Back to school is looking a little bit different this year for everyone, even our dogs. But, it’s still the perfect time for your dog to brush up on core subjects like basic household manners and obedience skills, and an opportunity to think about artistic electives for dogs like dancing and acting, and even extracurricular sports. In response to COVID-19, many canine organizations are offering the opportunity for you and your dog to earn titles in a variety of dog sports from Agility to Tricks to Rally online! Videos meeting the organization’s requirements are uploaded and submitted to be evaluated by judges, and titles are awarded just like they would be at a dog show! Ready to get studying?
Does your dog need to brush up on basic manners? Back to school is the perfect time to teach new skills and to develop fun training routines. If you and your dog have worked with trainers in the past, chances are they are offering online classes or private instruction. If you and your dog haven’t worked with a trainer in the past, now is a great time to start. Look for a positive reinforcement-based trainer in your local area. In response to the pandemic most trainers are working virtually with dogs and handlers. Remote training is a great way to polish up basic manners around the house like sit, down, not rushing doors, potty training and more. These skills can be worked on by meeting with a trainer via video sessions.
5 extra-curricular activities for your dog
Do More With Your Dog – Trick Dog Titles
Do More With Your Dog is the oldest certifying trick dog organization and offers trick titles Novice through Champion, which can be earned via video submission. Tricks are an incredibly versatile sport that really any dog of any age and size can compete in. DMWYD Titles are reviewed and approved by Certified Trick Dog Instructors (CTDI). After titles are earned complimentary title certificates and ribbons are mailed to dogs. After earning trick titles, your dog can also earn Stunt Dog titles from DMWYD. Learn more at http://www.domorewithyourdog.com/
USDAA @ HOME- Agility & Rally
Since April 2020, USDAA@Home has created a program that allows Agility and Rally competitors to earn Qualifying runs towards titles via video submission. Through this program, competitors can compete in either USDAA Agility and WCRL (World Cynosport Rally Limited) Rally. Once you register for an upcoming virtual event, the course will be sent to you and you have two weeks to set it up and video you and your dog completing the assigned course. You then score the course yourself and submit it back to USDAA@Home to be professionally evaluated by USDAA for agility and WCRL for Rally. Multiple levels of Rally (Levels 1, 2, 3) are offered via the virtual program and for Agility multiple games including jumpers, gamblers, and standard, relay, and snooker. Learn more at https://www.usdaa.com/athome/
May I have this dance? Canine Freestyle or Musical Freestyle as it is sometimes called is an interactive creative sport where handlers design a “dancing” routine to perform with a dog. Pick a song that you like and Freestyle brings tricks and obedience skills like heeling together to choreography allowing dogs and handlers “dance” together. The World Canine Freestyle Organization provides opportunities to put together routines, video and compete with your dog in several categories from the comfort and safety of home! Learn more at https://www.worldcaninefreestyle.org
AKC – AGILITY AND RALLY and TRICKS
To meet the needs of our current world, the American Kennel Club has expanded its programming in new ways to allow dogs (purebred and mixed breeds) and guardians to compete in sports from the safety of home. Currently, AKC has two pilot programs running through December 31st, 2020 where dogs can earn titles from home in both Agility and Rally.
ACT (Agility Course Test) Title can be earned from home. All instructions including the course maps are on the AKC website. Note: for this you do need full-sized agility equipment and the space needs to meet some specific requirements making this a little harder for some people if you don’t have equipment at home, or a socially distanced agility field/barn rental available to you. Learn more at https://www.akc.org/sports/agility/act-program/act-virtual-program/
Rally Obedience is a fun high-energy, obedience-based sport. As part of its pilot program, AKC is currently offering the opportunity for competitors to compete and earn titles at both the Novice and (most recently expanded to include) the Intermediate level as well. Rally is an ideal sport for having fun with your dog and practicing obedience related skills. There is no size requirement for the Rally courses, allowing flexibility to set up courses in smaller backyards.
The AKC’s trick dog program allows dogs to earn titles from Novice through the Elite Performer level where dog and handler teams perform a skit incorporating a number of advanced tricks. Trick titles can be earned via video submission, which are reviewed by AKC recognized CGC Evaluators.
Parkour, sometimes referred to as “Urban Agility,” is a sport that encourages you and your dog to engage with the world around you. Unlike traditional agility there is no need for equipment — you can train from anywhere. Like the human equivalent, your dog will be performing skills with “obstacles” you find in the world — everything from tree trunks to park benches. With Canine Parkour, dogs will climb/jump onto objects, put their front or rear paws onto objects, go-between objects, go under, around natural and man-made obstacles you locate while out walking with your dog. Safety is key. Dogs should be fitted with a harness that allows the handler to safely “spot” the dog getting on and off of objects and titles are earned by sending in video that meet specific criteria. There are two main Parkour titling organizations that offer titles that can be earned from home, which are The International Dog Parkour Association and All Dogs Parkour.