Johnson Lane resident Terri Dickerson said real dog obedience means dogs behaving off their leashes around serious distractions.
"How many people can actually walk their dog downtown without a leash on?" she said.
Dickerson just became a trainer with the national Sit Means Sit dog training program.
"I spent three weeks, with 10-hour days, in Las Vegas, learning the program," she said. "We emphasize the art of attention."
A dog lover and owner her whole life, Dickerson said she's always struggled to find adequate training for stubborn dogs.
"This program is different," she said. "Other trainers say, 'OK, spend 30 minutes a day training your dog,' but Sit Means Sit integrates training into everyday life."
Dickerson used a 3-year-old mutt named Rusty to demonstrate. She called Rusty then commanded him to stop before reaching her. He stopped midway, then sat when she told him to sit, and laid down when she told him to lay. She called him again and told him to stand. Rusty approached her, jumped up on his hind legs and gave her a hug.
"We teach dogs about place," she said. "To sit or stand in a particular area with boundaries to stay in."
Dickerson said the program helps aggressive dogs.
"Aggression does not mean the dog is mean," she said. "It means he or she is afraid of something, and we change that."
She said traditional tactics for aggressive dogs, like chains and muzzles, are limited.
"Those don't change the behavior. They just hold off the problem for a while."
She said it's unnecessary to yell at dogs since they have exceptional hearing, and whispering would suffice.
"Yelling doesn't do anything for the dog; it just releases your frustration," she said.
Offering free evaluations and demonstrations, Dickerson has found people interested in her services from Reno to Smith Valley. She said training packages are based around the specific needs of each dog, and involve private classes and group classes.
"Each dog is different," she said. "But you should make no excuses for your dog. Good training is possible."
For more information, call Dickerson at (775) 721-3317 or see www.SitMeansSit.com.