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Bored Dog? Send Him to Class.
By Matthew Schomer - Salem News staff writer

WASHINGTONVILLE — A newly constructed athletic complex in the village is going to the dogs.

Of course, that's who it was intended for in the first place.
The Four Seasons K9 Athlete Center contains a competition-size facility for dog agility and rally obedience competitions, owner Janet Kemerer said. The center will hold its grand opening on Feb. 4, and classes for agility, basic obedience and rally obedience will begin at the end of February.

Kemerer is most familiar with agility training. She is a certified agility instructor and said her dog Timber has won a few smaller-scale agility competitions.

She and Timber have been working on agility training together for about three years, she said, and she is now training a second pet dog, Diesel, to compete in agility trials.

During an agility trial, she said judges set up a variety of regulation obstacles and dogs are timed at completing the obstacle course.

The obstacles in the trials, and at the center, include walkways that dogs must go all the way across, a suspended tire they must jump through and plastic tunnels they must make their way through. She said one of the hardest obstacles for most dogs to complete is the weave poles, which are a set of staggered vertical poles that a dog must bend its body to maneuver through.

Kememer said many people get into agility training for the competition aspect, but in the end, "It's just really a game to play with your dog. It's just fun for both of you."

The dogs especially enjoy the sport because they get treats, she said.
Any dog of any age can learn to compete in agility trials, she said, and it doesn't matter if a dog is a purebred or a mixed breed.

"Some people start their dogs at 7 years old," she said.

The center will hold agility classes at four levels of difficulty, Kemerer said.

At the beginner level level, dogs will complete one class per week with their owners, but owners will also have the option of coming to the center on days off of class for open ring training, she said.

At higher levels, she said classes will be more frequent and the animals will learn to complete more difficult drills. The advanced classes also teach the animals to run the course while being a further distance away from their owners.

Rally obedience, which is another sport for dogs, will also be offered at the center, she said.

Obedience competitions involve having a dog follow out sets of basic commands.

Kemerer said she has lined up at least one certified rally obedience instructor to teach at the center. She said she plans on having around four instructors other than herself at the center.

While not all the instructors are certified, she said, "Sometimes just being experienced makes you a good instructor."

The facility itself sits along the end of Painters Path, which comes off of state Route 14 next to the Sky Bank in Washingtonville. The Schuster Construction Company, Inc., Salem, finished the building in December.
The building sits on 128 acres of land, and Kemerer said people who enroll in classes there can also take their dogs on walks through several surrounding nature areas.

During the summer months, training and trials will be held in the outdoors rings located just outside the building, she said. The same equipment will be used for the indoor and outdoor events.

Both large rooms inside the building are covered in three-quarter-inch rolled matting for the safety of the animals.

"Ultimately, safety is the most important thing here, and that the dog is having fun," Kemerer said.

While dogs can be kept in crates during classes or competitions, she said the center is not a dog kennel and the animals can not be kept there.
Clubs will be able to rent the facility for special events and competitions, she said. She has been working with the United States Dog Agility Association and the Canine Performance Events to set up trials, and another instructor may be bringing American Kennel Club events to the facility as well.

The grand opening on Feb. 4 will be open to the public and will include free food for people and gifts for all dogs that attend, she said. Attendees can also sign up for classes at the open house.

Those wishing to contact the center may call 330-427-6999.

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