Obedience classes aren't always boring

March 03, 2004

A friend called a couple of weeks ago, and told me that she had just acquired a new dog. Then she said I should be glad that I had retired from teaching dog obedience classes because she wasn't going to go to any and she wasn't going to train her dog because it was so BORING.

We did hang up as friends, but I told her to watch for the K-9 Corner in a couple of weeks and she would see herself in it along with suggestions for making training more fun and less boring. Even practicing each day can be fun for both you and your dog.

First, scout around for a dog obedience class that has a few minutes of agility thrown in at the end of the class. Yes, you can go visit the classes in session in order to make up your mind. Don't look for a school with the same curriculum as the old Palmer Dog Training School, every instructor has a unique program, so what you should look for are the exercises covered and the techniques used.


Also, chat with some of the advanced students and find out what they like about the school.

Second, besides agility which is fun for the dog as well as the handler, see if the instructor will introduce you to the Rally style of obedience.

You don't have to learn everything about Rally, but you can use it in your practice at home.

Briefly, Rally takes the obedience commands and turns them into a fast paced (you go slower in the beginning) competitive workout. Some examples of the commands are forward, halt and sit.

Forward, halt, sit, stand. Forward, halt, sit down, sit. Of course, there are about turns, fast pace and slow pace and right and left turns, but you will practice those as you learn them in class.

In my advance class, so many years ago, one of the members wrote out the commands on individual 3x5 cards, shuffled them and placed them in her right pocket. She would heel her dog and as she was planning to stop, she would pull out a card and command the dog, following the instructions on the card. Her report was that she had more fun and the dog was always watching her because he didn't know what was happening next.

After the dog had completed the instructions on the card, the owner would place that card in her left pocket so she would not duplicate any performance.

In that class, I used the Rally commands instead of the Agility equipment, which was reserved for the beginners and youth classes.

Each week I would lay out a new course using at least one new set of instructions. The course would have ten stations with commands.

The American Kennel Club is preparing to approve Rally competitions in their shows in conjunction with obedience trials. Rally will join the Agility competitions and the Canine Good Citizen program providing titles and ribbons for those qualifying. Try it, you'll have fun!|None|***

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