The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Puppy Kindergarten Offers Lessons for Pets and Therapy for Owners

By Della Hasselle | June 6, 2011 8:26am | Updated on June 6, 2011 8:57am

By Della Hasselle

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MURRAY HILL — A dog training class has become a therapy group for stressed-out puppy owners in Manhattan.

Wendy DeSarno's Puppy Kindergarten training class doesn't just teach pooches how to behave — it gives support sessions for their bewildered owners.

"It's kind of a puppy support group for the owners," said DeSarno, a Queens resident and certified dog trainer.

"Having a puppy can be really frustrating sometimes, so it's a great place for puppy owners to come together, feel like they're not alone, get their questions answered."

In her class at Walter's Pet Stores, on East 33rd Street, between Second and Third avenues, last Wednesday, DeSarno taught pups — and their owners — a few tricks for city living.

Along with basic skills like sit and stay, the six week course helps pups socialize in dog-packed city parks, walks and courtyards.

It also teaches owners how to deal with their pets' struggles to join the city's four-legged population.

"It's almost like a cute heart attack," says DeSarno, an animal expert that fell in love with puppy training while volunteering with the ASPCA behavioral department four years ago.

"I love to watch the puppies interact, and watch the owners delight in watching their puppies run around and be silly together."

Much of the class is spent comforting owners as they watch their pets struggle to interact for the first time.

During a class last Wednesday, pup owners learned first-hand that a little patience and a few treats go a long way, but that training is not always easy.

"She's a little ball of energy," Murray Hill resident and digital media consultant Amanda Herst, 28, said about her Maltese Yorkie mix, Ginger. "She just wants to play with everyone, all the time. People, dogs, babies, bikes.

"I like being able to teach Ginger better behavior, so she's more obedient," Herst added,  "because I don't know what I'm doing."

Other dog-owners agreed. Mark, a portfolio manager and Murray Hill resident said he hopes bonding sessions with his six-month-old puggle will make her a little more attentive.

"She's definitely got ADD," he added.