AKC Activities

Look to AKC for Programs, Including Therapy Dog and Obedience Training

Photo by Marilyn Altheide

Obedience & Training

Why train your dog? Dogs, by nature, are pack animals with a well-defined social order. When bringing a new dog into you and your family, you will become the new leader of his/her pack and he/she will look to you for guidance. Leadership can be established in a firm but friendly manner, keeping in mind that it is unrealistic to expect the dog to abide by the rules of the household without the leader teaching appropriate behavior.

Much like people, every dog is different. Some are hyperactive. Some are laid-back. Some serious. Some silly. Some are shy, and yet others have much too much confidence. Regardless of these differences, training is necessary for all dogs and beneficial to the entire family.

Training will help correct nuisance behaviors, deepen the bond between you and your dog, ensure your dog’s safety and happiness and nurture good canine companionship.

Types of Training Classes:

Puppy Class: A developmental training course for the 3-to-5-month-old puppy, which emphasizes socialization with people and other puppies. Instructors usually offer information on growth, nutrition, grooming, housebreaking, and problem-solving, and they teach basic household commands.

Basic Class: A course for dogs 5-6 months and older, aimed at training you to train your dog. The basic class emphasizes the essential training commands needed to make a dog a good companion: heel on a loose leash, sit, stand, down, stay in position, and come when called. Instructors also offer information on problem-solving. This basic training is important in keeping your dog safe.

Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Class: This may be a separate class or a part of a beginner class at AKC clubs and other organizations. For further information, go to AKC.org.

Training Classes for Companion Events: A variety of classes that prepare students and their dogs for competition in obedience, agility, gracking and other AKC events. You will be instructed in the levels of competition and titles available. For more information, go to AKC.org.

Nose Work

Some of our members enjoy a fun new dog sport, “Nose Work.” If your dog enjoys smelling things, he can have fun doing it as a sport, which tests a dog’s ability to use his powerful sense of smell to locate a specific odor against the backdrop of many others.

To begin the training, dogs are encouraged to “find” their toy in a box. Boxes are then replaced by various containers as the dogs realize the search is not about the environment but the food or toy. Abundant praise, the toy, and the treats are the rewards for the dog’s efforts.

As the dogs learn how to play the game, handlers learn how to closely observe their dogs so that they know when their dog has found the scent. Handlers learn to read their dog, trust their behavior and keep an eye on working safely while searching.

“Trialing” is offered by individual clubs in our area. Here are a few links to learn more about the sport and participating clubs:

National Association of Canine Scent Work: nacsw.net

K9 Nose Work: K9nosework.com

Rav’n Dog Training: ravndogtraining.com

Santa Clara Dog Training Club: santaclaradog.org

Dog Agility

Dog agility is a dog sport in which a handler directs a dog through an obstacle course in a race for both time and accuracy. Dogs run off leash with no food or toys as incentives, and the handler can touch neither dog nor obstacles. The handler’s controls are limited to voice, movement, and various body signals, requiring exceptional training of the animal and coordination of the handler.

An agility course consists of a set of standard obstacles laid out by a judge in a design of his or her own choosing in an area of a specified size. The surface may be of grass, dirt, rubber, or special matting. Depending on the type of competition, the obstacles may be marked with numbers indicating the order in which they must be completed.

Courses are complicated enough that a dog could not complete them correctly without human direction. The competition is designed to demonstrate a dog’s willingness to work with his handler in a variety of situations. It is an athletic event that requires conditioning, concentration, training, and teamwork.

Many people begin the sport for the fun, then become avid competitors.

For more information, go to AKC.org.

Therapy Dogs

Photo by Jan Knight

One of the most rewarding activities for you and your Doberman is doing therapy work. As opposed to service dogs, which are specifically trained to fill the needs of a handler (such as guide dogs for the blind, assistance dogs for the disabled and PTSD dogs for veterans who’ve suffered trauma), therapy dogs provide a calm, loving interaction for others, under the guidance of their owners. Depending upon the dog, and the owner’s preference, therapy dogs visit hospitals, rehab centers, memory care facilities, schools, hospice homes, teen programs, jails, etc., etc., and so on.

Not every dog is suited to be a therapy dog; many of the desired traits are inherent in the individual dog. Yes, they need to be friendly, but also must be open to any new situation, not at all fearful, not dog aggressive (as many dogs work in teams), well trained in basic obedience, calm and overwhelmingly well socialized to sounds, smells, odd movements, confined spaces and all ages and types of people.

There are a variety of agencies in the DPCNC area which certify and/or manage therapy dogs. Some do the testing and set up visits at affiliated facilities; others accept Canine Good Citizen certification and allow members of find and schedule their own visits.

When researching which to join, do research as to requirements and benefits which best fit your needs. Most importantly, make sure the organization provides insurance and support for participants.

DPCNC has members who do, or have done, therapy work with their Dobermans. Feel free to ask for assistance if it is something you would like to investigate sharing with your dog.

For more information, visit AKC.org.

Photos, unless otherwise noted, by DPCNC member Liz Manning