August 8, 2020

On Command Dog Training

Family fun for everyone

By Cathy Welch
Correspondent

“I started dog-sitting when I was a little girl bringing home strays,” Becky Hendrickson said. “One day Mom said, ‘Richard, I think it’s time we get her a dog.’”
Her parents brought home a Doberman, and she took her dog to an awesome trainer.
“I fell in love with training and knew from that point I wanted to be a trainer,” she said.
She met Tom, a police department K-9 trainer, when she was a police aide in 1985. They’ve been married for 22 years and have one daughter, two sons, one grandson and one on the way.
“My husband’s job and getting my Rottweiler, Harmony, got me back into training,” she said. “I always knew I wanted to do it.”
For years, she dedicated evenings to her love for dogs. Her last full-time job was working at Todds Lane Veterinary Hospital’s front office. She had a motive for joining this group.
“I wanted to go where I could train dogs,” she said. “You’ve got it made if the vet sees your training works.”
Veterinarian David Brinker allowed her to work there after hours, eventually referring her to veterinarian Sue Stiff to find a larger space.
“Dr. Stiff is one of the best landlords and told me get in there, get started and she would help us.”
On Command Dog Training LLC is now in its fifth year.
Hendrickson earned her certification from American Society of Canine Trainers, working with Chris Aycock of ACST, who certifies the police department. Recently, she earned her Master Trainer & Evaluator Certification; Master Trainer Therapy Canine Certification; and her 2020 Master Trainer Service Canine Certification.
“It took years of training, coming up with my own ideas and how to do my training,” she said.
“I heard about Becky when I worked at a dog daycare,” new trainer Katie Eaton said. “I got a puppy, and a ton of my clients recommended her.”
Eaton attended one class with her dog. Hendrickson asked if she’d thought of becoming a dog trainer.
“She’s been with me two-and-a-half years and just received her ACST certification,” Hendrickson said. “I’m grooming her to eventually take over the business.”
On Command Dog Training has two additional trainers: Amber Wallace, who came to them through Aycock; and Joanne Elliott, who is a dog trainer for Busch Gardens’ “Pet Shenanigans” show. They plan to offer trick training classes. With additional instructors, they may need to open an additional location.
“It’s really not about training the dog,” Eaton said. “It takes a special kind of person to do this.”
Eaton and Hendrickson split 34 classes. All classes are full, training eight dogs per class. They are at maximum capacity until the two additional trainers are ready.
Though the majority of dogs turn out well, they don’t always start that way.
“We have two corner seats so we can put fences up, and the dogs watch through a curtain,” she said of unstable dogs. “You can’t have dogs like that around dogs with the same temperament. It’s how they learn.”
Aggressive dogs are not allowed in class. OCDT refers them out and hopefully that person can work with them and get them back into a class. If not, they seek out help.
The group specializes in training therapy dogs too. The trainers can discern early which person in a class and their dog have the natural gift of compassion.
“We take therapy dog training seriously,” Hendrickson said. “It’s almost like having a service dog. You’re getting the dogs out there, becoming a partner with them and doing a job in the community.”
Therapy work demands are growing.
“I can speak for clients I certify through ASCT: they’re phenomenal, and I’m excited because they are giving of themselves.”
Therapy dogs must go through obedience training to ensure they’re good out in the community.
“What I like about going through ASCT is I can train and certify my own dogs,” Hendrickson said. This way I know the client and the dog thoroughly.”
ASCT totally backs their trainers and wants the best and most compassionate trainers.
Outdoor classes are $145. Katie takes people out everywhere. The last day of class, they do an outing to a restaurant. They sit outside, and all the dogs lie under the table and they eat together. It’s teaching people how to handle their dogs.
“It’s one of our hardest classes, because down-staying with 10 dogs, food, waiters walking around and all of us talking is one of the hardest.”
OCDT offers six-week sessions for puppy training, agility training, basic obedience, intermediate and advanced training classes. They also offer an outdoor class to teach pups to do well in community.
OCDT created buddy bags for police department K-9s that includes a customized patch they designed.
“As soon as you start engaging with clients and their dogs, there’s nothing like it,” Hendrickson said.