Denise McKay has more than one way to train a dog.
Commands like sit, come and fetch might be the standard for many dogs and owners but McKay’s two Dobermans, Jagged and Viper, know words like weave, touch, push, tunnel, over and switch thanks to their trainer.
McKay has been involved with dogs her entire life. Known for her dog agility and obedience training, she and six year old female Doberman Jagged have been competing on the American Kennel Association in the United States. Jagged won Jumpers With Weaves Qualify (JWW Q), which means she had a perfect run on September 14. Courses have tunnels, jumps and poles the dog must weave through. There are three levels of competition- excellent, open, novice.
She developed a passion for Dobermans from the first moment she saw one, recognizing their grace, beauty and intelligent demeanor. McKay has been sharing her life with Dobies for 32 years. As a teen she put a Canadian Championship on her first Dobie, Sydney before he was one-year-old.
She continued on with several more Dobies over the years, focusing on obedience training and competitions.
McKay discovered the dog sport of agility over 10 years ago and in 2006, Rally-Obedience. She has since put many agility and rally titles on her dogs and currently has the two top dogs in American Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) Rally in Canada. Dobermans Viper and Jagged.
With 35 years in training dogs, McKay offers training for competition and what she calls “pet dog obedience”. In obedience training she will work on manners using positive training methods but does not work with aggressive dogs that bite.
“I work with many different breeds in training,” said McKay. It might take the average breed more than 500 repetitions to learn to weave but some breeds, like Doberman’s can learn in 250 repetitions.
“Agility training can be tougher for larger dogs but I have one big dog in training who has done wonderfully. There are always surprises.”
McKay prefers dogs going into agility have no prior training but they do need to have a solid recall (come when called). McKay’s focus in training is always safety for the dog as well.
“In competition, the dogs can leap over the other side of the ramp but you will hear me say touch as the dog comes over the top. They are so ramped to run they could hurt themselves coming over the other side. The rules of the course require the dog to hit or touch the yellow area of the ramp on the downhill. This is about control and safety to reduce the risk of injury for the dog.
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