Learn how to be a good dog owner

Fleet-footed hounds will chase white “bunnies” through a Beaver County park. Agile dogs of many breeds will jump hurdles and scoot through tunnels while others will do tricks. Some will demonstrate their ability to obey commands.

Other dogs and their owners can watch and learn from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. next Saturday at Shelter 6 in Brady’s Run Park, 121 Bradys Run Road, Fallston (15010). The AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Day, a free event, is hosted by the Beaver County Kennel Club.

Dogs on leashes are invited to attend and try out the canine activities. The goal of the day “is to educate first-time dog owners about the responsibilities of dog ownership and help current owners enhance their relationship with their pets,” said Maurene Baum, the kennel club’s secretary.

From 1-3 p.m. dogs nails will be trimmed for $10, rabies shots are $12 (bring tags or paperwork from prior vaccinations) and microchips are $16. 

Club members will offer grooming and other demonstrations; learn how to clip or grind your dog’s nails, clean ears, brush teeth, and comb and brush coats.

Owners can see if their dogs have what it takes to earn a Canine Good Citizen title from the American Kennel Club. An evaluator will give the title to dogs that get a passing grade. The fee for practice runs is $5, and the test costs $10.  

Instead of live rabbits, sight hounds will be chasing white garbage bags in a sport known as lure coursing. Meredith Wille of Economy and her Pharaoh hounds, Roseanna and Kattan, will do demonstrations at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Ping Pirrung of Butler will bring a whippet or two. 

Lure coursing is a competitive sport for greyhounds and other breeds that hunt prey using their eyes rather than their noses. Pharaoh hounds, one of the oldest dog breeds, were bred to hunt rabbits in the mountains of Malta over very rough terrain, Ms. Wille said. 

At lure coursing events, sight hounds chase plastic bags that are pulled quickly over a circular course, generally 700-900 yards long. The dogs are judged for their enthusiasm, speed, endurance, agility and ability to “follow” the fake bunny, Ms. Wille said.

Other dogs can try lure coursing at the event, although owners should be advised that the course is not fenced.

An agility course will be set up, and trainers will help first-time canines jump hurdles, scoot through a tunnel and traverse other obstacles. Most dogs thoroughly enjoy agility courses.

Breeders, owners and handlers will also be available to educate people about various breeds. They’ll discuss the strengths and drawbacks of their own breeds, and can help people find a dog that will fit their family’s lifestyle. 

For children, there will be balloon animals, a dog-owner look-alike contest, a dog tricks contest, a puppy-themed craft project and a dog-themed cookie cutter with dog treat recipe for $2.

The Canine Good Citizen demonstrator and evaluator is Laura Canali of Chippewa, who will have her golden retrievers Sedona, 7, and Willow, 6. While her dogs compete successfully in obedience and are therapy dogs, the CGC title requirements “are all basic things that all dogs should do to be good pets,” Ms. Canali said. 

The title is a prerequisite for some therapy dog certifications, and it may help owners convince landlords to rent apartments to them and their dogs.

Here are the 10 requirements for a Canine Good Citizen: allow a friendly stranger to approach; sit politely to be petted by a friendly stranger; allow the evaluator to check its ears and feet; walk on a loose leash; walk politely through a group of people; sit and lie down on command and stay on command; behave politely around other dogs; should not react strongly to a distraction such as a loud noise made by a dropped object; should not bark, whine or pace when the owner is out of sight of the dog for three minutes.

The park is about 2 miles north of Beaver. The Brady’s Run Road Bridge is closed for replacement. Go to beavercountykennelclub.org/responsible.pdf for more information and detour directions.

Linda Wilson Fuoco: lfuoco@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3064 or on Facebook.