4-H dog club will help you understand dogs

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By Cathy Toole

Joining a 4-H dog club is one of the first steps young dog enthusiasts can take to pursue a greater understanding of their best friend. 4-H dog clubs teach children different disciplines, such as selecting a dog; investigating breeds; appreciating dogs’ places and roles in society; practicing grooming, fitting, showing and training; caring for dogs; and exploring dog-related careers and activities. Youth also practice the life skills of communication, responsibility, planning and organizing, decision making, leadership and more.  

The Kentucky 4-H Dog Program has two state level events that all children are invited to participate in. One is the State 4-H Dog Show, Aug. 13-14, in Louisville at the Kentucky Fair & Exposition Center. Registration is through your extension office with other state fair events. The other opportunity is the 4-H Canine Camp.

This year’s canine event will be held May 20-22, at the Feltner 4-H Camp in London.

4-H dog camp offers beginner to advanced dog handling and training techniques, and it is a good way to prepare for the annual 4-H dog show in August. Focusing on training basics now, before heading off to the state dog show, will give you and your dog plenty of time to prepare.
Training your dog gets much easier as the days get longer and warmer. But as you go outside with your dog, you need to know how to safely handle interactions with other dogs since you’ll be coming into contact with unknown dogs. A large part of dog training starts with understanding what a dog’s body language says. As you and your dog encounter other dogs, look at what they are saying.

Here are some tips from the American Kennel Club on understanding canine body language:

A relaxed dog’s tail will be down or wagging back and forth. Its mouth will be relaxed; sometimes this is described as smiling. Its ears will be relaxed, neither back nor forward, and its hair will be smooth and flat.

A threatening dog may growl or snarl, with its nose wrinkled to reveal its teeth. The dog may appear tense, and its fur may stand up, creating a ridge on its back. Its ears may be pinned back.

Only approach a strange dog with an adult present.

Understanding a dog’s body language will help you recognize what the dog is saying to you so you can avoid it if necessary. Being familiar with this canine language can keep you and your dog safe when encountering an unknown or threatening dog.

The next meeting of the Henry County 4-H Dog Club is March 14th, at 6:30 p.m., at the Henry County Cooperative Extension Service office.
4-H Notes
March 23 — Speeches, Demonstrations and Variety Show competition at the Henry County Cooperative Extension Service at 6:30 p.m.  Please call to register at 845-2811.
June 7-10 — 4-H Camp is filling up quickly so please get your forms in as soon as possible to ensure your space at camp.

Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin.