The first dog training club recognized in the United States may have been the New England Dog Training Club which held its first obedience trials in 1937. A non-profit organization dedicated to obedience training of all dog breeds, the NEDTC still offers weekly classes for obedience and competition training.
Clubs have since been established in all parts of the country and range from groups offering basic obedience training to clubs that offer specialized training for service dogs. Many clubs are associated with the American Kennel Club while others are community organizations or paid memberships that promote advanced training techniques.
Clubs for hunting dogs have been popular with hunters interested in well trained hunting dogs but also in competitions between retrievers, pointers, trackers and other breeds in the hunting group. These field trials often attract a large audience.
At the other end of the training spectrum are clubs providing companion dog training. The classes offered focus on obedience training to provide a dog that fits well into a family setting or will be a trusted companion animal.
There is no average dog training club. Some accept dogs of any breed while others are targeted to specific breed training or to dog related competitions. Unlike dog training classes, the clubs offer events allowing dogs and their owners to compete for prizes and recognition. Many not-for-profit clubs also participate in local community events such as visiting nursing homes or schools with companion dogs. Dog training clubs often cooperate with local veterinarians to promote spay/neuter programs, ID chips and vaccinations.
In recent years, the fastest growth of dog training clubs has been in the area of competitive dog sports. Agility and flyball training are popular with owners of energetic dogs. These dog sports have serious participants who spend hundreds and even thousands of dollars on training equipment and event entrance fees. Even breeders participate by combining breeds to achieve the perfect dog for flyball (fast and focused) and for agility (fast, fearless and agile).
The current favorite dog for flyball is the staffy-border, a mix of Staffordshire Terrier and Border Collie. This mixed breed is the world record holder in flyball and the speed of these dogs is amazing. The joy of flyball is not perhaps at the top of the heap of award winners but the fast-paced fun dogs and their owners have with this game. From mutts and Jack Russells to Australian Shepherds and Bull Terriers, these dogs literally have a ball playing flyball.
Agility dog training clubs are worth the membership cost for those who want to test their dog’s ability before investing in expensive agility equipment. During training, the owner can compare his dog’s ability with other dogs in the club and et advice on building his own equipment for training and practicing at home. Agility training is one of the more expensive dog hobbies requiring tunnels, several types of jumps, weave poles and ramps to provide a full training course.
For dog lovers, dog training clubs are the ideal way to spend quality time with their own pet combined with the social aspect of meeting with others who also love dogs.