Meet Lisa Praeger, a professional dog trainer and AKC Canine Evaluator of more than 20 years. After spending decades in the commercial dog world, Praeger started her own business, Lisa’s K-9 Kids, in 2016.
She says the venture has afforded her the opportunity to work on both ends of the leash. “Training the dog and educating the owner are both critical to the life-long relationship,” says Praeger. “After all, General Motors here in Arlington can build great cars all day long, but if no one knows how to drive them, what is the sense?”
Praeger spends most days training her “kids” to be well-behaved members of the family. But when she is not conducting group or private lessons, she is out in the community educating people on the importance of responsible pet ownership.
“Owners must take an active role in teaching their dogs how to behave in our surroundings and activities,” says Praeger.
It starts with the basics. When you are out and about, observe all city pet laws, including on a leash, proper disposal of waste and registration tags. Owners should be prepared with water, snacks, waste bags and vaccination records (Praeger considers them to be as important as proof of car insurance), and, of course, a toy.
We’ve already had many high-temperature days this spring, and it’s only going to get hotter. The heat can be hazardous, even deadly to pets.
“Dogs require a large shaded area with fresh-air ventilation – a closed garage does not count – and access to fresh, clean, cool water at all times,” Praeger says. “Puppies, seniors, overweight animals and those with illnesses, and all short-nosed breeds are less tolerant of temperatures in the 90s and up.”
If your dog is in the sun, “Pink noses are susceptible to sunburn, so a little dab of sunscreen on the nose will go a long way,” says Praeger.
While outside, Praeger does not recommend owners allow their dogs to roam off-leash or be unsupervised outside of their own fenced backyard. She says owners must realize they are 100-percent responsible for their dogs’ behavior and that dogs generally attract crowds.
“Growing up, I was taught to leave dogs alone, and now children are taught to ask before petting,” Praeger says. “That is all well and good to a point, but now we see every child, and adult, insisting on greeting every dog that crosses their path.”
Instead, Praeger encourages people to leave them alone. “At what point a dog feels comfortable (s)he will approach you, and at that point keep your greeting conservative,” she advises.
Praeger attributes the dog-biting epidemic in this country to the increased percentage of households with a dog, combined with the lack of education and training. “What we teach and condition, or in most cases allow and ignore during the first year in age, becomes the established behavior for life,” she says. “Training is not for ‘bad’ dogs. It involves setting boundaries and expectations.”
Praeger feels blessed to work in the field that she loves. “I truly believe that if everyone had a four-legged friend, the world would be a better place,” she says. “After all, Dog is God spelled backwards!”
For more information on her training programs, visit lisask-9kids.com.