A Cary business is leading the pack in Treibball, the newest competitive canine sport to hit the United States.
Superior Dog Training is poised to launch the Triangle Treibball Academy next year. Treibball uses a combination of obedience and herding cues. The game consists of a dog working off-leash and obeying the handler’s cues. The dog uses his nose or shoulders to drive eight fitness balls into a goal within 10 minutes.
“Treibball is my baby,” said Suzanne Kalafian, owner of Superior Dog Training. “It is the most fun game I have ever played.”
She rented additional space to expand the square footage of her business to accommodate Treibball games.
Treibball began in Germany to give energetic dogs mental and physical stimulation. That model fits well with Kalafian’s philosophy of fostering human-canine bonds while letting dogs have fun.
“The more you work with your dog, the more you’ll connect with your dog,” she said.
Kalafian, 47, opened Superior in Cary five years ago. She credits much of her success to her staff.
“I have creative trainers,” she said. “I give them the freedom to be creative. If it’s just robotic skills, everybody gets bored and nobody is learning.”
From puppy classes to life-skills and sports classes, the focus is on fun. In life-skills classes, dogs learn and practice basic manners. Kalafian said the Superior classes are unique in that they simulate real-life situations.
“We set up a park in here,” she said. “Then the dogs take a walk in ‘the park’ and encounter things you would when you are out and about.”
She said it is imperative to teach dogs how to use their skills.
“They need to take what they’re learning and use it in the outside world,” she said.
No matter how much training they get, dogs will still be dogs, Kalafian said.
“Recall is never 100 percent,” Kalafian said. “It doesn’t matter how well-trained your dog is, he can still run in front of a car.
“Dogs do think on their own. They are independent and that’s why we enjoy them. But, like children, they will not always obey.”
Because of safety concerns, aggressive dogs are limited to one-on-one instruction.
“By aggressive, I don’t mean grumpy,” she said. “I mean ones who will attack.”
Kalafian, who has loved dogs since she she was a little girl, dressing up her pet Dalmation, said good trainers are born.
“Superior is a family,” she said. “So many of my clients come and stay. All in all, it’s the best profession I could have chosen.” she said.
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