Over the years, we have received many questions regarding Training and Trials. Here are just a few of them.


Training

Do I have to be a member of NYOC to take a training class?

No, you don’t. We are happy to welcome non-members to any of our training classes. Read the class descriptions to choose the appropriate class for you and your dog.

Is NYOC Dog Training only for people who want their dogs to compete in Obedience Trials?

Definitely not.

Although NYOC hosts a Canadian Kennel Club sanctioned Obedience Trial annually, our training classes are for anyone who wants a well-behaved dog. Our classes do integrate competitive obedience exercises, but these are all applicable to real world situations and foster better control over your canine companion. Plus, it looks awfully impressive! If you are interested in competing, we can help you with that too.

Which class should I sign up for?

If you have a puppy between the ages of 8 and 15 weeks, Puppy Kindergarten is the class for you.

Most dog/handler teams without previous class-based training will benefit by starting with the Beginners 1 class, even if the dogs are already responding to some commands. Dogs are situational learners and putting them into a high stimulus environment with lots of distractions (new place, new dogs, and new people in very close proximity) will take a bit of getting used to. The more relaxed, introductory pace of our beginner classes will make for an easier adjustment, as well as giving you extra time to make sure your dog is having a positive experience.

If you and your dog have completed classes elsewhere, or you have successfully self-trained your dog and feel s/he is ready for more advanced work, ask to have the Training Director contact you to discuss which class would be appropriate for you.

In some instances, a dog may show up for the first class and the instructors will realize the class is too elementary or too advanced and the dog (and you the handler) will be moved to the appropriate level.

 

What are my dog and I going to learn?

We start with the basics necessary to safely control your dog: sit, stay, come, lie down, and heel (walk nicely beside you on the leash). We build from there in the more advanced classes by adding in distractions, working off-leash, and using hand signals. More importantly, we are going to teach you to teach your dog that good things happen when s/he pays attention to you, that that training is fun, and that well-mannered dogs get to do more!

What training methodology do you use?

NYOC’s training methodology reflects our Training Philosophy.

NYOC utilizes a reward-based, positive training method based on the most current scientific studies of how dogs learn; dogs are not punished for doing the wrong thing. Instead, they are praised and treated for doing what is asked of them.

Any form of physical correction that inflicts pain on a dog is forbidden in NYOC classes; and we strongly discourage our students from using corrections or punishment in training their dogs outside of class. Punishment has been shown to be an ineffectual part of any training; it damages the trust and the bond with the person and it actually impedes learning.

Successful training requires that the dog feel safe and connected with the handler. Our instructors will help you understand the difference between “traditional” punishment – based training and reward – based training! You will learn how and when to reward your dog for doing what you want him/her to do. We will also show you how to re-direct your dog when it “makes a mistake” and how the absence of a reward/praise is usually enough “punishment” for your dog.

 

 

 

What should I bring to class?

The basics are a collar, leash, treats, and usually your dog. For more detail, see the information below.

Collar:  During class, the dog should be wearing a flat collar, Martingale collar, or a harness; instructors can advise which is the best once they meet the dog, see its structure and behaviour. No choke chains, prong collars or electronic collars are permitted in classes. Head halters are not used for safety reasons, but instructors can show you how to introduce your dog to one and how to use it outside of class, on walks, for example. Prong collars are a management tool rather than a training tool. They may be needed in certain situations to ensure safety. If you think you need a prong collar, contact the training secretary who will put you in touch with an instructor or the training director to discuss your needs.

Leash: Dogs should be on six-foot leather or nylon leashes (four-foot leashes are too short for on-leash recalls and stand-for-exam exercises). Thinner leashes are more manageable during class, but if your dog is a forger (a dog who pulls) make sure the leash is strong enough to restrain him/her. Flexible/retractable leashes are not to be used during classes.

Treats: For treats, we recommend something small and soft that you know your dog likes and is not too messy. Small, because you may be giving lots of them; soft because they are easier to swallow, especially while moving; not too messy for obvious reasons. These can be small cheese cubes, sliced hot-dogs or other meats cut into small chunks, commercial treats such as Ziwi Peak, Rollover or Natural Balance training bits, or anything else you know your dog likes and will be motivated to work for. Crumbly biscuits are not encouraged, as pieces fall on the floor and then all the dogs start sniffing and snacking.

