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The North Taranaki Dog Training Club and its volunteers provide a recreational training environment and friendly help for anyone who wishes to train their dog, or have fun with obedience, agility, flygility, or rally obedience.


Many thanks to Roger Gregory for his invaluable assistance while I was researching the beginnings of our club.

In 1959 a group of enthusiastic dog owners got together and formed a club with the aim of holding regular training sessions. The founding members were Mr Harry and Mrs Leslie McGahey, Mrs Pat Macks, Mrs Kura Matenga, Mr Roger Gregory, Mrs M. Carthew and Mr Michael Dawkes.

The first President was Michael Dawkes and the Secretary/Treasurer was Pat Macks. Roger Dunnett was appointed Honorary Veterinarian to the club, a position he held for many years.

An application to the New Zealand Kennel Club to become an official club was granted in August 1960, with the official title of “North Taranaki Canine Obedience Club”. This enabled the Club to hold obedience classes for the general public and organise competitions, and allowed members to compete, both locally and away.

Many more keen dog-handlers soon joined the club. In the early years, various training venues were used – the end of Baring Tce near the railway line, the Kennel Club venue at Waiwhakaiho (now The Valley), in the Queens Hall (now Spotlight), behind the Rifle Range at East End, and finally a more permanent home at the East End Skating Rink (both indoor and outdoor). We had our own Club Rooms beside the outdoor arena, built and decorated by Club members.

Indoor training was held every Monday, with a roster for sweeping out after training. The outdoor rink, where the lighting was excellent, was used for shows and extra training.

Newsletters were laboriously typed on a Gestetner “skin” and run off, page after page, then collated (many hands made light work), put in envelopes and posted to members. When postage went up, lots of newsletters were actually delivered by hand to letterboxes, to save money for the Club!

During this period, several dogs gained their Obedience Championship status. Then Obedience Tracking Trials began, opening another door, with many more qualifications gained, including two Obedience Tracking Trial Champions.

At Labour Weekend 1977 we hosted the National Dog Obedience Assembly, the only time that Taranaki has been involved in running a national Dog Obedience event.

When Agility came along we used the grass area behind the Club House (where the skate park is now) and a shed was established for Agility equipment. A Club member made the jump and contact gear, of wood and very heavy.

Other dog activities followed – Flyball, which later became Flygility. Our days of coexistence with the Skating Club at East End eventually came to an end. The dog fluff interfered with the skates; it became more and more difficult to comply with the sweeping or vacuuming after each training session; the skaters needed more space and so did we.

After investigating venue after venue, around New Plymouth and as far afield as Bell Block, Glen Avon Park was finally selected as our new home.

Agility has continued to grow in popularity (from very shaky beginnings). There have been many Agility Champions and some Flygility Champions. For some years we held a show at the Hāwera indoor venue at the A & P Showgrounds, until it was decided that the effort involved in transporting gear to and fro was too much of a burden on the Club.

The expansion in activities led to the club being renamed, becoming the North Taranaki Dog Training Club.

Other dog activities have followed, with RallyO growing in popularity – not requiring the exacting precision of Obedience, nor the break-neck speed of Agility, it has challenges nonetheless. And the latest new kid on the block, Scentwork, which has an increasing following. Over the years, we have given demonstrations of both Obedience and Agility, at Pukekura Park, retirement villages, A & P Shows, Dogs’ Days Out and elsewhere.

We currently hold annually one Championship Obedience Show (including RallyO) and one Obedience Ribbon Trial, as well as two Agility Championships and two Agility Ribbon Trials, a Flygility Tournament and a Scent Trial.

We hold basic Obedience classes for the general public and aim to attract some of them to continue as Club members.

In its over 60 years’ history, the Club has seen many changes, but its aims have remained unchanged – promoting responsible dog ownership and training for members of the public and their dogs, and enabling Club members to train for and compete in an increasing diversity of dog sports.

Laurel Austin.

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