Things to Do With Your dog

By Dr. Claire Tousley Klatt DVM

Things to do with your dog during COVID (and beyond)…

The pandemic has made it really difficult for many people to socialize and train their puppies. Because I do much better at training my dogs when I have goals like upcoming events, competitions, and classes, I’ve made a list of virtual training and titling options in the hopes it will help others find ways to give their dogs the physical activity and mental enrichment they need. Good dogs take work. Good dogs don’t happen by accident.

The majority of “difficult,” “stubborn,” poorly behaved dogs, and dogs with behavior problems could be fixed with:

1) Structured exercise

  • This means things like “we’re going for a 5 mile off leash hike at X location today and 4 miles at Y location this weekend”
  • This does NOT mean “he has a 1 acre fenced backyard to play in with my other 3 dogs”

2) Structured training

  • This means a specific 5 minute to 60 minute time frame set aside at least 5 days a week to work on specific commands or exercises.
  • For most owners, this also means a private or group CLASS you attend with your dog at least once a week.
  • This means more than one or two classes for your dog in his/her lifetime. One 6 week course when the pup was 4 months old is not enough to make him/her a well behaved dog for the next 12 years.
  • This means your dog is continually learning new things.
    • Classes should start with basic things like sit and walk on a loose leash, but if you don’t advance with your dog to anything else — eg sit at a distance, heel off leash, respond to the first command not second or tenth, learn scentwork, retrieving, dock diving, or agility — it’s like an 18 year old person who repeated the 3rd grade for 10 years. Or a person who’s been on COVID quarantine for 5 years. They’d be bored out of their mind, right?
  • This does NOT mean that your dog will sit in the kitchen after 3 commands and being shown a cookie. Bribery plus multiple commands isn’t training and a dog who “responds” to it is not a trained dog.

So with that in mind — here are ways to provide physical and mental exercise for your dog, set some goals, and pass a specific standard (cool certificates and bragging rights).

The AKC currently has virtual titling options:

NADAC has virtual titling options.

The AKC has a non-titling competition for youth over 13 –

The Canine Good Citizen program is still available – not virtual, but just find an evaluator in your area!

Places to find instruction so your dog can pass these things (or other sports of choice):

Have fun training! Life is better with a well trained dog. 🙂

C Klatt DVM – 12/29/2020

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