This article was featured in WYDaily on 10/6/23.
The Heritage Humane Society loves seeing dogs find their perfect human match. What happens next can be a tale of two paths – enroll in dog training classes resulting in maximizing a positive relationship with your new furry friend, or skip dog training classes and possibly end up frustrated with unwanted behaviors along with a confused canine desperately trying to communicate unsuccessfully with you. This is where Adam Claar, resident Dog Whisperer at The Heritage Humane Society, steps in.

Claar joined the Heritage Humane Society as the Dog Training Class Instructor in 2019 after beginning as a trainer in 2012. He is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant with the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge and Skills Assessed, and a Canine Good Citizen, STAR puppy, and Trick Dog evaluator for the American Kennel Club.
Oftentimes, people adopt or purchase a dog without the understanding of the amount of work and cost of ownership. For others, they are overwhelmed by their other obligations to family, work, travel or social calendars. Then, when the dog, through no fault of their own, is deemed unmanageable, it is either ignored in a backyard or surrendered.
According to Claar, another reason some folks put off training is, “‘our last dog wasn’t this difficult.’ People mean well. They love their dogs. If they didn’t then I wouldn’t hear from them at all. But, when the things that worked with their last dog aren’t working now, and when the tips and tricks they got off the internet didn’t help (or made it worse), it can be a bit of a slow-dawning realization that it’s past time to consult a certified professional.”
One of the common misunderstandings Claar sees that people have about training dogs is that, “Training your dog means re-training your dog. They are not pieces of hardware and the training is not software that gets loaded into their operating systems. We cannot expect to call up those skills anytime, anywhere just because ‘they know how to do it.’ If you want your dog to be reliable in a variety of situations, then you must re-train them up to the desired skill level repeatedly in a variety of situations. Just because I might carry a tune in the shower doesn’t mean I can sing in public.”

Dog training that benefits you, your dog and local homeless pets

Claar welcomes the opportunity to help bridge the gap between people and their dogs. The core mission of the Heritage Humane Society dog training is to help humans better understand and communicate with their dogs.
The Heritage Humane Society implemented dog training classes in Sept. 2019. Since then, 857 dogs have enrolled and the classes have raised $113,000 with all of it going directly to care for the shelter’s homeless pets.

Course selections

From puppies to dogs of any age, The Heritage Humane Society offers a full selection of classes to fit your needs.
• Handling & Grooming. This four week course welcomes dogs of any age. Participants learn about what to expect and ask at vet visits, the benefits of grooming, and basic handling. The class focuses on making these experiences less stressful for your dog.
• Puppy Level 1 Class. The shelter considers this Puppy Kindergarten. Young ones and their humans learn about socialization and preventing common puppy problems. Each class includes some off-leash playtime. The completion of the course includes preparation and testing for American Kennel Club (AKC) S.T.A.R. Puppy. Note, dogs do not have to be purebred for American Kennel Club certification, rather the organization’s courses are widely recognized as the standard for dog training.
 Puppy Level 2 Class. This class builds on the obedience learned in Puppy Level 1. People and dogs learn to apply classroom skills to real-life situations.
• Adult Level 1 Class. This can be an ideal place to get started when you have a dog or adopt a dog that’s out of the puppy state. This beginner-level class covers functional skills such as leash skills, general manners, coming-when-called, stay, and more. This basic obedience builds confidence and trust between people and their dogs.
• Adult Level 2 Class. This next step class expands basic obedience skills. It includes preparation for AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) status and CGC testing is included.
• Trick Training Class. Well-behaved dogs love to have fun. This trick training class is a fan favorite. Take your canine communication to the next level. You’ll learn to develop your dog’s attention, intelligence and comprehension while they are also learning amusing behaviors. Trick Training includes preparation and testing for AKC Trick Dog Novice certification.
• Therapy Dog Training. Therapy dogs can turn trying moments in life to treasured times. This training prepares dog-and-handler teams for volunteer work as a therapy dog team. The curriculum is flexible based on individual goals. The class includes preparation for your choice of therapy certification testing options.
• AKC Canine Good Citizen. The AKC Canine Good Citizen test is the accepted standard for pet obedience. The group class is open to select, advanced enrollees who have a strongly established foundation of training. Testing is included. Titling, for AKC-registered dogs, is available upon passing the test.

Getting started is easy

Learn more about dog training classes and requirements and sign up for dog training online or by calling 757-221-0150. Adopters from the Heritage Humane Society receive a $40 off voucher that can be used for a single class or bundled purchase. Courses are six weeks except Handling & Grooming, which is four weeks. Each course is $140, however, discounts are also available for bundled purchases. If you buy two at once, it’s $250 and if you buy three classes at once, it’s $350.
For those unsure of what class their dog will qualify for, they can complete the online dog training class interest form and Adam Claar will contact them directly.
Beth and Steve Grant have two dogs, Bella and Otter, who have attended dog training classes at The Heritage Humane Society. Otter is even a shelter alumni.
“Adam has taught me much about my dogs. Adam is a patient, gentle and supportive instructor — I’m not convinced he trains dogs, as much as he trains people how to communicate effectively with their dogs. I’m much more in tune and attentive to my dogs and understand why they do not want to sit, come, lay down when I say so! Our dogs love Adam and are happy to be in class with him, it’s fun to see all the dogs vie for Adam’s attention,” shares Beth Grant. When we adopted a puppy, much to our older dog’s displeasure, Adam was instrumental in teaching us how to facilitate the dogs’ relationship and transition safely as our puppy continues to grow. Adam taught me how to better manage the dogs when around other dogs and people, and how to keep my dogs safe. Adam is consistent in his teachings, and helped me to persist in proper correction of our dogs’ behavior. I’m looking forward to our next class.”
Steve Grant adds, “Adam instills confidence in the people around him, with his professionally calm demeanor, and he also sets realistic goals for dog parents to reach for. He’s also just good people, and is fun to be around. Thank you Adam for helping us to help Bella & Otter!”

The Heritage Humane Society has nearly 230 dogscats and small pets currently in their care. Adoptable pets are available to meet during The Heritage Humane Society’s visiting and adopting hours from 12 to 4:30 p.m., Tues. through Sun.
To learn more, visit, call 757-221-0150, or visit The Heritage Humane Society located at 430 Waller Mill Rd, Williamsburg, VA 23185.

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