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Xtreme Hounds offers dog training

Ever since she can remember, Tessa Peterson has loved dogs. She and her Xtreme Hounds Dog Training staff are teaching dog obedience, rally or agility classes at the Akeley Regional Community Center.

Lori Jo Turner’s decision to retire as canine trainer is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Tessa Peterson.  A dog lover since childhood, Peterson purchased Agape Dog Training in July and held her first series of classes this fall.  Newly named Xtreme Hounds Dog Training, Peterson offers obedience, agility and rally training at the Akeley Regional Community Center. Group or private lessons will be available. Dog walking services are also possible.  

“This is for people to come out and try different things. I want people to have fun with their dogs,” Peterson said.  She grew up in the Twin Cities, but her parents bought a Portage Lake cabin in 1991.  On weekends and during vacations at the lake cabin, Peterson helped care for a neighbor’s dog sled team. That opportunity led to her interest in dog skijoring with Mia, her Siberian Husky at the time. They also began competing in dog agility contests.  Over the years, Peterson has owned a variety of breeds, favoring mastiffs. She currently owns two pitbulls.  An LPN, she works at Heritage Living Center and volunteers at the Headwaters Animal Shelter.  She currently lives in Rochert, a 28-mile commute.  Xtreme Hounds hopes to serve the dog community by offering a variety of training courses.  

The American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen Test is considered the gold standard for dog behavior.  The two-part program stresses responsible pet ownership and basic good manners for dogs.  Dogs who pass the 10-step test earn a certificate and official “CGC” title.  During the test, the dog must demonstrate acceptance of a friendly stranger, sit politely for petting, be well-groomed, be controlled by the handler while walked on a loose lead, walk politely through a crowd, sit on command, come when called, behave around other dogs, ignore distractions and behave when left with a trusted person.  Canine Good Citizen training and testing lays the foundation for other activities, such as obedience, agility, tracking and rally performance.  

“It’s a starting point for just about anything,” Peterson said.  Proof of basic obedience training is required for most service, therapy or assistance dogs.  “Rally” is a fun, new dog sport where dogs execute specific commands – for instance, a 360-degree turn or “sit and stay”– at 10 to 20 stations throughout a timed course.  Holly Mailhot, an award-winning rally trainer, will share her expertise with Xtreme Hounds.  Meanwhile, Annie Arrowwood will help teach agility classes.  Agility contests put dogs and handlers through a rigorous obstacle course while racing against the clock.  Peterson said she’s really interested in offering search and rescue “nose work,” which also can be a competitive dog sport.  

In addition, Hubbard County lacks an animal control officer to handle stray or lost animals.  “I would really like to do something about that,” Peterson said.  This year alone, she said, the police department picked up around 30 dogs and untold numbers of cats.  Another future goal is setting up a dog club for adults who wish to compete with their dogs or learn better handling.  A new set of classes will commence after the New Year. Obedience lessons are tentatively set for Thursdays, beginning Jan. 14. Agility and rally training will be held Mondays, tentatively beginning Jan. 11.  More information can be found at www.xtreme, by calling 218-252-2307 or visiting Xtreme Hounds’ Facebook page.