jumping

The What, When, and Where

We hold each class at our animal hospital at 745 Water Tower Road in Big Rapids.  Keep in mind that class sizes are limited, and prepaid pre-registration is required.

Class times are as follows:

  • Puppy classes, for puppies 12 weeks to 6 months of age, are 6:00 P.M. Tuesdays and 9:00 A.M. Saturdays
  • Adult dog classes, for dogs over 6 months, are 7:15 P.M. Tuesdays and 10:15 A.M. Saturdays.
  • Therapy, Obedience Level Two, RALLY, and Agility classes are offered at different times throughout the year.

For more information on class schedules and costs, please consult our resource page here.

Please don't hesitate to call if you have any questions or concerns!

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