It’s back to school time, which means the house might be 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. Did you know you can sign your dog up for their own “back to school” classes? If basic obedience doesn’t float your boat, read on. We have five 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
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.
Classes centered around nose work, or scent work, 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 as a nose game for your dog, 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.
Many high- energy dogs such as Australian Shepherds, Border Collies, and Huskies are perfect for agility training! Agility training consists of repetitive exercises and drills that are completed in certain patterns or timeframes. It can help keep a dog fit both physically and mentally. It is common for communities to have agility courses available for a fair price. Embrace suggests a more creative approach like at-home Dog Olympics to help keep up with your dog’s agility training.
If you’ve heard of agility classes, perhaps think 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!