Club History

In 1933 a woman named Helene Whitehouse Walker of New York wanted the public to see and participate in the ‘thrilling new sport’ she had witnessed on a recent trip to England – dog obedience. She was tired of hearing people say that dogs were beautiful but dumb and had begun seeking a way to prove this to be untrue. She held the first ‘obedience test’ at her father’s home. There were 8 dogs entered and 150 spectators. Word spread quickly that these dogs and their owners could do wonderful things together and others wanted to try.

In Baltimore in 1934 several dog lovers started obedience training in one owner’s backyard. As others saw what they could do, the group became too large and moved to Homewood Field at Johns Hopkins University and Druid Hill Park where they attracted even more attention. This was the beginning of the first obedience club in Maryland.

Meanwhile the American Kennel Club began working with Mrs. Walker and in 1936 held the first licensed Obedience Trials. Sixteen dogs were entered and 6 became the first Companion Dogs.

Two years later the group in Baltimore held a meeting for the purpose of formal organization. The name Dog Owners’ Training Club of Maryland was adopted and we were officially incorporated. In 1941 Mrs. Walker judged our Obedience Trial which was held in conjunction with Baltimore County Kennel Club’s Breed Show, ironically enough at the Pikesville Armory where would later hold classes for 18 years. Mrs. Walker presented DOTC with a silver Revere bowl trophy that we have awarded annually to a club member for the last 62 years. We’re proud of our club’s close association with the founder of AKC dog obedience and honored to say we are the second oldest, continuously operating obedience club in the United States.

Over the years many people have put enormous amounts of time, thought and energy into making this club a success. During World War II club members donated dogs to the Army and volunteered at Fort Holabird to help the men with their training. Our annual Obedience Trial is continuously one of the largest in the country. DOTC has been instrumental in working with the AKC to develop advanced tracking tests. In 1980 two of our members judged the first Tracking Dog Excellent test in Winston-Salem, N. C. And in 1995 in Ellicott City, Md., we hosted the first Variable Surface Tracking test. People came from all over the country to watch the dogs and handlers exhibit skills that in the past were thought to only be possible in professionally trained K-9 dogs. Dog Owners’ in conjunction with Baltimore County Recreation and Parks issued the first Canine Good Citizen certifications in the eastern United States in 1989. We have consistently been involved in advancing the abilities and achievements of obedience training.

We are a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people become more capable and responsible dog owners. We run approximately 200 teams through our basic course each year. If asked what has kept us going for so many years, I think many of us would answer that it’s knowing how many dogs have had a better life because of what we do.