In Richmond, Virginia, sixteen dog owners with their dogs are going to college to learn dog obedience instructing techniques for college credit. It all started when the J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in Richmond employed Mrs. Olive S. Point to teach a course called “Instructor Training for Dog Obedience.” This course is specifically designed to train instructors to teach dog obedience and to my knowledge is the only one of its kind.
Mrs. Point, secretary of the National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors, Inc., and secretary of the Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders, Inc., is a firm advocate of teaching dogs at an early age, because she has learned from her seven years of instructing puppy training classes that two to four month old puppies learn easily, including many facets of advanced work. She also believes that many “problem dogs” are caused by sincere but unqualified instructors who cannot recognize incipient problems and remedy them BEFORE they become troublesome. This conviction has been repeatedly borne out in the instructor training seminars Mrs. Point has been conducting for obedience clubs in the United States and other countries.
After weeks of careful review by the college, Mr. William Hudson, Director of Continuing Education, Downtown Campus, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College
helped institute a two credit hour course for “Dog Obedience Instructor Training.” The first course, which lasts ten weeks, teaches the students the fundamentals of basic dog training techniques as a foundation of experience for potential instructors. Classes meet every Thursday evening and all students bring their dog to class. The course is open to owners of pure bred and mixed breed dogs. Even those students with Companion Dog, Companion Dog Excellent and Utility Dog titles on their dogs are taking their dogs back to the basic exercises as they learn the “how ” and “why” of the elementary obedience work from an instructing point of view.
Those enrolled in the first course include two students who are currently teaching obedience training classes on a regular basis and several others serving as assistant instructors, all of whom realized that there is more required for obedience instructing than can be learned by training one’s own dog. The curriculum covers an in-depth study of dog psychology, a review of the well-known philosophies of training, and a study of all exercises required for American Kennel Club obedience titles in addition to actually training a dog in these exercises. Weekly reading assignments, research and written homework projects, as well as a final examination, are part of the program.
Second and third quarter programs continue the study of dog psychology, training techniques, and focus on methods of teaching obedience exercises including practice teaching sessions in the classroom. Students will visit various training classes to observe and evaluate teaching techniques used in actual class situations. An apprentice program in actual class instruction is part of the third quarter program. A companion college credit course in small animal care, instructed by a veterinarian, is recommended to the students. Other courses in the college curriculum such as human relations, business management, public relations and advertising, are supplements to the program to provide the instructor a background for conducting dog training classes in a professional, business-like manner.
The increase in dog training activities in the past few years has made it more difficult for the public to know where to go for qualified instruction. As one way to provide the public with information on instructors, the National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors was formed a decade ago. NADOI endorses as obedience instructors those persons who apply for membership and meet the minimum requirements established by the organization’s board of directors. NADOI also encourages its members to teach other people to become instructors, but until now, there has not been a formal program for this purpose. J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in Richmond is providing one way to quality obedience instruction by offering AGRI 176 – “Instructor Training for Dog Obedience.”
©1974 J. J. Volhard