CARLSBAD — Dan Roy grew up with dogs but in 1997, at the age of 40, the marine electronics engineer decided to return to school and become a dog trainer.
His motivation came from Nala, his first Australian shepherd, who showed him the enjoyment that is derived when man and dog work together as a team in giving and responding to human direction.
From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 7, Roy and his current canine partner, Bug, will demonstrate the art of dog agility at the Family Open Studies — “Plus” event at the Carlsbad City Library on Dove Lane.
They will be joined by Jaime Bozzi and her fox terrier, Emi, who will demonstrate “nose work,” a search and scenting activity inspired by working detection dogs. Emi holds the unofficial record for the fastest Nose Work Level I.
Family Open Studios are free art-making workshops designed for family participation presented in conjunction with exhibitions at the William D. Cannon Art Gallery. The “Plus” is a reference to a performance at the Schulman Auditorium.
The canine theme celebrates the current art exhibition, “Elliott Erwitt: Dog Dogs.” Beginning at 11 a.m. grandparents, parents and kids will create a dog mask using black and white art materials, then capture the image in a mobile photo booth.
Concurrently, the Art Miles Mural Project will take place where family members will work on a doggy-themed mural to complement the art exhibition.
Once Dan Roy, with Nalo, became interested in dog training, Roy threw himself completely into it. After graduating from the San Francisco SPCA Academy for Dog Trainers, he went on to earn his Certificate in Training and Counseling (CTC) with honors under the tutelage of world-renowned trainer, Jean Donaldson, author, “The Culture Clash: A Revolutionary New Way to Understanding the Relationship Between Humans and Domestic Dogs.”
Although Roy was attracted to herding dogs himself, he says all dogs are trainable.
“I wouldn’t say one breed is more difficult to train than another,” he explained. “They are just like kids — some have artistic intelligence and others have mathematical intelligence.”
Roy relies on reward-based training methods to teach dogs to listen and respond to owner commands.
“Some dogs are easier to train than other breeds,” he said. “Golden retrievers are good with people. When I went out to choose a breed, I thought that since I live at the ocean, I wanted a dog that swims and gets along with other dogs and is known for its ability to be trained.”
Dog agility, he explained, goes back about 30 years ago to horse jumping shows in Great Britain.
“Someone thought it would be a great activity where people could see what dogs can do, too,” he said. “It started to balloon and finally the U.S. Dog Agility Association was founded over here. Now, every weekend people and their dogs are competing. I host many of these events.”
At the Carlsbad event, Roy will set up A-frames, tunnels, hoops and other agility equipment so that Bug can perform. Children will be invited to participate as timers.
Jamie Bozzi said she got hooked on canine Nose Work, after first taking a workshop.
“It was started six or seven years ago in Los Angeles by two narcotics agents, and a detection agent,” she explained. “They wanted to develop something for dog owners so they could see how amazing their dogs really are.”
Nose Work became so popular that it was eventually introduced to San Diego shelters as a way of building confidence in dogs and, in the process, making them more adoptable.
“I have to say that I’ve been a professional trainer for 15 years and my experience with Nose Work the last three years has been amazing!” she added.
The San Diego County Department of Animal Services will have a booth at the library offering information about canine adoptions.
The “Elliott Erwitt: Dog Dogs” exhibition continues through Nov. 3. At 11 a.m. Sept. 21 there will be another event featuring Jane Vandenburgh, author of “The Wrong Dog Dream,” and veterinarian Dr. Sharon Vanderlip, author of several books including, “Is There a Shetland Sheepdog in Your Future?”