Golf is also becoming increasingly popular among dog lovers. And what could be nicer than sharing your hobby with your four-legged friend in the great outdoors? In order to be fit as a golf partner, however, he must be able to do more than just “sit” and “place”. Dog trainer Uwe Friedrich explains.
Dog trainer Uwe Friedrich offers training to become a “golf service dog”. “Actually, that should be the perfect symbiosis,” thought Uwe Friedrich secretly when two new clients told him that they had given up their hobby of playing golf with a heavy heart. The reason was not health problems, but because they had gotten a dog.
Golf service dog training
“It didn’t make sense to me why you have to give up golfing if you got a dog. Because when you play golf you’re outside, you’re exercising, and the dog can be there,” the dog trainer recalls. A short time later, Uwe Friedrich met the manager of the Hammetweil Golf Club, Frank-Hagen Spanka.
The subject of a “golf service dog” soon came up, and a common training concept was eagerly discussed. With the result the dog expert first started playing golf. “I don’t want to offer anything in my dog school where I can’t stand behind it myself and overlook the problems that can come up to a dog owner,” he explains his approach.
In the meantime, Uwe Friedrichs not only has several years of golf practice, he has also made countless dogs fit for the golf course. Because it is precisely the inadequate training and lack of discipline of many dogs that are to blame for the fact that four-legged friends still do not have access to many golf courses. The now enthusiastic golfer hopes to change this in the long term by setting a good example for himself and his students.
Training concept for golf service dogs
In order not to disturb golf operations, the first training lessons always take place on the grounds of the dog school. The offer ranges from day and weekend seminars in groups to individual training. Only when the elementary things are in place is the obedience training on the pitch refined.
As dogs always have to be on a leash on golf courses, they are of course not allowed to pull on the leash if the owner wants a relaxed round. In addition, the sporty companion should not hunt golf balls, rabbits, deer or wild birds and should not show any aggressiveness towards people or fellow dogs. He must always remain close to his human and wait patiently in the place assigned to him while master or mistress executes the next blow.
And although humans and dogs march through nature for hours, dog poop is also a stumbling block on golf courses. That’s why the well-behaved sports buddy learns to do his business on a command – which of course is carefully disposed of by the owner with the plastic bags he has brought with him. An exercise that is also beneficial in the city or when traveling, where sometimes little green space is available.
Important commands for golf service dogs
So that the four-legged friend does not get too excited when the owner is happy about a successful shot, the golf companion dog learns to only react to clear announcement and release signals. If the release signal does not come, the owner can do somersaults and still remain unmoved. If the signal is given, he can of course rejoice with his human. “If I have correctly conveyed to the dog during training when I am satisfied with him and when I am dissatisfied, and if he knows exactly when he is being spoken to, he will not relate it to himself if the owner is annoyed by a devious ball.” , explains the former police dog handler in Stuttgart.
Fun for the dog while golfing
Despite all these ifs and shoulds, the needs of the dog are of course not neglected. “If you teach him that waiting is worthwhile, he can even enjoy it,” says Uwe Friedrich. “We start the training with short sequences and build in a retrieval game after each exercise, later after every second and then alternately after the second and eighth hole until the dog can go 18 holes. We prefer to work with a food dummy or like in rescue dog work with a small piece of fabric as a bringsel and clicker.”
Since the dog owner initially has to concentrate primarily on the dog during training, the quality of the golf game will of course initially suffer as a result. With increasing practice, however, man and dog will soon understand each other without words and enjoy the time together. “The whole thing also has a pleasant side effect,” says Uwe Friedrich. “The golf companion dog that has learned to accompany its owner over 18 holes on the fairway, rough and green when pitching, putting or chipping will also be a reliable partner in everyday life.”