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Young Kennel Club Training Camp 2002

The newly launched Young Kennel Club held its Training Camp this year at Broomfield College in Morley, Derbyshire. There was a day’s delay due to flooding in the Derbyshire area, but camp finally went ahead on Sunday 4th August, proving that whilst fun could be guaranteed, the great British summer couldn't!

With 1600 YKC members, Camp is always over subscribed and this year the Kennel Club welcomed 81 children and 168 dogs. 50 breeds in total were represented, the most popular being the Working Sheepdog with 23 in attendance, closely followed by 15 Border Collies and 10 Papillons. Last but not least and proving that camp is not just for pedigrees, there were 11 cross breeds.

The primary aim of the YKC camp is to teach youngsters between the ages of 8-18 the responsibilities that come with the joys of dog ownership. Practical activities included dog obedience training, agility, flyball and ringcraft and these training sessions were led by experts in their fields.

New for camp in 2002 was the 'Who's in the Spotlight' seminar programme where the spotlight fell on organisations such as Guide Dogs for the Blind, Dog Wardens, Crufts, Hearing Dogs for the Deaf and Search and Rescue Dogs. Other areas included Heelwork to Music, First Aid for Dogs, Careers with Dogs and Kennel Club rules and regulations. This programme is very comprehensive as the Kennel Club is aware that these youngsters are potentially the future of the world of dogs, so it is important to nurture and teach them as much as possible leading in turn to a firm foundation on which to build their canine knowledge.

Possibly the most important topic covered at this year’s camp was ‘safety around dogs’, as readers will be aware of recent press reports regarding dog biting incidents on children.

Whilst the Kennel Club is aware that this issue has been largely media driven, in order to combat both anti-dog feelings and promote the benefits of responsible dog ownership within the younger generation, it needs to be proactive.

The Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme (GCDS) – which is the largest dog training programme in the UK - and Young Kennel Club (YKC), have recently developed a new award that will educate and promote the safe interaction of children and dogs. It is imperative that children are taught to understand and appreciate ‘man’s best friend’, so that incidents are prevented and their new found knowledge passed on to their peers.

The Kennel Club believes that dog-biting incidents involving children are largely due to lack of education – either on the part of the owner not taking the time to train and socialise the dog correctly, or the child not understanding or respecting the basics of canine behaviour.

The proposed YKC/GCDS award will be dedicated to educating children in safety issues when approaching and interacting with dogs.

In order to further develop this award a pilot scheme was launched at the YKC Training Camp and all 81 junior attendees took part in the three stages of the award with a view to fine tuning the syllabus before finalising the award criteria. It is now the Kennel Club’s intention to promote the initiative through dog training clubs, local Councils (via Dog Wardens), Young People’s activity groups (Scouts, Guides etc) and particularly Schools.

The award will be presented in three stages: -

1. The first stage will be in the form of a talk that can be tailored for Young Kennel Club activities, Schools and activity groups. This will cover the basic principles of human/canine interaction, safety positions to be adopted and general responsible dog ownership.

2. The second stage - the theory test - will be applicable for children who have attended the initial YKC/GCDS safety talk and will ascertain how much the children have learnt from it. The theory test will be presented in a written format and will be tailored to two reading ages - 8-11 and 12-18. This test will also be suitable for children with learning difficulties. Children passing the theory test will be awarded a YKC/GCDS certificate of achievement.

3. The final stage will be in the form of a practical safety and general care test with a dog. The award will only be applicable to children who have completed the safety talk and have passed the theory test. Furthermore this award may only be attempted by a child who either owns his or her own dog or handles a family owned dog. Throughout the test a parent or guardian will be in attendance and a certificate of practical achievement will be awarded to all successful candidates.

All children will be able to participate and benefit from these important safety issues whether or not they own a dog.

On press day, BBC's Newsround attended the camp to cover the YKC/GCDS Safety Award. With a target of over 1.5 million 8-14 year olds this is an ideal audience for the award.

Speaking to YKC members it is obvious that the social aspects of camp are just as important as the practical. Firm friendships are made and active contact is kept throughout the year as youngsters often meet up at shows. With social events such as a Pop Idol contest, a BBQ and Disco, and a Quiz night camp provides ample opportunity for these relationships to be developed.

If readers are interested in this fun organization, are aged between 8-25 and would like to get involved in the wonderful world of dogs please visit or contact the YKC office on 0207 518 1030; and remember, you don't need to own a dog to be a member of the YKC!