Going Viral with Your Dog

BY JEAN M. JAHNKE, CPDT-KA

You’ve been practicing with your dog—going to classes and doing all your homework. Your dog is ready to strut her stuff, but you’re a wallflower. Or maybe it’s your dog that’s shy. Nevertheless, did you know that there are virtual opportunities in today’s online world for you to showcase your dog and earn titles? And, in some cases, you can even do it in your own home!

Virtual venues exist for rally obedience, tricks, freestyle dance, agility and Dog Parkour™. These venues allow you to videotape your entry and submit it for judging. Each venue has recommendations and tips on how to best videotape your submission.

Obedience

Does your dog excel in obedience? If so, Cyber Rally-O is a virtual experience you may want to investigate. Rally obedience involves moving from sign to sign and completing specific obedience skills at each. For instance, at Level 1 in this venue, one sign is to “Stop and Down” your dog.

According to the Cyber Rally-O website (cyberrally-o.com), “All teams are welcome to enjoy this experience. Dogs and/or handlers with physical challenges will find Cyber Rally-O to be very accommodating.” Cyber Rally-O offers five levels of rally, a Junior Division, and even has a Dance Division.

Tricks

Been working on tricks with your dog? Do More With Your Dog!® is the world’s leading Trick Dog program. Per their website (domorewithyourdog.com), they have awarded over 15,000 Trick Dog titles. And earlier this year, Do More With Your Dog!® joined with the American Kennel Club® to have their titles recognized.

To earn a Trick Dog title (five levels are possible, including a championship title), you select from a list of 101 tricks. Since this is a team sport, the variety of tricks enables success for both you and your dog.

Janna Light, KA-CPT, owner of Paws & Effect Pet Care and Training, has competed in this venue. She says, “I would definitely recommend it to my clients! I love that it gives dogs that might not do well in crowds or around other dogs the chance to earn titles too.”

Dancing

Want to take your trick training to another level? If you like music, freestyle dance may be just the thing for you and your dog. Patie Ventre, founder of The World Canine Freestyle Organization, explains, “The object of musical freestyle is to display the dog and handler in a creative, innovative and original dance, using music and intricate movements to showcase teamwork, artistry, costuming, athleticism and style in interpreting the theme of the music.”

The WCFO website (worldcaninefreestyle.org), lists a multitude of titles that can be earned “virtually” as well as through in-person events. They have a Junior Division and within their Adult Division, they have a “Sassy Seniors” for dogs over 9 years of age and/or handlers over 65 years.

Debbie Lynch has achieved both trick and freestyle dance titles with her Corgi Tinkerbelle. She says, “It is nice for shy and fearful dogs to have the opportunity to title without the stress of a show. But, she adds that unless you belong to a club, “It can be hard to find someone with the time and ability to take videos of your performance. It can also be hard to find a good location to do the filming.”

Agility

Do you like the sport of agility but your dog is fearful of crowds, reactive to dogs or highly distracted? You can demonstrate the agility skills you’ve been practicing in a virtual environment.

Michele Godlevski, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, founder of VALOR, explains, “The Virtual Agility League™ (VALOR) provides people and dogs an opportunity to play agility in a stress-free environment, while still show-casing their skills for all to see. The VALOR program gives people and dogs a set of goals to achieve and rewards those achievements with the same accolades as a regular venue. In short, it’s all of the fun of agility without all of the stress!”

VALOR does vary from other virtual opportunities in that you must videotape your dog running at a pre-approved agility facility. According to their website (virtualagilityleague.com), you then enter a monthly Virtual Agility League test online and receive a course map. Three levels are available.

So don’t hesitate! If you’re curious what your dog team can accomplish, check out the virtual wide world of dog sports.


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MEET JEAN!

I started writing for FETCH Magazine in the Spring 2013 issue. I saw it as a great opportunity to combine my love for writing with my passion for dog training. 

Writing for FETCH allows me to share what I’ve learned in working with my own dogs. For instance, I’ve written about travelling with our dogs, competing in agility, working with fearful, reactive dogs, dealing with sound issues and even how my own emotions can impact my dogs. I do this not because “it’s about me,” but because I know there are people out there dealing with the same issues I am.  Of course, I also like to use my Journalism degree to dig into subjects such as Chinese remedies and supplements for senior dogs.

Additionally, as a certified professional dog trainer, I am constantly using FETCH Magazine as a reference for my students. I am proud to be a contributor to this quality resource.

My writing inspirations include our Miniature Australian Shepherds "KC" and "Theo." But it was our 12-year old German Shepherd "Rudy" who inspired me to focus on dogs with issues.  Rudy was genetically shy yet travelled with us from the East to West coasts. He will always be remembered as the loving boy who taught us how to help him shine through his fear.

In 2017, we will be adding a puppy to the family. So expect some puppy experiences to be shared in upcoming FETCH issues!

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