For anyone who has met Romeo – or any other adolescent Vizsla – you know there is a LOT of energy there that needs to be channeled to appropriate outlets. That, along with the fact that I want a very well-behaved, well-trained dog, means Romeo and I spend a lot of time training together (September 2010). For some people, dog training is just another chore to do along with cleaning the house, doing the laundry, mowing the lawn, etc. But for Romeo and I, it's a fun time to spend perfecting the things we've been working on, learning new things, and bonding with each other. Romeo loves to work, and he's a quick study.

Romeo's real obstacle to learning more is me. When you have a smart dog with lots of energy, the things he can learn are endless. The only real limit is how quickly I can teach him things and keep him focused. There are so many things I want to teach him, but I have to decide what my priorities are and what I want to teach him next. One of the things we are working on now is Rally Obedience. For those who are unfamiliar with it, it's the “friendlier” version of Obedience. Traditional obedience is based on your dog responding with speed and precision with only one cue from the handler and very little interaction with your dog. To me, it never held much interest because it always looked so unnatural. That's not how I interact with my dogs. But Rally, instead, places the emphasis on having FUN with your dog while you work on that precision and speed. You can talk to your dog and interact in a much more natural way. That appeals to me, whether I decide to compete in trials or just use Rally exercises to perfect Romeo's heel work. Most of the exercises are heeling exercises.

While heeling exercises might sound boring, it really can be a lot of fun! My friend and fellow trainer, Barb, came over to work with Romeo and me on our Rally exercises. It was a great chance for Romeo and I to practice with the help of someone watching and giving me some feedback about what we were doing well, what we needed to improve on, and ideas for other ways to approach new exercises we were just getting started on.

If you're looking for another way to bond and work with your dog and have some FUN doing it, consider taking a Rally Class. I'm excited to be teaching Rally Classes and helping others find the FUN side of training!

You can find out more about APDT or AKC Rally here: