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Canine coaching

Training: Saugus store Petco hosts six-week class for dogs, young and old

Posted: February 12, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 12, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Petco lead dog trainer Tanya Terzian works with Theia.

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They have names like Karma, Buster and Harley, and, for youngsters under 6 months old, they are a remarkably rapt class.

The dogs and their owners are signed up for a six-week puppy basics training class at Petco in Saugus. Every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., the puppies are put through their paces by trainers Jon Madrid and Tanya Terzian.

The popular classes are a vital part of the company’s outreach mission, according to Marta Wade, Petco’s store manager.

“Petco is big on the human/animal bond. The odds are that by training, people will enjoy their dog more, and there will be fewer problems. This also means less dogs turned up in shelters for lack of training,” Wade said.

Petco offers training classes six days a week, beginning and intermediate, for puppies and adult dogs. The course costs $109.95, with a $20 discount for dogs with proof of adoption, and requires canine students to be current on vaccinations. Private training lessons are also available at $65 per hour, or less by purchasing discount packages.

“This is positive reinforcement, reward-based training,” Wade said. “The rewards can be a toy, food, love, whatever motivates your dog. Every dog and every owner are different, and this class helps determine the best method for each family.”

Terzian emphasized the importance of bringing as many family members as possible to the class, which was filled with couples and siblings, as well as singles.

“You want the dog to see children as pack leaders, not pack members. Sometimes kids can play rough, which makes dogs think of them as littermates,” Terzian said. “We also help children understand that the dog needs to earn pets, to make them work for us before we give them attention.”

Now in week two, the beginning puppy class was in the midst of learning sit, stay, off, leave it and roll over, as well as enjoying some controlled play time.

After the usual sniffing meet and greet among the pups, Madrid, who has trained dogs at Universal Studios as well as for movies such as “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” and “Hotel for Dogs,” was ready with the night’s first lesson.

“You want to come up with a release word, instead of them deciding when they want to release from a command. It can be ‘Chill,’ ‘Alright,’ or whatever you want,” Madrid said. “Once they hear the release word, they know they are free to do what they want.”

Theia, a 10-week-old Doberman with the coloring of a peanut-butter cup, sat and stayed as her owner, Rochelle Beaman, of Saugus, backed up about six feet, relinquishing the leash in the process.

Cocking her head, Thea looked curiously at her owner until Beaman gave the release command “OK”. Beaman proudly gave her pup a tiny treat hidden in her hand.

“Aw, she’s showing off,” Madrid said to laughter.

This is the second dog the Beaman family has trained through Petco’s classes. Zeus, who is 6 1/2 months old, is now on level two puppy training. However, Thea has the upper paw on her big brother, according to her owner.

“She’s smarter than Zeus,” Beaman said. “Thea’s a quick learner. It’s just been a little easier with her.”

For Kiara Mushkot, of Saugus, and her fluffy, blonde 11-week-old golden retriever puppy Harley, the moves were all new.

“This is my first time training a dog. I’m learning a lot, especially patience,” Mushkot said. “I had heard it’s better to train dogs when they’re little, that they listen better.”

While training dogs as puppies is ideal, our four-legged friends are never too old to learn new tricks, as Madrid illustrated.

“Most of the dogs I’ve worked with in movies and television were rescued from shelters at 3 to 5 years old,” he said.
“It’s easier to mold a puppy, they pick up things faster, but adult dogs can definitely get to that stage. It just takes a little longer.”

For more information on training classes, visit Petco at 26501 Bouquet Canyon Road, Saugus, call (661)297-6936 or visit


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