Your Dog: Our classes are for you and your dog. There may be times however when your dog is not up to attending (i.e., tummy troubles, after spaying or other surgery, when a female dog is in heat – intact males may be in our classes). In these cases, we recommend that you come to class without your dog. This way you will know what was covered and can practice at home, thereby not falling behind your classmates when you return with your dog.

Who teaches your classes?

NYOC Dog Training instructors are all Club members who volunteer their time, experience and expertise to the public. They all have a strong commitment to nurturing happy and healthy bonds between dogs and people.

Our instructors have gone through our classes, served as training observers and assistants for multiple sessions, and then started instructing classes under the supervision of senior instructors. All share a commitment to creating a happy and healthy bond between dogs and their families.

Our instructors are also some of the most active people in the dog sport community. Almost all of them have trained dogs who have earned multiple titles in various areas of competition including formal obedience, rally-obedience, agility, tracking, field trialling and conformation. All of our instructors have dogs who actively participate in family life, sports or therapy work. Many still take classes themselves and attend training seminars and workshops to remain current with dog learning theory. They also spend lots of time with other “dog people” discussing what works best in various situations. As a result, our students get the best possible combination of instruction that is both theory-based and practical.

How long will it take to train my dog?

You will be surprised at how much you and your dog can accomplish after successfully completing Beginners 1 and Beginners 2 classes. Of course, this will require a commitment on your part to practice daily what you are learning at class. Multiple short sessions a day is far more effective than one longer training session at home.  Simply showing up once a week without practicing will not get you the results you desire, nor is it fair to your dog.

Attending all of the classes in a session does not mean you should automatically move your dog into the the next higher class! Dogs and handlers benefit immensely from repeating a session. The second or third time through a class, you and your dog get so much more out of it! Not only can you both be stars but you will understand what you are doing, why you are doing it and how you can continue to make progress!

Even when you “graduate”, it is just the beginning of your dog’s life-long learning. You will need to continue to provide gentle guidance and positive reinforcement for behaviours you want your dog to do.  And if you really love dog training, there are all kinds of dog sports to explore!

 

Is my dog too old to train?

Absolutely not.

Unless your dog suffers from CCD – Canine Cognitive Disorder (similar to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease in humans), he/she is still capable of learning. It may take a little longer and require more repetitions, but with patience and understanding most dogs can learn what you are asking and how to comply. If you have adopted an adult dog, realize that your new friend may have to “unlearn” some old habits that do not conform to the new environment. These adult dogs are not being bad; they just haven’t been taught to do things the way you would like. The best way to remedy this is through positive training at any age not punishment.

Big or small, we train them all!

Is my dog too young to train?

Probably not.

The most recent research shows that puppies can successfully begin gentle training much younger than previously thought. Sixteen weeks is optimal for our Beginners 1 class where, for health and sanitary reasons, we require your puppy to be house-trained and have completed his/her second round of vaccinations before starting. When offered, our Puppy Kindergarten class will accept puppies as young as nine weeks.

I have a small dog. Do you have separate classes for small and big dogs?

Sharing time and space with a trained dog, no matter what the size, is a pleasure, not to mention safer for the dog and any people he/she interacts with. (Trust us, your vet will be extremely grateful for a well-mannered patient – little teeth hurt, too!).

Small dogs and big dogs share the outside world all the time – the vet’s office, dog parks, walking on the street. At NYOC we believe it is best to let them get comfortable with one another in a controlled, safe environment like a dog class. Therefore, we mix sizes in our classes and make sure everyone adapts accordingly – you’d be surprised how bossy some Yorkies can be!

Why do you allow noisy/unruly dogs in class?

Much like children, dogs are individuals with unique personalities shaped by a variety of factors. These include genetics, parenting styles (both canine and human), exposure to different stimuli and levels of socialization (life experiences). Some dogs come in ready to focus on learning, others just want to play; some are anxious, others grumpy at missing their favourite TV shows (or, more likely, the couch in front of the TV). How do dogs communicate these feelings? Barking, play bows, lunging, heading for the exit, planting their bums and going on strike, even on occasion growling and snapping. Sort of like the first day of school after summer vacation.

All of these dogs need to learn acceptable manners and how to listen properly. That is why they are in class! We teach all handlers how to get and keep their dog’s attention, how to redirect behaviour when necessary and how to set their dog up for success.

It is mandatory that each handler be able to physically maintain control over his/her dog at all times. That is why we will, on occasion, suggest a different member of the family handle the dog during class. And don’t worry, usually by week three or four things have quieted down considerably.

What if I have a shy/aggressive dog?

