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Posted on Mon, Jul 25, 2011 : 5:04 a.m.

July is Dog Training Month: What will you challenge your pooch to do this month?

By Julia Levitt

Levitt-July-2011-Agility training

This is what agility training looks like.

Don Levitt

Hi and welcome to July!


A fun fact — did you know that July is dog training month? Based on that happy news, let’s use July as a checklist for you and your canine companion.

Do you take your dog out for regular walks? Twice a day?

Do you take your dog to training classes specific to its breed — finding a person who has sheep for the herding breeds and agility for high-energy dogs? Both of these activities channel the breed's natural instincts for herding. These activities also keep the dog focused-attentive to its handler.

The person who has a poodle might say, "They don’t need activities."


Did you know that I have seen poodles work in obedience training in the highest level of obedience? I have also seen a poodle work in obedience with its handler being in a wheel chair. These dogs are believed to come from retrieving backgrounds. They are smart and versatile.

Swimming anyone? Most dogs can swim. And it's not just the Labrador; I know of Labradors that are afraid of water and pit bulls that love to swim. A dog, like a human, can be taught to swim in a calm and gentle way.

Portuguese Water Dogs have tests for swimming. According to the American Kennel Club, the highest level of a training test is jumping off a boat and retrieving a net.

After all, these dogs were bred in Portugal to work. Their job is to help fishermen send messages between boats and, of course, retrieve fishing nets from the water. They were often “paid” with a ration of fish!

But let’s not forget the terriers. Terrier comes from the word Terra or earth. Yes there are earth dog trials where they pursue what they do best — "go to ground"! You don’t need me to tell you how they love to dig!

Did I mention the sled dogs? Malamutes, Siberian Huskies; all you have to do is watch the Iditarod and you know these dogs love to work.

My point is, all dogs were bred to do something, and it's important to understand a dog's breed — even if it is like my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, who prefers to sit on a lap.

A happy dog is one that is challenged. A well-exercised dog who is properly challenged is a pleasure to live with. A dog of any breed loves to work — just ask him!

Julia Levitt isa regular pets contributor for and the founder of In Harmony Dog Training ( in Ann Arbor. She can be reached at or at 734-645-4707.


K Thompson

Mon, Jul 25, 2011 : 4:11 p.m.

The article does not mention agility training. Where is the training center shown in the picture?

Julia Levitt

Mon, Jul 25, 2011 : 5:25 p.m.

Hi - This class is held by Deb Harrison. Her site is Wonderful classes and loads of fun-thank you -julia