The First Dog Training Club of Northern New Jersey, Inc. is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, dog training clubs in the United States and currently the 4th largest AKC obedience club.
The club had its origin in 1934 when Jerome B. Behrand and his wife, Olivette, took their German Shepherd Dog, "Buster", to the Musbro Dog Training Kennels at Paramus. It was here that Carl Muser, former instructor in the German Army, had for many years accepted dogs for training and after completion of the course had returned the dogs to their owners.
The Behrands, after discussion with Mr, Muser, decided to take the training course along with their dog. Elated with the results after successful completion of the course, the Behrands began recruiting other dog fanciers for this new method of training.
From this beginning, close to thirty adherents of dog breeds covered under the Working Class organized on April 7, 1935 as the First Working Dog Club of America.
The club had its headquarters at the Musbro Training Kennels and its object was to "promote the owning, exhibiting and training of working dogs, to hold dog trials periodically and to promote honorable conduct both in the show ring and in the commercial field." Officers of this new club were Valentine Marten-President, Gus Stuffels-Vice President; Felice Hall-Secretary, I.J. Smith-Secretary; Mrs. J.B. Behrand-Treasurer and Carl Muser Head Trainer. Training classes were held each Sunday and consisted of obedience tests, detective and trailing courses, protection and the guarding of humans and objects, show ring technique, grooming and lessons in the comparison of specimens.
The club grew and for reasons of incorporation, changed its name to the First Dog Training Club of Northern New Jersey, Inc. on October 29, 1940. Jerome B. Behrand was elected President and served in this capacity until 1955.
Mr. Behrand was the first to organize team competition and his routines are the ones still used today. He was also the founder and first President of the Association of Obedience Clubs and Judges and is often referred to as "The Father of Obedience Training." First Dog was one of the first members of this organization. It was also one of the first obedience clubs to become a member of the American Kennel Club when it was accepted on March 11, 1947.
The club's first Obedience Trial was held in 1943 and a trial was held every year up to and including 1956. From that time until our licensed obedience trial on January 25, 1970, no licensed trial was held but an obedience match was held each year.
Most of the early obedience instructors and clubs received their training at First Dog. Blanche Saunders consulted with Mr. Behrand and Mr. Muser and took part in many of the club's programs.
First Dog has put innumerable demonstrations on television, at Rockefeller Center, at the Sportsman's Show in New York City and at local organizations.