How you and your dog can work together to make better life for both of you

Following on from our last blog posted in the run-up to Crufts 2018, I’m proud to report that CK9’s Chantal, Splash and Savannah had an amazing day.

Chantal and Splash also took 2nd, 3rd and 4th places respectively in the three classes they entered as part of the medium ABC competition. Fabulous work!

That sort of success is the result of a really close working relationship between dog and owner. In this blog, we’re going to look at how a close relationship benefits dogs and their owners in everyday life and how dog training classes can help build that relationship.

Human and dog: The perfect mutual relationship

Have you ever wondered why of all the animals that existed at the same time as our most ancient ancestors, it was the dog who we invited to live and work with us as part of our families? OK, so cats sometimes live with us, horses work with us but dogs are the ones who form the strongest relationships with humans.

I don’t have a definitive answer for you I’m afraid. There are several theories but no proof. However nobody can deny that when dog and human work together (like Chantal Splash at Crufts), they really do work well together.

Dogs protect our homes, they listen to our troubles, they can be trained to rescue us, find drugs, alert us to illnesses, guide the blind, comfort the sick – the list goes on…..In return, we offer our dogs a safe place to live, regular meals, mental stimulation, protection, veterinary care and companionship.

Building a relationship that you can both enjoy

Even though we have lived with dogs for thousands of years, we’re not always good at helping them reach their full potential. Sometimes, through inexperience we misunderstand our dog’s needs and that can lead to unwanted behaviour.

I’ll wager that you don’t have to work too hard to think of a dog who does at least one of the following

  • Gets upset when left alone
  • Pulls on the lead
  • Is aggressive towards other dogs
  • Barks like crazy when anyone passes to close to “his” property
  • Has to be walked at night because he reacts strongly to dogs or people
  • Behaves badly in the car
  • Doesn’t come back when called
  • Takes food from the table – or worse – from children’s hands

I’m 100% sure that each one of those dogs has an owner who loves him dearly and would share more experiences with their canine chum, if only they could be confident of a more positive experience.

At CK9, we want to share our experience with you to help avoid and overcome those behavioural problems that hamper the relationship between you and your dog.

Busy dogs are better buddies

I know that dogs don’t think in exactly the same way as humans, but I’m going to use human behaviour as an analogy to help put my point across.

When people are bored, they are often slightly antisocial. I’m not just thinking teenaged vandals, I’m thinking grumpy old men who only want to watch telly and snap when disturbed; I’m thinking toddlers making their own entertainment and creating havoc (sometimes dangerously). I have friends who become introverted and depressed when they’re bored and lonely. I have other friends who become hyperactive when bored.  All of those human traits can be applied to dogs too. Whilst dogs need some “down” time during the day, they also NEED on mental stimulation.

In zoos they practice what they call “enrichment”. You might have seen it on telly. To help keep the animals physically and mentally healthy, the keepers will create activities that emulate natural behaviour and keep the animals occupied. Things like hiding food around the enclosure so the animal has to discover it. Or bringing in new vegetation or toys for them to investigate.

Enrichment is important for dogs too and there are lots of ways to do it.

How to keep a dog’s mind active

You don’t have to be young and super-fit like Chantal to keep your dog busy. Just taking him out for a short walk will give him plenty to think about.

For starters, listening to your instructions and behaving well will occupy quite a bit of his intellectual capacity. Once he’s trained to walk on a loose lead, you’ll think he’s doing it automatically. He is. In the same way as you control a car without conscious thought but your brain actually uses quite a lot of energy in the process.

You see the world very differently to your dog. You use your eyes and ears to work out what’s happening in that very moment. Your dog uses his eyes to a certain extent and his ears a lot more than you do.  He can hear a LOT. He also uses his super-efficient to nose to learn things like who’s walked that way in the last 12 hours, what they had for dinner and who was with them. A short walk for a dog offers so much more than physical exercise.

If your dog is particularly intelligent – and most of them are – a short walk is OK but he wants to be stretched so much further. He wants to observe, learn, think, make choices and most of all, he wants to be a good dog. He wants to please you. You can enrich his life by giving him opportunities to do all of those things.

Training classes improve life quality for dogs and owners.

We’ve talked about dogs who have already established bad habits and whose activities are limited because of that.

