From the moment, 34 years ago, I laid eyes on my very first
Pekingese I was hooked on the breed. My heart never saw the long back,
high-on-leg, lack of coat, obviously 'pet quality', little creature who
stood below me. She captivated me with Pekingese personality;
personality neither duplicated nor matched by any other breed.
For 20 years I successfully bred, and personally showed, Champion
Quarter Horses. One very special gelding earned a Youth World
Championship, a National Youth High-Point Award and was a Quarter Horse
Congress Winner. After developing back problems, I decided to step out
of the saddle. My competitive spirit and interest were tucked away...but
not very far.
were a constant in my life but they allowed for other breeds to share
the household. With my competitive spirit slowly creeping back to the
forefront I sought an outlet. With our first Australian Shepherd we
enrolled in an Obedience school. Unfortunately this school taught the
old ‘Do-It-Now’ training method. Even though an Aussie can generally
tolerate this type of training, the classes were not enjoyable for
either one of us. In search of an alternative a good friend of mine, a
breeder of Labrador Retrievers, began training for competitive Obedience
and asked me to come along. How much fun she and her dogs had in this
new school! The methods were positive and the rewards were evident.
Watching the classes at this new school I thought to myself “My Peke can
do that!” even though everyone told me that Pekingese do not do well in
Obedience. Perhaps that stubborn, indomitable personality I initially
found so unique and endearing pushed me forward to pursue a new dream.
With six Pekingese lined up looking at me with wide-eyed “What
are you thinking?” stares on their faces I began working Obedience with
all of them. I could not believe how quickly some of the Pekes responded
to commands. As expected, living up to their reputations, there were a
few who looked at me as if to say “Why don’t you do it?” when I asked
them to sit. A new catch phrase was born…Pekingese mind games!
Moving forward, literally, I talked with good friend Patty Sacco,
Woodland Shores Pekingese, ROM. Patty has always been a constant flow of
friendship and support in my love of the breed. During one of our
frequent conversations, this one prophetic, I conveyed my desire to work
Obedience with a Pekingese. We agreed to keep an eye out for a special
Peke puppy, one with an upbeat personality. My goal was to show not only
in Obedience but also in the newly formed, and AKC recognized, Rally
Obedience. Patty had recently bred Woodland Shores Gator to CH Taibel
Dancing Dante. Out of that litter sprang a puppy that fit our need for
personality and breed type. Woodland Shores Izod, my ‘designer’
alligator, was coming home to join the family and begin his training.
Woodland Shores Izod CD, RE, CGC
Izod’s personality has always been a happy one. At Izod’s first
Obedience class everyone was surprised by his willingness to learn and
his ability to excel. Of course we would work hard during the week. On
class night we were able to show off to the others, those doubting
Thomas’ who thought a Pekingese never could do what Izod did. Izod loved
the attention and the envy of the other dogs. Zoddy, as he is known at
home, left nay Sayers in the dust.
Some exercises came easily;
others required more concentration for Izod. If an exercise was not
performed correctly it was from lack of understanding. With a little
more reinforcement and instruction the way became clear. Izod was
one point in our training I pushed a little too hard. At the time I was
showing in a Rally Obedience class. The activity was one Izod reliably
performed well. I became frustrated when Izod didn't do what I asked. I
pushed. Izod sat. For a few definitive moments Izod did not move. Then
slowly he walked away. I followed, picked him up and excused myself from
the class. For the next month Izod totally shut down, waiting for me to
get his message to shape up or he was shipping out. When Izod’s message
finally sunk in, a hard lesson learned, we slowly began again. Fun and
connectiveness became the operative words. Izod and I were friends
again, ready to work towards a common
Speaking of dumbbell…
Dumbbell training was the most difficult for both of us. Several months
passed before Izod would deign to take the dumbbell in his mouth. Almost
a year passed before Izod would retrieve the dumbbell. (During this time
we succeeded in earning three Rally titles, all the way to Rally
Exactly what was the reason I wanted him to place
this wooden ‘thing’ in his mouth? And why, once in his mouth, should he
continue to carry it? In Izod’s mind, an inquisitive, ‘give me a reason,
Mom’, Pekingese mind, there was no legitimate point. Only with patience
on our parts, treats, different learning techniques and trust did Izod
finally find his reason. He did it for me
made a huge deal about the first time Izod took the dumbbell from me.
The understanding look he gave me will always be remembered. Izod seemed
to say, “Now I understand what you want me to do. As a Pekingese I may
not agree that this is important but if it makes you happy, then OK.”
