This is a question that comes up in conversations about dog sports: everything from AKC obedience to agility to dock diving to nose work, all of which require an investment of hundreds of hours, a healthy amount of money, and a significant psychological and emotional commitment. It’s a fair question: if, at the end of all of that, you end up with only a piece of paper and a few initials after your dog’s name, then what’s the value?

Just about anyone who has participated in performance training and events can answer without hesitation: that title is a symbol of one of the deepest and most meaningful relationships a person can have with a dog. All those hours practicing were hours spent in the company of a canine that relished your attention; a well-taught dog is eager to please and will truly try his hardest to do what you want.

Layer on top of that the fact that you and your dog are dependent on one another for your success (after all, neither of you can compete without the other!), and you have the basis for one of the richest, most rewarding interactions possible.

Whether you compete or not, whether you strive for perfection or not, every moment spent guiding your dog to be the best companion he can be is paid back tenfold over the years. If you do compete, you won’t win money, and most people won’t know what the titles stand for; some might even think you’re a little nutty to spend so much time pursuing your passion. But rest assured, you will be a better person for having gone through the experience.