The Furry Friends feature: Meet the Greater Williamsburg Dog Whisperer

It turns out that the best way for dogs to learn is also the most effective way for humans to learn – having fun and even making it a game. Adam Claar is the training class instructor of dogs for the Heritage Humane Society. While many see the animal shelter only as a place to adopt cats, dogs and more, the vital community resource goes way beyond that, like offering a comprehensive selection of dog training classes. and workshops.

With nearly 1,500 shelter pets and 1,200 community pets served at the Heritage Humane Society each year, ensuring that every dog ​​is matched with the right human companion also involves helping the two learn to communicate. effectively with each other. This is where Clara comes in.

Meet Adam Claar, dog trainer extraordinaire

Whether it’s squirming and behavior control, performing tricks, or undergoing therapeutic training, Claar helps dogs and their human companions bond closer.

Claar joined the Heritage Humane Society as a Dog Training Course Instructor in 2019. He is a Certified Canine Behavior Consultant with the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, Certified Professional Dog Trainer – knowledge and skills assessed , and Canine Good Citizen, STAR Puppy, and Trick Dog Evaluator for the American Kennel Club.

Through classes and workshops with Claar, participants learn traditional skills such as sitting and staying, however, the primary mission of Heritage Humane Society dog ​​training is to help humans better understand and communicate. with their dogs. The best obedience signal is to come when called. Claar focuses on building the reliability of this behavior at all levels of training.

“The puppy and dog training classes at the Heritage Humane Society are just as much for humans as they are for dogs,” shares Adam Claar, dog training class instructor at the Heritage Humane Society. “I teach you how to educate your dog.”

Beyond “sit” and “shake”

While sitting and shaking are certainly part of the training puppies and dogs receive in Claar’s progressive classes, the dog training class instructor begins each new class by asking people, “What is -What brought you here?” Registrants’ answers may include asking if their dog is barking excessively and why they are barking, how to get their dog to come when called, or how to teach their furry companion basic good manners. Claar then tailors each lesson based on these responses.

Instead of using the popular clicker method of communicating, which is a type of training that uses a hand-held clicker to get the puppy’s attention, Claar takes the affirmative approach using the word “yes.” For example, with a puppy or a dog that has just learned to stay on a leash, he learns to walk, to stop when told, and only when he makes eye contact with his companion. human that he is then told “yes” and that he receives a treat. They learn household etiquette and even learn to desensitize their feet and ears by acclimating to touch when they go to the groomer.

The Heritage Humane Society’s Director of Finance and Administration, Christian Reeves, recently adopted his puppy JoJo from the shelter. Seeing the positive results of the dog training classes, she and JoJo are currently participants. Reeves shares how she “loves that Adam Claar’s approach makes it easier to teach puppies what you want them to do rather than teaching them what you don’t want them to do. “

“Through Adam Claar’s dog training classes at the Heritage Humane Society, we have found that there is a higher rate of animal retention, which means fewer dogs are being abandoned, which can more often be avoided if training and therefore good communication is in place between the dog and their human family,” says Kimberly Laska, executive director of the Heritage Humane Society.


The Heritage Humane Society offers a comprehensive selection of dog training courses:

  • • Classes for level 1 and level 2 puppies
  • Adult Lessons Level 1 and Level 2
  • Trick training course
  • Therapy Dog Training Courses

The Level 1 puppy class emphasizes proper socialization. Socializing means more than just making new friends. It encompasses the way a dog sees the world. How they deal with new experiences and situations. It helps them become their most confident and adjusted selves.

The off-leash playtime portion of every Puppy Level 1 class is a great learning opportunity for dogs and their humans. This is a weekly crash course in understanding our pup’s body language and what acceptable play looks like.

Puppies can level up and eventually consider adult level classes. Adult dogs can start with the Level 1 Adult Class. Adult dogs with basic training are welcome to have fun with Trick Training Class. Additionally, those who are trained and have a calm, compassionate and patient demeanor can find a calling as a therapy dog ​​and there are classes for that as well.

Classes take place once a week for six weeks and offer plenty of opportunities to learn, have fun and of course, to better connect humans with their furry best friend. Throughout each class, Claar focuses on harnessing positive reinforcement and reward-based training techniques while teaching real life skills that benefit both you and your canine companion.

Classes are held at the Heritage Humane Society. The shelter’s recently completed expansion offers a new indoor classroom and additional outdoor options.

For ideal learning and engagement, registrations for group classes are limited. Small classes allow for more one-on-one time between enrollee and Claar. All dogs and all ages are welcome. Heritage Humane Society adopters receive a $40 coupon that can be used for a single class or a group purchase. All proceeds from dog training classes benefit the homeless animals of the Heritage Humane Society.

“Working with Adam in the Heritage Humane Society dog ​​training classes is a positive experience for humans and dogs. His approach to teaching dogs is to better understand them and bring out their best while teaching humans at the same time,” says Kym Smith. “It was a great experience for all of us and we miss the classes.”

New workshops

New for 2022, Claar offers free dog training workshops. Each workshop lasts 30 minutes. Topics vary from potty training, jumping, puppy biting and leash manners. Claar reviews the basics of behavior and training tips for dogs — and for humans.

To inquire or register, contact the Heritage Humane Society by calling (757) 221-0150 ext. 0, email [email protected] or register online here. Heritage Humane Society is located at 430 Waller Mill Road, Williamsburg, VA 23185.

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