Eager-to-please dogs and their even keener owners are the backbone of a club still going strong after 35 years.

The Tauranga Dog Training Club harnesses the irrepressible energies of dogs who love nothing more than being pointed in the direction of a series of challenging obstacles.

President Jocelyn Jensen said it was a really neat group of people aged from young teens to dog owners in their 80s. Most of the members were in their 40s and 50s.

The club was really about agility classes but its financial bread and butter were the popular puppy and dog training classes that were open to all dog owners.

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The five-week block courses were regularly filled to capacity, even over the winter. Puppies were socialised and taught the basics like not pulling on the lead and coming when the owner called.

''It's learning to connect with their owners,'' Jensen said.

The benefits of the classes were not only on the club's balance sheet but as a source of new members keen to see how their dogs performed on the agility stage.

Popularised by the classic Kiwi TV show Tux Wonder Dogs, agility had become a compelling spectacle, with dogs judged on how well and how quickly they weaved, skittered, balanced and jumped through a series of challenges.

Jensen said the club's agility classes began with foundation classes for dogs just starting out and progressed through elementary, starters, novice and intermediate. Intermediate was a more advanced class that worked on the skills needed to compete.

And contrary to expectations, the club was not dominated by border collies. Other working dogs - shelties, kelpies and heading dogs - were well represented, together with crosses between these breeds, and even some golden retrievers, poodles and schnauzers.

Like a lot of the 50 club members, she had found agility so interesting and enjoyable that she had got other dogs and now had four including retired Chase and Baylee who was still learning. ''Most people are running two dogs at shows.''

Jensen said people became hooked on agility and were soon regulars on the show circuit. Even if their dogs were not the quickest, a lovely round could still secure them a ribbon.

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One of her own dogs, Kobi, came a very creditable fourth in the senior (top) division at the last nationals held at Kihikihi.

''You get some pretty fantastic competition - they are almost like professionals.''

But despite the intensity of competition, a hallmark of agility was the friendly atmosphere at shows where clubs helped each other out, she said.

''You see the same people at shows, there is a lot of social stuff.''

Jensen said keeping the dogs fit was important for their performance. Dogs liked it and it kept their motivation up, particularly for the jumps which were a big part of the course.

Agility also helped keep the owners fit, most of whom did not venture too far from home for competition. There were plenty of shows within a couple of hours' drive from Tauranga.

Cash had replaced donated goods for competition winners, with bags of sponsors' products for the top performing dogs.

Tauranga Dog Training Club
- Dog classes and club headquarters at Moreland Fox Park.
- Dogs must be one year old to begin agility.
- Dogs must have completed a basic training course.