We are accustomed to dealing with dogs that are not initially at ease around other dogs or people. Usually, through a combination of behavioural adjustment methods, confidence building and gradual proximity exercises, dogs learn to accept this new experience.

We will NOT employ “flooding” techniques (a short-term, stress inducing solution), so time, patience and commitment on your part will be required. It is imperative that you let us know in advance if your dog has these problems so that we can take appropriate measures to ensure a safe and successful experience for all participants.

Our classes are not designed for, nor will they be effective in, treating dogs with severe aggression issues. If, in our opinion, a dog poses a safety risk, we reserve the right to withdraw that dog from our classes. In such a case we will issue a partial refund. We will also offer suggestions for private trainers or more appropriate training locations.

What should I do if my dog has chronic health issues or gets sick after the training sessions begin?

If your dog has a chronic health condition eg epilepsy, deafness, be sure to include this information on the Dog Handler Profile form that is part of the registration form.
If your dog is sick, please don’t bring him/her to class. If you are unsure, check with your veterinarian and let your instructor know. We encourage you to come to the class and observe so that you will know what to practise with your dog at home when s/he is well.

Will NYOC classes prepare my dog to be a therapy dog?

The primary objective of Therapy Dogs is to bring smiles and a sense of well-being to everyone they visit. To do this, your dog must be safe, friendly and well trained.

NYOC Dog Training has two basic classes, Beginners 1 and 2 that will give you a start on this. You might also consider working with the NYOC Demonstration Team.  The Demonstration Team visits senior’s residences, long term care homes, libraries, Girl Guide and Boy Scout groups.  Although the dogs on the team do not have to be certified therapy dogs, they do have to have similar skills. Check out what is takes to join the Demonstration Team.

There are two organizations in Ontario that certify Therapy Dogs.  Look at the criteria for both people and dogs.

St. John Ambulance Therapy Dogs Canada

Therapeutic Paws of Canada



Trials

When are the NYOC Trials held?

The NYOC trials and correction match are usually held each year during the third weekend in June.

Details about the judges are not finalized until about February.  The Premium List comes out in about March.  For current information on the trials, see our page on the Trials.

 

Where are the NYOC Trials held?

The Trials are held at the Pine Point Arena in Etobicoke close to the 401 and Islington Ave.

Pine Point Arena (link to google map)
15 Grierson Road, Etobicoke, Ontario M9W 3R6

Directions to Show Site
From the West: Take the 401 Eastbound towards Toronto. Exit at Islington Avenue North. Take the first street on the right (Allenby Avenue) to Pine Point Arena (about a 5 minute drive from the 401).

From the South/West: Take the QEW Eastbound towards Toronto. Exit on Hwy 427 and go north to Hwy 401. Go east on the 401 and exit at Islington Avenue North. Take the first street on the right (Allenby Avenue) to Pine Point Arena (about a 5 minute drive from the 401).

From the East: Take the 401 Westbound towards London. Exit at Islington Avenue North. Turn right onto Chilcot, then right again on Burrard to get to Allenby Avenue. Make a left onto Allenby to Pine Point Arena (less than a 10 minute drive from the 401).

I am confused about the terms used to describe training classes and titles in dog sports. Can you simplify this for me?

The terms are confusing! And each dog sport has its own special terms!

We have developed a Chart of Obedience Terms as an example of the terms in one dog sport.  To learn more about Obedience and Rally Trials, check out the other FAQs for Trials.

To get an overview of dog sports, check out the Canadian Kennel Club’s web page on sixteen different dog sports.  NYOC has members who participate in many different dog sports so we can likely put you in touch with someone who can answer your questions.

Can I enter my mixed breed dog in an Obedience trial?

Yes, mixed-breed dogs may compete in Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) Agility, Obedience and Rally Obedience Trials alongside purebred dog. Mixed breed dogs receive the same titles.

In order for a mixed breed dog to enter a trial, the owner must apply for and receive a Canine Companion Number for their dog. More information is available on the CKC website. Please note that not all CKC trials allow mixed breed dogs to compete so be sure to check the premium list.

In order to actually receive a title certificate from CKC, the owner must either choose to become a CKC member or pay the annual non-member participation fee. Since the membership fee and the non-member participation fee are the same, you might as well become a CKC member. For more information, please contact CKC’s Member Services team Department at 416-674-3699 or 1-855-DOGS CKC (1-855-364-7252) or email information@ckc.ca.

What is the Canine Good Neighbour Test?