We know that some owners feel they could have a closer relationship with their dog if Fido was better behaved.

We’ve also talked about enrichment and touched upon how it can satisfy a dog’s thirst for knowledge, relieve boredom and therefore help prevent bad habits.

So now, if we pull all of those factors together, it’s not hard to work out why dog training could help dogs and their humans work better together.

For starters, a dog behavioural consultant can show an owner how to help his dog “unlearn” unwanted behaviours and discover how to be a good dog. It can open up a whole new world for dog and owner.

There’s much more to dog training than repeating “sit” and “stay” commands. Once a dog has grasped the basics, such as his name and the recall command, he can go on to learn so many more ways to make use of his instincts and abilities… and so can his owner. In fact the whole family can get involved.

In time, if they want to, dog and owner can go on to do more advanced training that will really impress the other dog owners in the area. If you don’t feel like negotiating an obstacle course, you can relax with your dog at Doga (dog yoga). Really stretch your dog’s brain with agility training and scent training – entering competitions is entirely optional. Your dog doesn’t understand the concept of rosettes. He just wants to make you happy and he can do that just as well at home as he can in the show ring.

If you want to learn more about the different ways you can enrich your dog’s life and make your own life so much better at the same time, why not take 5 minutes to explore the possibilities on our website? Or better still, phone us for a chat and we can help you find classes or workshops that you’ll love.

You may also like

Helping dogs with serious behavioural problems

Dog training walks in Surrey – a great way for dogs and owners to socialise safely

CK9’s Chantal is competing in Dog Agility at Crufts 2018

Crufts is hailed as the world’s biggest dog show and this year it takes place at the NEC Birmingham between 8th and 11th March. CK9’s very own Chantal Karyta and two of her dogs will be competing in the ABC Dog Agility class in the Main ring at Crufts on Friday 9th March.

This is not Chantal’s first time competing at Crufts, in fact it’s the fourth consecutive year for her and six year old Sheltie Savannah. Splash, also a sheltie is just 3 years old and although this will be his first visit to Crufts, he’s no stranger to the show ring.

What is ABC Dog Agility?
Dog agility is an amazing sport. It’s a great way to develop a strong bond between dog and handler and it helps both to keep fit mentally and physically. It involves the dog, guided by his or her handler, completing a series of obstacles against the clock. The obstacles include jumps, tunnels, a seesaw, weave poles and an A frame and dog walk.

The really difficult bit about dog agility is that the dog must be off lead and all treats and toys are banned from the show ring. Neither is the handler allowed to touch any of the obstacles. The dog-handler team are completely reliant on voice commands, body language and hand signals. The speed of the course requires amazing communication skills and fantastic co-ordination from dog and handler. It’s pretty challenging!

The ABC in ABC Dog Agility stands for “anything but collies”. If you’ve ever watched dog agility on TV, at a dog show or at events like the Surrey County Show you will probably have spotted that Border Collies are particularly adept at this sport.

The Border collie is bred for working on difficult terrain and responding quickly to commands usually at quite a distance from the handler. Those qualities, along with their high energy and flexible bodies are all perfect for dog agility. However, that doesn’t mean that other breeds don’t enjoy agility too. It just means that border collies are unfair competition for them.

To make the competition fair, organisers have devised classes for agility that allow dogs to compete on even terms. In the ABC category, the dogs are classified according to size. Chantal’s shelties are in the medium class.


How Do You Get To Compete At Crufts?

Crufts is equivalent to the FA Cup Final. It’s only open to teams who have proved that they can compete to the highest possible standard. Every dog and every handler at Crufts will have spent the preceding 12 months competing at regional shows to prove that they are among the elite.

Teams like Chantal and Splash will have trained together a lot before entering competitions. It’s all about the relationship between dog and handler and of course, like any other sport, it’s practise, practise, practise.

Get involved with dog agility

Any dog and any handler can enjoy dog agility. You don’t have to reach Crufts standard to have fun. You don’t even need to enter competitions to benefit from the sport.

If you’re lucky enough to live within easy driving distance of one of our classes – join up and come along. All we ask is that your dog gets on well with other dogs and with people and that he comes back to you when he’s called. All of the other skills and commands will be taught at class.

Visit Crufts 2018

More about dog agility classes in Surrey