by Job Abraria
The Peoria area has numerous options for dog training. But, after spending an afternoon with the Illini Hundesport and Police K-9 Club, there is no doubt why these dogs and handlers are a cut above the rest.
IHPK9 Club is dedicated to the development of working dogs, with most members focused on the dog sport of Shutzhund or IPO, which consists of three key areas: tracking, obedience and protection skills. These dogs, under the direction of a handler that is every bit as trained as their canine counterpart, demonstrate the ability to execute precise commands under stress and distraction. The result of the training is an incredibly well behaved dog, and an iron-clad bond between the canine and handler.
Scott Claybaugh, a retired federal agent with over twenty years of experience training canines for law enforcement, personal protection and protection sport, leads the club as training director. When asked about the mission of the club, Claybaugh stated, “Every member out here has a specific objective for their dog. We have some members focused primarily on engagement and obedience, some on achieving the highest titles in protection sport, and others that are police K-9 handlers for local police departments who use these dogs to protect Central Illinois’ citizens. Regardless of the objective, we are here to work together, have fun and help each other reach our potential. It is incredible to watch the dogs and handlers grow each week.”
IHPK9 Club begins with puppies as early as eight weeks of age. Chris Malone and his four month old black German Shepherd, Ivon, have been training with the club since the beginning of the year. Malone said, “I have always been a dog lover, and have worked with other training organizations in the area; but, I have made more progress in the past three months than I have ever made with any other dog. As a life long competitor, I know that it takes great coaching and an excellent team around you if you have any hope of excelling. That is exactly what I have found at Illini Hundesport. I have a blast every week, and am on the way to building the dog that I have always wanted. I really couldn’t ask for more.”
You can find IHPK9 Club training every Saturday at 10 a.m. at Three Sisters Park, just north of Peoria near Chillicothe. They are quite hospitable, and it is well worth the visit to watch these dogs clear jumps, scale walls, retrieve dumbbells and demonstrate protection skills. For information on the club, visit their website at www.ihpk9.com, find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/IHPK9, or contact training director, Scott Claybaugh at (309)883-5149.