honden ~ clickertraining ~ dogdance

Welcome to DoghouseRock

our website about  
dogs - clicker training - canine freestyle


Clicker training is a fun, positive and extremely effective way of training. Thanks to this method, we and our dogs enjoy training and everyday life more than ever before. We're still amazed how fast dogs learn and how much fun we're all having during training.

You will find a very short introduction and a few gateways to more information on the Training and behaviour page in the English menu. There are many links to English websites on our links-pages Trainings-weblinks and Links over gedrag (links about behaviour).

Dogdance (or canine freestyle)

Thanks to clicker training, I got interested in a relatively new dog sport: dogdance or canine musical freestyle. The information about the dog sport on this website is in Dutch. You will find a short introduction to dogdance in Canine freestyle in the English menu. No English links, but many in the universal video language of music and dogdance under 'Filmpjes' in Dogdance-links.

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About us

Are you curious about us? Just click on About us and our dogs.


Hope you have fun on our website despite the language barrier!

Sandra Hurkmans

Paul en Sandra met Humphrey en JoschkaAbout us

We are Paul and Sandra Hurkmans. In this picture we are joined by Humphrey the Maltese, Joschka the Dalmatian and Kari the Västgötaspets or Swedish Vallhund. 

As you can see from the site, we love dogs and have a lot of fun with them. You can read a bit about us below. The links to our dogs' pages are in Dutch, so you might need Google Translate to decipher them.

Naar bovenNaar onderPaul

As long as I can remember, we always had dogs. It started with a black Standard Poodle, Moortje. My first memory of him is my mother cleaning up its puke. Sadly, Moortje was too excitable for our family and we couldn't keep him. Next came a semblance of a dachshund. Snuf had a character and a mind of his own, often did not want to do what was asked, but was still a fun friend. We played a lot together. Snuf died at the venerable age of 14, when I was already away from home in college.

In secondary school, a classmate introduced me to a dog club where they trained police dogs. At that club I was taught a lot about how to handle dogs, and in a relatively positive way, which was an exception in those days. I especially learned how to read a dog's body language. This learning process was greatly speeded up when I was sometimes allowed to be a helper, wearing the padded sleeve and suit. Believe me, you learn fast when you are eye to eye with a Bouvier des Flandres or a Malinois aiming to latch on to your sleeve!

Naar bovenNaar onderThe only time I spent without a dog was in college in Maastricht. And it was then that I noticed how much I missed having a dog around. Then I met Sandra, who was if possible even more crazy about animals than I, so that this animalless period didn't last too long. In Maastricht, we often babysat Flopje, a hughe German Shepherd with which I rambled around Maastricht and into Belgium, having a nice pint in the sun in a cafe along the way. Eventually we 'kidnapped' Flopje when we were able to offer him a good home, as his owners couldn't provide him with the stable life and walks that he needed and deserved. But that was some years later.

After our studies, we moved to The Hague, where we soon got our own dog from the pound. That was Boefie, a Bouvier. She carried at least 10 kilograms too many and was a bit scared of older men. She overcame this fear however. Taking off the weight took a few years longer, but we managed eventually. Her greatest love in life was the beach. Normally, she would trail behind during walks. But on our way to the beach, she would run out in front of us, turning around from time to time as if to say "hurry up, hurry up, I want to go into the water!" Yes, she loved the water. Even when it was freezing, she would still lie down in the surf with a ball or a stick in her mouth.

Naar bovenNaar onderAfter moving to Pijnacker and adopting Flopje, we wanted to add a puppy to the household. That was Humphrey the Maltese. Our first puppy and we wanted him to be well-mannered, so off to the dog club we went! That's when Sandra learned how fun training is. Humphrey turned into a great, well-mannered little dog. Yes, well-mannered Maltese do exist!

After Flopje died at 12 years of age, we wanted another breed. We chose the Dalmatian. We thought long and hard about it, did our research, read up on the breed and made our decision. We wanted a dog who would bring a bit of spark to our household. Well, Joschka certainly did that! Sandra did the obedience training and later agility at the dog club while I taught Joschka manners like stopping and sitting before crossing the street, walking on lead etc. And very important in our small densily populated country: teaching him to only relieve himself where it's allowed and it won't be a nuisance to other people (or cleaning up after him).

Our Bouvier turned out to be a very good, steady leading lady who reigned supreme over the other dogs until she passed away at 15 years of age. She was impressive. She hardly needed to look at another dog for him to know that here was a Very Important Dog indeed and that there was no arguing with her. And she taught Joschka a doggy manner or two.

Naar bovenNaar onder Sandra

I've always loved animals. At home we almost always had a dog. Also I've had gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs and rabbits (not all at the same time), though a dog was always at the top of my list. Anyway, I always thought a household without pets is a sterile, cold place. I am happy to have found Paul, who is a soulmate to me in this respect (and many others).

As soon as we could afford it after our studies, I started working part time so that we could have a dog. That was Boefie, a Bouvier des Flandres. Not too long after she came to our household, Flopje, my sister's German Shepherd, joined her when we moved to the country town of Pijnacker. Humphrey the Maltese was our first puppy and for the first time I took dog training classes, which was at the KC Delft. I loved doing it and the little guy did very well. When Joschka, our Dalmatian, joined us and all seemed to go well with him too, I started as a trainee instructor at the club.

