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Nova and I am starting obedience (Called V1) next week. How long did it take before you and your dog were ready to your first trial. I am not sure if I want to stick with obedience but there has to be some basics before moving to rally or agility. How long before you can switch your focus to either of those?
 

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In a general sense what you need is for Nova to maintain attention on you even if there is a lot going on around you. For example if you are on deck to go in a ring (for anything) and someone drops a board for a jump on the floor 8' away she can look and acknowledge that but immediately turn back to watching you. The ability to ignore everything other than you will get you through all sorts of strange moments. I was at a trial where I had Javelin entered for beginner novice. I was not on deck but had already had the briefing and walk through so I had taken him out of his crate and for a potty stop. We were sitting near our crates (Lily was napping). I had Javelin very close and I was playing its yer choice with him. I was watching a group of several people one with a toller. The woman with the dog wasn't paying attention and I saw the toller put his attention on Javvy and called out watch your dog quite loudly as the dog got up and started in our direction. Thankfully the table steward from rally was right there and she stepped between them and prevented contact, but it was a close call and Javelin spent a lot of time throwing glances out of the ring during our routine. He was clearly pretty concerned that he was going to end up being attacked again. Thankfully we have deep enough trust that his default is to look back to me for reassurance when worried and we did qualify but getting him to recall did take a 2nd order (allowed in that class). Years ago Lily broke a group sit stay in open because a handler in the open A ring (we were in B) hit the high jump (made of wood) with a big GSD sized wooden dumbbell. It sounded like a cannon and while I was leaving the ring with the other handlers Lily went streaking by us and straight into her crate. One other dog stood up but the others all held their stays. That level of proofing is what one really wants.

If you want to get a novice title you can Q and get a title with a little distractability. If you decide you like it you will need much more great ability to ignore distractions and you cannot break your focus with Nova either to go further. If you want to do rally, the lower levels are easy to get through as long as you understand the signs. I never did anything other than a novice class to teach rally to Lily. We do practice running courses and it has taken a fair investment of time to teach her to do the master signs reliably. Javelin's rally novice title was done before he was one year old.

For myself at this point I have no further plans in agility because I don't think I can run with Javelin to get through a course. I would need distance work even in novice with him. He is just too fast for me. For many dogs lower agility classes are about getting a really good relationship that allows the dog to be aware of its handler, but to remain focused on the obstacles on the course.
 
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Great feedback from Catherine. There are Different schools of thought on this. Some believe too much obedience work inhibits the dog’s ability to do distance work in agility, others believe dogs should always do obedience work before coming to agility, and then there’s the folks in between!

I’m a tweener. I think you need the basics of obedience, a good stay, focus on you, ability to tune out distractions, etc. However, you can get those skills either formally or informally. It is also invaluable to socialize the heck out of them so they are comfortable with the sights, smells, and sounds that can present at a trial.

I talked with a woman recently who is a long time agility competitor and recently acquired a 5 year old toy poodle who had only done obedience work. She was having a very hard time transitioning her to agility as the dog didn’t want to run ahead of her. She had been workinG with her a year and not making much progress. She knew what she was doing- her other dogs had very good distance and control, but this little one did not want to leave her side. That’s an extreme example, almost all of the time, obedience is a good foundation.

No reason you can’t start agility training now, just make sure the instructor keeps the jump heights low and avoids overly repetitive movements, which may damage growth plates. I started Gracie in agility right after her fIrst puppy classes, I think she was 6-7 months old.

Let us know how it goes!
 
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