* Photo supplied. In full flight: Hershey, an SPCA pit bull rescue owned by Donna Vesely, is pictured here running in the DTC’s Not the Um Um Agility Trial in October 2009.
* Photo supplied. In full flight: Hershey, an SPCA pit bull rescue owned by Donna Vesely, is pictured here running in the DTC’s Not the Um Um Agility Trial in October 2009.
The Dog Training Club of Bermuda (DTC) has actively encouraged dog training in the community since 1964.

As the largest dog training club on the island, our dynamic and dedicated volunteers work tirelessly throughout the year offering the community a wide range of services from demos and trials, to providing behaviour and training information to the public through seminars and classes. Our instructor base currently includes three Certified Professional Dog Trainers (CPDT-KA), an internationally recognized designation.

One of the DTC's main objectives is to provide public education on dog training, care and responsible ownership. We address this through our classes and by offering seminars featuring well-respected overseas speakers.

Our past seminars have included lectures on how to read dog body language, children and dogs, preventing bites, learning theory, and for our dog sport competitors, we have had speakers on obedience and agility training.

Our latest seminar featured canine rehabilitation therapist, Dr. Debbie Gross Saunders. Dr. Saunders held a three-day seminar (February 19-21) on canine rehabilitation: stretching and strengthening.

The seminar began with a lecture on injury recognition, prevention and rehabilitation in dogs. The full day workshop taught participants stretching and strengthening exercises and introduced the 'On the Ball' programme for conditioning the canine competitor and rehabilitating dogs with injuries.

Dr. Saunders presented a special session for our volunteers and sponsors. This lecture was designed to walk participants through Dr. Saunders' evaluation procedure, providing our instructors with suggestions to help students and exercises to introduce to our classes.

DTC members work diligently throughout the year offering obedience and agility classes. Our aim is to not only help people train their dogs but also to give them an understanding of how learning occurs and the benefits of a reward based approach.

Dog training based on humane practices approached from a reward-based methodology teaches people observational skills, timing and patience. It is an extremely valuable tool in the community, teaching students skills that can be used in their dealings with other people. This form of training also allows people, especially children, who may lack confidence in communicating with others, the opportunity to practice communication skills with an impartial partner in a positive, upbeat environment.

The DTC volunteers further strive to improve the relationship between owners and their dogs by helping students learn to effectively communicate with their dog by understanding their dog's body language. This approach is key in avoiding and dealing with behavioural issues and ensuring that the feelings of all members of a family, human and canine alike, are respected.

With the knowledge gained from training classes, many DTC students and instructors reach out to the community further through therapy work (visiting seniors' homes and Agape house) and school programmes.

The DTC provides regular public dog obedience and agility demonstrations at the SPCA Expo and the Bermuda Annual Exhibition. We hope to have our participation in the Exhibition become a regular event with dog agility teams competing for cash prizes, which are donated to the fastest team's charity. Last year our members and participants raised $1,900 in prize money.

The DTC also holds licensed International Obedience and Agility trials twice a year where the abilities of both dog and handler are assessed by overseas judges. With this foundation, several of our members have successfully competed overseas. W

e were extremely happy to welcome five of our students from our Somersfield Academy after school programme to our Junior Competition in our October 2009 Obedience Trials. All five students received their Novice Obedience titles and hope to compete again.

The DTC is always open to new volunteers who wish to learn more about training dogs and people.

If any individual would like further information, or if any organization is interested in investigating the possibility of including dogs in their education programmes, please contact us at info@dogtrainingclubbda.org.