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Snideragrees that these groups are great places to make friends. “I think we provide an opportunity for people and dogs to socialize in a lot of different settings, from dog parks to hikes to parties, parades and fundraising events for different charities,” she says. In fact, last year, the group raised more than $23,000 for the Dumb Friends League at an annual Furry Scurry event.
If you haven't yet attended an obedience class, there's no better time than the present. Find a class suited to your dog’s level and you'll be likely to find owners in similar situations. Learn about different classes and trainers in your area at your veterinarian’s office or local pet supply store, or check with the American Kennel Club (AKC) to find out about Canine Good Citizen (CGC) training and testing sites near you. If you’re in New York, you might look into the new AKC Canine Good Citizen Dog Training Meetup, which meets regularly (sometimes open to all dogs, sometimes to specific breeds) and offers free, on-site CGC evaluations and training.
If you've already completed obedience training but have a pup who loves to learn, try enrolling in something a bit more advanced, like a class in canine agility, which typically meets weekly for about six weeks, or even a fitness boot camp. Just be sure to check with your vet to make sure it's a good fit for your dog.
Regardless of what kind of class you sign up for, if your goal is to befriend your fellow students, it's a good idea to show up early when possible. It will give you a chance to chat up fellow attendees, plus it will let your dogs interact in a less structured manner before your lesson.
Like meetups, there are many varieties of breed clubs, some based on breed type and others on activities or training.
“If you’re interested in getting started in conformation, there are All-Breed clubs and Specialty clubs,” AKC Vice President Gina DiNardo says. “Specialty clubs are for one specific breed, so if you’re looking to meet all owners of the same breed, this is a great place to start.” However, there are clubs “specific to agility and obedience. There are also training clubs. ... Some clubs hold social events for their members as well.”
DiNardo recommends searching for clubs near you on the AKC website, and, when it comes to getting involved, she says, “Your best bet is to go to an event held by the club you’re interested in and talk to the members.”
And we’d recommend, at least for the humans, to try to keep any sniffing to a minimum.
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