Paws 'N Pals-a Model 4-H Program

I've spent to past several years indoctrinating my sister on the merits of reward based training.  Her family has raised a lovely Newfoundland using a very positive approach.  Although they have been quite frustrated that more positive group classes weren’t being offered in their area (in Western Maryland) and that her children could not get involved in dog sports with their dog.  4-H is very popular in her area and she was very surprised to learn that the national 4-H program lists a choke chain as the first piece of equipment needed to train a dog.  

So, she started a 4-H specialty club called Paws 'N Pals to offer a variety of activities for kids (and their parents) who love dogs and want to learn family friendly training. She found a reward based trainer that lived close enough to drive into their town to teach basic training classes for the club and they were off and running.

Soon, they had a website, started fundraisers, formed committees to raise money and food for the local shelter and had more members that could fit in the monthly meeting room.  They competed in the county fair, developed ecommerce and online marketing, and practiced their dog knowledge through a Jeopardy like competition called the Dog Quiz Bowl.

Upon invitation, I recently had the pleasure of teaching a Rally-O workshop and a Tellington TTouch demo to the club members.  Most have already taken a basic class and I could not have been more impressed with each child’s handling skills and communication with their dog.  They loved Rally and hope to have future classes.  

Paws ‘N Pals is truly a model 4-H program for every community to get children involved with their dogs.  The one need is reward based trainers willing to dedicate their time.  What a fantastic way to reach kids at such impressionable ages on the importance of humane training and care for dogs.  

My sister’s next project is getting the national 4-H office to overhaul their teaching methods to reward based training.  I think we should all lend a hand.

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