By Avra Elliott
For the Bulletin
Our most faithful friends are often four-legged, and while every dog owner believes (knows) that their dog is the most unique and perfect animal in the world, Claren Wilson of CloudK9 Dog Training helps them train and build relationships with their animals.
“The goal of all these classes is to create a good strong bond with your dog, so you can live in harmony,” Wilson said. “That doesn’t always happen right away, so we work to create a sense of trust without using any threatening or aversive methods.”
Wilson received her bachelor’s degree in animal science from New Mexico State University with a focus on companion animals, and worked as a pet trainer at Petco before starting her own dog training business five years ago. As CloudK9 grew, Wilson hired an assistant trainer, Aliah Clever, a fellow animal science student, who began as a CloudK9 intern.
Currently, classes offered at CloudK9 help create better-trained companions, but also prepare some dogs for possible service careers.
Service is not a calling for every dog, Wilson said, but her classes help identify a dog’s “career path.”
“They don’t all make it to being a service dog,” she said. “I always tell the owners to keep in mind that it may not work out. We like to put our dogs on pedestals, but we don’t always recognize when the work is stressing the dog.”
Wilson often places potential service dogs in beginning classes taught by Clever, where they socialize and undergo behavioral training. Wilson plans group service animal training classes, but she is taking her time.
“We’re in the process of getting a program fully together for service animals, but it’s a long process because we want to do it right,” said Wilson, who does one-on-one work with some service animals, specializing in diabetic alert dogs.
Diabetic alert dogs can be more accurate and timely than a glucose meter, Wilson says, and some are trained to bring a juice box when someone’s sugar levels are low, or to go for help.
“A dog can alert someone who is sleeping or driving,” Wilson said, “or a diabetic child who is playing in a park and is unaware of their sugar levels changing.”
When training a dog, always be aware of the animal’s well being, Wilson says. While one dog may excel as a companion for someone visually impaired, another dog might find it too stressful. In such a case, Wilson will help a dog make a “career change.”
“If they can’t do their job, they aren’t helping that person, but a dog that isn’t ready to help someone who is blind might be able to help someone else with mobility (problems).”
While not every companion animal has a “job,” Wilson said, there is no denying that pets provide an emotional lift. Scientific evidence even indicates pets lower our chances of stroke or heart attack.
“They provide us with so many benefits, whether we realize it or not,” Wilson said.
CloudK9 also offers private classes dealing with pet anxieties and behavioral problems, and she hopes to expand her services.
“I am hoping we’ll have another visitation dog evaluator in town soon,” said Wilson, who can train visitation dogs but is not currently certified to evaluate them. “Las Cruces is relatively dog friendly, so I am looking forward to helping even more people and their dogs.”
For more information, visit cloudk9nm.com.
Avra Elliott is a Las Cruces freelance writer who may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org