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While many owners are content to teach their dogs the basic commands of "sit" and "stay", attending a dog obedience class can bring about a positive change in a dog's temperament as well as giving you better techniques to control your dog in public places. It may also enable you to receive a discount on registration fees for some councils.
My favourite dog obedience school in Adelaide is run by the SA Obedience Dog Club, whose volunteers have been providing this service for more than 50 years. Training is provided at the Club's facilities on Beaumont Rd in the South Parklands, and is an enjoyable experience for both dog and owner.
On Tuesdays, classes are available twice daily for Puppies, Grade 1-5, Community Companion Dog, Novice Competition and higher. The alternative classes allow you to attend evenings if you miss daytime or vice versa. (Classes are cancelled in adverse weather conditions). Agility training is also provided on Wednesdays, for more information see the SADOC website.
Puppy socialisation These classes provide practice on the commands which will be taught in later classes. Guidance is also offered about things to do at home, such as how to feed and groom your little one.
Puppies practice walking on a loose lead in the company of other dogs, a challenge which most learn very quickly. They are also introduced to the commands "sit", "stay" and "watch".
Handouts are provided for owners to take home, as I (like many others) found there to be a lot of information to take in at once. It's actually a learning experience for the owner as much as the puppy.
Grade 1 In Grade 1, training starts in earnest. During the 30 minute lesson the instructor will ask trainees to walk their dogs in a large circle, with the dog being required to stay at heel on a short loose lead. After the instructor calls "halt", trainees stop walking and the dog must sit on command in the heel position in order to graduate.
The "watch" command is also introduced, designed to ensure the dog keeps its attention upon the owner when required.
After 4 weeks, it is possible to graduate to the next class, although like some others, we didn't. But it's no big deal, I enjoy the training and my dog will be even better prepared next time.
One popular aspect with dogs and trainers is the socialising - often people arrive up to 30 minutes early so that they can chat with other owners while their pooches play happily together.
After graduation from Grade 1, training focuses on improving your footwork, which is an aid to the dog anticipating your next command. The dog will be expected to automatically sit when you halt, and it must be able to stand on command.
Sit/stay is another important combination which the dog must be able to demonstrate while the owner moves around.
Treats can be used to reward the dog after performing correctly, and fortunately these are available at the Club shop if you forgot to bring any. The shop also sells a range of toys, leads and other necessities.
And after a winter training session, you can enjoy a warm meal cooked to order in the Club's cafe. Now that is just what I need after some vigorous exercise.
In Grade 3, your dog will learn to drop on the move and stand for examination, in addition to further developing capabilities learned earlier. Proper hand and foot coordination by the owner will help the dog to anticipate your commands and act on them
Grade 3 requires a higher standard on a loose lead
One of the things I find very useful about the classes is the question time at the end of each lesson. The instructor will always give an opportunity for questions to be asked on anything to do with dogs and training. It's very helpful to hear other people's solutions to your pet problems.
After Grades 4 and 5, members are encouraged to continue their dog's training with several Advanced Obedience classes to further build on their training.
In addition to these, Agility Training is also on offer for dogs over the age of 12 months and have graduated out of Grade 5. Puppy Agility is available to dogs under 12 months of age on the first Wednesday of each month