Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Spot Goes Back to School- for training

What most people don’t realize is that training is a constant work in progress.  Dogs need that regular mental simulation, structure, and reminder of their doggy manners.  But their training doesn’t have to end at basic training.  You can continue their education through other training programs to keep them on their toes or to simply make your life easier with a better behaved dog.
5 Alternative Training Options to Know About
1.      Canine Good Citizen (CGC)- Started by the AKC in 1989, the CGC is a two-part program intended to reward dogs for having good manners at home and in the community.  This program works with dog owners on training dogs to display socially acceptable behaviors and then testing those dogs on the behaviors they learned.  The items dogs are taught and tested on are: Accepting a friendly stranger, sitting politely for petting, welcoming grooming and examinations from strangers (vets, groomers, etc.) and the owner, walking on a loose lead, walking calmly through a crowd, sitting on command and staying in place, coming when called, reacting to another dog, reacting to distraction, and calmly waiting during separation from owner.  There is a puppy version of this test for dogs aged 12 months and younger.  The S.T.A.R Puppy program is easier but the dog will have to test again as an adult.  Many owners complete the CGC program as a prerequisite to therapy dog certification.  For more information about the CGC program, check out the AKC website  
2.      Therapy dogs- Therapy dogs are volunteers at facilities like hospitals and rest homes to help patients (and the like) experience the joy, love, and other benefits from interacting with an animal.  As you can imagine, it takes a very calm and well-balanced dog in these situations and is therefore not a job for just any dog.  According to author and trainer Kathy Diamond, “Some will learn with adequate practice, and some will not.  You really don’t know which type of dog you have until you do the training and see the results.” A therapy dog must be able to under control at all times when working.  He needs to be comfortable with strangers coming up to him and touching him.  If he overreacts or becomes really defensive he will not make a good therapy dog.  Becoming a registered therapy dog requires the dog to pass a therapy dog certification test.  For more information on therapy dog certification, check out the Therapy Dogs International website.  
3.      Agility/Disc Dogs/Flyball/Dock Diving-  Training isn’t always all work and no play.  These four dogs sports are great ways to keep the dog active and mentally stimulated while building a bond between human and dog.
Agility is a dog sport where a handler directs a dog (off leash and without incentives) through an obstacle course in a race for both time and accuracy. 
Disc Dogs (a.k.a Frisbee Dogs) is a sport where dogs and their handlers compete in events such as distance catching and freestyle catching (which is a practiced routine). They prefer the term “Disc” because “Frisbee” is a trademark. 
Flyball is a dog relay race in which four dogs compete on a team, each jumping over four hurdles then catching a fly ball before returning to the start line.  The team is judged on their ability to have all four dogs run the track without any errors. 
And lastly, Dock diving is a dog sport in which dogs compete in jumping off a dock into a body of water.  The dogs are judged on either distance or height of the jump.

4.      Weight pulling- Weight pulling can be a great training option for stronger working breeds.  It is a competitive sport where dogs compete in pulling the most weight and pulling the most weight per pound (weight pulled compared to their body weight).  Dogs compete against other dogs in their weight class, usually 15- 25lbs per class.  All weight pulls start at the lowest weight or an empty cart and the dog must pull the weight the full length of the track in a given time frame.  If the dog passes, he moves on to the next round with increased weight increments (which depend on the size of the dog). For more information on weight pulling, check out  
5.      Police academy- While a lot of K9 police training is reserved for the actual police dogs, there are classes available for everyday citizens and their dogs. This type of training is an excellent way to get your dog thinking and listening.  These training programs teach obedience, protection, tracking, and detection which help your working dog feel useful and help you feel in control.

A short list of local training facilities to help start your search:
Adlerhorst International, Inc. 3951 Vernon Ave., Jurupa Valley, Ca 92509  (951) 685-2430 (Police K-9 Training) 
Dog Etc.  Classes in Anaheim (714)393-0432 (CGC & Agility training)
Jump Start Dog Sports 4631 Valley View Ave., Yorba Linda, CA 92886  (714) 985-1555 (Disc & CGC training)
K-9 Companions 13703 JJ Lane, Perris, Ca 92570  (951) 780-5810 (Advanced Obedience, Agility, & Service Dog training)
K-9 Disc Thrills in Riverside (951) 288-PUPS (7877) or (951) 776-2221 (Disc dog & Agility training)
PAWS Pet Assisted Therapy in Orange County (714) 374-7738 (Therapy Dog Training)
Sirius K9 Academy 3920 Peospect Ave., Yorba Linda, Ca 92886 (714) 296-9714 or (951) 272-1364  (Advanced Obedience, Agility, & Therapy Dog training)

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