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Hampsten offers dog training workshops

She has advice for busy pet parents

Heather Hampsten enjoys the fresh snow with her 12-year-old black Lab, Roxy. Besides hiking with her dog, Hampsten loves nothing more than to help local dog owners build obedient, loving relationships.
Anna Moore/ Park Record

Sixteen years ago, Heather Hampsten was hiking up Sweeney’s Switchbacks with her yellow Lab, Jake, when she had an epiphany.

Overwhelmed with the stress of her corporate job, she realized she’d be getting older a lot quicker, so, following a career whim, Hampsten quit her job and started her path to becoming a professional dog trainer.

She saw a unique need for private dog-trainers in Park City, which Hampsten calls “Bark City.” Since then, she has been able to help hundreds of dogs and their owners build trusting and cooperative relationships.

“It’s funny,” Hampsten said. “I always remember the names of the dogs, but seem to forget the owners’ names.”

Hampsten is excited to welcome locals to her dog-training workshops offered through the Park City Municipal Athletic Recreation Center for the remainder of the winter. In the hour-long sessions, owners can learn methods to solve common behavioral issues.

When it comes to training a puppy or an older adopted dog, Hampsten practices the motto “the sooner the better.”

The biggest mistake an owner can make is to procrastinate, she said, adding that many people are intimidated by classes or trainers, but starting the process is essential for a healthy dog and owner relationship.

The goal is to create a bond based on trust and leadership with the anticipation of praise, rather than a fear of reprimand, Hampsten said.

She also feels it’s important for the trainer to fit the personality of each dog.

“If you take an aggressive dog and pair him with an aggressive training style, those behaviors may be reinforced,” she said.

Socialization is another huge benefit Hampsten hopes she gives those who attend the dog training workshops, especially for people who own puppies.

“We want to train our dogs to be good citizens so they can enjoy Park City as much as we do,” she said.

Hamspsten’s definition of a well-behaved dog citizen includes canines that get along with neighbors and feel comfortable being around other dogs.

The dog trainer is available to train dogs to duck hunt, become a service dog, or to be a well-behaved pet.

Heather and other local dog lovers will be at the Park City Ice Arena’s party room each Thursday in January from 6-7 p.m. Classes are $22, and focus on skills such as potty-training, behavior, leash-pulling and recall-training. Dogs of all sizes and ages are welcome. Make sure to register 48 hours in advance by visiting parkcityrecreation.org or calling 435-615-5400. All dog owners younger than 16 must attend with an adult.


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