Just eight miles north of the charming town of Red Lodge, Elaine Osmun spends her days managing one of the only canine event centers in the country, Yellowstone Dog Sports.

“There are many training centers but not event centers,” said Osmun, who owns the facility.

Training centers are scattered across Montana and the nation, typically small establishments that provide basic guidance and education. 

Event centers, like Yellowstone Dog Sports, are designed as arenas to hold competitions. Dogs of all shapes, sizes and breed come to learn and contend in variations of trial and agility obstacle courses.

“We see all breeds from dachshunds to great Danes, mix breeds and rescues,” said Osmun.

The center also offers dog vacation camps with onsite accommodations.

“We get people for all kinds of reasons. Some are serious competitors, others are just looking for the experience and training – either way, it’s a bonding experience between you and your dog,” said Osmun.

Camps include training activities like tracking, hunting, dock diving, and basic manners and skills.

“It is set up like a kid’s summer camp for dogs,” said Osmun.

Vacation camps include three days of activities taught by superior instructors, lectures on various canine conditioning topics, room and board accommodations, and camping.

“Most people that come are from all over the U.S. and Canada. It’s a vacation destination for people and their dogs,” said Osmun.

The focus and skill training provides confidence for dogs, allowing them to become attentive when in a new environment or at home. Confidence is also derived from the relationship and bond that evolves from the camp experience.

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“It is a team effort between person and dog,” said Osmun.

Dog owners are in the arena, every step of the way, as their pups learn. What surprises many first-time attendees is the difficulty for the person rather than the dog.

“It’s often more challenging for the person to communicate to their dog,” said Osmun.

Man’s best friend is more than just an adage at Yellowstone Dog Sports. The partnership is a respected and valued relationship. With a lot of work, trust and consistency, even old dogs can learn new tricks. The benefits will make life with your pet more fulfilling, less stressful, and more content.

As many as 50 dogs will participate in a Trial and Agility Competition 5-8 p.m., Feb. 15; 8:30-4 p.m., on Feb. 16 and 17, at Yellowstone Dog Sports.

For more information go to yellowstonedogsports.com.

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Senior Editor for Special Sections

Senior Editor for Special Sections at The Billings Gazette.