The 4-H Dog Committee would like to thank everyone that participated in the May 13th Dog Obedience Clinic. The committee has decided to add more sessions covering obedience topics during the already scheduled upcoming clinics on June 4th (Showmanship), June 19th (Rally), and July 14th (Canine Good Citizen).
The Dog Committee would also like to share the following guidelines that are to be followed during participation in Wayne County 4-H Dog project events such as clinics and shows.
Two Foot Rule
One of the main things we will be doing is following the “two foot rule.” This is a rule practiced by a national therapy dog organization that states that all dogs must be kept at least two feet apart at all times. It is our hope that the dogs will be more comfortable and we can avoid aggression issues between the dogs by not letting them interact while they are working.
Do not let your dog sniff other dogs
We also ask that you not let your dogs sniff or interact with each other while they are working or while on the training grounds. If you have a small dog or young dog, we want you to be especially careful to keep them a safe distance from older or bigger dogs – we want all of the dogs at the practices to have good experiences and it is our responsibility to keep all of the dogs and handlers safe! If you are walking through a crowd of dogs with your small dog or puppy, it is often better to pick up your dog and carry it.
PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR DOG AT ALL TIMES!! Don’t get so involved talking with your friends or listening to the instructor that you forget about your dog and fail to pay attention to what is going on around you. While it is great to get together with friends to let your dogs play, this is not a good environment to allow dogs to interact with dogs they are not familiar with.
Watch for signs of stress
In a large group of dogs, it is normal for some of the dogs to be uncomfortable, stressed or distracted – especially dogs who are not used to being in this type of situation. Some of the signs of stress in dogs are:
1) Being distracted and failing to follow basic commands such as “sit”
3) Barking excessively
5) Tense body language
6) Constantly scanning the area and watching the other dogs rather than their handler
8) Keeping their tails tucked between their legs
9) Raised hackles
10) Hiding behind the handler or refusing to move
Stressed? Go to quiet location for a break
If you notice your dog displaying any of these signs, please feel free to remove them from the situation and give them a chance to relax in a calm environment. We want these practice sessions to be fun and productive for both you and your dogs. Take your dog to a quiet location, pet them and talk to them. Give them a couple of treats (food is a calming tool) and offer them a drink of cool water.
We will also be splitting up the dogs into groups depending on their size, age and experience in the future. If your dog is having trouble working in the group environment, we will try to have instructors available to help you on an individual basis.
Socialize your dog
Remember, it is extremely important to get your dogs out to socialize on a regular basis to prepare them for the practices and the Wayne County Fair. It is also very important to practice the obedience exercises in a calm, quiet environment on a regular basis. Your dog is more likely to concentrate on you, at the practices, if you do not feed them prior to bringing them to the class. It is also important to bring a high value treat to reward them with (something that they ONLY get while training – some suggestions are pieces of hotdog, cheese, chicken breast, liver, etc.) If your dog does not like treats, try rewarding them with praise or a toy. All dogs are different and it’s important to find a reward that works for your dog.
Please make sure that your collar fits properly. A collar that is too big can easily come off of the dog and we don’t want a loose dog to be involved in an accident (hit by a car, dog fight, etc.) Make sure that your collar and leash are in good working order. Before putting them on the dog, check them to make sure they are not damaged. If you are unsure how your collar should fit, please ask one of the instructors to check it BEFORE removing your dog from your vehicle. Please check your 4-H book for the type of collars that you can use. You may need to use a different type of collar for initial training than you will be using at the fair. Not every training collar is right for every dog. A large dog will need a different type of collar than a toy breed. You might not want to use a chain collar on a toy breed or puppy. If you are not sure how to use a training collar, please work with an instructor. These collars must be used properly to be effective and to avoid injury to your dog. A small child may need to use a different collar when working with the dog than an adult would, in order to control a large or strong dog.
Bring water for your dog
If it is hot, please bring water for your dog. If your dog seems to be getting too hot, please take him to a shady area and offer him water. Dogs can suffer from heat stroke in extremely hot weather. This can be an extreme medical emergency for your dog.
Clean up after your dog
Please clean-up after your dog if it poops or vomits. Bring plastic bags with you, clean up and place in a trash can. Do not let your male dogs urinate/lift their legs on buildings. Use grassy areas for potty breaks.
Exercise dog BEFORE a Clinic
If it is at all possible exercise your dog BEFORE bringing them to class to burn off excess energy and give them an outlet for their stress. You can come to the fairgrounds 15 – 30 minutes early and walk your dog and practice some obedience exercises or play a game of tug or fetch with them before leaving your house. This will help your dog to be able to focus on you. Teaching your dog attention exercises, at home, will also help you to keep his attention in the training environment and at the dog show.
Aggression = remove from situation and report to adult in charge of Clinic/Training session
Most importantly, if your dog shows any signs of aggression towards a person or another dog, remove it from the situation. If your dog is involved in a fight or bite incident, please report it to the person in charge of the training session, immediately. ANY dog can become aggressive if it becomes too stressed or afraid. It is our responsibility as good handlers to never put our dogs in a situation where an accident can occur. Practicing the suggestions listed will help to keep everyone safe both at our practices and the Wayne County Fair.
Hopefully, these suggestions will make the training experience more enjoyable for you and your dog. Remember, this is supposed to be FUN! Relax and enjoy spending time with your “best friend”!! If you have any questions, please feel free to stay after class and talk to one of the instructors. Several of us are available to help you on an individual basis and several of the 4-H advisors have opened up their training sessions to all of the 4-H members taking the dog projects. This is a wonderful opportunity to get additional training experience. We are expecting a larger turn-out this year at the fair and bringing your dog to the training sessions and following the above suggestions will make showing at the fair more fun and safe for everyone!! We look forward to seeing you at the next clinic!