GREAT FALLS — Lori Eby of Great Falls is using her 40 years of dog training experience to make sure your dog is fit for the farm.
Eby has spent the past few weeks teaching two small Farm Dog Certification classes right from her home - a class that improves both their farm and communication skills. “The dogs listen. They’re watching their handlers - which is what we always strive for in the relationship,” Eby said.
These dogs of various breeds train for four weeks before they compete in a pass/fail trial to earn the FDC title, a certification that indicates proper handler-dog communication and behavior fit for life on a farm. “It entails a partnership between the person - the handler - and their dog. If you’ve ever heard of Canine Good Citizen, that is in a more urban setting, where farm dog certified is kind of like Canine Good Citizen but in a rural setting,” Eby said.
These animals undergo several tests resembling scenarios they would encounter on a farm -including interaction with farm machinery, walking over various surfaces, and learning how to interact well with humans, dogs, and livestock.
Eby added that the farm dog certification class truly is accessible for all dogs.
“I’ve had chihuahuas that have competed in farm dog...You name it! We’ve got herding dogs...but we’ve also got guardian dogs. You’ve got your Daubermans, you’ve got your Spaniels, your Golden Retrievers. Any dog can compete, any dog,” Eby said.
The instructor added that the farm dog class is relatively new for Montana and allows title-seeking owners to enter their dogs in a covid-friendly trial.
“Right now it’s really tough to get any kind of titles on your dog and I'm talking about AKC- because of the covid,” Eby said, “This is one thing that’s outside and you aren’t exposed to a lot of people. Even when we have the competition, it will be strictly social distancing. The judge will be out there with you and your dog and you come up one at a time.”
The dogs and handlers from her current classes will participate in the Electric City Kennel Club mini-trials August 29th and 30th.
While Eby said she’s not likely to offer classes this fall, she hopes to start up again in the spring.