By Dean Shipley
Elizabeth Branson calls her ability to train animals, specifically dogs, a God-given gift.
So the best thing she can do is share it with others. The 71-year-old Madison County transplant has become entrepreneur as she has opened her Country Canine obedience training.
The Fairfield Township resident said obedience is necessary for a person to really enjoy their canine companion. A well-behaved canine is one of which the owner can be proud. That pride comes from the dog refraining from jumping up on a visitor or worse. To achieve that, it takes training.
Branson said she learned when she was a girl in Pickaway County she had a gift for working with animals. Growing up on a farm near Commercial Point she had her opportunities to work with dad’s livestock from the smallest hen to the biggest horse.
But dogs are her passion and she has two: a bouncy springer spaniel named Hunter and a handsome German Shepherd she calls Shadow. Upon command, each dog individually obeys her commands to sit, stay, sit-and-stay, come. Despite a bit of a distraction by a male reporter, the dogs keep their focus on their master.
Eight would-be masters have already signed up to take her first class, which will be held in a large outbuilding at her home on Big Plain-Circleville Road. She said that-sized class is enough for her to concentrate on teaching master and dog the commands and socialize them both.
In addition to the commands Branson will instruct the masters in grooming and dental hygiene.
As in any other learning scenario, the lesson learned in class must be reinforced and repeated at home. She recommends a 15-to-20 minute per day reinforcement session for dog and master.
Branson said some dogs will need more training than others. Puppies have a shorter attention span and therefore should have their reinforcement sessions in shorter duration.
Regardless of the duration of the sessions, a master should always keep a large cache of treats on their person to reward the canine student, when it does something correctly.
Another tool she feels is mandatory in obedience training is either a “choke” collar or a pronged collar. Both exert a mild pressure on the fur around a dog’s neck. It gets the canine’s attention so it can focus on the master’s command. Neither inflict any temporary or permanent harm to the dog.
“A little jerk is all you need to do,” Branson said. The jerk is accompanied by a “click,” which the dog hears. The sound also helps the master to focus the dog on the command.
In addition to her dog training, she takes her Christian faith nursing homes where she sings and brings a devotion to residents in the county and in Grove City.