Obedience Training
All Siberians, whether destined for a show career, obedience or agility career, or simply destined for a life of love as a family pet need training. Conformation training is one of the best ways to socialize a puppy, and get it used to the presence of other dogs and having people handle it. Even a dog destined for a show career should have some basic obedience training. Any dog can learn to differentiate between conformation ring equipment (collars and leads, bait) and obedience ring equipment. For the dual ring dog, understanding the difference between "let's go" or "let's gait" and "heel" isn't difficult. Most Obedience Clubs ("Dog Training Clubs") offer a Beginning I or Beginning Novice class that culminates in the AKC CGC (Canine Good Citizen) test, and involves teaching the sit, down, controlled walking (as distinct from heeling), accepting a friendly stranger, waiting at a door when someone knocks, etc. These beginning classes are designed to help train a canine citizen that you can live with, on the grounds that a trained dog is a happy dog.

Some people go for the CGC so their dogs can become therapy dogs (The TDI test is a lot like the CGC, but includes more of the equipment a therapy dog is likely to see -- i.e. walkers, wheelchairs, crutches, hospital equipment). Some people go for the CGC because it is available to ALL dogs, purebred or not, registered or not.

A lot of us started in Beginning I just with the idea of getting some control over our enthusiastic adolescent Siberian, and then got bitten by the Obedience Bug, going on to train for the C.D. (companion dog) degree, C.D.X. (companion dog excellent), or U.D. (utility dog). A discussion of the AKC obedience degrees can be found at the AKC website, www.akc.org , and will be discussed further as they relate specifically to the Siberian in obedience in the future here.
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Obedience Training Classes Associated Obedience Clubs of Northern California (AOCNC)
The AOCNC is a non-profit confederation of AKC obedience clubs in Northern California. Please note that we are not endorsing or recommending anyone.
County-Wide Dog Training Club Santa Rosa, CA (707) 544-7479
Davis Dog Training Club Davis, CA (530) 758-DOGS
Deep Peninsula Dog Training Club Los Altos,. CA (650) 424-8829
Fremont Dog Training Club Fremont, CA (510) 659-0324
Fresno Dog Training Club Fresno, CA (209) 255-2960
Marin County Dog Training Club San Rafael, CA (415) 461-6559
Monterey Bay Dog Training Club Watsonville, CA (408) 724-6657
Mt. Diablo Dog Training Club Walnut Creek, CA (925) 933-8774
Napa Valley Dog Training Club Napa, CA (707) 253-8666
Oakland Dog Training Club Oakland, CA (510) 339-3276
Sacramento Dog Training Club Sacramento, CA (916) 482-5194
San Francisco Dog Training Club (415) 585-2533 or (415) 239-1181
San Joaquin Dog Training Club Stockton, CA (209) 546-1616
San Lorenzo Dog Training Club San Leandro, CA (510) 483-4546
San Mateo Dog Training Club San Mateo, CA (650) 728-3320
Santa Clara Dog Training Club San Jose, CA (408) 377-0221
Truckee Meadows Dog Training Club Reno, NV (702) 747-PETS
Vallejo Dog Training Club Vallejo, CA (707) 648-0903
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The Siberians in Obedience Up to the CD
What motivates an otherwise sane person to pursue an obedience degree with an independent, stubborn Siberian Husky? In my case, it was a promise made to a rescue Siberian with AKC papers. We were at my first National Specialty (1991 Buena Park, CA) watching the Parade of Titleholders, and I promised Polara she would go in Parade one day. I knew she wouldn't finish a breed championship, so we started working toward an obedience title. This began with beginning obedience classes fairly close to home, and it was there I discovered that who the trainer is matters as much as getting the training. I have since learned that you do not have to permit the trainer to handle your dog, and that there is no excuse for severe correction, but I didn't know it then. I would recommend interviewing trainers before signing up for classes -- I wish I had with Polara.

After the setback we experienced, we had the good fortune to hook up with a trainer who wholeheartedly believes in positive reinforcement. We followed that trainer from the DTC (Dog Training Club) close to home to one 50 miles away, and continued to train. I didn't know what I was doing, and neither did my dog, but the teachers did, and we learned. It took four years, start to finish, from Polara's first step into a training class to the completion of her C.D. (Companion Dog) degree. And I kept my promise to her, taking her to her first Parade at the 1997 NCSHC Specialty, her second at the 1998 Denver Specialty, and her third at the 1999 NCSHC Specialty. We anticipate being in the Portland National Parade.

