Obedience & Agility

So you've invested in a Dalmatian Puppy and the breeder suggested you take your pup for some basic obedience classes. If your experience is anything like mine you will see the smerks on the faces of the trainers. Some have had trainers tell them that "Silly Dallies" are very hard to train......WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.

Dalmatians are smart (sometimes out smarting their owners and trainers!) and they learn fast BUT they get BORED very quickly. They need lots of variation during a training session. Train in short bursts then go to the side of the class and play with your pup/dog. When training bribery, oops I mean rewards, helps to keep a dog's mind on the job....food or a favourite toy can be used.

There are as many training methods as there are breeds of dogs.....clicker training and 'positive' methods are very popular. Very few clubs teach the old yank and pull on a correction chain method these days. The internet has 1000's of training sites and there are many books written on the subject. Read as much as you can BUT nothing succeeds like regular short burst training.

It is recomended that all dals and their owners attend some form of obedience training. Nearly every suburb has an obedience club which trains on a Saturday or Sunday morning and they are very cheap to attend. They are about 30 - 40 $ for a years membership. The VCA maintains a list of Obedience clubs in your area.

If you would like to enter obedience or agility trials I strongly recommend getting some private lessons with a personal dog trainer (see your local yellow pages or ring V.C.A.). Working with your dog under the expert eye of a trainer is the quickest way to learn where YOU are going wrong. They will teach you to walk correctly, how to use pace and size of steps to send a message to your dog, to help him understand what's coming next. Dog trainers are also able to advise you on teaching food refusal, retrieving and scent discrimination long before before you and your dog will be ready to trial in open or UD classes. -

When I first started serious obedience training some people said I would break my dog's spirit. Far from this my dogs and I have become closer....we are a team. Judges always comment, "your dogs look so happy". Their tails never stop wagging. All the dalmatians I see at trials are the same. Training is fun....lots of food bribes (rewards!) when the dogs get it right makes training time one of their favourite times.

At the moment we have a strong interest amongst members in obedience/Agility and we have many dogs with their CD CDX and AD titles. These dogs are not just gaining their titles but are also winning the highest scoring on the day (all breeds). Interested members or fanciers are invited to join us at the agility/obedience workshops held throughout the year and join in the members competition obedience competitions held twice yearly, and the restricted to breed obedience trial and open agility competition which are held once a year.

Written by Maria Nethercott and aided and abetted by Maryann Augustinus