Dogs in training at Big Dog Academy, Koosharem, Utah, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Big Dog Academy, St. George News
CONTRIBUTED CONTENT – Dog owners looking for a solution to the uncertainty and inconvenience of an ill-behaved pet need look no further than Big Dog Academy, a unique training facility in scenic Grass. Valley of central Utah.
AT Academy of Great Dogs, Wayne Ogden strives to forge an indestructible bond between dogs and their owners while writing his own story of redemption.
Ogden said he worked as a real estate agent until his “greed and stupidity” landed him in federal prison in 2013. The facility where he was imprisoned started a service dog training program. for inmates. He spent the next five years training dogs for people with post-traumatic stress disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, and other medical conditions.
“I saw what a dog could do for a person,” he said. “It was life changing, to say the least. A really bad situation for me turned out to be one of the most wonderful things in my life.
Ogden took 4,000 hours of instruction while incarcerated to become a certified dog trainer by the US Department of Labor. Upon his release in May 2020, he partnered with a local landowner in Koosharem to create Big Dog Academy and put his unique skills to work.
Big Dog Academy offers customizable 30 day boarding and basic or puppy training packages. Owners receive video updates on their dog’s progress. Dogs are picked up and delivered to homes free of charge in the Utah, Nevada, and Colorado areas.
Big Dog Academy is located on a ranch on the edge of the Fishlake National Forest. The property spans several hundred acres as well as a huge indoor boarding school.
Big Dog Academy’s certified trainers follow instructional methods based on love and praise. Dogs are never subjected to shock collars, scoldings or beatings. Ogden said trainers also avoid giving treats for good behavior, which he says leads dogs to play for rewards rather than actually learning.
Some dogs come up with deeper behavioral issues like aggression. Ogden said that with hard work, training and guidance, many of these issues resolve themselves quickly. Dogs are given exercise, entertainment, socialization and play as well as training on the ranch; they are occupied from sunrise to sunset.
“It’s not just about being good coaches,” he said. “They come here, and the dogs become dogs – doing what nature intended them to be.”
Owners can take their dogs to the ranch for a minimum of 14 days, where they will enjoy walks, play time, and interaction with the dogs who complete the training programs. Big Dog Academy also trains therapy, emotional support and medical assistance dogs through an intensive long-term process.
Big Dog Academy accepts dogs of any breed, size, age over 8 weeks and any temperament. While some owners believe adult and senior dogs are already well established in their ways, Ogden said this demographic is reliably the wisest and most responsive in training.
“The old adage that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks really isn’t true at all,” he said. “There is no such thing as middle age.”
When Ogden takes a dog home, he provides the owner with a video routine covering basic or newly learned skills. The owner should devote 15 minutes a day, two or three times a week, to the fundamentals, which are mostly simple commands in a nutshell. As long as they stay engaged, it ensures that their dog will continue to listen, follow their leadership, and behave appropriately.
“A common misconception is that a dog is going to train for a while, come home and be perfect,” he said. “It’s unrealistic.”
Ogden said the training not only improves a dog’s quality of life, but also the owner’s quality of life and their pet’s enjoyment. Between vet bills, spaying, food, grooming, toys, and other expenses, a dog is a big investment. Adding $ 900 to a basic or puppy training package at Big Dog Academy makes all the difference.
Big Dog Academy is easy dog training, Ogden said. No dog has ever failed their unique program.
“We are able to communicate with any dog with love and praise,” he said.
Written by ALEXA MORGAN for St. George News.
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