This weekend, dog owners are gathering at Camp Tyler for a four-day a camping trip with the East Texas-based Dog Scouts of America, Troop 225. From Thursday through Sunday, they’re spending three days running, playing, and learning more about their four-legged friends.
Dog Scouts of America was founded in 1995 with the goal of making the lives and relationships of dogs and their owners better. With troops across the country, the Dog Scouts of America hosts a number of events meant to help owners learn how to train their dogs, and better understand their dogs' needs.
This weekend, the Dog Scouts have a schedule full of fun plans in the piney woods at Camp Tyler, including swimming, painting, and for the dogs who have the energy for it, agility training! And its all for a good cause — the dog scouts of America are a non-profit organization with community service in mind.
Dog Scouts of America is a growing organization of people who care about animals and the society in which we live. According to the organization's website, the goals of DSA are to promote responsible pet ownership and increase awareness about the human/companion animal bond. We try to reduce the number of unwanted animals in this country by educating the owners.
"With your help, we can reduce the 'disposable dog' syndrome our society seems to have," the website says. "With your help, we can educate people and make them more responsible. We can teach them about the importance of the bond between humans and dogs. We can help them appreciate dogs for what they are, recognize 'normal' dog behavior, and teach them to modify unwanted behaviors with positive methods that are easy to use and fun for both the owner and the dog."
WHAT DOES A DOG SCOUT TROOP DO?
A Dog Scout troop functions much the same as a dog club. Instead of focusing all of the effort on hosting licensed obedience and agility trials, though, a troop focuses on building handler-dog respect and teamwork, and furthering the goals of DSA. Those goals are to promote responsible dog ownership and the human/canine bond. The troops conduct a variety of activities to pursue these goals. Some of the activities a troop might become involved in are:
Troop Meetings – Regular get-togethers with the other troop members for the purpose of planning future activities and having “productive fun” is encouraged. Some of the things troops do together include backpacking hikes, picnics, game nights, training and practice for DSA or CGC tests, field trips to “dog friendly” places, dog parties, “dog days”, train-athons, and educational seminars which can be open to the public.
Animal Assisted Activities – Visits to local nursing homes, hospital psych units, or schools for interaction with children and adults of all ages helps people to see how wonderful it is to have a well-behaved dog. The interaction with dogs (and other animals) is very beneficial to humans, and at the same time, you can put in a “commercial” for positive training, reverence for life, and responsible pet ownership. .
Fundraisers – In addition to being able to help out any number of worthwhile animal or other causes, making your troop available to raise funds for charitable organizations will also give you an opportunity to get your “model” dogs in the public eye, as ambassadors for responsible dog ownership. Our troops have participated in or held their own fundraisers to benefit PAWS with a Cause, animal shelters, The Salvation Army, Vest-A-Dog and DSA’s own educational programs. .
Community Education – Offering a presentation or demonstration on any number of dog-related topics at your local library or community center is a great public service and a good way to let people observe the benefits of responsible pet ownership and bonding through training. Some of the topics our troops have offered are:
Art Shows – displaying dog art (painted by dogs of course!), and educating people about the endless possibilities when you use positive training.
Clicker Seminars – demonstrating games and simple exercises that can be mastered by every novice dog owner to give him the tools to train without force.
Flyball (or other) Demonstrations – showing people the fun that they can have with their dog, if they become more involved with the dog’s training
Information Tables (at fairs or other public events) – providing information on anything from bite prevention to spaying and neutering, which will make the general public more aware of their responsibilities
Classroom Education – going into the grade schools and getting important “humane education” messages across to youngsters of all grade levels
Some troops get together for hikes a few times per year, and other troops have their own web sites and newsletters. Each individual troop can decide how much or little involvement they would like to have.
To join a troop, you must be an active member of DSA. For more information, visit www.dogscouts.org