Dog Sports & Activities

WHAT ACTIVITIES CAN I DO WITH MY DOG?

The following pages highlight some of the activities which members of Dogs ACT (and other States and Territories) participate in each weekend.

THE BENEFITS OF DOG OBEDIENCE TRAINING.

In this day and age it is more important than ever to consider some form of obedience training for our canine companions.

Whether your dog is big or small, hairy or smooth coated, old or young, all dogs will benefit if their owners enrol them in some form of obedience training. Increasingly, local ACT Government legislation requires ACT residents to be responsible dog owners and imposes penalties for those who fail to comply with their requirements. Even a basic level of training will enable most dog owners to have a happy, well socialised and well behaved dog.

Obedience Clubs in the ACT.

Dogs ACT can advise dog owners about dog obedience clubs in Canberra. There are three main all breeds obedience training clubs.

These clubs cater for all categories of dogs – pedigreed, mixed breed, old and young. Some clubs offers kindergarten classes so that puppies over three months of age can be socialised with other puppies and their owners can learn basic tips about handling and caring for their pets.

There is also a breed specific club – the German Shepherd Dog Association which caters for pure breed German Shepherds and their owners. (Email: mlbarnes@grapevine.com.au ).

Obedience Clubs generally offer classes on Thursday evenings and Sunday mornings. In addition, the ACT Companion Dog Club has classes on Wednesday mornings. A standard condition of joining obedience clubs is that your dog is currently vaccinated. You’ll need to bring your certificate along with you when you join.

Why Obedience?

The hour you spend each week in an obedience class will help you to understand your dog and teach you how to train your dog to be sociable with other dogs and people. Life is much more enjoyable when you can trust your dog to be well behaved in public and to do what he or she is told. For example, you will learn how to teach your dog to walk beside you on lead without pulling your arm out of its socket; to respond to sit, drop and stay in position commands and to come to you when called. You will teach your dog to allow strangers to pat it without making a fuss and to wait quietly in the sit or down position for a period on your command. Beyond all this is the thrill and pride you feel when you see that your dog is eager to learn and is responding to all you teach him or her.

Many people who join obedience clubs to learn basic obedience skills progress through the classes and compete in club members’ competition and assessment days where they are able to demonstrate the level of skill achieved with their canine companion. The Club environment itself also offers a way of meeting other people with similar interests.

A further step is to join Dogs ACT and compete in official obedience trials, which are held at regular intervals throughout the year in Canberra and the surrounding NSW trialling venues. This is an opportunity to meet other owners and their dogs as you compete to achieve passes at the various levels comprising this most enjoyable sport. Many triallers travel as a group to trialling venues, camping on the trial grounds or in nearby parks, and combine their sport with a social outing.

What are Obedience Trials?

Obedience Trials throughout Australia are governed by a national set of rules and guidelines issued by the Australian National Kennel Control (ANKC). The Canine Association in each State and Territory is affiliated with the ANKC and administers ANKC requirements on its behalf. The ANKC “Rules for the Conduct of Obedience Trials” states:

The idea of obedience trials is to demonstrate the usefulness of the dog as the companion and guardian of man and not the ability of the dog to acquire facility in the performance of new tricks. The classification which has been adopted is progressive with the thought in mind that a dog which has been granted the title of “Obedience Champion” has demonstrated its’ fitness for a place in our modern scheme of living.

These Rules contain descriptions of each of the exercises comprising the five levels of obedience trialling. They provide guidelines and marking procedures for judges who assess a handler/dog team performance and they establish a structured and objective competition framework for judges and competitors. Copies of the Rules are available from the Dogs ACT office, The ANKC web site or from ACT Obedience Clubs.

Starting off as beginner in obedience trialling, you can compete in the Encouragement Classes run by local Obedience Clubs in conjunction with official trials. Here you and your dog can gain valuable ring experience in a less formal competitive atmosphere. If you then wish to pursue the sport and participate in official trials, you will need to become a financial member of Dogs ACT and register your dog with Dogs ACT for competition purposes.

Trialling Classes.

  • The first competitive trialling class conducted under ANKC Rules is termed the Community Companion Class, which primarily involves heelwork on lead, a physical examination of the dog by the judge, a Recall and Stay exercises. When three qualifying scores are attained, your dog will be awarded the title of Community Companion Dog and will bear the initials CCD at the end of his registered name.
  • The next competitive level is the Novice Class which requires that all work be executed off lead and introduces retrieval and exercises. Three qualifying scores at this level qualify your dog for the Companion Dog title and the initials CD are substituted for the CCD after your dog’s name.
  • The next level of obedience competition is the Open Class. Here all exercises are conducted off lead and include jumping exercises.
  • Next comes the Utility Class which includes tracking, scent discrimination, retrieval and jumping exercises. In most cases the dog works at a distance from the handler. One exercise includes the requirement to respond to signals instead of verbal commands. A dog entitled to bear UD after his or her name has demonstrated an extremely high level of competence, confidence and teamwork. It is at this level that a dog might attain its’ Obedience Champion Title.
  • The highest competitive level of trialling is the Utility Dog Excellent Class in which the dog and handler perform tracking and scent exercises which include high levels of difficulty and involve the dog working at a distance with minimal command and signals.
  • The great satisfaction felt by handlers who have developed the skills and confidence of their dogs to achieve this hard won title repays all the hard work and practice which is necessary to reach these high levels of achievement. The close bond and mutual respect evident between obedience trained dogs and their handlers is truly something special.

So –
If you think you might like to be part of a rewarding sport that you can share with your canine companion, or if you would simply like your dog to be better behaved and obedient, please be in touch with the Dogs ACT Office and we will set the ball rolling.