by Tara Wilson,
K-9 Action Dog Training
So you and your dog have completed a basic manners class? You may be wondering what’s next as far as training your dog. What activities are there to get involved in? Training doesn’t end with basic manners, but it does give you the skills you need to maintain the training your dog learned. To ensure that your dog remains a well-behaved and enjoyable member of the family, it is important that you continue to practice the lessons you learned in class. As you continue to practice regularly with your dog, the relationship between you two will get better and better. Be sure to keep training fun. Always praise your dog and “pay” them with treats and petting. At the same time, insist that your dog listen to you and show the good manners he has learned.
You have the opportunity of continuing on to more advanced training at this point. A natural next step is a class that teaches advanced manners. Many classes focus on the Canine Good Citizen® test, which is done through the American Kennel Club®. This test consists of stations that evaluate your dog’s ability to greet people and other dogs properly, handle strange noises and sights, and listen closely to you with many distractions around. Passing the Canine Good Citizen® test shows the public that your dog is a safe and welcome member of society. Once your dog has demonstrated that he/she is safe in public and can obey you with distractions, the sky is the limit with your training. There are activities to suit every activity level and interest! All of these opportunities are available right here in the Central Valley.
Many people enjoy training for agility with their dogs. This is a fast-paced activity that will have your dog jumping, running through tunnels, weaving through poles, and climbing obstacles. Dogs have a great time navigating through the courses, and their owners are often left behind laughing. A very rewarding option that many outgoing, friendly dogs enjoy is therapy work. This requires advanced training to ensure your dog is reliable under extreme circumstances. Once your dog has passed a therapy dog test, you are able to visit nursing homes, hospitals and schools. You may be bringing some much needed joy into an elderly person’s life, or teaching a child how to safely greet a dog. It is very satisfying to see your dog make a difference in the life of someone that needs it. There are many other activities that dogs enjoy as well.Rally obedience is a relatively new sport that consists of a course set up with obedience exercises that you move through with your dog. It is rapidly gaining in popularity! Herding is another sport that some dogs excel at. If you have a herding breed, it can be amazing to see them work sheep or cattle the way they were bred to. Other dogs enjoy the sport of Schutzhund, which is a German sport that has 3 parts (obedience, tracking and protection work). Flyball is a fast-paced, often noisy sport that dogs and owners can get addicted to! Flyball dogs run on a relay team, carrying a tennis ball back and forth through the course. There are many other activities, but I just wanted to introduce some of the more readily available options.
Whatever you choose to do with your dog, whether it is a sport or having a loving family pet, the important thing is that you now have the skills you need to communicate to your dog what you expect of him/her. The daily sharing of each other’s lives is the most important part of the dog-human bond. The rest of it is just fun and games, although it can turn into a fun obsession in no time (just ask some of us who are agility addicts!).