Big Dog Academy trains service and emotional support animals through praise-based programs – St George News

Juice undergoes dog training at the Big Dog Academy in Koosharem, Utah. Date not given Photo courtesy Big Dog Academy, St. George News

ARTICLE CONTENT – On a quiet, scenic ranch in Central Utah’s Grass Valley, the Big Dog Academy’s certified trainers work to build unbreakable bonds between dogs and owners. They train service dogs along with animals in emotional support for a variety of needs.

Dogs in training at Big Dog Academy, Koosharem, Utah, date not given | Photo courtesy Big Dog Academy, St. George News

“Service dog training is an intensive program and takes a long time,” said trainer Wayne Ogden. “This is an obligation for you as well as for us and the dogs.”

One such owner is Delaney Forsyth of St. George, who has epilepsy and can have up to 20 to 30 seizures in a month, sometimes five or more a day. Earlier this year, she got a collie and heeler mix called Juice and contacted them Big Dog Academy about enrolling in the training of service dogs.

Ogden said Juice had been evaluated and completed six weeks of pre-training over the winter. He then returned to Forsyth’s home for a month so they could continue connecting. Now, almost 6 months old, he’s back at Big Dog Academy for the next phase of his program.

“He’s only a puppy and far from being an accredited service dog, but he’s already helping her,” Ogden said.

In addition to providing potentially life-saving aid, service dogs provide a calming paw to people with epilepsy and other conditions, Forsyth said.

He did so great on my first seizure. At first he observed the convulsions very well; He watched my face and my hands and feet very closely. He watched my mother and sister move me and he was scared at first, but he didn’t want to be away from me so he lay stretched out on my back.

It just stayed right there until I came out and never moved. As I kept coming back I could turn around and he was there … He never licks but he licked my hands to let me know he was with me!

Assistance dogs can be trained to do a variety of tasks for people with epilepsy, including barking to alert caregivers when a seizure occurs, moving to protect the person having a seizure, or to set an alarm trigger. The process takes between 8 and 14 months.

Juice undergoes dog training at the Big Dog Academy in Koosharem, Utah. Date not given Photo courtesy Big Dog Academy, St. George News

During training, dogs spend some of their time at the Big Dog Academy and some time at home with their owner. Ogden said they were given plenty of opportunities to socialize with other dogs and people and get used to all of the sights, sounds, and smells in the real world.

All service dog training at Big Dog Academy is overseen by Ogden, who holds a 4,000 hour certificate from the U.S. Department of Labor. He has personally trained 13 service dogs from start to finish and has trained hundreds more throughout his career.

The Big Dog Academy trains medical service dogs for people with autism, diabetes, epilepsy, and hearing loss. They also train dogs for therapy work and emotional support. Ogden said many customers start out with puppies, but older dogs can also be trained to provide assistance.

Not all dogs are cut out for the program, however. Ogden said approximately 80% completed the training successfully, adding that those who fail are not “bad” dogs; They are simply not qualified for service work.

Ogden said the Big Dog Academy is a more financially accessible alternative to other service dog programs that sell the dogs with training. Many of these organizations have years of waiting lists and can charge thousands of dollars.

Dogs in Training at Big Dog Academy, Koosharem, Utah, date not given Photo courtesy Big Dog Academy, St. George News

In addition to the service dog training, the Big Dog Academy offers 30-day customizable boarding and basic training or puppy training packages. The unique exercise facility spans several hundred acres along with a massive indoor boarding kennel. Dogs are picked up and brought home for free in the Utah, Nevada, and Colorado areas.

The Big Dog Academy’s certified trainers follow love and praise-based teaching methodology to develop the basics of obedience and address deeper behavioral issues such as aggression. Dogs are given exercise, entertainment, sociability, and play along with training on the ranch. You’re busy from sunrise to sunset.

Whether customers are looking for intensive service training or just to help their pooch become a better pet, the Big Dog Academy is dog training made easy with unique programs.

“We are very patient and understanding with the customer and the dog,” said Ogden. “We strive to do everything we can, for whom we can.”

Written by ALEXA MORGAN for St. George News.



Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

Sponsored content may be submitted to St. George News for publication on behalf of and on behalf of the sponsor or developed by them. It can contain promotional items, features, announcements, press releases, and advertisements. Opinions expressed in Sponsored Content are those of Sponsor and are not representative of St. George News. Sponsors have no control over St. George News coverage and product other than their own sponsored content.

Comments are closed.