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Back to School: 5 Classes You Can Take with Your Dog That You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

By Sarah Sypniewski

Back to School for Pets

It’s back to school time, which means the house might be a little quieter and you might not be the only one missing your kids. Dogs get a little lonely too, when the kids are gone all day again. Have you ever thought about signing your dog up for his own classes? If basic obedience doesn’t float your boat, read on. We have 5 canine classes you probably don’t know exist, but are going to want to start attending!

Canine Good Citizen

The Canine Good Citizen (CGC) program is an AKC program to promote responsible dog ownership and to encourage well-mannered dogs. To get certified, a dog and handler team must take a short behavioral evaluation. You and your dog can take a class to help you prepare. It’s a great basic class for any dog, especially if you want to take your dog out and about often. It also gives you a strong foundation for any other classes you take.

The evaluation consists of ten objectives:

  • Accepting a friendly stranger
  • Sitting politely for petting
  • Allowing basic grooming procedures
  • Walking on a loose lead
  • Walking through a crowd
  • Sitting and lying down on command and staying in place
  • Coming when called
  • Reacting appropriately to another dog
  • Reacting appropriately to distractions
  • Calmly enduring supervised separation from the owner

Urban Herding/Treibball

Treibball (pronounced “Try Ball”) is German for “push ball.” In Treibball, your dog learns how to push (or herd) balls, one by one, back to the handler with direction and control. The game is simple to learn and teach, and you don’t need anything but a few inflatable balls! It’s low impact for the handler and dog, and since dogs typically work one at a time in Treibball, even slightly reactive dogs can join in the fun. Because you’re working one on one so much, it really improves the communication between you and your dog! All dogs can try treibball--they don’t have to be natural herders. This sport is especially good for high-energy dogs and/or dogs who need mental challenges.

Scent/Nose Work

Scent and nose work classes teach dogs how to search for a specific smell and find the source. Dogs start by searching for their favorite food or toy and then progress to unfamiliar smells, and in different environments, like indoors, outdoors, and vehicles. You can do it just for fun and keep it at the hobby level, or you can take it more seriously and go all the way up the ranks of the National Association of Canine Scent Work to become a professional search and rescue team! Scent-trained dogs not only work to find people, but they can find lost pets also.

The great thing about nose work is that you can do it practically anywhere and always keep it challenging and interesting, just by changing up the object or environment!

Pet Actor Training

TV shows and movies always need professional pet actors, and you and your pet can take classes to learn the necessary skills and how to break into the business! Pet actors are needed most in hubs like Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago, but casting calls can happen anywhere, anytime. Training for animal actors goes beyond basic obedience and teaches your pet how to hit a mark, put their feet up on things, dig, shake their head or body, put their leg up, and more. They will learn on-set etiquette and how to ignore distractions and other pets. This type of training is very stimulating and effective, but can be pricey, so it’s probably only worth it if you truly want your pet to act.

Agility League

You’ve probably heard of agility classes, but have you ever thought of taking it one step further and signing up for a local agility league? If your dog already has some agility experience, you might want to get involved with a group that offers competitions on a regular basis. Many dogs love to work hard and win, just like humans do! And some don’t care about winning at all; they’re just happy to have a new course to try every week!

While you can't predict when your pet is going to get sick or injured, you can protect yourself from expensive veterinary bills. Embrace Pet Insurance gives you the freedom to do what’s best for your pet without stressing over the cost. Easily personalize your coverage to fit your budget and your pet’s needs, then visit any vet for nose-to-tail coverage. Check out what the Embrace plan covers or compare pet insurance providers to learn more.

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Pet health insurance is administered by Embrace Pet Insurance Agency, LLC and underwritten by one of the licensed insurers of American Modern Insurance Group, Inc., including American Modern Home Insurance Company d/b/a in CA as American Modern Insurance Company (Lic. No 2222-8), and American Southern Home Insurance Company. Coverage is subject to policy terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions, underwriting review, and approval, and may not be available for all risks or in all states. Rates and discounts vary, are determined by many factors, and are subject to change. Wellness Rewards is offered as a supplementary, non-insurance benefit administered by Embrace Pet Insurance Agency in the United States. © 2016 American Modern Insurance Group, Inc.