Doggone it, there’s a new sport to try

Dogs in Worksop could find themselves being brought to heel by a new sport from America.

Ralli-O has been introduced to the area by Dean Johnson, of Retford Road, Blyth.

She runs the Start-Rite Canine Centre at Elkesley which has featured on TV’s Pet Rescue and Who Let the Dogs Out.

She said: “The dogs enjoy it, and some of the owners enjoy it even more than the dogs, they ask every week if they can have the equipment out.”

“There are various courses which you can build up, starting with 15 parts and going up to 36.”

“At each stage there are instructions for the dog owner to follow, such as halt, sit, walk around.”

“There are three classes to complete.”

Ralli-O has now been adopted by the Kennel Club and will be seen at Crufts for the first time this year.

Dean said that it is competitive and the winner is the one who completes the course in the shortest time.

Dog owners travel to Start-Rite from as far afield as York and Dean says she can usually sort out problem dogs within ten minutes.

Her parents Mary and Bert Meads opened the centre in 1951 and then Dean and her late husband Dennis took it over.

“I come from a family with five generations of vets, and one of my uncles was vet to the Earl of Scarbrough,” said Dean.

“I know a lot of the old methods of dog training. You can encourage dogs to do things. You don’t get bad dogs, just bad owners.”

“I always take the first lesson with any dog. Problems do n’t go away, they just get worse if they aren’t sorted out.”

As well as running dog obedience, agility and flyball courses, the centre is also a tutorial college, teaching people who want to become dog trainers themselves.

They work towards the British Institute of Professional Dog Trainers exam.

Start-Rite runs the Kennel Club Good Citizen training scheme and club members will be demontrating it at this year’s Crufts.

Dean owns one dog of her own at the moment, a Border Collie called Chez, who is nearly two.

She said: “He’s a good dog, he listens and wants to learn.”

“I do a bit of training with him most days. It’s best to keep the training sessions short so that the dogs don’t get too tired and lose interest.”

“You can’t force them to do something, you have to encourage them.”

Chez has already learnt the trick of ‘dancing’ round Dean’s legs, and is also able to pick out a particular colour hoop from a choice of three.

Dean also offers a behavioural clinic at Start-Rite, as well as tests for puppies to help people choose the right temperament of dog to suit their requirements.

Classes include heel work to music, puppy training and socialisation, and also one-to-one training.

For more information about classes call Dean on 01909 591442 .