How a family-owned dog training facility in Silver Spring competes with the ‘big dogs’

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Teaching has always been a passion for Haywood Perry, but dogs have been his obsession.

Perry, who owns Academy Dog Training by Haywood in Silver Spring, Maryland, has been a professional trainer for more than four decades. He became interested in dogs at 5-years-old when his family adopted a German Shepherd, and he has not been without one since.

Perry first learned obedience training by working with an Air Force K-9 trainer. He became a veterinary technician and worked alongside several other trainers, learning different philosophies, before going out on his own.

He says an important part of their training is empowering the owner and teaching better communication.

“Being a training school, what we try to do is give the person the tools they need once they get a dog,” Perry said. “We seek to teach both canines and humans how to better communicate and learn using a balanced approach to training.”

Dogs await instruction at the Academy Dog Training by Haywood in Silver Spring, Maryland. (Courtesy Academy Dog Training by Haywood)

Perry’s son, Jason Perry, also works at the business as its managing director.

“Communication with a dog is very important,” Jason said. “One of the things we do very well is situational training for clients so the dogs can be in an urban or rural environment without getting stressed.”

For many training services, it can be impossible to compete with all the large pet companies out there these days. According to Jason, they do it by providing a personalized experience.

“We operate a little bit differently than them because we operate based on service,” Jason said. “The retail that we have is an extension of our training, which gives us a leg up and allows us to stay alive.”

As an example, Perry spoke of how many “pandemic puppies” people acquired at the start of COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the owners had never owned a dog before, and they needed training.

“A lot of people got dogs during the pandemic, because so many people were home by themselves,” Haywood said.

“They were piling into us asking for help,” he explained. “We couldn’t take everybody, because we had to keep the quality up.”

Jason said the experience demonstrated that pet owners want what’s best for their new family member.

“We get people who invest heavily in their dogs, which is great because we know the work we’re doing isn’t in vain,” he said. “We love dogs, and we love our human clients as well, so it’s a perfect blend for us.”

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Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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