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Adam Fondren, Deseret News
Cash the dog successfully executes the stay command for American Fork Police Department K-9 officer Nick Cunningham during Cash's obedience course. After hearing that people wished there was a training program to get their dogs to behave as well as police dogs do, Cunningham decided to conduct the obedience course. The first class was held in American Fork on Wednesday, April 11, 2018.

AMERICAN FORK — It doesn’t take much to be proud of a dog. Learning to sit, stay, and fetch is usually more than enough.

So, you can imagine how proud Nick Cunningham was after his dog Zeke sniffed out drugs for the very first time.

“You’re standing there just hoping he does the job and he did it. He’s a great dog. It doesn’t take much to develop a relationship with the dog,” Cunningham said.

You see, Zeke is a K-9 with the American Fork Police Department, and Cunningham is his handler.

“It’s the best job in law enforcement,” he said.

Zeke has only been on the job about three months but has already helped find plenty of drugs in about a half-dozen different case.

Finding drugs is what they train for but it all starts with obedience.

That’s something all dog owners want with their dogs.

It’s also what gave Cunningham his big idea.

“A lot of our citizens in American Fork were contacting me at our city events and asking, ‘Hey, what do I do if my dog is doing this?’ or ‘How do I get my dog to do that?’ So, I thought of starting a class to help teach them basic skills,” Cunningham said.

Last Wednesday night was the first of his classes.

Six dog owners came to a park in American Fork, where Cunningham helped give them basic tips and advice to get their dogs to be more obedient.

Dogs like Cash.

“He’s not even listening to me,” said Andrew Fratcher, who is Cash’s owner. “He’s like a million miles away right now, watching everything else that is going on.”

Cash, a smaller terrier type mix, “He’s a mutt,” said Fratcher with a smile, knows many tricks.

It’s just he’d rather run away.

“We’ve had to go get him clear down the road sometimes,” said Fratcher. “He likes to go on walks and we enjoy taking him, but it’s hard to go on walks with him because he’s all over the place. He wants to do his own thing instead of being on a leash.”

This class gives him hope.

“If you’re trying to get your dog to do a simple sit and it won’t do it, you’re going to get frustrated. It’s just human nature. How you handle it and how you express it with your body language and everything will affect the dog,” Cunningham said.

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Basically, it’s all about patience. Cunningham believes that’s the biggest lesson for dog owners.

“And it’s about being fair with the dog and doing it the right way rather than the wrong way,” he said.

According to the department's Facebook page, officer Cunningham is holding his obedience classes every Wednesday for a month. Cost is $10 a week, totaling $40 for the month. All the money raised from the classes goes to the American Fork Police K-9 program. If you’re interested, you can call them at 801-763-3020.