Henderson to host canine agility training

If you enjoy bonding and exercising with your dog but hate taking mundane walks, the city of Henderson has a solution.

Partnering with Michael’s Angel Paws, which provides training for service dogs, the city plans one-hour Agility 1 classes at 10:30 a.m. Saturdays Sept. 13 through Oct. 18 at the Valley View Recreation Center, 500 Harris St., and 7:15 p.m. Mondays Oct. 27 through Dec. 1 at the Bark Park at Heritage Park, 350 S. Racetrack Road.

“(The classes) are part of our overall mission to provide fun, progressive and diverse programming,” said city spokeswoman Kathy Blaha.

The classes are set to teach dogs how to run through chutes and tunnels, complete jumps and weave through poles, according to organization founder Stephanie Gerken.

“We break down all the different obstacles into step-by-step instructions,” Gerken said. “It’s a building class, so whatever we teach in the class, we review it and build on it the next week.”

Gerken said the dogs are trained using repetition and positive reinforcement.

“There’s lots of treats and lots of love,” Gerken said. “If they do something wrong, there’s no harm, no foul, no punishment. We just circle back around and go about our training.”

The class is open to dogs of all ages, sizes and breeds, and there aren’t any prerequisites needed to register.

“Ideally, the dogs should already know how to sit, lay down, stay, come and walk on a leash,” Gerken said, “but it’s OK if they don’t because we will have time in class to work on those commands.”

For those interested in pursuing advanced training, Gerken plans Agility 2 classes at 10:30 a.m. Saturdays Nov. 1 through Dec. 6 at the recreation center and 6 p.m. Mondays Oct. 27 through Dec. 1 at the Bark Park.

Participants must attend Agility 1 classes to sign up for Agility 2 classes.

“It’s an opportunity to break away from the basic obedience training and have some fun,” Gerken said. “There isn’t a day that goes by that we all aren’t crying from laughter.”

Gerken moved to Las Vegas in 2006 after completing an exotic animal training and management program at Moorpark College in California.

“I’ve been training for about eight years in Las Vegas,” Gerken said. “I just always enjoyed training my puppies at a young age, so I went to school and fell into the world of dog training when I moved to Las Vegas.”

In addition to agility classes, Michael’s Angel Paws also offers obedience courses, therapy dog training, behavioral modification and one-on-one training.

“The best part is seeing clients watch their puppies learn and realize how intelligent they are,” Gerken said. “I also love to watch people receive service dogs and see that person flourish and be introduced back into the community. It’s an amazing feeling.”

Each six-week agility session costs $60 per dog. Participants can register online or at any Henderson recreation center. Same-day registration is available if space permits.

For more information, visit cityofhenderson.com/parks or michaelsangelpaws.org.

Contact Henderson View reporter Caitlyn Belcher at cbelcher@viewnews.com or 702-383-0403.

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