Summertime Fun Time
by Valerie Broadway
Recently many families added new puppies, and dogs, to their homes. However, due to the pandemic, in-person dog training classes came to a halt. Now that COVID-19 restrictions are lessening, the weather is warmer, and days are longer, it’s a great time to catch up on much needed training. Learning new things, interacting with others, and experiencing the world around us benefit both humans and dogs.
When dogs have an outlet for their energy they are calmer and easier to live with. Using their brain and bodies to do what they were bred to be is the key to having a content dog. If your dog’s genetics come from herding, swimming, retrieving, tracking, running, etc. there is an activity/class/sport that is just what they’ve been dreaming of.
Listed below are suggestions for activities that are available in Chatham County or one of the surrounding counties. Training facilities can be found for each of these with a quick online search.
This is the first step for most dogs. Basic obedience commands are heel, sit, down, stay, and come, and are performed on-leash. If needed, most trainers can help with general manners issues, such as jumping on people and nipping. Obedience classes are available beyond the basics that include intermediate and advanced courses.
Canine Good Citizen (CGC)
Dogs prepare for an on-leash test of basic obedience skills, along with exposure to situations that prove the dogs are friendly and polite around strangers. The CGC test is given by testers/trainers certified through the American Kennel Club (AKC).
Dogs are trained and tested to visit patients in hospitals and nursing homes, children in schools, and other types of care-giving environments. Dogs become familiar with unexpected situations and equipment. CGC certification is a prerequisite for becoming a therapy dog. There are several nationally and internationally recognized therapy dog organizations. Official therapy dogs must be tested by an evaluator certified by one of these groups. Therapy dogs and their handlers are required to adhere to the guidelines of the organization and actively perform therapy visits to keep their certification current.
Most people have seen online videos of competitions with handlers performing joyful and moving dance routines with their dogs. This is Freestyle. Dogs and humans are equal partners in this advanced version of obedience moves set to music.
This is a sport for dogs who like to run, retrieve, and swim. There are several types of dock diving competitions; longest jump to retrieve an object, the fastest swimmer, and the highest jumper. This past September, a state-of-the-art dock diving facility opened here in Chatham County. It’s called Indian Creek K9 Aquatics and is located in Goldston, NC. Find them online at www.carolinadockdogs.com.
Dogs are often seen in commercials, tv shows, movies, and in online and print ads. Acting classes can be just for fun, or perhaps you’ll learn your dog has the “it” factor that could make them a star. Dogs should have mastered the basic obedience commands before being enrolling in an acting class.
Dogs run an obstacle course of many different types of objects such as tunnels, jumps, and weave poles. Dogs of any breed and age can enjoy agility, but athletic and high energy breeds often excel.
Parkour is a non-competitive activity that is simply for fun. It is an excellent way to exercise high energy dogs. Natural and manmade environments are used for navigation. Playground equipment, rocks, tables, ropes, ladders, and all other sorts of objects can be used.
Many dogs, especially herding breeds, can enjoy this activity. Herding is instinctual for some dogs. Other dogs need to be introduced carefully, as they must learn there are boundaries and rules they must adhere to. There is a fine line between herding and hunting. For some breeds, herding satisfies a primal need, resulting in a calmer and less anxious dog.
K9 Nose/Scent Work
This is based on the training for professional scent detection (sniffer) dogs, but is just for fun. Any dog can do scent work. It relies on the dog’s natural ability to use its nose.
There are many more activities to do with dogs. A search online by breed may suggest specific activities that a particular dog may enjoy and excel at. There are many other ways to spend quality time with dogs that don’t involve classes. Most dogs are always up for a hike or jog. With a little practice and preparation, and a doggy life jacket, some dogs enjoy riding in a kayak or canoe. Social dogs may enjoy a trip to the dog park. Many dogs want nothing more than to play a game of fetch or Frisbee.
It is important to take dogs to new places and teach them new things, but what dogs want the most is to spend time having fun with their people. When the effort is made to share in interesting activities with our dogs, the result is quality bonding time. Try something new and have a healthy and happy summer.
Valerie Broadway, the Canine Coach, is a dog trainer and behavioral specialist. Contact: 919-542-4726 or CanineCoachingServices.com.