Subaru’s branding on television is love and faithfulness. We watch a time capsule of the family dog growing up with children, riding in the same car year after year. The status of dogs, along with how they are portrayed in media, has elevated in the family akin to that of children. Likewise, having an obedient dog is just as integral to family peace as well-mannered kids. Local trainer Mary Holsen specializes in helping people to ensure their four-legged family members get along well with people and animals, and act appropriately a variety of settings.maryintraining2

Good Dog!

Published 4:38pm Monday, August 12, 2013

“The dog being considered part of the family is a shift that has increased nationwide over the past decade,” said Holsen, a trainer who also professionally shows dogs. “A properly socialized and trained dog is well adjusted and makes a good companion, but it does take some effort.”

Seeing Holsen in action at a recent advanced beginner dog-obedience class in Battle Lake shows the passion she has for her work. It is also evident that she is training the humans as much as the dogs.

“Keep your shoulder down, don’t let him lead you. Good – see how he is beside you now. That’s something you can practice at home,” encourages Holsen.

Holsen recommends dog owners enroll in Puppy Kindergarten, to further the socialization of a puppy and lay a foundation for obedience training. She also offers beginning and advanced beginning obedience, therapy dog training, agility training and beginner gun training for hunting dogs. Some dogs are not ready for training in a group setting, and Holsen will work with them and their person one-on-one.

A self-proclaimed crazy dog lady, Holsen has been chasing canine dreams for over 12 years. Her background includes working in a vet’s office for six years, obtaining certification in training through the Animal Behavior College, being an AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator, a Delta Therapy Pet evaluator, a Minnesota 4-H Senior Dog Judge as well as doing internships with professional dog handlers. In 2005, Mary opened a dog boarding, training, grooming, doggy daycare, retail, and rescue center with a business partner in Detroit Lakes. In 2011, she left the business to pursue more handling and showing on her own, and loves the journey,

“People usually come to me with goals or problems with their dogs,” said Holsen. “Getting to see people have success with their dogs through training is my greatest reward.”

Co-habitating with Labrador Retrievers and English Bull Terriers, Holsen trains and shows her own dogs as well as handling and showing dogs for other owners at regional shows 25 to 30 weekends a year. Dogs earn points toward their American Kennel Club Championship, and Holsen has contributed toward garnering points for many championship dogs.

“I’m more nervous showing my own dogs,” Holsen said. “I might be tougher on them, and they know how to push my buttons!”

In addition to having a dog that is a good example of its breed, presentation and skill of the handler is just as critical when showing a dog to judges.

“I got some good advice when I started – from how I was dressed to my own performance,” Holsen said. She adds that confidence is important when performing under stress, and not letting stress travel down the leash to the dog. “I was handling a dog that made it to Best in Show and was advised to ‘act like you’ve been Best in Show ring a million times.’ You don’t win every weekend – you get beat up a lot, you have to love it.”

Dogs give affection wholeheartedly, and with Mary Holsen’s help can be well-behaved family members, or even be destined for stardom at a dog show.

Obedience classes are on-going in Battle Lake. For more information, visit or call Mary Holsen directly at 218-234-5964.

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