Twin Cities Obedience Training Club

Lesson 1: On planet Earth, more than 5 million dogs are euthanized every year. Visit your local shelter and you'll know in an instant why. Lesson 2: The dogs that tend to get abandoned and then put to death meet their fate not because they're bad animals but because they don't fit well enough into the human world. They bark too much for urban ears. They tinkle too often on fancy carpets. They sniff inappropriate butts, chew up pillows, perfume themselves with long-rotten squirrels, scarf down the holiday turkey, fart in cars. Lesson 3: Some of this behavior is just plain pooch, and patient people learn to live with it, and love it. But truth be told, lots of it--the really bratty acts--happens because their humans haven't been well trained. For many years Twin Cities Obedience Training Club has been remedying this situation as best it can, in the soundproof basement of a northeast Minneapolis warehouse that could pass for hound heaven if an unruly dog died and went to it. That's because dogs, from the moment they squirt from the womb, want to (need to) be part of a pack, to realize their rank, and to know how to behave in a mannerly way in mixed company. If you, the human, don't act like the master in charge, your dog will, by instinct. Trainers here teach everything from puppy socialization (lots of slobbering, belly rubs, goo-goo talk) to beginners' training (basic commands, leash etiquette, pack-leader tips), to show preparation (synchronized maneuvers, origami). There's even a weekly class called the Little Red Schoolhouse, for dogs who are especially, well, challenged (chronic aggression toward others, extreme fear, Oedipal complexes). The nonprofit TCOTC's mainly volunteer staff accomplishes all this using pleasurable reinforcement, with food or hand clickers and nonchoking collars or gentle leaders on the muzzle. Sessions are affordable--$6 to $10--and students are always invited to sign up for fly-ball tournaments, holiday parties (guess who dresses up?), potlucks (buffets for both species!), show trials, and other events for the socially sophisticated set.


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