Why Train Your dog?


Would you train your dog to fetch flags?

A question I ask student handlers in the first week of dog training is, Why train your dog? The answers never include wanting to train their dogs to win a flag race!

Most student handlers simply want to train their dog to:

  • Stop pulling on the lead
  • Stop barking at and jumping on visitors; and
  • Come to them when called.

In the beginners’ class at my dog club, we cover heeling on lead, sit, stand and down commands, getting the dog to stay and come when called.

At the end of six weeks, handlers and dogs automatically progress to the first level of our more advanced classes to consolidate their basic training. Having achieved this, many handlers leave the Club, satisfied with their dog’s basic training.

Harry dog's ribbons

But some choose to pass promotion tests and progress to even more challenging training classes.

At the club’s highest level class, many handlers are obedience trialing. Dogs are heeling closely, sits are automatic, stands and downs are near perfect, dogs return briskly when called and stays are held for 3 minutes (at least, that’s the idea). And this is just beginner’s obedience trialing!

With sufficient passes, a dog earns an obedience title and advances to the next level. At the highest level, heeling is off-lead, commands are given with hand signals, dogs return over jumps, stays are held for 10 minutes and dogs use scent to find articles touched by their handlers.

By now, some handlers even do obedience demonstrations, as I’ve done with Harry, at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. A popular feature of this event is a flag race between teams of dogs, with each dog fetching three flags, one at a time.

This ongoing and challenging training for your dog& keeps its brain active and alert. It also helps keep your dog healthy and happy. And a happy dog in the house is one of the best reasons to train your dog.

© 2007 Robert Fairhead 

This article appeared in the Village Voice Eastern Beaches in August 2007 – a version also appeared in my dog club newsletter, PawPrints, under the title, More Reasons for Training. The flag race proved a very popular part of my Can I Pat That Dog talks, with Harry racing my son … who always won!

About RobertFairhead.com

About RobertFairhead.com

Welcome to the blog posts and selected writing of a middle-aged dad and dog owner. Robert Fairhead is writer and editor at Tall And True, an online showcase and forum for writers, readers and publishers. His book reviews and other writing have appeared in various print and online media. And he has published two collections of short stories, Both Sides of the Story (2020) and Twelve Furious Months (2021).