Serbu dogs have jobs.
Conformation represents the time-honored tradition of showing dogs that are identified as closely matching the breed standard in an attempt to gain points contributing toward championship identification. Handlers work with their dogs to perform appropriately in the ring in such a fashion so that a judge can assess his or her physical attributes at a stand, moving, and by touch. A dog earning a championship has the recognition by the sanctioning organization of representing his or her breed. For a breeder, the decision to show a dog is based upon the attributes he or she is born with and a certain amount of showmanship will be necessary. The dog must be cooperative in the ring by not misbehaving, not displaying aggressive behavior, and not being fearful or shy. Not all show prospects will be shown either. From time to time, a show quality animal will be placed in a non-show home at the discretion of a breeder.
Showing requires a commitment by the owner to either educate him or herself not only about showing procedures and expectations but handling techniques and anatomy of the selected breed. A monetary commitment is also necessary whether the owner handles the dog or pays a professional handler. Expenses mount through travel, lodging, meals, parking, grooming, and entry fees. Showing a dog and succeeding in the conformation environment does not earn the owner money. Conformation is a choice an owner/handler makes as a commitment to improve the breed through the identification of suitable breed animals. Conformation equates to true breed dedication.
The most recognizable title in conformation in the United States is the American Kennel Club (AKC). International (IABCA) titles are often heard of but more easily accessible, sometimes called a “weekend title” because one can be earned in a weekend.
In a nutshell, agility is an obstacle course for your dog, in reality it is much more than that. A few descriptors come to mind when considering agility dogs- High drive; Energy; Human bond; Cooperative partner. All of these things are applicable to the agility dog. An agility course can include jumps, weave poles, tunnels, a tire, a teeter-totter, a dog walk, and a-frame, and a ton of fun. It is a synchronized, fast-paced dance between human and dog to the tune of onlooker claps, dogs barking, and a path of brightly colored, numbered cones. A clean run is a bonus but having fun with your dog is the goal.
Games vary between venues from jumpers to tunnelers, gamblers to steeplechase. Agility organization events frequently held in the area include the North American Dog Agility Council (NADAC), Canine Performance Events (CPE), United States Dog Agility Association (USDAA), American Kennel Club (AKC), and more recently, United Kingdom Agility International (UKI).
Flyball is a fast paced team sport. A race is run with four dogs, racing side-by-side over a 51-foot long course, hitting a spring loaded tennis ball box, then returning over the four jumps and passing nose-to-nose with the next dog on the team. For more information check out United Flyball League International (U-Fli) and North America Flyball Asst (NAFA)
For those of us who love dogs, we know their therapeutic capabilities. Have you ever had a really bad day that resulted in a tearful breakdown? If you have you’ve probably felt the warm tongue of your dog wiping away your tears; experienced his or her presence sitting beside you; felt his head on your lap; been comforted knowing you were not alone. Therapy work with animals is varied and flexible to the individual pet’s strengths. Some have the temperament and personality that allows them to provide comfort and a moment of joy while in the hospital or care center. Others have been known to spend leisure time with children during story time at local libraries. And some act as a companion for their owner who may be struggling with depression, anxiety, or other conditions.
Many organizations exist to support therapy pet purposes. Some are regional and, unlike the performance sports designed for a handler and dog, private organizations can choose to develop a therapy pet program to help pet owners help others experience such benefits. Here are a few resources: Canine Therapy Corps, Delta Society, and Therapy Dog International (TDI).
Competitive obedience is related to everyday obedience. No matter the size of the dog, from tiny to giant, a caring owner teaches and applies basic obedience skills on a regular basis. Doing so helps to establish pack order, respect for the owner/handler by the dog, and contributes toward a positive image within society.
One could say competitive obedience puts your at home sit-down-stay repertoire on steroids. Competitive obedience proves to be physically challenging to a dog as well as mentally. This activity involves precision heeling – no lagging or forging allowed – directed retrieving, scent discrimination, directed jumping, prolonged and unsupervised stays, and hand signals from a distance. Competition is fierce and the environment challenges even dogs who have been well proofed. Noises, sounds, other dogs, and spectators abound, all lending that extra edge to the competition and requiring the dog and handler to be more in tune with each other and their skills than anything else.
Rally obedience is a modified form of competitive obedience. A solid heel is integral as is a willing attitude and special partnership. At a rally trial the close relationship between you and your dog will allow you to maneuver a numbered course winding your way through obedience activities that require focus, precision, and discipline. Unlike traditional obedience though, your verbal communication with your dog is encouraged and desired. Talk your way through it. Show off that bond with your dog and his or her response to you.
The most common organization offering rally to competitors is the American Kennel Club (AKC) and some areas may offer it through the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT). Beginning handlers work with their dog on leash to earn their Rally Novice (RN) title and subsequent titles are earned off leash for increasingly difficult exercises. However, it is still a partnership exercise and can be a lot of fun to share this experience with your dog.
Tracking is search and rescue turned fun. A tracking test allows the dog to test his or her natural ability to pick up and follow a scent. Varying distances, changes in direction, time since the scent was laid, and other factors affect the dog’s success rate but in any situation, the dog should be enjoying doing something he or she was built to do. Tracking is still a team sport where you can work with your dog to encourage him as he follows the scent. But ultimately, the nose knows. For more information check out AKC.org