Obedience training is the engine that drives TCOTC, and Jane Jacobson is the engineer that drives the Obedience Department. As Obedience Department Head, Jane’s job includes everything from developing curriculum, scheduling classes, training and supervising instructors and assistants, and teaching classes. As a long-time club member and instructor, Jane is probably the most recognized of all the staff at TCOTC.
Like many members, it was a “crazy” puppy (a Lab, of course!) that led Jane to TCOTC. An earlier experience training elsewhere with a dominance focus left her feeling unsatisfied and her dog feeling more stressed, not less. Her new puppy needed “positive reinforcement” to thrive, so she began taking classes at TCOTC. After a few years of successful training, her instructors encouraged her to become an assistant instructor and, eventually, a full instructor.
Obedience instructor Katina Stamp says of Jane, “She’s is thorough and critical to this organization. She is a team player, always listening to the feedback of her team to improve a project on which she is working.”
That sentiment was echoed by instructor Scott McKenzie. “As an obedience instructor at TCOTC, I often turn to Jane for inspiration with an issue I might have in class. The response from her that has most helped me is, ‘Each dog is an individual, as is each handler. All learn at their own rate. Sometimes the most important thing we can model for them is a positive approach to their relationship with their dog. And that this is all about fun!’”
Jane sums up her philosophy on dog training this way: “Obedience training is about developing a positive relationship between dogs and their handlers. We want to give dogs the skills they need for living in a human world. It not only makes life easier for the human but is far less frustrating for the dog when it knows your expectations.
“Obedience training used to be ‘dominance’ based, forcing a dog to do something, rather than rewarding them for doing the right thing,” says Jane. “At TCOTC we are more about relationship building and cooperation. While many students believe we are teaching their dogs, we are actually training the humans to teach their dogs.”
Jane recommends training to start the minute you bring your puppy or dog home. “Young dogs up to 20 weeks old need socialization with other people and other dogs, which they can get in our Puppy and Tweener classes. Then every dog should have Basic Obedience training. It’s the foundation for everything, from having a well-adjusted pet to competing in obedience, agility and other activities.”
Anyone who doubts the value of a strong obedience foundation for sports should watch Jane run her lab, Lily, on the agility course, to see the distance and speed she is able to achieve.
One misconception about obedience training is that it is only for young dogs. The fact is, it’s never too late to start training. “We often see older rescue dogs in class getting their first formal training,” says Jane. “Dogs need brain stimulation throughout their lives just as we do. Tricks, nose work, and tracking are fun ways to maintain your relationship with your older dog and keep them engaged in positive activities.”
Jane continues to train her 12 ½ year old lab. His latest skill is stepping back to put his two hind legs on a raised box. Jane sees it as physical therapy to work his core and hips to maintain flexibility. He sees it as a fun trick for which he is rewarded.
Another myth about obedience training is that it is not fun. “To the dog, there is no difference between an obedience command and a trick,” explains Jane. “They are all tricks to the dog. They love the attention, they love the treat rewards, and they enjoy the connection with the handler.”
Jane recommends competing in obedience as a way to forge a strong bond and keep a dog mentally and physically engaged throughout its lifetime. It’s challenging, fun and rewarding. “The precision work between dogs and their handlers in competitive obedience is dramatic, like a dance performance,” says Jane.
Managing director Anne Schenk says Jane’s leadership at TCOTC is invaluable. “Jane is constantly looking for ways to strengthen the Obedience program,” she says. “From developing new class offerings to mentoring trainers and assistants, her contributions are many.”
Those contributions go beyond her staff role. She is a frequent volunteer, well known for fabulous egg bakes and other delicious food that she prepared for crowds at TCOTC Trials, designing and installing landscaping to create our tiered potty area, painting, cleaning and pulling out her knitting at board meetings or whenever there is a spare moment.
Thank you Jane for all you do to keep TCOTC the Premier Club of the North!