Donka Kennels, Don Miller obedience train dogs in Parkersburg

Photo by Madeline Scarborough Members of the advanced Donka Kennels dog obedience class line up on Tuesday for lessons by Don Miller.

PARKERSBURG — Every one loves a well-behaved dog.

Locally, Don Miller with Donka Kennels is helping dogs be more than just obedient, but bond with their owners.

Every Tuesday in the City Park Pavilion, Miller works with dogs and their owners to teach walking skills, to sit, stay and more.

The beginners course is at 6 p.m. costing $130 for eight weeks and the advanced course at 7 p.m. costing $40 a month.

Puppies and mature dogs were present Tuesday, including shepherds, poodles, chihuahuas and every breed in between.

Photo by Madeline Scarborough David Staten, who brings his German shepherd Oden to the lessons, works on “stay” as he lets go of the leash and walks away from his dog.

“It’s a good course,” said David Staten, who brings his German shepherd Oden to the lessons.

Staten has other dogs that did not take obedience courses. He referred to them as “uncontrollable walkers,” compared to Oden.

“He walks easier, and obedience-wise he listens better than all my other dogs,” Staten said.

Staten said one of the most important aspects learned from Miller’s training was “he doesn’t train your dog for you, but instead teaches you to train your dog.”

“Those eight weeks are so worth it,” he said.

Photo by Madeline Scarborough Don Miller teaches beginners how to walk their dogs using Pepper Goss as an example.

Susan Lyons from Hurricane, a dog owner in the advanced group, said Tally is the fourth of her dogs to be trained by Miller.

“Tally is a year-old and he is a show dog,” she said.

Lyons said she has noticed a bond grow between her and the dogs.

“They know what I expect of them, which helps our overall bond. I do not have to constantly get on to my dogs, they are well minded on their own thanks to the training,” she said.

Aimee Phillips is attending the lessons with her dog, Baker May.

“Her behavior has improved,” Phillips said.

Phillips said her dog was very wild when they first started the lessons.

“She wouldn’t sit or calm down to even try to listen,” she said.

“Now she is listening to commands and has calmed down around people a lot,” Phillips said.

Phillips said training has made them both safer in public.

“She walks well and minds me a lot better than she used to, which makes taking her out in public easier, more enjoyable and safer,” she said.

“Don is amazing, for her to be sitting right now surrounded by people and dogs shows that,” Phillips said.

Miller received his first shepherd, Molly, as a puppy when he was in the Marine Corps.

“We went through the obedience classes together back then,” he said.

Molly was a tracker dog and he worked with local law enforcement after retiring from the Marines.

“Molly lived to be 14, and the bond we shared inspired me to train my other dogs, and help teach the community to train theirs,” Miller said.

Miller started training in 1969 for the Parkersburg Obedience Training Club before going off on his own.

“The first place I ever trained dogs was at City Park. I have been other places since, but it is funny to see I have made a full circle,” he said.

Miller said every dog needs some training so the handler can enjoy walking and playing with them.

“All breeds are trainable,” Miller said.

“Training with your dog is the best thing to do, in order to help you understand each other,” he said.

His next eight week course begins June 4.

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