4 minute read


The Basic Core Skills

WRITTEN BY: HEATHER SUMMERS, Certified APG, AKC CGC Evaluator & Trainer at the CDTC

Have you ever sat on your sofa with your dog watching a dog show, an obedience or agility event on the television and thought to yourself, “That would be so much fun; I wonder if my dog would be good at that”?

Let us take some first steps in determining what sport you and your dog would enjoy and start building some core skills almost every dog sport needs.

First Things First

You will need to do a little research on the various types of sports and determine what piques your interest and what you believe your dog would enjoy. They will need to be healthy and up to date on their vaccinations. All the sports allow your dog to be spayed or neutered except for the Conformation show ring which requires your dog to be intact. You will also need to consider what organizational club you would prefer, for example the American Kennel Club or United Kennel Club, etc. You will also need to look up the rules and requirements to participate with that organization and particular sport. Typically, if you plan to compete for fun and have a sense of accomplishment through winning ribbons and awards, your dog will need a registration number with the organization of your choice.

When to Start Training

I am sure you would agree that it would be wise to start training your pooch sooner rather than later. Training and building a bond with a puppy is much easier than teaching an older dog that might not have a strong connection with you or a dog that has some behavioral issues that might need to be worked through. Nevertheless, it is never too late to start training your dog, it might just take a bit more time.

Plan to dedicate each day 15-20 minutes of your time to train. You will also need to find a place to take classes, ideally group basic core classes where your dog gets the opportunity to be around other dogs as your pup will need to be comfortable around other dogs and people at sport events. It would also be a great idea to find a club or place that teaches your desired sport. If you are here in Charleston and the surrounding areas the Charleston Dog Training Club is an American Kennel Club affiliate club and offers basic core skills classes as well as a wide array of sport classes. We also hold Obedience and Rally competition trials once a year, so it makes it a wonderful place to start and learn from people that have the same interests as you.

Basic Core Skills

For the vast majority of dog sports there are some overall core skills that every team needs. These core skills are not only important for the sport but extremely beneficial to your entire family at home and out in public. Here are what I consider the most important building blocks for any dog sport and companion:

• Building a relationship and reward system with proper play & fun. • Having rules and boundaries of what is allowed and what is not acceptable. • Having a clear consistent “marker” that tells them they have done well and adding a food reward system. • Working as a team and having good sportsmanship. • Walking on a loose leash. • Attention with eye contact between dog and handler. • And the most fundamental; sit, stand, down, stay, wait, and come.

If you have these basics, then your team has a high probability of success in any sport that you choose. No matter what sport you choose or how far you go in levels, the basic core skills are the most valuable training you can do with your dog. It will provide life-long benefits. Every time your dog does what you ask, you will have pride knowing that you have had fun building your relationship and impress your family and friends with a well-trained pooch.

Now let’s get started! ■