Kristine O’Brien, the owner/operator at Paws Republic Dog and Cat Boarding, Training and Grooming Centre in Martensville, is excited to announce their newest opportunity for dogs and their owners – GRC Dogsports. After attending a seminar in Regina that featured Jay Jack, a dog trainer that O’Brien follows, the benefits of the program became apparent and she immediately knew that this was something she wanted to become involved with. Wasting no time at all, GRC Republic was created and is currently the first sanctioned club of its kind in Canada.
The purpose of GRC Dogsports is to provide people with the motivation to participate in something that is not only beneficial to them, but can also provide a place where your dog can receive the training that it thrives for, can expel energy and can also help to build on the relationship between dog and owner. “GRC provides three areas that are so vital when it comes to dogs. Gameness is their drive and willingness to work and play. It is their passion to go until the job is done and embrace their drive and passion for the activity. Relationship is building that bond between you and your dog. Control is creating a dog that is balanced and helps to teach your dog to have an off switch,” O’Brien explained. By using positive reinforcement through every part of the training process, it creates a program that is focused on motivation, encouragement and working together to find what makes your dog tick.
Sports offered through GRC include treadmill, weight pull, wall climb and spring pole. Although the sport was originally created with Pitbull’s in mind, any dog of any size can take part. The purpose of this sport was not only to include the benefits of drive sports, but to create a community of people working towards the same thing; to have a more balanced dog.
O’Brien noted that since they are the first of their kind in the country, they are learning as they go and invite those interested to join the club and take part in the ride of being something new to the dog training world. The club will be meeting on alternate Mondays and Wednesdays and will offer a chance to learn, practice and to be a part of a community of likeminded dog people.
One of the first goals for interested members is to work towards passing the social responsibility test that is required as a prerequisite for the drive sports. Paws Republic will be offering prep courses and the club members meeting will provide support for one another as well. This class will involve a variety of training activities to help ensure that you have a socially responsible dog. “Our belief is that in a perfect world, a dog would be able to be at liberty; however, you still need to have a dog that can be comfortable under orders. You cannot predict for every scenario in life and I often joke that an alpaca could walk into the room and you have never been able to practice that with your dog, so you can’t expect them to know what to do. Part of the social responsibility is not only to continue to train, but also have orders for your dog as required. It is a team thing that you do together so when you go out with your dog, you are not only protecting them from others, but also protecting others from your dog as well,” O’Brien said. The class will include basic commands, middle position, recall, healthy greeting practices, hold and more. Those participating in GRC Republic are required to pay a $25 annual fee to the GRC Dogsports membership and local clubs will also likely have a small fee that will be used for equipment, space and gear to support the program. Members will then be able to attend all meetings and participate in an annual competition as well; however they are not required to compete. “Dogs and their owners can benefit from the program without having to compete and can benefit from the teachings of proper leash handling, proper control and basically just ensuring that your dog is not a menace to society,” O’Brien laughed. In addition to dogs and owners benefiting from GRC, it can also be used for rehabilitation purposes for foster dogs and shelter dogs.
Stephanie Anderson, who has been working with O’Brien on the club, was immediately intrigued by the idea as she has a Pitbull that she stated is a good candidate for the new sport. “I think the reason it is appealing to a lot of people, especially for me, is that it encourages me to do stuff with my dog even though he is not excellent at being around other dogs. That would have normally held me back when it comes to joining a dog sport, but having the aspect of control and social responsibility beforehand made it appealing. It is something that we can both do together and it makes me feel good because I am enriching his life.” Since learning about GRC, Anderson has been learning more about fulfilling the biological role that dogs have. “Energy can often be misplaced in dogs, so it is awesome to have something here to help provide an outlet for high drive dogs and also have that support within a community of like-minded individuals.”
For more information, you can follow ‘GRC Republic’ on Facebook where they will have all meetings and class schedules listed, along with information and videos about the sport.