Congratulations! Your hard work has paid off, and your dog just graduated from their obedience class. You’ve learned to manage their less-than-desirable habits, taught them all sorts of fun and interesting behaviors, and even some tricks. You’ve built a foundation for a wonderful bond with your dog for many years to come.
There has to be more out there for you and your dog to explore, right? You know you’ve seen some cool things on TV, like dogs jumping after a ball into big pools of water, or weaving in and out of a bunch of poles really quickly – but what exactly is that? Is it right for your dog? How do you get involved?
There’s more out there for you and your dog than you could even imagine! Here are just a couple of examples of activities that you can do with your dog. It’s a great way to keep up with their training, give them some physical and mental exercise, and to keep them healthy, happy, and strong.
Does your dog need to move? Are they constantly running, jumping, or climbing? Do they like to play off-leash, but still have the ability to listen to you (at least a little bit)? Do you both enjoy a little friendly competition? Agility may be for you! Agility involves you and your dog navigating an obstacle course of ramps, weave poles, tunnels, jumps and more in a timed competition. It involves speed, accuracy, a great relationship between dog and handler, and a lot of movement! Check out a video from this year’s AKC Agility National Finals to see what it’s all about!
To find out more about agility, you can click here to get started. Additionally, AnimalSense frequently offers an Intro to Agility class at our Oak Park location for people who are interested in seeing if this is the right sport for them, or who are just looking to get out and have some fun with their dogs.
If your pup graduated obedience class Summa KONG Laude, or you’re interested in having your dog become a therapy dog, Canine Good Citizen may be a next great step for you. The American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen program “is designed to reward dogs who have good manners at home and in the community. The Canine Good Citizen Program is a two-part program that stresses responsible pet ownership for owners and basic good manners for dogs. All dogs who pass the 10-step CGC test may receive a certificate from the American Kennel Club.”
It’s often the first step for dogs who are interested in therapy work, but it can also be a great indication of how well your dog knows and understands their basic training. Lot of our clients have also used it as a “brush up” for a dogs who has good obedience, but maybe hasn’t worked in a couple of years. AnimalSense offers a Canine Good Citizen prep class that can help you to gauge where your dog is at in each of the skills, work on areas that need improvement, and there may even be an option to take the test at the end of class!
A relative newcomer in canine sports, K9 Nose Work combines a dog’s innate ability to use their nose combined with the competitive aspect of other dogs sports. It takes the normally serious task of scent work and turns it into something fun, enriching, and energy-burning for your dog. Unlike Agility or other sports that require intense physical movement best suited for young dogs, Nose Work can be a great option for dogs who are older, have limited mobility, or even those who are shy or nervous around other dogs – it’s great at building confidence!
One of our trainers, Sally Bushwaller, is a Certified Nose Work instructor, and regularly offers both introductory and continuing nose work courses for dogs who are serious about their sniffer. Here’s a video of her Weimeraner, Cassie, showing her stuff.
As I mentioned, these are just a few options in a world full of fun activities for you and your dog that can take you beyond the basic training. I encourage you to find something out there that’s enjoyable for you and your four-legged friend, whether it be a simple game of fetch on the beach, or competing for a national title.