Yellowknife pups had a “pawsome” time showing off their agility skills at a fun competition held by the Rruff Diamonds Dog Agility Club on Monday evening.
Dogs were running through tunnels, jumping over hurdles, and climbing over teeter-totters, while their owners shouted directions and encouragement to guide them through the course.
During the competition, human-dog duos had to navigate an obstacle course while the handler shouted cues to direct their dog.
Gay Kennedy, a dog coach for almost 20 years, says the fun event has been running for the last 10 years. Dogs of all sizes and skill sets compete.
“You’ll see some of the dogs make mistakes, but it’s the first time they’re trying,” she said.
For the first time in the club’s history, an official competition could not happen this year as Covid-19 travel restrictions prevent a qualified judge travelling to the NWT to score the event.
Without a judge, dogs cannot earn official titles to be placed in different skill classes.
The club decided to still hold the fun event so handlers and their dogs could show off skills they have been working on.
Kennedy says the connection between handler and dog is important as they rely on eye contact and limited verbal commands.
“It really depends a lot on the relationship you have with your dog,” she said.
“It’s about training, it’s about having the dog learn to understand the game. It’s about you showing which obstacle and them doing the obstacle.”
Chocolate lab Reo awaits a treat from her handler Corinne Dziuba after successfully completing an obstacle. Meaghan Brackenbury/Cabin Radio
Corinne Dziuba, a coach of two dogs who participate, said she loves being a handler because she and her pets become a team.
“You get some foundations going with your dog, teaching them how to do the jumps and tunnels and things. And you learn the handling moves as a handler, but you start meshing as a team,” she said.
“I find it very challenging and rewarding.”
Keeping a positive environment with lots of compliments and dogs treats is important in order to reward the dogs for their efforts, Dziuba added.
“The dogs have fun. So, even though it may seem like working and we’re giving our dogs orders, it’s a real fun event.”
Meaghan Brackenbury contributed reporting.