Friday, June 17, 2011


Tonight my son Tom will graduate as co-valedictorian from Westmoreland. A high school graduation is similar to the graduation our dogs get from their basic obedience class. Whether the class is from our local Pet SMART, Mohawk Valley Dog Training Club, Syracuse Obedience Training Club or one of the other local training classes, graduation marks both a beginning and an end.

The end of class means that you and your dog have worked together to learn certain basic obedience commands and exercises. Hopefully you have developed a good working relationship and strengthened the bond between you. Training will need reinforcement however. You need to keep up with your commands, provide rewards and practice - even if you only mix the obedience into your daily life. In fact, mixing obedience into daily life is the ideal way to use your training.

My son will use math, English and science in his engineering courses at Cornell. Your dog will use sit, down and come in his daily interactions with the family - sit to have his leash put on, a down stay at dinner time, etc.

Graduation can also be a beginning. For the high school students it is a move to college, a job or perhaps the military. For your dog, it may be a decision to move on to a dog sport. Agility might be appealing or perhaps your dog loves to heel so upper levels of obedience call to you as a team. The basics you learned in your early training classes provide the foundation for almost every dog sport you might choose to try. If you and your dog dont' enjoy a certain dog sport, try another one. There are many options available to you in central NY.

May your dog class graduations lead to wonderful opportunities!