So, what's involved in getting the CD? A look at the AKC Obedience Regulations (or the AKC web page, www.akc.org) will disclose that the dog has to qualify at three separate trials under three different judges with scores of 170 or better, and at least of the available points in each exercise to pass. The exercises for the C.D. are: Heel on lead, figure eight, stand for examination, heel free, recall, one-minute sit (handler in the ring), and three-minute down (handler in the ring). What do these mean? Heel on lead means the dog walks in heel position on a loose lead. The handler's hand is at their waist or swinging freely (most experienced handlers keep the left hand at the waist so it doesn't swing into the leash and confuse the dog or, worse, be marked as double handling by the judge). The heel pattern includes a forward, left turn, right turn, about turn, a number of halts, and two changes of pace (slow to normal, fast to normal). The dog should not forge or lag, and must sit at heel position at the halts). The judge uses the identical heel pattern for the heel free (off lead). The figure eight involves heeling around two posts, (the posts are the ring stewards). The dog must not sniff the posts, and should not forge nor lag, and must sit when the judge calls the halts.

The stand for examination requires that the handler "stand your dog and leave when ready", meaning that the dog is signaled or commanded to stand, the handler usually touches his/her shoulders and rump to be sure the feet are secure, then gives a stay command/signal and walks six feet in front of the dog. The judge touches the dog on the head, shoulders, and rump, then steps away, giving the command "back to your dog" to the handler. The handler walks around the dog and returns to heel position. A perfect score (30) means that the dog hasn't moved a foot during the examination procedure. "Exercise finished" is the judge's signal that the exercise is over.

In the recall exercise, the dog sits at heel. The judge tells the handler to leave when ready, the handler may give a stay command/signal, and walks 30 feet across the ring, turning to face the dog, hands at sides. At the judge's signal or command "call your dog" the handler calls "dog, come" and the dog must either trot or gallop in, and sit in front of the handler, close enough to be touched. At the judge's command or signal "finish," the handler gives either a "heel" or "swing" command (depending on whether the dog is to go around or swing to the side), and the dog returns to heel position. Exercise finished.

The sits and downs are group exercises. The steward will lead depending on the number of entries at the trial, either all of a class, or 8 of them, into the ring. The judge will position the dogs and handlers so that there is sufficient room between them. The judge will explain the exercise, telling the handlers to weight their armbands with their leashes and put them behind their individual dogs, then say "sit your dogs." The entire line will say "dogs' names, sit." The judge next says, "leave your dogs," and 8 owners walk across the ring, fold their arms, and wait. If a dog breaks, the ring steward will retrieve it. At the Carlisle, PA, National, only one dog out of eight, stayed down, while the one who broke first ran laps in the ring, jumped the baby gates, and terrorized the other obedience ring. This is one reason that obedience at the Carlisle National was in baby gates inside a completely enclosed tennis court! At the conclusion of one minute, the judge says "back to your dogs," and 8 owners walk back around their dogs to heel position. The dogs must stay seated until the judge says "exercise finished." Then you repeat the procedure for the 3-minute down. At the end of the down, the judge will announce (by armband number) which dog/handler team has qualified for a leg (one of the three required to complete the title).

At the completion of the trial, the judge will announce placements (one through four), and award ribbons (blue, red, yellow, light green), and dark green qualifying ribbons to all dogs that qualified, whether in the top four or not. If there is a tie score, the judge will hold a run-off (the heel free exercise) to determine placements. There is nothing like hearing your number called as a qualifier! The first time Polara qualified, I cried like a baby; I cried quietly at her second leg; and hollered "YES!" when she qualified the third time for the completion of her C.D. So I'm hooked. I joined our Dog Training Club, have a total of 3 more in active training, and recommend obedience training to anyone who wants a Siberian they can live with. I've been at my Veterinarian's office and seen two techs and two owners struggling to get a dog to stand on a walk-on scale. When my turn comes, I'll tell mine to up, stand, stay, give a hand signal, and watch the tech smile. They smile even more when I've got two (or more), and the ones waiting to be weighed are on down stays, and staying! Always nice to be on good terms with your vet techs. And it gives a real-world application to all the obedience you've trained and worked so hard for.
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Copyright 1998, 1999,
2000, 2001, 2002,
Northern California
Siberian Husky Club, Inc.
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This page last updated: 01/2002