So you decided you want to try your hand at obedience with your curly. The first step is to decide whether to go to an independent training club or to find one registered with the kennel club, a list of KC registered training clubs can be obtained from the Shows, Trials and Awards Department of the Kennel Club. Make enquiries well in advance so that you can go down and visit the club and chat to members about the training schemes. It is worth discussing training schemes and methods with other curly owners to find out what type of training works for their curlies. Look for a club that will train your dog as an individual, not just using the same techniques for all dogs. Some clubs have set starting dates whereby the classes start on a particular date and run for a certain length of time, other clubs you can just turn up as and when you are able to. Dog training clubs are generally sociable places and welcome all standards of handlers and dogs to be trained.
When you find the right training club, you will need to keep in mind the special nature of the breed. Curlies are intelligent and steady but they are also independent and may seem somewhat aloof, especially with strangers. They are easily trained but you need to accommodate their need for some independence. They become bored, with repetitive tasks, so any training needs to be varied and stimulating and is often done best in the guise of a game.
After initial training perhaps you would like to see how your dog is progressing, make enquiries about the Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme. A list of organisations can be obtained from the Good Citizen Dog Scheme Department of the KC on 020 7518 1011. After working a basic dog obedience course, such as the Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme for, you may want to try your hand at more advanced obedience training. Your first step to competitive obedience may be to enter a Companion Dog Show or a limited obedience show such as the Curly Coated Retriever Club Limited Show with obedience which is held annually in November. This event allows curly owners to compete with their own breed and gives owners the chance to compare their dogs with others of the breed. Details of which can be found in the Breed notes and also on the club’s website.
Alternatively you may choose to enter a Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme Special Pre-beginner Obedience Stakes Class, a Pre-beginner or Beginner Class at a Kennel Club licensed Obedience Show. There are in fact numerous Obedience shows held annually by Kennel Club registered clubs – approximately 270 in all. Details of these shows can be found in the Kennel Club’s monthly publication the Kennel Gazette, or specific websites devoted to obedience.
There are six obedience classes available at shows and all dogs start from the basic Pre- Beginners Class and by a series of first prizes qualify through to Class C which is the highest (and most difficult). Each class contains a set of exercises which the judge will ask you and your dog to perform. The exercises range from heelwork (on and off the lead), to a recall, control exercises such as a one minute sit and a two minute down stay. As you progress through the classes the exercises obviously become more difficult until you reach Class C where your dog will have to perform (in addition to those previously mentioned) a scent discrimination exercise and also a send away and distant control exercise. Anyone who has watched the Crufts obedience will know exactly what is involved.
There are a few curlies who compete at obedience shows and I’m sure their owners would be more than happy to discuss obedience with you if you are interested.