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Conyers Kennel Club offers obedience, handling sessions to dog owners

Conyers Kennel Club member Linda Jackson demonstrates "moving" her Afghan hound, Thaon's Ziva, at the Pavillion in Olde Town Conyers, where the Kennel Club will offer handling and obedience classes open to the general public starting April 3. The Conyers Kennel Club will also sponsor a AKC sanctioned match at the Earl O'Neal Sport Complex in Conyers on April 21.

Conyers Kennel Club member Linda Jackson demonstrates "moving" her Afghan hound, Thaon's Ziva, at the Pavillion in Olde Town Conyers, where the Kennel Club will offer handling and obedience classes open to the general public starting April 3. The Conyers Kennel Club will also sponsor a AKC sanctioned match at the Earl O'Neal Sport Complex in Conyers on April 21.

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Linda Jackson demonstrates the technique of "stacking" a dog, which involves holding a dog in place while a judge examines it.

When teaching your dog basic commands, it's important to remember what Gaylord Cleveland calls the three P's -- patience, persistence and praise.

A Conyers Kennel Club member, Cleveland shows cane corsos, Italian mastiffs originally bred as farm dogs, and one of his dogs is the only one of its breed to hold one of the highest American Kennel Club titles -- the Utility Dog title.

Cleveland will be one of several Conyers Kennel Club members presenting two upcoming dog training classes: One a handling class for those wishing to show their dogs in the ring, and the other a basic obedience class designed for all breeds.

Classes run each Tuesday from April 3 to May 8, with the handling class starting at 7 p.m. and the obedience class running from 8:30 to 9 p.m. The cost for each class is $5. Classes will have between 10 and 15 participants, and each will be split into smaller groups. The classes will be held at the Olde Town Pavilion on Main Street in Conyers.

A Covington resident and dog trainer for eight years, Cleveland said he'll cover the basics in his class, such how to teach the dog to obey sit, down and stay.

He also wants people to learn how to read signals a dog might be giving through its behavior. He'll discuss techniques people can use to know when dogs want to go outside, how to prevent their dogs from dominating them and how they can use positive reinforcement to control their dogs.

At the end of the course, dog owners and their pets may take a test to earn the AKC Canine Good Citizen Award.

"I look at it as a service to the community for the dog owners," Cleveland said. "A lot of problems that people have with their dogs is because they just don't understand what to do."

Those who own a purebred dog and would like to compete in confirmation show ring events may take a handling class taught by Linda Jackson, a member of the Conyers Kennel Club for 16 years.

She instructs participants, including junior handlers who are teens, the skill of "stacking," which is positioning the dog for the judge to examine, and "moving" which involves the leading of the dog by the handler around the ring in different patterns. The classes also help socialize the dogs.

"What we try to teach is patience. We try to teach unity between the dog and handler," said Jackson, who added that 30 of the dogs that have been through her class have gone on to become champions.

"We try to teach the correct way to handle the dog in class as to how the dog would be presented to the judge, what the judge is looking for."

The Conyers Kennel Club has 45 members and serves residents in Rockdale, Newton and Henry counties. Participants may take as few or as many classes as they choose. To learn more, visit www.conyerskennelclub.org.