Handlers teach dogs a thing or two

These members of the Cape Handlers Dog Club won the national flyball title this year.

Dogs have a lot more tricks up their furry sleeves than people give them credit for, and the Cape Handlers Dog Club is itching to unlock their potential.

Based at Theo Marais Park in Koeberg Road, the club specialises in various training disciplines for all dog breeds.

The club started from humble beginnings in 1987 with a handful of people meeting on Sundays to train their dogs at a soccer field in Sanddrift.

From there, they moved to a sports field in Edgemead before settling at Theo Marais Park, where the council gave them money to build a club house.

Today the club has about 450 members coming from far and wide, and there is a variety of classes to choose from, according to club chairman, Angus Bradley.

Most members join the club so their dogs can undergo obedience training, which Mr Bradley called the “backbone” of the club.

Obedience training ranges from basic training, such as teaching your dog to respond to basic commands, to high-level competition within dog clubs, where additional commands, accuracy and performance are judged and scored.

“Once they’re in the club, they see how much more they can do with their dogs,” Mr Bradley said.

Other classes include agility training, where a “handler” directs a dog through obstacle courses; flyball, which sees dogs race each other over hurdles to a flyball box where they press a spring-loaded pad to release a tennis ball that must be caught and returned to their handler; and the canine good citizen, which promotes responsible dog ownership and the training of well-mannered dogs.

Recently, the club added a “mini class” for smaller breeds, such as miniature poodles and pugs, which Mr Bradley said were nervous dogs by nature. “Starting next year, the club will introduce a trick class, where dogs will be trained for movie shoots and photo shoots,” he said.

With a big passion for agility training, Mr Bradley has been a member of the club for 12 years, three of those have been spent in the chairman’s seat.

“Dog sport, like any other sport, evolves with time,” he said. At least once a year the club attends seminar training for all its trainers.

One of the club’s members, Marizelle Strydom, of Table View, was chosen to represent South Africa at the Agility World Championships held in Sweden last month.

“There’s something to do almost every day of the week at the club,” Mr Bradley said. “On a Sunday, there’s probably a hundred people here doing home obedience and competitions. We encourage people to come and check it out with their pets.”

If you would like to join the Cape Handlers Dog Club or to find out more about it, send an email toinfo@capehandlersdogclub.co.za or go to www.capehandlersdogclub.co.za