The Canine Good Neighbour Test (CGN Test) was developed by the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) and is open to all dogs, regardless of breeding. The test requires you and your dog to complete 12 exercises which demonstrate your ability to control your dog and your dog’s ability to demonstrate good manners in everyday situations. Tests include exercises such as accepting a friendly stranger, politely accepting petting, walking through a door/gate, walking through a crowd, coming when called.

Passing the CGN shows that your dog can be counted on to present good manners at home, in public places and in the presence of other dogs. Beginner training classes at NYOC would be good preparation for the CGN.  For more information on the actual CGN test, please visit the CKC website.

How do I enter a trial?

The Canadian Kennel Club website provides information on how to enter an event.

The websites, Canuck Dogs and the Canadian Kennel Club, give information about upcoming trials in Ontario and across Canada. Every event has a premium list which supplies all the necessary information in order to enter. The process can be confusing to newcomers to the sport, so please ask your NYOC instructor if you have questions.

You can also enter online or by telephone by using Entry Line, a show entry service. To use Entry Line, you must be a member ($15 annual fee). There is also a fee of 15% of the entry fees for telephone entries or 13% of the entry fees for online entries plus HST. Payment is through a secure credit card system. Entry Line is ideal for those who enter trials frequently, as the entry information is stored for each dog. It is also very useful if there is a postal disruption or if the closing date is close, as you are entered immediately with no concern for postal delays.

What is a Premium List?

A Premium List is a booklet (or online document) for a particular club’s event. It contains details about the event itself, the judges, classes offered, awards being offered, location, entry forms, an overview of rules and regulations, the closing date for entries and the show secretary (who handles the entries).

See an example: North York Obedience Premium List 2018.

What is a correction match?

A correction match is a practice trial in which dogs and handlers perform the obedience exercises in a regular trial ring but without the pressure of formal competition. At the moment, NYOC holds an obedience correction match on the Friday night before the trial. In the future, we might also hold a rally correction match.

What is an obedience trial?

Obedience trials, and all other dog sport trials, are opportunities for you and your dog to see how far you have progressed in your training. Like most dog sports, there are different levels of difficulty so you and your dog can enjoy the sport for many years. Every dog sport that has trials has it’s own set of levels and titles. For instance, in obedience trials, the first level is referred to as Pre-Novice or PCD (Pre-Companion Dog).  To get an overview of the titles and terms used in obedience trials, see our Obedience Terms Chart.  

What is a rally obedience trial?

Rally obedience trials are less structured than obedience trials. In rally, you and your dog negotiate a course consisting of signs that instruct you to do anything from a sit and stay to weaving through pylons, or even performing a figure-eight exercise while your dog has to ignore strategically placed food bowls! You can talk to and encourage your dog throughout the course. Although the course is different each time, it must conform to standards set out by the Canadian Kennel Club.

NYOC regularly offers rally training classes.

What is NAMBR?

Up until 2014, mixed breed dogs could not compete in Canadian Kennel Club trials for Obedience, Rally and Earth Dog titles. Instead, NAMBR (North American Mixed Breed Registry) provided the mixed breed dog owner with opportunities to earn titles through NAMBR sanctioned Obedience Trials, Tracking Tests and Earth Dog Tests. Purebred dogs can also compete in NAMBR trials. In order to enter a NAMBR trial, you must register your dog with NAMBR.

The Canadian Kennel Club now allows mixed breed dogs to enter Obedience and Rally trials so both options are available to all dogs. Other dog sports such as Flyball and Agility have always welcomed purebred and mixed breeds. If you want to enter your mixed breed dogs in a CKC trial, see FAQ #3.

How can I find where and when other trials are held?

One way to find where and when other trials are held is to go to Canuck Dogs which has information on dog events across Canada. You can also look on Entry Line. You do not have to pay to search for trials, only to enter them.

Where can I get a rule book for obedience and rally obedience trials?

Rule books for all CKC trials can be purchased on-line from the order desk at CKC or by calling the order desk at 1 (800) 250-8040. The Rule book for Obedience and Rally combined costs $8.50. You can download a copy for free from the CKC website.

Rule books are very complicated to follow for beginners. The best way to learn the rules is by attending classes that focus on rally or obedience. The instructor will explain the rules you need to know and you can ask questions.

Can I bring my dog to a trial just to watch?

Unfortunately, according to CKC rules, dogs that are not entered in the trial are not allowed on the property. But you are most welcome to come and see how a trial works.