Looking to change up your routine and add some excitement to you and your pup’s life? Try taking a class!
I know, it sounds like it’s for over-achievers, but it’s not, I swear. Classes are a great way to get you and your best friend out of the house to enjoy some fun activities and social time. And believe it or not, there are probably a lot more classes available to you than you’d think. Plus, classes offer a myriad of benefits for both you and your dog!
Below is a list of some of the most common classes you’ll find for you and your four-legged pal. If you’re lucky enough to live in an extra dog-friendly area, you’ll probably find a lot more, too!
Agility is a sport where the dog must run through an obstacle course, as directed by the handler. If you’ve never seen a dog go through an agility course, I’d highly recommend you do some Googling. It’s fascinating – those dogs are impressive! Go ahead – do it now. Just come back. Timing and accuracy make this a big competition sport. Consisting of everything from weave poles to teeter-totters, jumps, and tunnels, agility requires a mastery of communication between dog and handler.
This sport is not only physically demanding for your dog, but also extremely mentally taxing as well. The dog must go through each obstacle with precision and speed, all under voice direction of the handler, a feat that requires nothing short of razor sharp focus and attention.
While nearly any breed can take agility classes for fun, some breeds were practically born to compete in this demanding sport. Herding dogs like Border Collies and Australian Shepherds tend to lead the pack, but there are plenty of other breeds that excel in agility as well, including Standard Poodles, German Shepherds, and even Rat Terriers. In general, if your dog is high energy and smart, he or she could do well in agility, or at least really enjoy it. I’ve been in classes with Chihuahuas, Schnauzers, Spaniels, Bulldogs, you name it. Although, you’ll want to make sure with your vet that your dog is physically up to the task before you sign up for class.
It might sound intimidating, but it’s not. Agility classes are all about developing and perfecting the communication between you and your dog, mastering obstacles, and just plain having a good time together. You don’t have to take a class with the intent of competing; a lot of places offer laid back agility classes just for fun. Agility is also a great way to help your dog build confidence in himself. Many places also offer a few levels of agility too, so you can start with the basics, and move to the more advanced.
So whether you just want to get out of the house, or you’re ready to throw down at a competition, agility classes are perfect for helping you and your best friend have fun together, not to mention get a good workout in.
Nose work is another dog sport gaining popularity among dog owners. Just as it sounds, it’s all about teaching your dog to use his nose.
Nose work classes are also offered in various levels of difficulty. Much like police K9’s, nose work will teach your dog everything from discriminating between scents, to searching vehicles, although something tells me you won’t be working on sniffing out any crystal meth.
Nose work is another course fit for helping your dog to build confidence. Take a look at this great story about how a trainer was able use nose work classes to help rehabilitate her dog-reactive greyhound.
While most nose work classes are focused on bringing you closer to titles and competition, like agility, you can also find classes that are just for fun.
Nose work classes are also another sure-fire way to tire out your pup, both physically and mentally.
Could your dog use a little brushing up on his obedience commands? You’re not alone!
There are plenty of obedience classes out there that cover everything from puppy manners to advanced training.
Your dog will learn the staple commands to help him be a well-mannered pup – everything from sit, stay, lay down, come, to more advanced commands like speak, heel, and watch, and even some tricks.
If you’ve never taken a class before, obedience classes are a great place to start. They are an easy introduction to working with your dog in a social setting, and learning the basics of how to communicate with your dog.
Whether you’ve got a dog in need of some manners, or you’d like to perfect your dog’s current commands, obedience classes are a perfect place to start.
Canine Good Citizen
Canine Good Citizen is a class and test developed by the AKC designed to not only create a well-mannered dog, but also a responsible dog owner.
The test consists of 10 items, each which must be performed according to the standard set by the AKC. The test items include:
• Accepting a friendly stranger
• Sitting politely for petting
• Appearance and grooming
• Walking on a loose lead
• Sit and down on command and Staying in place
• Coming when called
• Reaction to another dog
• Reaction to distraction
• Supervised Separation
Passing the CGC test is a foundation for good behavior, and opens the door to many other opportunities as well. Many people often pursue a therapy dog certification after CGC.
The AKC recently added an advanced level to the Canine Good Citizen program, entitled, Community Canine. Community Canine is aimed at building on the skills learned in the first level, and carrying them out in a natural setting, as opposed to a “simulated” setting.
The benefits of taking classes are many, from getting you and your pup out of the house, to helping your dog become a confident, well-mannered and socialized member of the community. Not to mention, classes are perfect for finding people who love their dog just as much as you love yours, and your dog might even make a few friends too.
The classes above are just a few of the many options available to you and your dog. You’ll have to do a little research to find out what’s offered in your area, but checking out places like your local kennel club or training academy can provide some insight.
What classes have you and your dog enjoyed together?