Pandemic pups learn good manners at K9 LifelineMar 02, 2021 11:54AM ● By Katherine Weinstein
Trainers Aaron Padron, Brook Haimin and Liz Haight take dogs out for exercise at K9 Lifeline. (Photo courtesy Lynnae Chilcott/K9 Lifeline)
By Katherine Weinstein | [email protected]
March 23 is National Puppy Day. Established in 2006, the holiday was designated to celebrate dogs and advocate for pet adoption. There is much to celebrate this year. During the pandemic, the number of pets adopted from rescue shelters has soared. According to the Shelter Animals Count, which tracks activity in 500 animal shelters across the US, 26,000 more pets were adopted in 2020, an increase of 15%.
While it is wonderful that so many pets have found their forever homes, the fact remains that puppies—and older dogs for that matter—do not come with instruction manuals. New pet owners need to work with their dogs to socialize them and instill good behaviors. K9 Lifeline in Draper helps dog owners to care for, train and socialize dogs of all ages, sizes and temperaments.
For 20 years, K9 Lifeline has offered dog training, daycare, grooming, boarding and sometimes adoption services to the community. The business has been in its current Draper location for 11 years.
K9 Lifeline owner and founder, Heather Beck, summed up her philosophy of dog training. “It’s not just about ‘sit’ and ‘stay,’” she said. “It’s about relationships. Every interaction you have with a dog is training. Dogs are like children, they absorb everything.”
Beck has been working with dogs for decades. A Midwesterner, she came to Utah in 1995 as a competitive mogul skier. At the same time, she started fostering dogs as a volunteer with Best Friends Animal Society. She graduated from Westminster College and established her own rescue center focusing on pit bulls and large breeds. Beck also worked for a time with South Salt Lake Animal Control.
Having studied under a well-known dog trainer in California, Beck did in-home dog training and began teaching people about crate training, leash training and canine nutrition. Her eventual goal was to work on socializing dogs, taking “difficult dogs” and getting them together in a space where they could learn to get along in a safe, friendly and structured environment.
K9 Lifeline has put Draper on the map as a “mecca for dog trainers,” as Beck put it. She has been running dog training workshops for 15 years. Trainers from all over the world have attended workshops at K9 Lifeline.
One trainer who attended Beck’s workshops ended up joining the team. Senior Administrative Assistant Lynnae Chilcott was working as a trainer for another company but was drawn to the Draper business.
“We have so many dogs that end up coming to us because there is nowhere else for them to go. Seeing those dogs become socialized and able to interact with others is wonderful, so fun to see,” Chilcott said. “Some dogs need a little more guidance and structure, more support. They transform into totally different dogs.”
“Ours is a very unique environment,” Beck said. She emphasized that K9 Lifeline is for all dogs—not just those that have been labeled difficult or aggressive. “We have about 100 to 150 dogs in the facility,” she explained. “Each one has their own unique story and situation.”
In the early days of the pandemic, business at K9 Lifeline dropped off dramatically, although many health care workers started bringing their dogs to daycare. “Then, all of a sudden, everything blew up,” Beck said. “It got so busy so fast.” Many clients were struggling with growing puppies that weren’t socialized or seeing problem behaviors in their older pets that they weren’t aware of until they were staying home with them.
Currently, the training classes at K9 Lifeline are booked through April, but there is still room for more dogs in boarding and in the daycare program. There are three daycare groups based on the size and age of the dogs, but “temperament overrules everything,” Chilcott said.
There is a group for small dogs and puppies as well as one for older pups and high energy dogs. “We call them the party animals,” Chilcott said. Large breed adult dogs with more mellow dispositions have their own daycare group.
Beck had a few pieces of advice for both experienced dog owners and those who have adopted pups for the first time during the pandemic. She suggested that the best time to start training a dog is at about eight weeks. The period of eight to 16 weeks is a critical developmental stage for dogs. “All of the things that they learn during that time they will maintain for life,” she said.
“One of the things I wish more people would do is to teach a dog how to be comfortable and calm in a crate,” Beck said. “It’s important for dogs to learn how to self-soothe.” K9 Lifeline has a YouTube channel which includes a video on how to crate train a pup at home. “Dogs need a lot more downtime than we give them,” she continued. “Puppies need nap time, about 18 to 20 hours of sleep each day.” Young dogs who like to jump and nip may be overtired.
Beck also emphasized the importance of leash training. K9 Lifeline sells a custom-made, patented “transitional leash.” Portions of all leash sales go toward training a shelter dog through leash donations.
“I am so grateful and feel so blessed that business is booming,” Beck said. “We are very fortunate to be in Draper.” She noted that Draper is great dog community where people really care about their four-legged friends.
“What I love most are the clients,” Chilcott said. “We have the most awesome clientele. It’s a privilege to be able to take care of their dogs.”
K9 Lifeline is located at 1010 E. Draper Parkway. For more information, call 801-272-1159 or visit k9lifeline.net.