Whether you intend to compete in dog trials or not, dog courses and training are a good way for you to bond with your dog and provide it with physically and mentally stimulating activity. Maybe you want to try agility tests or rally obedience with your dog, or maybe you just want to focus on lead training and general obedience. Here are some ideas of activities and some information on where to find suitable dog training courses.
HOW TO FIND ACTIVITIES AND DOG COURSES
A good way to find suitable activities, dog courses, puppy courses and dog training is to browse the Swedish Working Dog Association’s range of courses or take a look at the websites of local dog clubs, breed clubs and other special clubs. There are also lots of good independent local dog trainers and clubs across the country. Just make sure the course you choose is led by an instructor with the right qualifications. You can ask other dog owners or visit the instructor for tips on which course is best for you and your dog. There are sometimes long wait lists for courses and it’s difficult to get a place, so plan well in advance of the time you intend to start the course.
- Find a course through The Swedish Working Dog Association
- Find a course through The SwedishKennel Club’s county clubs
- Find a course through The Swedish Kennel Club’s breed clubs and special clubs
TAKING PUPPY COURSES WITH YOUR PUPPY
It’s usually said that a puppy should be around four months old before you take it on dog courses or puppy courses. Only then is a puppy mature enough to be able to take in and handle everything that’s happening around it.
Also, puppies need to be vaccinated before they can start a puppy course. Basic vaccinations are done when puppies are seven to eight weeks old, with booster shots given at 12 weeks.
- Vaccinating dogs
SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES FOR DOGS
Taking a puppy course is an excellent way for you and your dog to lay the foundation of a good working relationship and good everyday obedience, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced dog owner. Your puppy will meet both new people and new dogs, all in a new environment. You’ll meet other dog owners you can share experiences with.
Being able to walk nicely on a lead without pulling is an absolute must for all dogs. In some environments and at certain times of the year, it’s even the law to have your dog on a lead.
You can start lead training early in your dog’s life. When dogs are puppies, it’s easier for them to learn things, and they’re smaller so it’s easier for you to handle them. Some lead training is included in most puppy courses, but there are also courses that focus only on lead training.
Remember that your dog should never chase wild animals unless it’s hunting season and your dog is a working hunting dog. You should have enough control over your dog that it comes to you when summoned. If it doesn’t, there may be legal consequences, and you might be forced to keep your dog on a lead year round.
Obedience courses are available for those who want to live a peaceful and trouble-free everyday life with their dogs (general obedience) and those who want to compete in obedience competitions (competition obedience).
On general obedience dog courses you practice lie down, stay, come and heel commands, as well as walking on a lead with a focus on developing a good relationship between dog owner and dog.
Competition obedience courses usually require some prior knowledge (for example, that you’ve finished a general obedience course). In these courses, the focus is on fine-tuning elements of different obedience classes and learning competition rules. People also work on the bond between dog and owner.
Track and search
A dog’s nose is much more sophisticated than that of a human. At about five months of age, a puppy’s fascination with smells increases and it starts following different scent tracks. Training a dog’s ability to track is both fun and useful, regardless of whether you have competitive ambitions or interest in hunting or just enjoy the activity. A really fun dog course provides both physical and mental stimulation and is a relatively easy way to keep your dog active, even indoors. Some of the skills your dog can learn on track and search courses are tracking people, tracking game, retrieving and nosework.
Rally obedience began to develop in the 2000s and has quickly become a favourite. In this sport, dog and owner must complete an assault course that has signs illustrating the steps that should be performed. For example, the dog might lie down while its owner walks around it, and then they continue to the next sign. Speed is less important here. The focus is on displaying a good bond between the dog and their owner, and on the two having fun together!
The sport of rally obedience doesn’t really demand much in terms of physical fitness, so all dogs can participate, whether they’re young or old, small or large. However, your dog needs to possess some basic skills, such as sitting, lying down and standing on command, before you can take part in rally obedience courses. Rally obedience competitions are open to all dogs over 10 months old.
Agility came to Sweden in the mid-1980s and has been an official dog sport and audience favourite since 1987. Agility is about completing an obstacle course with, for example, slalom sticks, obstacles and seesaws in as short a time as possible with little or no errors. It’s a good way to build a strong bond with your dog. It also builds the dog’s self-confidence when you work together to help them take on various obstacles, independently.
Agility is demanding, not least physically. Before you start training seriously, your dog should be at least a year old so that their skeleton and muscles are ready for the strain. Agility competitions are open to all dogs over 18 months of age.
GET TRAINING TIPS WITH THE DUKTIG HUND! APP
You can also receive help from the Duktig Hund! app. It gives you ideas for activities and tips on how to train your dog. It works well in conjunction with dog courses and puppy courses. The app contains over 30 videos with ideas for training and activities. Duktig hund! is developed by the Swedish Kennel Club in collaboration with Better Dog Academy and you can find it on the App Store and on Google Play.