Dog training

Local dog training is growing | New

TEWKSBURY – “We’ve doubled our space and are open seven days a week,” said Liz Cleaves, owner of Auntie Dog Training Studio, of her business’ recent move to 1201 Main St.

The long-established Tewksbury Dog Training Center now offers tricks, competition and rally lessons in addition to obedience training.

“I’m glad we can offer more therapy sessions with dogs now,” said Cleaves, who thanks the town of Tewksbury for helping to expedite his business move.

“Everyone has been very helpful,” she said.

Cleaves is pleased with the new space and said the grounds are more conducive to outdoor, real-world training.

Cleaves is also the Training Director for Auntie Dog and is an AKC Rally Judge, AKC CGC Evaluator, Therapy Dogs International Evaluator and actively participates in rally and obedience events with her two-year-old Boston Terrier, FortaTude of Sunwood, CD, RE, TDI.

Cleaves donates training services for Tewksbury Police Department comfort dogs, Waffles and Dr. Brownie McSnuggles. Brownie is training to become The Front Line Initiative’s co-response and crisis comfort dog. She will work with Tewksbury, Chelmsford, Billerica, Dracut and Tyngsborough Police Services.

Dr. Brownie is currently enrolled in Auntie Dog Training Camp, according to Cleaves. Officer Waffles works with SRO Eric Hanley at Tewksbury Public Schools and joined the force in December 2021. Waffles is a Certified Canine Good Citizen (CGC), an American Kennel Club standard for obedience behaviors. Dr. Brownie joined the action in early 2022.

Cleaves offers training to dogs nationwide, but its main base is New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. She has seven trainers and two kennel assistants and noted that the number of students competing and heading in AKC events is increasing.

“The larger training facility provides an AKC regulation size ring for rally and obedience classes and shows,” Cleaves said.

Auntie Dog is also part of Therapy Dogs International. Therapy dogs are used in hospitals, senior centers and adult day programs to help soothe and, in some cases, stimulate patients. Dogs must complete a battery of real-world scenarios such as being petted by strangers, not reacting to loud noises or confusing environments, and avoiding tempting food on the floor.

“A pill or some other drug could be on the floor and we don’t know what it is,” Cleaves said. “We need to be sure that the dog will just walk by and respond to the owner’s voice command.”

Dogs are increasingly being used by police departments, schools and universities to support student welfare. According to several studies, dogs can foster a sense of belonging at school, reduce stress and anxiety, and even facilitate learning.

Other services provided by Auntie Dog include puppy training, behavior modification, dog therapy testing, remote collar training and a host of competition preparation.