Dog sport is becoming increasingly popular. More and more dog keepers are deciding to start the adventure with obedience. What’s more, it is not only a sport, but also fun for both the animal and its guardian. Aleksandra Adamska, a player and obedience instructor, talks about dog sport.
Dog sports are becoming more and more popular. One of them is obedience – a sport that requires great obedience. What is the history of this sport?
It is true, for several years, there has been an increase in awareness among people. Guardians see that going out for a short walk three times a day with your dog may not be enough. They look for alternatives to satisfy the dog’s need for activity and build a better relationship with him. And so they get to dog sports. Obedience was founded in the mid-twentieth century, and the first World Championships were held in 1995 in Stockholm. However, this dog sport came to Poland a little later. In 2004, the first competition in this discipline was organized in our country. However, 2 years later we put up our team at the World Championships that took place in Poznan.
Since then, obedience has been gaining popularity every year, and the last few years have been a real breakthrough. We started sending full representation, i.e. 9 players, to the World Championships, we have our representatives in the final, we invite the best coaches from all over Europe and World Champions to conduct seminars in Poland. Thanks to this, every year the level of our players increases and we have more and more good coaches who popularize obedience in our country.
Is this dog sport for everyone or are there any contraindications?
Certainly it is a sport for patients who are creative and inquisitive, are not afraid of challenges and want to get joy and satisfaction from working with a dog. This is not a job for people who only want to achieve the effect. So much for people. When it comes to dogs, any dog can train obedience – it is only important that he is tested and healthy before exercising. Obedience, despite the fact that at the beginning it may seem like a fairly stable sport, also has a lot of elements that require the dog’s activity, speed and agility. That is why it is so important for the pooch to be healthy.
It is also important that the dog is motivated and willing to work with the owner. It is worth working with the dog at the beginning on the basics of work, strengthening the motivation and relationship between the guide and the dog and only then go to obedience training.
So how do you start your adventure with obedience?
Obedience can be started with a dog of all ages. All exercises can be adapted to the age and physical and mental capabilities of the dog. It is good to go to obedience competitions, workshops or training run by an experienced competitor or instructor before starting your exercise with your dog. Thanks to this we will be able to see how it looks live and what the judges pay attention to during the competition. It is also worth looking for blogs or articles on obedience and general work with dogs on the internet. It won’t hurt to read the regulations of the Kennel Club in Poland or watch films from competitions and trainings of various competitors.
However, nothing can replace work under the guidance of an experienced trainer. Ideally, if such a person is also a player and regularly trains with his dogs and goes to competitions and seminars. Thanks to this, it is constantly developing and is up to date with regulations and new methods of training in terms of obedience. The instructor will also tell us how to develop a dog’s motivation. In addition, he will choose the right learning methods for the animal and show what to look for. This will prevent us from learning something incorrectly. Errors are later much more difficult to work through than teaching the dog to do the exercises correctly from the beginning.
Do older dogs also have a chance to succeed in this discipline?
Yes of course! Often dogs aged 7-8 are even in top form and win the World Championship. This is the age in which, after many years spent together and many hours on the training ground, they have a very strong bond with their guide. Thanks to regular exercise, they are also in a very good physical shape, they are structured in their heads, and the motivation to give their best is not lacking. However, we must always pay attention to the health of the dog. If his behavior suddenly changes for no reason, it may be a sign of health problems.
What do obedience competitions look like?
Obedience competitions take place in four classes. Class 0 is for beginner dogs, classes 1 and 2 for more experienced dogs, and class 3 for the most advanced dogs. To get promotion to the next class, you must get excellent on one competition in a given class. The obedience regulations state which exercises the guide and dog must do in each class – their difficulty and the time needed to perform them increases as the class increases. And so, for example, in class 0 we change the position of sitting and down when we are right in front of the dog, and in class 3 – we stand 15 meters in front of the dog and perform the positions sit, stand and down in any order chosen by the judge. So the level of difficulty of exercise in each subsequent class increases.
The competition lasts from 5 to 15 minutes. During this time, the dog can only receive verbal praise between exercises. We do not use food or toys to reward dogs in competitions. Therefore, it is extremely important that the dog wants to cooperate with the guide, and the work itself was a motivation for him to act. That is why we devote a lot of time to training in building motivation to work, we teach that the reward is not always immediately after the task is completed and we show dogs that training obedience is the coolest thing under the sun.
Why is it worth training dog sport? What can we gain from this?
When working with dogs, I love this unique bond and understanding that is created between the guide and the dog. The more we give from ourselves, the more we can derive from this relationship. Joint trainings teach us how to understand your dog. And dogs learn that it’s nice to work with your man, that you can trust him and feel safe with him. Thanks to this, living together – outside the training ground – is often easier and more pleasant. A properly tired dog that deals with various challenges in training is a much more polite dog.
Training obedience helps the dog cope better in various new life situations. We, thanks to obedience, can meet many fantastic people with whom we will share our passion. We can simply get great satisfaction from working with dogs. Each element learned or honed is our small success, which drives us to further work. When we fall in love with obedience, nothing will ever be the same. Obedience is not just dog sport – it’s also a way of life.
Aleksandra Adamska – player and obedience instructor, founder of the Poznań DOOG IDEA and guide of two crazy border collies – 6-year-old Basta and 2-year-old Bloom. She has been working with dogs for over 10 years. With his dogs he participates in competitions, on which she repeatedly stood on the podium, winning such titles as: Polish Vice-Champion Obedience class 1 in 2015 with Basta, II-vice champion of Polish Border Collie in class 3 in 2017 with Basta, Polish vice-champion Border Collie in class 1 in 2019 with Bloom.
Main photo: Alicja Boruczkowska