Exeter Dog Training Club was founded in 1957 by a group of dog enthusiasts, with the objectives of helping pet owners to train their dogs for obedience work, and advising in the art of ringcraft for showing pedigree dogs.
On 15th April 1957 Exeter Dog Training Club held its first General Meeting at the Devon & Exeter Institute in Cathedral Close. Major Bethan took the chair, and a Mr J Rowsell, the then Chief Constable for Devon & Exeter Police, was elected as President of the new Club. Mr & Mrs Hatherley, Mrs Jones and Mr Maynard were elected to the Committee. When Mr Rowsell subsequently moved to Brighton, Mr Weeks, a Superintendent at the Guide Dogs for the Blind was elected as President.
Training classes were initially held at the Territorial Army Centre at the Royal Signals Barracks during the winter months. In the summer an outdoor venue at the West of England School for the Partially Sighted was used, this changed in June 1959 to Mount St Mary Convent School. In 1960 the Club moved to the Buller Hall in Cowick Street, where they paid one guinea per hour plus five shillings for the use of the kitchen facilities. The Club was to remain at Buller Hall until the venue was sold for development in 1999. The Club moved to its current venue, the Exeter & District Scout HQ, Marsh Barton in 2002.
Anthony Fry, Mayor of Exeter, making a presentation from the Club
to the Guide Dogs for the Blind, 1991(click on picture for larger image)
Local jeweller, Mr Mitchell, donated a trophy to the Club, to be presented to the winners of competitions. “Exeter Dog Training Club versus Plymouth Dog Training Club” was the first competitive obedience match, taking place on 29th March 1957. A match between Exeter, Plymouth, Burnham-on-Sea and Climax dog training clubs was held in 1959. These inter-club obedience contests continue as annual events.
Four legged members on Dartmoor c1997 (click on picture for larger image)
In 1960 the Club took the big step of organising its own Kennel Club licensed Open Obedience Show, held at Bury Meadow. Competitors paid entry fees of six shillings for non-members and five shillings for members. Rosettes and prize money of £1 were awarded for first place, 10 shillings for second and 5 shillings for third. The Open Show remains an annual event, moving from Westpoint to its current venue at Cullompton Football Club in 2004.
The Show attracts up to 300 entries from competitors across the South West and Wales, as well as a few from further afield. Prize money is no longer paid. In 2012 the Show was awarded "Championship Obedience" status by the Kennel Club. This makes it one of 46 shows that include a Championship Class C (Obedience Certificate) class, the wnning of which will qualify a dog to compete at the Crufts the following year.
Exeter Dog Training Club teaches positive dog training methods, with an emphasis on socialisation, reward and play. It participates in the Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme, the largest dog training scheme in the UK, established in 1992 to promote responsible dog ownership and to make the community aware of the benefits associated with dog ownership. Since 1996 hundreds of dogs and their owners have successfully passed their Good Citizen tests at Exeter Dog Training Club. In 2002 a team from the Club helped to promote the scheme by demonstrating it at Crufts.
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news item on Crufts 2002
Today, Exeter Dog Training Club has around 100 members at any one time. Most members join for a few months or for as long as it takes to train their pet dog to the desired level, some attending until they have attained the Good Citizens Silver or Gold level. About a third enjoy the social aspect of coming regularly to the Club and remain members for years, including several enthusiasts whose hobby is competitive dog obedience or other canine activities. Committee members and trainers freely give their time and effort to run the Club. Many of current members have been involved with the Club since the 1980s.
The Club's venue, the Exeter & District Scout HQ, Marsh Barton was completely remodelled and refurbished in 2012 and provides a modern facilitities including two training rooms. The Club holds social events for members and their dogs including a Christmas Party and summer barbecue.
Express & Echo Feature on Exeter Dog Training Club
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Reproduced by kind permission of Express & Echo