April 9, 2024 at 1:12pm

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Elena Ferrarin

Article by Elena Ferrarin

Communications Coordinator
Northbrook Park District


Would you like your puppy to get used to being around people and other dogs, and learn not to be afraid of thunderstorms? Or perhaps you’d like your dog to learn to follow basic instructions while getting a chance to socialize?

If the answer is “yes,” you can register now for two dog training classes starting April 30 at the Northbrook Park District.

“Puppy Beginnings” is for puppies between the ages of two months and four months. “Basic Behaviors Dog Training” is for dogs five months old and up. Certified professional dog trainer Melissa Parker of Coachable Canines will lead both classes, which are entirely based on positive reinforcement.

Both classes will consist of six sessions on Tuesday evenings from April 30 to June 4. The puppy class will take place from 4 to 4:50 p.m.; the basic behaviors class will take place from 5 to 5:50 p.m.

Class sizes will be kept small to maximize time for each parent and pet, and to keep distractions at a minimum, Parker said. “Most people call them ‘owners,’” she explained, “but I prefer ‘parent.’ I like to make it more family oriented.”

The puppy class will help puppies learn to be comfortable in working with their parents, and will include time for play and socialization. The class will expose puppies to a variety of stimuli, including sounds and textures, so they can start getting used to things like fireworks, thunderstorms and vacuums, Parker said. “Hopefully down the road, because they have been exposed to those things in a positive way, they will not be scary for them,” she said.

The basic behaviors class is geared to build communication between parents and their dogs, who learn basic instruction like “sit,” “down,” “leave it” and “drop it.” “It’s definitely a fun experience,” Parker said. “I want it to be fun so that parents enjoy training their dogs, and I can keep up the dogs’ interest.” Her clients have included older dogs whose parents thought would benefit from a new and enjoyable experience, she added.

Parker, who’s been certified for three years, also teaches dog training at two other suburban park districts. As a former college basketball coach, her job perfectly combines her passion for coaching and her love for dogs, she said.

The park district also has a membership-based dog park at Coast Guard Park, where dogs can run and play off-leash in completely fenced-in areas, one for all dogs and one for smaller dogs. For more information and to apply for a dog park membership, visit nbparks.co/dogpark.

The park district started offering dog training classes in the fall as an additional service for the community, whose love for dogs is well-known, said Northbrook Park District Recreation Supervisor Matt Papale.

“Training your dog using positive reinforcement methods help you to communicate effectively and build a trusting relationship with them,” Papale said.

The upcoming dog training classes take place at the Village Green Center at Village Green Park in downtown Northbrook. Before the first class on April 30, parents will watch a pre-recorded orientation video featuring Parker.

For the puppy class, proof of the first round of vaccinations at least 10 days before the start of the class must be provided. For the basic behaviors class, proof of up-to-date vaccinations is required. For more information and to register for the dog training classes, visit nbparks.org/dogs.