Dog's Eye View: Live long and vegetate?

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There have been many very interesting programs on TV recently focusing on the research that’s being done with dogs relating to intelligence, scenting ability, emotional aptitude, human/dog bond and canine cognition among other topics.

Dog's Eye View

This weekly column about dog training publishes on Fridays in the Steamboat Today. Read more columns here.

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Sandra Kruczek

National Geographic and Discovery Channel have had some top-notch programs describing how the world of science has revealed astonishing discoveries about our dog friends.

It seems that a common thought is, “Whew, we’ve finally gotten our dog where we want him. He’s potty trained, walks pretty well on leash, comes when we call him most of the time and doesn’t jump up on people too much. Now we can settle into our routine of daily walks and TV/book time.”

Really? And give up an opportunity to take this training to a higher level? This is just when the fun can begin.

The saying, “A tired dog is a well-behaved dog,” addresses an important aspect of daily exercise. But it seems we are only appreciating a small part of the capability of our dog’s brains. Dogs are ready and able to interact with us in so many ways. We haven’t even scratched the surface yet.

Continuing education keeps us all on track in our profession. It can keep our dogs in top shape mentally, as well. A fun program developed by the Association of Professional Dog Trainers is Canine Life and Social Skills (C.L.A.S.S.).

Three levels of achievement including tricks that are playfully termed B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. You and your dog can keep your skills sharp through this program. You can sign up online, work toward a degree on your own and be tested by local evaluators. This program is perfect for your dog as a social member of your family.

You’ve perhaps seen the “Brain Games” for humans program on TV and Internet. A recent publication titled “Brain Games for Dogs” by Claire Arrowsmith, can afford your dog the same opportunity for vital mental stimulation.

Trick training is so much fun as we can show off our brilliant dog’s abilities. The fact is that training your dog to do tricks is no different than teaching him to heel at your side or stay.

The best part is that we humans usually are more relaxed and inclined to laugh when we are teaching tricks; always a better atmosphere for learning. “101 Dog Tricks” by Kyra Sundance is a good place to start. Amaze your friends.

K-9 Nose Work ™ is a new sport using scent detection. It involves basic scent training techniques used in bomb, drug and search and rescue dogs.

Classes for this sport already have begun at Colorado Northwestern Community College in Craig. The fall Community Education Classes schedule is almost ready for publication. Any size or type of dog can do this. All he needs is a nose and knowledge gained by his owner.

Some community service jobs can add a dimension to your relationship that you hadn’t dreamed of. Assistance dogs, therapy dogs and search and rescue dogs require work but can be right where you and your dog belong. Fun sports such as agility keep you moving and learning, and it doesn’t require your dog to be “pure bred."

Check out books, DVDs online and local classes in many of these categories. The enrichment you provide for your dog will become life changing for your relationship. Live long and prosper!

Sandra Kruczek is a certified professional dog trainer with 25+ years of experience. She can be reached at www.totalteamworktraining.com.

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