Obedience training ranges from teaching a dog to reliably respond to basic commands such as sit, down, come and stay through to competitive obedience trials at the highest levels. The basics are essential for every dog owner as it makes everyday life at home, travelling in the car and walks in the park a relaxed. With a bit of knowledge these can be taught at home or there are numerous dog obedience clubs and dog trainers throughout the state. The first level of a formal qualification is CCD (Community Companion Dog) with the highest level being UDX (Utility Dog Excellent) which is an impressive sight to see in action.
The Delta Society is a group whose mission is to “promote and facilitate positive interaction between people and companion animals”. They operate several programs to achieve this including the Canine Good Citizen program. It is an training service for dogs and their owners giving them the knowledge and experience to enable them to live harmoniously within the home and the wider community. This course must be undertaken with an accredited Delta instructor.
A dog can be taught obedience by voice command or hand signals. Most dog trainers now use positive reinforcement training methods, i.e. when the asked for behaviour is given the dog is rewarded (often with a food treat, pats and voice praise). Poor behaviour is ignored and an alternative behaviour selectively rewarded. Clicker training involves the using of a small device that (unsurprisingly) makes a clicking noise. This noise tells the dog he has done the right thing and that a reward is imminent. Positive reinforcement helps build the bond between owner and dog as well as rectifying any problem behaviours. The opposite of this is the punishment of unwanted behaviour with the use of a check chain or forcing the dog into place. Punishment based training can cause or exacerbate anxiety and in extreme conditions also cause physical injuries. Consequently, we recommend the use of positive reinforcement methods.
The old saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is simply not true and given the right instructions, repetition and time, any dog can learn new things. Some individuals or breeds will be quicker learners than others. However, teaching a healthy active retired Greyhound obedience will keep them mentally stimulated and make them an even more enjoyable pet to have around. Sitting is physiologically a little difficult for some Greyhounds but most of them have no problems. For those that do find it uncomfortable, it is better to concentrate on other positions and the “sit” is usually replaced with a “stand”. Other than that, a Greyhound is intelligent and willing enough to do any obedience task the same as other dogs.
Greyhounds from Never Say Never Greyhounds proving that Greyhounds can sit!
MARGARET EVANS SHARES HER OBEDIENCE EXPERIENCES WITH GREYHOUND NITRO
Nitro is my first pet Greyhound and he is really adorable!! I am training him in obedience and agility at the Central Coast Dog Obedience Training Club and he is coming along very nicely. I have been involved in training dogs and teaching other people to train their dogs for over 18 years. My previous dog Chip was a mini Fox Terrier who was very successful in his show career. He gained a total of 7 titles in obedience and agility over several years. Nitro is currently in the Advanced class at training and was recently entered in a Rally-O Obedience competition held by our club. To his credit he passed with enough points to gain an unofficial qualification in his first competition ever!
I have owned many different breeds (from Chihuahuas to German Shepherds) and find Greyhounds to be the most easygoing dogs and a lot of fun to train. Nitro is keen to please and happily tries new things for food rewards. Being a sighthound, he can become distracted by action in the distance, but refocusses on the task when a squeaky toy is used, followed by a tasty treat. He has learned to "sit", "down" and "stand" on command very easily. He is also reliably steady in a "stay" in any of those positions.
When he was learning a formal recall he used to run so fast that he couldn't stop in time to sit in front of me. So he used to run past a little and then return from behind. With practise and persistence he is now doing these properly and slowing down to sit squarely facing me. Another challenge was the tunnel for agility. He is quite tall and had to learn to duck down to crawl through it. Once again patience and encouragement won him over and he now races through a tunnel with confidence.
I did not have high expectations of him in training and mainly went for the socialisation with other dogs (which he LOVES) and to have FUN! Nitro has really surprised me with his abilities and focus on all the exercises we do. I am looking forward to entering him in CCD Obedience Competitions and official Rally-O Comps in the near future. Novice Agility will also be on our list of challenges as he progresses. Greyhounds are full of surprises and make amazing pets. Enjoy training your Greyhound.
Dogs NSW is the state controlling body for the Australian National Kennel Council. Their website has a comprehensive listing of dog obedience clubs throughout the state. www.dogsnsw.org.au
The Delta Society operates Canine Good Citizen programmes. www.deltasocietyaustralia.com.au
Never Say Never Greyhounds in the USA have an excellent website and a lot of information and tips about doing agility and obedience with Greyhounds. www.neversaynevergreyhounds.net