When you see those dog agility shows on TV where the dogs run at breakneck speeds through hoops and over jumps, it takes someone to teach them those tricks.
Kelly Legarreta, owner and operator of the Web Site www.healingpawsabilities.com, has done just that for five years, and has trained dogs in general for nearly a decade.
Legarreta offers animal massage and dog training and offers dog sports and agility training at the Shell Factory's Doggy Heaven Dog Park on Thursdays and at K-Nine Connections Life Centre in Fort Myers on Sundays.
Seven-year-old Australian Shepherd 'Zazzy' jumps a hurdle.
Legaretta started offering pet massage 10 years ago, and got into offering agility classes five years ago after watching it and immediately falling in love with the sport.
"Everyone thinks it's obedience, the healing and retrieving, and I learned there were other options for the dog to do," Legarreta said. "I was motivated by trainers who did the sport and decided it was my favorite thing to do."
The Shell Factory, with its Doggy Heaven, became a natural location, as it wanted a place for people to bring their dogs to train at all levels in agility.
Legerreta said with the agility classes, it requires a lot of patience to get the dogs to the point where they can do everything that's expected. That is, they jump jumps, run through tunnels and negotiate the tougher obstacles.
"When dogs first come, we teach them to love to learn to play the game. Using cookies or toys, we teach them not to be afraid," Legarreta said. "We reward them for going over each obstacle, especially the tunnel, that many are fearful of at first."
Once they learn each obstacle, Legarreta begins to link them together, two at a time, three at a time, then for longer routes. The key is to make sure the dogs are having a good time.
"We never make a dog do anything they don't want to do," Legarreta said.
Legarretta teaches about 10 classes a week and tries to keep them at a maximum of five dogs per class to give each animal as much individual attention as possible.
Among the things Legarreta also teaches are obedience, caring, fitness and puppy classes, mostly at an indoor training facility on Del Prado Boulevard in Cape Coral or at people's homes.
No matter what, Legarreta said she just wants to build a bond between people and their dogs.