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Dog School: Training Options

Sep 23, 2013 | For Your Pet

The vast array of dog training options are truly amazing, going far beyond the basic obedience classes. Our third and final article in our dog school series focuses on advanced ability and agility training.

Many owners stop obedience training after their dog masters basic obedience commands like come, sit, stay, heel, and down. There is still much more to learn though! Intermediate obedience classes are a great way to build on the foundational skills your dog knows with new lessons on off-leash training, long sits and downs (often in the midst of distractions), obeying out-of-sight commands, and some trick training. Depending on what your dog learned in basic class, they may add some additional commands to their repertoire, including back up, leave it, drop it, give, speak, crate up, and even growl or attack.

If you’re considering competing in obedience trials, advanced obedience classes will enable you and your dog to focus on more challenging skills as well as work towards one or more American Kennel Club designations. The American Kennel Club offers multiple training programs including AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy, Canine Good Citizenship, Companion Dog, Utility Obedience, Open Obedience, and Rally Obedience. Visit the AKC website to find an American Kennel Club trainer in your area.

Rally obedience has grown in popularity over the past few years and is a great bridge between obedience competitions and agility courses. Progressing at their own pace, both dog and owner work as a team to navigate through 10-20 stations and perform some kind of command or exercise. The exercises range from jumping, fronting, backing up, and walking on two legs. To learn more about the AKC Rally Obedience classes, check out their online guide to getting started in Rally.

Agility training is one of the most fun and challenging aspects of dog training. Exercising both body and mind, agility requires that owners use only voice commands (no treats or toys) to navigate through an obstacle course. This type of training can strengthen the bond between dog and owner as the courses are designed so that the dog relies upon his owner to direct him through the maze of challenges including tunnels, hurdles, tires, seesaws, ramps, tables, and poles. Both dog and owner race through the obstacle course, jumping, climbing, weaving, and maneuvering through each item in proper order to obtain the most points possible.

From the building blocks of basic manners to the competitive arenas of agility and obedience events, there is a training class to suit the needs of every dog—and owner. No matter which path you choose, make sure that you’re practicing your newly learned skills and lavishing praise on your dog for all his hard work. The more consistent you are with the rules and rewards, the more your dog will work to please you.

Have you participated in advanced obedience or agility training with your dog? We would love to hear about your experience.

Disclaimer: Not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately.