0 Updated at 9:17 am, August 18th, 2015 By: Shel Williams, EastIdahoNews.com
IDAHO FALLS — Puppies are cute, fluffy and generally easy to handle.
But when they grow up — sometimes into very large dogs — these exuberant, often unruly canines can be more difficult for dog owners to cope with.
But owners can tame these temperamental pooches. The Upper Snake River Valley Dog Training Club offers dog training courses aimed at improving communication between dog and owner.
Club President Marilynne Manguba said the training builds a spirit of partnership between dogs and humans.
“We work toward a common goal, and in the process, strengthen the bond between us,” Manguba said. “As a team, we learn about and build communication, understanding and mutual respect, and we both — dog and human — have fun in the process.”
And since the Upper Snake River Valley Dog Training Club has members who are American Kennel Club-certified evaluators, members can work toward earning an official title with the AKC to prove their dog has been professionally trained.
Before 2010, registering with the American Kennel Club was open only to pedigreed pups from purebred lines. That’s still true for specific breed events. But in April 2010, the organization opened the doors to mixed breeds to compete in its other programs: obedience, agility, rally, tracking, barn hunting and many others.
Helping canines master the basics of obedience training will earn owners and their dogs the national Canine Good Citizen award. In class, coupled with at-home practice, dogs will learn to walk on a loose leash, sit and stay in place on command, to come when called and to handle informal situations with friendly strangers and even other dogs.
Owners learn how to teach canines the exact behaviors he wants them to perform.
Club members say it’s an endeavor worth the effort.
“When a dog is well-mannered, then people are more likely to invite them into their home,” said LaDawn Moad, who has been training dogs — and often people — since 1990. “When people live with a dog in their home, they find out the friendship and joy that a dog can give.”
Moad has earned AKC titles in obedience, agility and rally with her dog Rebel, a Belgian Tervuren.
Rebel was rescued from the home of an owner who had succumbed to a particularly rapid onset of Alzheimer’s disease. When Moad first saw him, the dog was weak and appeared to be deaf. Yet four years later, he is a responsive pet and an active part of the family.
“There are few more satisfying experiences than completing and celebrating an agility, or rally or obedience exercise with your dog,” Manguba said. “For those of us who teach, it’s wonderful to watch the change in the relationship between your student teams — dog and handler — and how that evolves throughout a class.”