Had Izod been a cartoon appearing in the local Sunday paper a bright
light bulb would have been sketched over his head. A few weeks later
during a class I stood talking to another exhibitor. Izod picked up his
dumbbell and bounced back and forth over the jump. He was showing off.
Perseverance, and love, paid off.
Training the Pekingese
to Train You
Pekingese have a natural ‘attitude’; it is as genetic as their snub
noses, bowed fronts, and heavy coats. This attitude can work for you and
against you. In training Pekingese a person cannot use many traditional
methods. Finding a trainer who understands the quirks and intricacies of
Pekingese is paramount to success.
Obedience components are
best taught in small increments over short time spans. Lack of stamina,
in some Pekes, prohibits long stretches of training. Regardless of
structure, Pekingese personality will always surface. Be prepared to
sweet talk them unto understanding ‘why’.
Once the Pekingese is
convinced of the ‘why’ prepare for the ‘how’. If you have human back
issues begin training the basic commands, ‘Sit’, ‘Down’, on a waist-high
table. Pekes are not noted for being high energy with perpetual motion.
Pekes do not hunt rats, retrieve ducks from water or corral the errant
sheep. But they do think, desire to please and show their love by
carrying blocks of wood in their mouths. Pekingese have a more human way
of approaching the challenges of training. They like to think they are
. Ask them to comply and perhaps they will. Order
them and you’ll walk the heeling pattern by yourself.
Rally To Obedience
Thinking about a way to spend more time with your Pekingese? Away from
the couch and TV? Rally Obedience is a great place to start.
Conformation stresses the slow, rolling gait. Rally Obedience allows
even the most conformationally sound Pekingese to compete and show the
'movability' that comes with soundness.
the Rally division, offers the novice a supportive and encouraging
network throughout the world. Rally is designed for constant
communication between handler and Peke during the exercises. The handler
is permitted to talk with the dog, an integral part of keeping a Peke
engaged in the current activity. With an understanding trainer, support
and verbal connection a person can enjoy hours of fun and satisfaction.
When training reaches a desired level, you and your Peke can
enter the show ring. Izod and I did. Pekingese, among the Working,
Sporting, Herding and other Toy breeds, bring smiles to the faces of
judges and spectators alike.
Although there are not many
Pekingese in Obedience and Rally there are those individuals across the
US and Canada with outstanding credentials. These individuals have
achieved both Conformation and working titles on their Pekingese. The
AKC recognized titles range from CDs (Companion Dog), to UDs (Utility
Dog), to REs (Rally Excellent); an extraordinary feat. Spanning
thousands of miles these competitors are willing to help one another
sharing tips and insights, which prove invaluable to novices and
As for my personal trainer, I have been so very
fortunate to be in an area of the country that has the perfect trainer
for Pekingese. Tibby Chase not only trains her own Obedience and Rally
titled dogs but is also a licensed AKC Obedience Judge. Her knowledge of
AKC regulations instills each student with the finest of skills to take
with them to each level of competition. Tibby adjusts her class
instruction for each breed and temperament. Using positive
reinforcement, Tibby has a long following of students. As for the
training of Pekingese, Izod and I could not be in better hands.
Toy-ing in Obedience
A few of the Toy breeds are put at a distinct disadvantage by the
current AKC regulations regarding jump heights in Rally and Obedience.
Breeds measuring 8” or less who compete in Rally Advanced and Excellent
are required to clear an 8” high jump in addition to the occasional 16"
broad jump. Breeds measuring 12 1/2” or less who compete in Obedience
Open and Utility must clear a required 8” high jump and 16” broad jump.
Some Toy breeds cannot physically clear those heights and widths. My
Woodland Shores Tiny Ballerina RN, CGC, measures 6” at her shoulders.
Tamarack is a six-pound sleeve Pekingese who exhibits the ideal breed
standard of bowed front legs and heavy front end. She cannot even see
over an 8” bar let alone jump it. Many Toy breeders and handlers have
approached the AKC to lower jump heights thereby allowing Toy breeds to
compete on equal footing in both Rally and Obedience. At this time the
AKC is seriously considering the proposal for change. The Toy
competitors greatly appreciate the AKC’s attention to our concerns.
I am certain, as the word spreads of the increasing success in
Obedience and Rally, Pekingese across the Continent will be asked to hop
off their fluffy cushions and take up the cause. By competing in these
venues Pekingese will show another positive side to this marvelous
No longer will Pekingese be seen as ‘do nothings’.
Pekingese are not only beautiful in the eyes of their owners they can
maximize their attitudes to compete with best of the Obedience breeds.
Pat and Dan D'Arcy
Pekingese - NOT Just a Toy