Deciding on a route to take with your dog within dog training can be a daunting task; aside from the more well known activities such as obedience, agility and formal competition there are many more different types of training to suit every breed type and breed character!
As pet dog owners we can choose to stick to formal training in Obedience or Obedience competition, Good Citizen Dog Scheme, Agility training, Gundog work and tests, Working Trials or Heelwork to Music training – all of which have clubs throughout the world and advice online. Typically there are clubs specialising in one or two of these activities with trainers who are knowledgable and take part with their own dogs, and this is what you focus on, both for enjoyment only and to work towards trials and competitions. You’ll find a diverse range of dog breeds and characters taking part in these canine sports and observing can be as exciting as taking part!
These traditional styles of training have developed and merged to create many new forms of dog training activities with some moving over to online courses and trials and others remaining taught in classes with face to face competition. With all the new activities available it’s more achievable to find something that suits the needs of a dog, owner, family as well as options for days, times, travel etc!
Having started in obedience with my Norwich Terrier Cassie around 13 years ago I found it enjoyable to share the time training with Cassie and competing – seeking more trainers and techniques took me around the UK and helped me meet other like minded dog owners who in still in daily contact with now! However it wasn’t as interesting to Taylor, so he tried agility and had an interest in training and competition but as my own work took off it was impossible to be away for 2-3 days competing so I continued taking part in new workshops and training days!
We were lucky enough to try the new at the time Rally Obedience, K9 Multisport and dabbled in Heelwork to Music amongst other things. These types of training offered a wide range of exercises and challenges within their own guidelines which was perfect when training more then one dog as you can focus on different areas for each dog! This also meant dog owners had lots to try and learn about too!
After attending workshops in Gloucester, New Forest, Surrey and Kent to name just a few I was very excited to discover Pet Dog Rally O just in the next county in Suffolk!! Developed by Janet West it provided different exercises, various levels of trial/competition and plenty to train for plus it attracted breeds of all sizes and helped with motivation for dogs working towards Obedience Competition. Rally O also spilled into the Agility area and an Agility O started, although sadly wasn’t as popular and there was less taking place.
Following the expansion of regular obedience and agility there have been a lot more new and exciting dog activities created all round the world, including Heelwork to Music various categories for competition and online awards, Wag It Games with several styles of skills, Tricks Training and Titles, Treibball, Canine Parkour, Conditioning and Fitness work, Scent work and Nose work trials, and much more! Trainers are developing new training methods, new activities and new ways for dogs to achieve titles and certificates and it’s a wonderful selection box of skills for dogs to work on and we can choose different activities for different dogs and see them excell in their own style!!
Many types of training activity overlap in places; Rally O has obedience elements mostly but with some HTM basics and some foundation Agility such as using a jump. HTM and Tricks share many types of exercise and Canine Parkour incorporates an Urban style of Agility plus Conditioning exercises! We can utilise training one activity and it gives us a head start in something else!
If you’re trying to decide what your dog might enjoy taking part in, I would urge you to try taster days and workshops to get a feel for what’s involved, how the trainer trains, how you can progress and then see what else is also on offer! Starting out in one activity is more likely to give you a chance to try several areas of training and if you find one you enjoy the most ask about doing more in that style! If you are able to do private training you could ask to do a mixture of training types – I have regular customer who come and do some Obedience and Good Citizens work, then we might look at Tricks involving the paws which leads on to target training and then we try some Canine Parkour and the dogs continue to be motivated and focused plus owners find it really fun too!!
Have a search about locally and online and see what catches your attention – if what you’re interested in isn’t offered nearby have a look for online classes and courses as these can be very useful. I run several online classes including Tricks and Senior Dogs Training plus take part in online classes regularly and have given my own dogs (& myself) lots of new things to learn!!
Good luck in your search for training for your dog and enjoy your time training together!!!