MURRELLS INLET — Happy K9 Academy, a dog training facility, recently expanded their Murrells Inlet home to include an agility and fitness center.
From traditional obedience needs to puppy prep school, owner Melissa Ellis now has something for every dog owner.
The training center, at 378 Sea Marsh Road, even has a treadmill and exercise ball for dogs. While shes equipped to work with overweight dogs, its more than that.
Ellis explained that activities like jumping for Frisbees can be stressful on dogs bodies, just like a human working out or playing a sport. Thats really where the fitness center comes in.
Ellis has been training dogs for more than 11 years and previously owned and operated a facility by the same name in New York. She and her family relocated in December, and Happy K9 Academy was opened in May.
Ellis approach to dog training is a little different. She focuses on the relationship between dogs and their owners.
Owners want to be active with their dogs in this area and there are very limited options for them to be able to learn and to do and bond with their dog, she said. This gives them the opportunity to learn something with their dog and spend quality time with their dog.
By participating in canine sports like agility which is like a timed obstacle course Ellis said owners and their dogs really get to work on their relationship.
They learn to work together and read each other, she said. Even understand each other.
The agility course, tread mill and exercise ball are all set up on a mat-cushioned floor in an air-conditioned room. Ellis said shes already heard from customers that say they are more interested in the sport now that theres an indoor facility.
Theyre willing to do agility now because of the indoor and AC, she said. It gets so hot that its hard on the dogs and its hard on the people.
A Dogs Way Inn, also in Murrells Inlet, has an outdoor agility course, but otherwise, Ellis said people would need to go out of town to find the sport.
Its a sport that I really think is going to grow in this area, she said. Theres a lot in North Carolina but theres not much here.
Ellis said she evaluates dogs and their owners when they come to sign up to figure out which class or sport is best.
Its really important that I understand what their goals are, what their lifestyle is and what interests them, she said. Kind of the dynamic of the family and at the same time I need to understand the dog. I need to know the dogs temperament.
Shes got something for every dog and owner including K9 nose work where dogs are trained to seek out items like keys their owner lost.
We try to focus on offering a whole selection so that, regardless what stage the family and canine companion is, theres something they can do with their dog, because they really want to spend time with their pet, she said. Typically, people that come here dont want just a six week training course. They usually get hooked on the bonding experience, so we give them a training path.
The sports and other classes are beneficial for busy dogs too, and could prevent behavioral issues.
What happens is as a result of not getting that mental challenge they start feeling all this anxiety because they feel busy, busy, busy with nothing to do, Ellis said. That anxiety and that stress comes out in resource guarding, people aggression, dog aggression, destructiveness or separation anxiety.
Group classes at Happy K9 Academy cost $135 for six sessions. Agility training costs $135 for five weeks. Private lessons are $60 for an hour session. Prep school, where dogs can spend a up to eight hours getting a mixture of training and playtime just like preschool for dogs, is $25 for a half day (four hours or less) and $40 for a full eight hour day. Hour long workout sessions, by appointment only, cost $35.
To sign up, call 877-2328 or email email@example.com. To learn more about the classes and fitness facility visit happyk9academy.com.
Contact AMANDA KELLEY at 626-0381.