OUR DOG CLUB'S HISTORY
We have been training German Shepherd Dogs and handlers in Leeds for nearly 65 years. We were first formed in 1958 as the Leeds Branch of The British Alsatian Association (B.A.A.). There is film in the club archive dating back to 1961. In 1978 The B.A.A. became The British Association For German Shepherd Dogs. This was to reflect the official name change of the breed back to German Shepherd Dog from Alsatian. The club fell on hard times during the late 1990s due to lack of members and interest. During this time 3 people including our current President, Tom Walton, decided to keep the club running until the money ran out. The money did not run out, the membership began to slowly grow and the club managed to continue. It was sometime around 2011 during a Branch Annual General Meeting that what was to become a pivotal discussion took place. During this discussion the branch committee asked the members what they wanted from their club. As a result of this discussion the branch focussed less on formal, competitive obedience and catered more towards people looking for a well trained family pet. To this day this remains our core focus, we still use obedience as a framework. Afterall GSDs love a job and obedience training helps a great deal in this respect.
Between 2008 and 2020, the club grew in popularity and in 2012 we became and continued to be the largest branch of The British Association For German Shepherd Dogs. We went from having three classes on a Sunday to running up to 12 classes. We enjoyed a year-on-year growth in membership during that time and we are justifiably proud of our club’s achievements.
The club thrived because we did that one simple thing: we asked our members what they wanted from their club. They told us, we listened, and then we gave them what they wanted, plus much more besides. We became a club that people loved to come to - they could make friends with like-minded people, get specific and professional German Shepherd training and help, and get involved with so many other activities, all of which revolved around one thing - our beloved German Shepherds. For many of us, our club has become a huge part of our lives and we love being part of it.
In January 2021, we became a fully independent dog training club. This allowed us more freedom to modernise our approach, further improve our image, and grow the club into something that delivers more of what our members want from their club.
The Covid pandemic saw us having to close during the periods of lockdown but technology allowed us to run training sessions from our own back gardens using our own dogs to demonstrate. We made great use of our club Facebook group and ensured that we remained engaged with our membership and were available to help should it be needed. We would have never expected it but during that first year of Yorkshire German Shepherd Dog Training we signed up in excess of 400 members. Considering that we had been unable to run normal training sessions for a number of months this was an incredible achievement.
Through a comprehensive new training scheme for our instructors, we will develop our team's skills and knowledge beyond anything we have done before and hopefully inspire a next generation of handlers, some of which will be chosen to become instructors. All these things will allow us to pursue other avenues that will increase the already excellent value for money that our members enjoy, and ensure our continued success well into the 21st century and beyond.
"This isn't our club - we are merely the custodians of it. It is our duty to pass it on to the next generation, in a better state than when it was passed to us."