The art of training top dogs

All Girl Winners: Rapid,2, Jess Tansey of Rangi Ruru Girls and Swag,4, winning combo at the National Dog Agility competition in Hamilton over Labour Weekend. Picture Martin Hunter

Long hours of training two dogs to leap, weave and race through challenging obstacle courses has paid off for Jess Tansey.

The Selwyn Dog Training Club member walked away as one of the most successful dog handlers at the Black Hawk New Zealand Dog Agility Championships.

The national competition was held in Kihikihi, Waikato. More than 600 dogs enter engaged in about 6000 individual runs.

LEAP: Jess Tansey’s dog Swag makes a high jump in the Black Hawk New Zealand Dog Agility Championships.

Jess’ siberian husky-border collie cross Rapid was named medium dog of the show after winning four runs, a second place, third and fifth in the novice section of the competition.

Rapid was not Jess’ only dog to have its day, with her three-year-old german shepherd border collie cross Swag finishing with three thirds, a fourth and a seventh in the top class category.

The competition required handlers to guide their dogs through varied obstacle courses in the fastest time possible, without making mistakes.

The obstacles included tunnels, ramps and jumpers.

Jess said it was the best results she and her dogs had achieved.

The 17-year-old had been training dogs for as long she could remember, first starting out running her parent’s dogs around courses before she properly learnt to train dogs when she was about eight.

ELEVATION: Jess Tansey’s dog Rapid was named Medium Dog of the Show.

She has been based Selwyn Dog Training Club for two years and has trained eight dogs so far.

She said the training takes a lot of patience and it all comes down to working out what motivates a dog.

Jess said her two dogs’ personalities are the complete opposites.

Swag is sweet, cuddly and more trustworthy on the obstacle course where as Rapid is fast, crazy and more unpredictable.

“I have to get my mum voice out,” she said.

MANEUVER: Rapid weaving through poles.

She has found the most difficult trick to teach her dogs were weaving poles.

As well as taking on national competitions, Jess spends her time helping train beginner classes.

“Without us there would be no sport really because we have got to get the younger generation in on it because that will be who is in sport in a couple of years time,” she said.

As for the rest of the year, Jess will compete in two more upcoming in Hawkes Bay and Christchurch where she will judge for the first time.