Brandon residents Angela and Ryan Froese know firsthand how positive reinforcement, dedicated training practices, and just hanging out with their favorite canine friends pay off.
The couple enrolled their 5-year-old retriever, Nassau, for obedience classes when he was just one year old. Now 5 years and 100 pounds later, Nassau has reached a milestone in rally obedience competition in Canada with the help of his trainer and handler, Angela.
Last year in 2020 Angela and Nassau secured 2nd place in the Obedience Rally for Mixed Breeds, and this year they are currently in 1st place for the same competition. “It’s pretty exciting for us,” shares Angela. “Our ranking for all breeds competing across Canada is 26th place.”
Nassau is a mixed breed, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever and a Labrador Retriever, who compete in various competitions such as Dock Diving and Barn Hunt, a scent detection sport.
Watching Froese and Nassau go through the obedience trials, one can see that Nassau is keen to keep her eyes on her at all times, monitoring hand gestures, body language, eye contact. Between 10 and 20 stations, depending on the level of the class, are placed throughout the course with signs telling the animal owner what is required at each particular station.
Random toys and food are placed at some stations in an attempt to distract the dog, but Nassau sticks to his task of watching Angela for the next signal to sit, stand, stay, lie down, jump over an obstacle, etc. Nassau has a chance to get it right, there is no redoing it!
“It’s not just about walking with your dog,” says Ryan. “It’s having control of your dog throughout the course at all times, and it’s not just standing or sitting at a station, there can be a series of movements at each station. ”
Angela now shares her experience as a trainer to help other dog owners succeed with their pets through the Brandon Crocus Obedience and Kennel Club, where the Froese first took Nassau. She teaches basic handling skills through the Manners 1 classes, and she also teaches the more advanced rally obedience practice classes.
To be in sync with each other as well, Froese says the key is bonding with your dog and mental and physical stimulation, as well as positive reinforcement, so that your dog wants to please and wants to work.
“And that means you go for a walk, play games, and train a lot.” ”
For pet owners who recognize that their dog needs extra training, Froese says Manners’ classes are a great place to start. At home, this is where the real work begins, and this is where the dog and all family members work together towards a common goal. Consistency is one of the most important factors in training.
“You can come to our classes and we can show you what you can do to acquire the behaviors you are looking for, teach new behaviors or correct behaviors you don’t want, such as pulling on a leash, lack of focus and protection. resources, ”she explains. “There are different things we can do to help correct these behaviors. ”
“We can give you the tools, but at the end of the day it’s up to you to take that home and work on it, and have the other people in your house work there as well,” he adds. -she.
The Froese family is an energetic bunch that includes Lucia, a docile 3 year old Labra-doodle and Montego, a 1 year old purebred standard poodle who is a hopping and bouncing ball of energy! All three dogs attend training classes and participate in various competitive dog sports.
“Our dogs are hunting in the barn and playing frisbee,” says Froese. “Agility is important to our dogs, so they do jumps, tunnels, seesaws, loom poles, etc,” she explains, “things you would see at Super Dogs. Dock diving is a relatively new sport, where dogs launch themselves into the water from an elevated dock. We’re generally aiming for the distance and Nassau has a personal best of just under 20 feet. ”
“There’s also a sport called Sprinter that we’ve just started in. This is a 100 meter timed race where the dog chases a lure along the course. So we also do this training, it’s a lot of fun!
“Basically you can train any dog to do a sport, it’s just how much effort and time are you willing to put into it, and what your dog enjoys,” Froese shares. “Where something could be a lot easier for Nassau, who is a very confident and very trained dog, with Lucia some things are going to take more work to train because she doesn’t have that level of confidence and manners. and needs more assurance and reinforcement. ”
Ryan and Angela both work with the 3 dogs, but with so much fun, it’s hard to use the word ‘work’. Hours of time together make pets and pet owners happy.
Seeing the wall full of blue ribbons, Ryan is very proud of Angela and Nassau. Reaching this high level in Rally Obedience and other sports is exciting.
“It’s so rewarding to put our teamwork and our training to the test and see all those hours and hard work that Nassau and I have both put in,” adds Angela. “It’s very, very rewarding!