Why Train Your dog?
An introductory 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
- Come to them when called.
In the beginners’ class at my local dog club, we cover heeling on lead, sit, stand, down and stay commands, getting the dog to 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. And after achieving this, many handlers leave the Club, satisfied with their dog’s basic training.
More Challenging Classes
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, and sits are automatic. Stands and downs are near perfect, and dogs come briskly when called. And stays are held for three 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.
Heeling is off-lead with hand signal commands at the highest level, and dogs return on recalls over jumps. Stays are ten minutes long, and dogs use scent to track and retrieve articles touched by their handlers.
By now, some handlers even perform 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.
Challenging ongoing training keeps a dog’s brain active and alert. It also helps keep dogs 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. The flag race proved a very popular part of my Can I Pat That Dog talks, with Harry racing my son. And guess who always won?
Welcome to the blog posts and selected writing of a dad and dog owner, Robert Fairhead. A writer-editor at the Tall And True writers' website, Robert also writes and narrates episodes for the Tall And True Short Reads storytelling podcast. In addition, his book reviews and other writing have appeared in various print and online media, and he's published several collections of short stories. Please contact Robert for further details.