The Vallejo Dog Training Club has been of service to dogs and their owners since October 12, 1949. In addition to our ongoing dog training classes, the club hosts annual dog training competitions and workshops, and our members participate in many other fun canine events. The club held its first AKC-sanctioned Obedience Trial on June 18,1950, at Corbus Field at Vallejo High. The 1951 Obedience Trial was held at the Solano County Fairgrounds, and all subsequent trials have been held at this location. VDTC is an AKC affiliate club and a member of the AOCNC - Associated Obedience Clubs of Northern California.
We are a non-profit organization with community services being a high priority and are proud to maintain two memorial scholarships at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California - Davis. The Beckye Austin Scholarship is given annually for a deserving student, in the area of small animal medicine, who resides in Solano or Napa counties, and the Neva Corboff Memorial Scholarship is given annually to a deserving student who is from the State of California.
Happy 65th Birthday
Vallejo Dog Training Club
Some of the other local projects we have been involved with include:
- Holding supply drives for the Benicia Vallejo Humane Society.
- Donation drive for Solano County Animal Control.
- Donations to BVHS Microchip and Spay/ Neuter Clinic.
- Donating agility equipment for the Vallejo PD Canine Unit.
- Purchasing animal respiratory masks for the Vallejo Fire Dept.
- Providing CGC certification testing for 4-H and dog rescue groups.
Join us for our FREE Intro to Dog Training Class Tuesday's at 8:15p. No need to register, just come and join us for a 1 hour class that will teach you how dogs learn, how to improve your communication skills and get you started on the path to being a great dog trainer!
Our training center is in Benicia at: 4740 East 2nd Street #32 - Second door on the left building
Vallejo Dog Training Club now in Benicia
How much of a mainstay has the Vallejo Dog Training Club been? World War II had been over less than five years when the club was founded.
And it's still going strong.
The club started in 1949, making it the oldest continually active such organization in the Bay Area, its members say. Now located at 4740 East 2nd St., Suite 32 in Benicia, the club is ready to celebrate its 65th anniversary this month.
"We're just too stubborn to let it die," said Joan Constantine of Fairfield, a member since 1985.
The club held its first AKC-sanctioned Obedience Trial on June 18, 1950, at Vallejo High School's Corbus Field, according to club literature. The 1951 Obedience Trial — and all others since — have been held at the Solano County Fairgrounds.
The club, an American Kennel Club affiliate club and a member of the Associated Obedience Clubs of Northern California, has held classes "all over Vallejo," beginning in the old Veteran's Building downtown, Constantine said.
"It had been across from the Casa de Vallejo, but after (the Casa de Vallejo) was rebuilt (following a fatal fire in 2008) the neighborhood declined – got more dangerous – and people didn't want to come there anymore."
Club officers began a search for another Vallejo site, but were unable to find one suitable and the Benicia site became available, so they took it, Constantine said. That was about a year ago, she said.
A nonprofit, the Vallejo Dog Training Club is "one of the oldest dog obedience clubs in the state, providing training for all dogs, young, old, purebred or mix," according to the club's Mission Statement. "Our ultimate goal is to help dogs become well behaved family members who remain in their homes for life. This is critical, as most dogs turned into shelters are surrendered for behavior problems."
With a $50 annual membership fee, the club "provides low cost, quality, positive-based training" ranging from beginners to competition preparation, it says.
Though it's called a dog training club, the training really concentrates on the human in the equation, members said.
"We train the owners — that's the real thing," said club president David Gaunt of Benicia. "Not the dogs — the people."
It's a matter of learning what makes your dog tick, Constantine said.
The club operates under the principle that you get more flies with honey than with vinegar, members said. In other words, it's better for the dog to behave because it wants to than because it's afraid not to, they said.
"We want to help owners train their dog in a non-coercive manner, so they get control over them through positive reinforcement," Gaunt said. "We want to see the people get control so the dog doesn't get sent back to the shelter or get let loose somewhere."
Members say that sort of thing happens all too often when dog owners feel their animal is out of control.
The positive-based training method was not always the one the club used.
