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Harry the Xmas (& Beyond) Dog

As a volunteer instructor at a local dog club, I’m often asked for advice on choosing a dog. A common misconception among prospective dog owners is that the main concern is matching a dog to your living area.

Jet joined our family on the 8th March 2014. It had been two-and-half years since we'd lost our dear old Lab, Harry, and Jet was just on two-and-half years old at the time. It seemed a good omen.

Walking to the local coffee shop one morning, my dog, Harry, alongside me on-leash, I overheard a passer-by compliment, "Look at that well-trained dog." "Nah," retorted another. "You should see the two big dogs outside the coffee shop. They walk off leash."

The response from friends and family when told my wife and I were expecting our first child was, "Harry's nose will be put out of joint!" I was determined our 3-year-old Labrador's nose would not be put out by, nor would he be shooed outside, away from the new baby in the pack.

My local dog club runs a season-ending Fun Day with events designed to be fun and to test the bond between members and their dogs. Our most popular events include fancy dress, an agility-type slalom, a saveloy race (relay, not eating!), the waggliest tail and an event we call the "Ned Kelly".

Last year I gave a talk to the children at my son’s childcare centre about dogs, titled Can I Pat That Dog. I divided the talk into three parts: 1) How to approach a dog; 2) How to look after a dog; 3) Dog training and tricks.

In addition to basic obedience commands, I like to demonstrate the power of play in my dog training classes. I don’t let the dogs run around and chase each other in mad circles. Instead, I demonstrate with my dog, Harry, how to motivate and reward your dog by playing one-on-one with it.

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