The Canaan Dog is highly intelligent, and very independent. The top performance Canaan Dog in the United States combines both attributes with a somewhat dominant personality, which makes training such an individual... “interesting.” I should know – I own and train him.
U-CDX Ch Z’ev Midbar CGC, CD, HS, NA, NAJ, CDCA-HS, V, AHBA-HTDI-s, HRDII-s, also known as Wolf, is seven years old. He is the first Canaan to earn AKC titles in agility and herding and to garner the versatility award presented by the Canaan Dog Club of America, and he has been the top herding and top overall performance Canaan Dog in the nation for the past several years.
When he was six months old, Wolf literally ran into a pair of robbery suspects in our apartment complex driveway (they were trying to escape the police and failed in the attempt) just after he passed his Canine Good Citizen test. The experience was enough to cause him to view any stranger thereafter with extreme suspicion. It took a lot of patience and an equal amount of dog treats supplied by me and given to Wolf by willing, friendly strangers in shopping plazas, parks and other public places to help restore most of his faith in people.
Wolf’s AKC performance career began at 18 months of age. The axiom “a Canaan Dog will forgive but will never forget” is one that I follow, so even seven years after that initial setback, whenever I attend any dog show or trial, I have people meet and give treats to my dog. Wolf has come to view the routine in a rather positive manner; he patiently sits in front of the stranger I want him to meet, first looks at that person, then at me, then at that person again as if to say, “Okay, Mom, hurry up and give him the food so that he can feed me, will ya?!” He especially enjoys meeting small children and will gladly allow them to hug him – he can snitch their ice cream cones, cookies or other people goodie easily while I’m not looking!
From puppy kindergarten through basic obedience to competition obedience and conformation classes at Queen City Dog Training Club in Cincinnati, it has been a challenge to keep the lessons interesting for him. Wolf is easy to train, but he will periodically give me the canine version of the razzberry salute, a snub exemplified by creative thinking in the show ring. The most recent occurrence was during an agility trial where he decided that he liked his version of the course, not the judge’s, and proceeded to show it to me – all to the amusement of the crowd.
For Wolf , the obedience ring is to be tolerated (“What?! Again?! We did this yesterday!”). Sheep herding and agility are his ultimate fun things to do.
Wolf was first acquainted with sheep at age 18 months, but didn’t start his formal training until he was nearly three years-old. At our first lesson, herding instructor Vici Brock said, “I’ve never seen a Canaan Dog herd.” I replied, “That’s okay; neither have I. We’ll play it by ear.”
We did just that, which has resulted in the top herding Canaan Dog in three organizations, the AKC, CDCA, and the American Herding Breed Association . His introduction to agility, while not as enthusiastic as with his first encounter with sheep, bloomed steadily into exuberance, and the A-frame soon became his favorite contact obstacle. If the AKC ever decided to combine agility and herding into a single event of drive the sheep over the A-frame to the panels, Wolf’s joy would know no bounds.
While in our apartment, Wolf prefers to be the ultimate “couch potato” and lie on his favorite blanket on the couch with the TV turned on. I just wish he would stop hogging the TV remote!
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