"At the beginning, the attitude was to use coercive training," Gaunt said. "They used things like pronged or pinch collars, that cause pain – that intimidated the dog into behaving."
That's precisely what relatively new member Ann Hall of Vallejo said she recalls from a club visit she made many years ago.
"I went to a class in 1952, and one of the requirements then was a choke-chain collar and a 6-foot leash. And a dog, of course," Hall said.
The focus turned to "positive, science-based" training when the club changed trainers, members said.
"In 2008, the old trainer quit," Gaunt said. "We looked around and we found Barbara Dwyer, and she introduced us to the gentle training method, and she left us with a knowledge that this is a better way to go."
Constantine said she agrees the positive-reinforcement method beats the intimidation-and-pain method — paws down.
"It may take a little longer for a dog to learn something, but once they learn it, they keep it," she said. "They have more fun and they know there's going to be something positive."
"Our dogs don't fear us, and that's important to my wife and I," Gaunt added.
Hall said she finds this method especially helpful for dogs rescued from shelters, which, club members agree, often leave animals held there with "issues."
"I have a rescue dog from a shelter, and they have a lot of fears," Hall said. "She's responding beautifully here, but when I first got her, she had to be carried inside from the driveway. She'd frozen up completely."
The breed of dog taking lessons at the club range of the common mutt mix to the never-heard-of-it-before, pure-bred.
Bringing their owners to a recent class were Giancco, a Spinone Italiano; Rocky, a Papillon; English setters Lucy, Jules, and Addie; along with Pawrow, a Belgian Malinois and Layla, a border collie/black lab mix. A French spaniel named Bella Donna, a shepherd mix called Leia and a Swiss cattle dog called an Entlebucher Sennenhund, were also there with their people. And there were nearly as many reasons for coming to classes as there were owners.
"We have members who show their dogs (at dog shows), who compete in agility or obedience competitions," Gaunt said. "Some are being trained for 'nose work,' or scent training and tracking to work at airports or prisons or in search-and-rescue."
A number are also being trained as "therapy dogs," members said. Others, said Constantine, are being trained "to work in hospitals, or the library as reading dogs," as well as in nursing homes, adult day care centers, special needs school classes and veterans homes.
Producing therapy dogs is not the only way in which club members serve their community.
"We've worked with the Humane Society of the North Bay with community projects," Constantine said. "We raised $20,000 for two scholarship funds for the UC Davis Veterinary School. We donated pet oxygen masks for the Vallejo Fire Department in 2007 and agility equipment for the Vallejo Police Department for its K-9 program."
The Beckye Austin Scholarship is given annually to a deserving student from Solano or Napa counties, studying small animal medicine, and the Neva Corboff Memorial Scholarship is given annually to a deserving student from California.
The group also offer free training to members of a local 4H group, supports the Solano County Animal Shelter with donations of pet food and supplies, and members "can often be seen participating at community functions such as the Bark for Life Walk against cancer and Benicia Dog Days," according to club literature,
As divergent as their reasons for being there are, the members seem to share a belief in the need for training.
"If you don't train your dog, you could lose it; it could get loose," said Vallejo native and resident Karen Jackson.
"My feeling is that it strengthens the bond with your dog when you have some training and competition," Walnut Creek resident Laurie Pisciotto said.
"I was volunteering at the NorthBay Humane Society, and someone mentioned Barbara Dwyer and her training techniques and the free introductory class and I came to that class and was so impressed — we were given dogs to work with that didn't even know us — and I thought it would be good for my dog," Hall said. "And, it's nice to be around people who have the same interest as you."
The Vallejo Dog Training Club offers classes for beginners to advanced, members said.
A free one-hour Intro to Dog Training Class is held at 8:15 p.m. Tuesdays, with no registration required.
The class teaches owners how dogs learn, how to improve their communication skills and get them "started on the path to being a great dog trainer," the club's literature says.
If you are a veterinary professional we would love it if you join us for a free 4 week dog training class!
Enrollment may be limited so call to let us know what class you would like to attend and we'll be happy to provide you with more info!