Photos by Sue Cook – Lisa Beam, 8, tells Jellybean “over” to get him to hop over the obstacle. Instructor Sue Meier helps Lisa learn the technique for the leash.
The senior group lines up their dogs as if presenting them for a judge.
By Sue Cook, staff reporter
KNOWLESVILLE – Today 21 4-H’ers and their dogs attended a first-time Dog Camp at the 4-H Fairgrounds and the handlers worked with their dogs to be more agile and obedient while learnig other skills.
The morning lessons were agility, competition, grooming and handling. The afternoon included emergency care, rally, basic care and fly ball.
Cornell Cooperative Extension organized the Dog Camp. The Extension works to create programs in the community to provide education, including programs for other 4-H groups that train or raise other animals.
Garrett May, 15, has his Siberian husky, Cruise, walk up a plank under instructor Susan Meier’s instruction. Cruise was reluctant to complete the walk, but with each practice run the dog would become more successful.
4-H’ers from ages 8 to 18 enrolled in the camp for the opportunity to learn more about the care and training of their dogs. Most of those enrolled in the program are working to show their dogs in shows and competition. A benefit of showing a dog through 4-H is that participants build friendships with others who share the same interests and may live outside of the area in other counties.
“It’s all about improving their relationship with their dogs, learning correct training, learning basic dog care and some of these kids do go on to compete in fairs,” said Pat Leight, leader for Canine Companions, one of the county’s three dog groups. “It’s our first year doing it, and next year we’d like to have it as an overnight camp.”
Rachel Muller, 15, trots her corgi, Teddy, to a cone and back. It requires controlling with the leash to make sure the dog keeps its head up and trots straight.
Lilianna Hanning, 12, has been in a 4-H dog group for one year. She brought her black lab with her who has won Reserve Champion at the state fair.
“We had trained Jack, but he wasn’t very good and we didn’t do competition. I went to a 4-H open house and I saw that other kids had their dogs and I thought this would be really fun. I’m glad that I joined. Today, we have to work on our agility,” said Hanning, who was excited for the day’s events.
The morning began with the kids breaking into groups based on skill level. Dog Camp students with very little experience with their dogs were put in the junior group, regardless of age.
Instructor Kathy Zipkin assisted the 4-H’ers with obedience training. “I like to try and teach kids the correct way to start obedience and hopefully build enthusiasm to stick with it.”
Jordan Crowley (front), 15, rewards Goldie for focusing her attention where he wants.
Zipkin explained that dogs are often trained with food until the behavior is established, then they are weaned off of requiring treats to perform the desired command.
Melanie Uderitz brought her son Andrew to dog camp today to work with Tank, their yellow lab.
During obedience training, Tank sat like a good boy for Andrew Uderitz, 9.
“He really wanted to join and do agility especially, so he joined the Canine Companions 4-H club. Tank gets excited to come and Andrew gets excited to come. Tank is a fast learner,” she said.
Patrick Macaluso, 14, has his terrier-mix, Zoe, show her teeth. Instructor Joanne Dohr explains how dogs need to be comfortable having their faces touched so that their teeth can be presented to a judge.
Instructor Sue Meier guided 4-H’ers on the agility course.
“There are a lot of new kids. They’ve never been acclimated to agility. They’re doing very well,” she said. “The handlers are handling them great and usually the dogs pick up on it really quick. Today, I’m teaching them how to make their dogs focus because agility is all about focusing and listening to the handler.”
The junior group learns about “stacking” their dogs from Joanne Dohr. Stacking means the dog stands straight. Their trainer adjusts their legs if needed to make them stand in a natural, squared-off position.
Dogs in 4-H shows are not required to be purebred or owned by the person training, which allows any child with any dog to participate, even with a borrowed one.
Enrollment is encouraged by the 4-H leaders because they feel it brings a stronger bond with the dog, but also provides an outlet to find new friends. It also raises confidence as kids are able to get the dog to listen to commands better over time.
4-H accepts new members throughout the year. To ask about joining 4-H, call the Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension at 585-798-4265 or e-mail email@example.com.