Reading and learning about dogs was always something I enjoyed. As a trainee and because of our problems with Joschka, my hunger for knowledge only grew larger. Searching on the internet, I found information on clicker training. It intrigued me, especially the idea that you can train a dog without punishing him. I couldn't believe that at first. In 1996 I took my first steps in trying this out with my dogs and soon I was completely hooked. What a great training method!

Naar bovenNaar onderSoon I wanted to teach clickertraining at our club. Because it was a new method, for myself and in the Netherlands, I wanted to get a good foundation and see how I could teach this. The KC Delft dog club gave me the opportunity to try it out and in january 1999 I started my first clicker training class, an introductory class. I never looked back. Now I teach obedience classes and dogdance, as well as the clicker training foundation course, which still exists.

Read more about our first Swedish Vallhund (Västgötaspets) Kari and our current Västgötaspets girls Ronja and Yuno. (You might need Google Translate, as all the info on our dogs is in Dutch).


Training and behaviour

Simply "being a good dog" in our humans eyes is not something that comes naturally to dogs. Every day, every minute, a dog needs to adapt to us and to our environment.

So to make sure your dog will be the enjoyable companion you had imagined, it is important to teach him good behaviour. Good behaviour to replace normal dog behaviour which he would prefer doing at that moment. Good behaviour to prevent him doing things you don't want him to do. Good behaviour that he would not do if everything were left to your dog. 


Naar boven Naar beneden How does a dog learn?

To teach your dog the behaviour you want, it's important that you know how dogs learn.

Naar bovenNaar beneden Clicker training

Clicker training is a method based on voluntary learning by the dog. The dog wants to earn what you have to offer. And he'll be willing to work hard for that. Because you have control over everything your dog likes, wants and needs in life. So you have everything to offer, all you need is to have control over those things and not give them away for free all the time. And as you are the one who provides your dog with everything in life, for you to ask for something in return is only fair, isn't it?

If you know what your dog wants in life, you are almost ready to train him.

Almost, because first you need something to help explain to your dog exactly which of his behaviours earned him his treat. This is where a short click sound comes in very handy. A short, mechanical sound can pinpoint this information more clearly to your dog than a word.

To explain to your dog what the click sound means, you click your clicker and then you give him a treat - food works best at first, because it's fast. When you have repeated this about 5 to 10 times, your dog will probably look at you expectantly as soon as he hears that funny sound.

When your dog does something you like and you click at that exact moment, your click will be telling him exactly which behaviour was excellent and earned him one of his favourite things. After very few repetitions (an experienced dog will often need only one or two repetitions), your dog will eagerly want to repeat that behaviour.

Because you are constantly telling your dog all the things he does well in life, because you are rewarding him and being very clear what it is you are rewarding him for, he will really like this form of training. And as you start focusing on all the things your dog does right and enjoys doing right, you will appreciate him more, you will be having a lot of fun with him. An because you're having fun, your dog's enjoying this training game even more!
It is very normal for a clicker trained dog to come to you and ask for a training session. That's something my dogs seldom did before!

Naar bovenNaar beneden

More information

There are many great dog training and behaviour websites in English around the world. I have collected just a few of them on this website. You can find them (among several Dutch websites) in the weblinks sections Trainings-weblinks and Links over gedrag (links about behaviour).


Canine freestyle

Joschka springt omhoog, landt op zijn achterpoten en blijft staan

Dogdance or canine freestyle is a relatively new dog sport where the aim is to dance with your dog. It's a wonderful sport and tremendous enjoyment for handler and dog and for the spectators as well. The combination of dogs and music results in funny, crazy, surprising, beautiful dances - and no dance is ever the same.

This sport originated from obedience exercises which were performed to music. Good, basic obedience is still a foundation for this sport, but most moves hardly resemble traditional obedience exercises. There are more and more exercises and creative and innovative moves are encouraged.

Canine freestyle started at about the same time in Canada, England and the United States at the end of the 1980s. A few of you may have already seen Mary Ray's yearly performance at Crufts.       

This sport originated from obedience exercises which were performed to music. Good, basic obedience is still a foundation for this sport, but most moves hardly resemble traditional obedience exercises. There are more and more exercises and creative and innovative moves are encouraged.

Canine freestyle started at about the same time in Canada, England and the United States at the end of the 1980s. A few of you may have already seen Mary Ray's yearly performance at Crufts. 

Naar boven Naar onder Heelwork to music and canine freestyle

There are two seperate styles in dogdancing. Heelwork to music is originally from England and is almost self-explanatory. A large part of the routine consists of heelwork and the dog may not go further than two meters away from the handler. In canine freestyle, distance work is encouraged and the number of moves is much larger. Sometimes there's hardly any heelwork involved.

Naar boven Naar onder For who?

Dogdanc3 is a sport for anyone who loves to train their dog and who likes music and dancing. Age hardly matters. If you are ambitious, the dog's health is an important issue for certain moves, like standing on the hind legs or crawling. If you're not sure your dog is 100% OK constitutionally, check with your veterinary first.

Moves and exercises are always taught through positive training methods. Clicker training is really the best for this sport. Because of the motivating teaching methods, the dogs love this sport and show it during their dances!

For an impression of this sport, there are a few videos as well as many pictures of seperate moves and exercises on the Dutch part of this website and in our Photo-album. Do take into account that though I'm thoroughly hooked, I'm hardly more than a novice myself!

Videos of excercises and dance routines on this website: see Video's op de site
Links with dogdance videos: see 'Filmpjes' in Dogdance-links