Dog trainer shares her passion with other animal lovers

by Becky GINOS

LAYTON—Most jobs don’t include a wet nose and a lick across the face. But for Kristin Sittner that’s what makes her work fun. Sittner is the owner of Versa Dog Training and competes all over the country.

“I train dogs for agility and also sheep dogs,” she said. “I train with the goal of having students compete or just for fun.”

Sittner has been working with dogs for about 15 years. “I got a Sheltie when I was a teenager,” she said. “She wasn’t very socialized so I took her to training classes to help her. Later, I got a job on a sheep ranch and learned by trial and error.”

The facility has been in its current location at 950 E. 1500 North in Layton for about a year. “We have big growth plans coming,” said Sittner. “We’re going to add a building. I teach 19 classes a week and limit it to six people. The classes are six weeks long and one hour each.”

She offers a day care and training too. “I take the dog for a day, work on skills, then work with the owner on how to handle them,” said Sittner. “Any dog can do it, from Great Danes all the way to Chihuahuas, from herding dogs to working dogs – everything.”

Versa has a lot of social activities as well, she said. “It’s a chance for people who are like-minded to hang out. I try to build on what the dogs already know. I’m bringing in a number of dog sports and keep the relationship growing through training.”

Sittner has puppy classes and teaches dogs manners. “It’s not all serious, there’s something for everybody,” she said. “The most important thing is to build a relationship with the dog. You need to spend time with them. It’s not all about the training, you should enjoy them.”

The key to training a dog is finding a reward it really wants, she said. “What motivates your dog? Find that and they’ll want to listen and try.”

One of her dogs didn’t want to work. “She didn’t give me her all,” said Sittner. “At about six months, I sat in the living room with a box full of toys in a toy box and started pulling stuff out. The last one was a rubber chicken. She just fell in love with it and would carry it everywhere. One time after she finished a competition, she ran out of the ring and into the stand and got her chicken to celebrate.”

Several weeks out of the year are spent on the road so Sittner started to map out her trips to visit national parks along the way with her dogs. “In two and a half years we’ve gone to 80 different parks,” she said. “We’ve been to all the states in the continental U.S. other than Maine and Vermont. We enjoy hiking between competitions and exploring the country.”

Sittner has five dogs of her own ranging in age from 2 – 15 years and she just wants to share her passion with others. “My goal is to build a community of dog people. Usually dog people are dog people – not people people.”

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