WESTBOROUGH, Mass. — Training a dog isn't a one-time thing, it's a lifestyle, says Christie McNamara, co-owner of SureFire Dogs in Downtown Westborough.
"It's every day," she said. "You're always working with your dog to build that trust and relationship."
McNamara's dog, Winee, a 5-year-old Golden Retriever, has been trained since she was a puppy. Winee came over with her owner and Louise Hinckley in July 2011 to open up the SureFire Dogs training center at 57 Brigham St., down the road from Boston Sports Club.
The two were at Four Paws Academy in Boxborough before heading to Westborough for its central location and the space they needed.
"We pull clients from all areas," Hinckley said, noting some that come from as far as New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Hinckley's two Australian Sheep Dogs, Kindle and Beta, also train at SureFire.
The two, along with several instructors, offer six-week courses ranging from novice obedience to competition agility. The most popular time for classes is from 6-9 p.m. The classes are kept small and any dog is welcome to try any level.
There are three "rings" within the large facility:
Ring 1: Obedience Run Thrus
Ring 2: Agility Attention
Ring 3: Agility Classes
The "SureFire method" employs all positive reinforcement. Dogs are rewarded for performing tasks correctly, not punished for the opposite. McNamara said the idea that certain breeds of dog can only do certain things is a myth.
"It's really the handler that decides what the dog will do," McNamara said. "We really train people how to train their dogs."
Courses average $150 with discounts for signing up for multiple classes. Hinckley, who has been in the dog training business for 20 years, and McNamara for 45 said the biggest thing isn't teaching a dog to jump through a hoop, but bolstering relationships.
"We try to make sure that people who come train with us strengthen the bond between dog and owner," McNamara said. "That's probably the most important thing that we do."
An open house will be held at the facility on Oct. 27, where owners can take tours, try out the agility course with their dogs and participate in a "doggie costume contest."