How to raise good canine citizens + video

abredeson@islandpacket.comNovember 17, 2013 

  • CALLING ALL DOG LOVERS

    • Beaufort Chapter 229 of Therapy Dogs International will host a therapy dog test at 1 p.m. Nov. 23, at BayView Manor LLC, 11 S. Todd Dr. in Beaufort. Therapy dog and handler teams visit hospitals, assisted living and nursing homes to bring emotional support to residents. They also participate in the "Tail-Waggin' Tutor" program, helping children with their reading skills, at local elementary schools and the YMCA. Fee for the test is $10. Registration is required. Details: www.tdi-dog.org, 843-522-2073

  • The Beaufort and Savannah Kennel Clubs will host a dog show Nov. 29-Dec. 2 at the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center. Events will include conformation, obedience and rally. Admission is free. Details: 912-704-3015, 803-943-6521 or www.beaufortkennelclub.org
  • The Beaufort Kennel Club offers a six-week Canine Good Citizen Program twice a year. Cost is $90. Proof of vaccinations are required. The next session will begin in early 2014. Details: 843-986-0834 or www.beaufortkennelclub.org
  • TIPS FOR ALL GOOD CANINE CITIZENS

    Rebecca Bass, of the American Kennel Club's Canine Good Citizen program, offers the following tips:

  • Make sure to have a collar and ID tags on at all times.

  • Get your dog microchipped, and make sure you file your name, address and phone number with the registry.

  • Sign your dog up for obedience training. It's never too early or too late.

  • Talk to your dog. Praise the dog right away. Correct him right away. Otherwise, he won't know why he is being praised or disciplined.

Your dog constantly jumps on you.

He jumps on every visitor.

He jumps on people you meet in public.

He jumps despite you telling him not to. That's just what he does. He's a jumper.

It doesn't have to be this way, according to Rebecca Bass of the American Kennel Club's Canine Good Citizen program. It's absolutely reasonable to expect your dogs not to jump on you, she said. Likewise, it's reasonable for passersby to expect they won't be jumped on by your dog.

With a little training, this behavior and others like it can be corrected. Just as parents expect their children to develop into good citizens, dog owners can expect their dogs to be good citizens.

"It's part of a dog owner's responsibility to train that dog so the dog is well-behaved when your friends come over," Bass said.

A volunteer instructor with the Beaufort Kennel Club, Bass said dogs who are trained to behave properly are less likely to be given up for adoption.

"The main reason that people surrender a dog to a shelter is for behavioral issues," she said.

She has been teaching obedience classes in the area for about nine years. She is currently teaching a six-week class with Leon Ember. The class is offered by the Beaufort Kennel Club and is held Saturday mornings on the basketball court at Beaufort Academy.

In the class, dogs learn all the basic commands, such as to heel, sit, stay, come and lie down. They also learn how to do an about turn and a figure eight. And they learn an important little command called "leave it," which comes in handy a lot, especially around other dogs.

"When you have a well-trained dog, you can be confident that he or she will behave well around new people, other dogs and children," Bass said.

Dick and Merle Hoagland of Beaufort have put several dogs through the program and have had great success. Two of their dogs have gone on to become therapy dogs. Dick is the director of the local chapter of Therapy Dogs International.

Their newest dog, Gus, is a 4-month-old Leonberger and is enrolled in Bass's class.

"He likes school," Merle said.

The Hoaglands said it's important to train your dogs because you have to be able to control them. Dick said he will probably take the course with Gus one more time for good measure.

"We want to make sure that he is very well-trained," Dick said. "And he's doing very, very well."

After this session of classes, the Canine Good Citizen classes won't be offered again until early 2014.

While some handlers just want their dogs to learn good behavior, others hope the classes will prepare their dogs for therapy work or competition.

In fact, several of the dogs who have gone through the local classes have gone on to become therapy dogs through Therapy Dogs International. Some even participate in a program Bass started in Beaufort called Tail Waggin' Tutors.

"Even if you think you know how to train a dog, there are advantages to taking them to a class because then they have to prove that they can be obedient around other people and other dogs," Bass said. "And that's what makes a dog a Canine Good Citizen is being able to be reliable and well-behaved in society."

Follow reporter Amy Coyne Bredeson at twitter.com/IPBG_Amy.

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