For months Maggie Murphy envisioned a way for dogs and their owners to bond in a way that would benefit both humans and k-9 companions alike.
Murphy is a local dog trainer and owner of Alpha Canine LLC and Pups on a Path, in Mount Airy.
Feeling particularly frustrated with not getting through to some clients dogs, it was while on a hike with her own dog Bane, a Boerboel mastiff, the idea to do a class based around hiking came to her, Murphy said.
Utilizing the local greenway’s and state parks to her clients advantage, “I felt this was a great way for dogs to get their frustrations out.”
Murphy explained many of the problems she experiences from clients dogs are a result of boredom. “Aggressive behavior and neurotic tendencies,” are among the most common said Murphy.
Cindy Culbreth and her daughter Megan, 14, of Galax, Virginia, are enrolled in the Pups on a Path class. Owners of a four-month old German Shepherd, thye chose to take the class after previously working with Maggie. “The difference is incredible,” explained Culbreth, “It’s a real environment, where your dogs meet and interact with other dogs and people.”
Owning a German Shepherd, Culbreth expressed how some people are leery of the breed. “Getting ours out in the community helps people to understand they are not bad, Maggie instills such respect of humans in the dogs.”
The first class is based on the dogs getting to know each other and for Maggie to asses their knowledge of basic commands.
The remaining four classes involve the group meeting at either Pilot Mountain State Park, Hanging Rock State Park, Stone Mountain State Park and Cumberland Knob State Park.
“My daughter really enjoys hiking and learning the basic commands,” said Culbreth.
“It’s not your typical training class, it’s fun.”
According to the American Veterinarian Medical Association’s webpage, “Walking is healthy for you and your dog. Not only is it physical activity, but it’s mental stimulation for your dog to smell, see and hear beyond the limits of your yard. Walking helps preserve your pet’s muscle tone and joint movement. If your pet is overweight or obese, walking can be a great way to shed those extra pounds.”
Murphy began her work as a trainer nearly eight years ago, at the age of 19, when her father Patrick Hawks opened Pet Stop of the Foothills. Installing invisible fencing for pets, Maggie would train those pets to yield to the fence.
After getting some experience under her belt, Murphy decided she wanted to purse dog training as a career. She began school at Tarheel Canine Training, Inc., graduating from their Police Canine Instructor course and Pet Obedience course.
Murphy worked at a local pet kennel and doggie daycare for nearly two years before branching off on her own.
The next Pups on a Path class is planned to start on Jan. 29 pending weather conditions. If you would like to sign up for the class email Maggie Murphy at email@example.com or message the official Pups on a Path Facebook page.