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Discussion Starter #1
As you all know I do lots of performance activities with Lily (and a bit less so with Peeves). While I recognize that most people here don't participate and that there are many reasons one might "opt out," I want to make a case for everyone to give some sort of performance event a try. Many people think that they don't have time to train their dogs. If they did, most of the people who look to hire private in home trainers (like me) wouldn't need to think about doing so.

Some performance events can be expensive in time and money to train for and to get good enough to qualify in (think agility (lots of equipment) or obedience (lots of training and proofing), but others can be very inexpensive and easy to do on your own.

Tracking just requires a harness, a long line (once ready for distance between you and the dog) and some old socks, gloves and wallets plus some smelly treats at the beginning. You can work on your own or from a book or videos.

Rally can be trained easily as long as you have access to what the signs mean (look at the AKC (or other venue) rally rules online). All you might need is a few safety cones and a couple of dog toys or bowls with some treats in them to teach yourself and the dog what to do.

The greatest benefit out of training for performance events is the strengthened bond you and your dog will enjoy as a result of constructive time spent with each other. Even if you never enter a show or earn a title your dog will love you even more than they already do for having done something new and fun together.

If folks are interested I will post a summary of the different venues and links to their rules, etc. Everyone can play any of these games if they choose.
 

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Hi Catherine!

I am definitely interested! As you may have read before, I'm starting some agility training with Cooper and we both love it so far. I'm so curious about all there is out there for us.

I think with Cooper's energy level, smarts (he's a real thinking dog when he's focused) and easy going attitude, there is probably quite a bit I can do with him. As a beginner, I'm not as familiar with all the slang (Rally O, Obedience, Agility...they all seem similar to a novice like me).

I know you and Lily get so much enjoyment out of it! I hope to someday have the same experience with Coop.

Thanks!
Heather
 

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That sounds like a good idea! I do agility training with Begley, and it's a lot of fun for both of us. It's good exercise for us both, and even if we never achieve any titles, it's great training and confidence building for Begley. Our classes are always focused on overall improvement, but in a low pressure and supportive way that keeps it fun. And the classes aren't just for people who want to compete -- although I'd like to do some trials at some point, many of the people and dogs in class are there for a hobby only.

However, some of the rules around agility can be a bit confusing for beginners. The Gamblers and Snooker games, for example, need a "for dummies" handbook to figure out what's going on, I think!
 

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I would really like to do rally with Max. I think it would be very beneficial for him to have the mental exercise to help him stay focused and under control. We did a couple of agility class and he was very good with the different commands but he was not comfortable with the obstacles. Rally it would be a better fit for him.

I have checked around my area for rally classes and have not found any that are convenient but I may get the rally cards and just work with him on my own until I can find a venue.

The other activity that I think he would love because he is ball obsessed is flyball but I am not very familiar with the sport.
 

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Catherine, I'll look forward to your post about various performance activities, as I find anything beyond basic obedience confusing. Jazz and I have done several series of obedience classes, but she doesn't really like it very much. We worked with a couple of private trainers from the time she was a year old, but I started her in group obedience when she was about 18 months, to help socialize her. She was quite uncomfortable with all the dogs and noise and people at first, which may account for her general lack of enthusiasm for that particular sport. We started agility classes a few weeks ago, and we're both having fun, so we may focus on that for her. Blue just finished a beginner obedience series and will start advanced in January. He, bless his enthusiastic little heart, enjoys everything, so he and I may try several things.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Rally Obedience, aka Rally O

Rally is a great sport to start with. Young dogs can be successful at it since novice routines are done on leash. Advanced and excellent routines are done off leash. In all venues judges will be looking for positive team work. In novice you will be penalized for pulling on the leash. In advanced and excellent the exercises will be harder and there will be more of them. You can also talk fairly freely with your dog, although you can't beg or plead for them to do what they are supposed to. In AKC excellent you are also not allowed to pat your leg, although you can in novice and advanced.

In rally the judge designs a course for each level to be run. The number of stations and what the activities will vary with each level and also can be slightly different across different venues (but there are many parallels. Some exercises will be stationary activities such as halt, sit, down or in a more advanced routine it might be more complicated like a moving stand handler walks around dog. Some exercises will be moving exercises where a change of pace (fast, slow, normal) or change of direction (360 left, 360 right) is required. On the day of the trial, stewards will work with the judge to set up signs for the first course to be run (usually excellent at AKC trials). Before the first class starts course maps will be posted and/or distributed. You generally have at least 30 minutes to study the map before a ten minute walk through. At the start of the walk through the judge will give a briefing and during the walk through you may ask the judge questions (although in AKC you can't ask the judge how to do a particular sign). People do their walk throughs in many different ways. Some folks just walk around the course and read the signs and look at where they are placed. There are also a lot of people who like me walk the course with their invisible dog doing their part of each activity. I actually also talk to myself as I plan to talk to Lily (or Peeves) during our actual run.

Training for rally is fun to do in a class, but a class isn't necessary. I took one rally class with Lily very early on and since then have done all of my training on my own. These days I don't generally do separate specific rally training with Lily although I do with Peeves since he now has to learn some excellent activities (by Saturday this week hopefully), but instead, use rally exercises as warm ups for obedience and agility trials and for obedience classes. When I am at a rally trial I do practice the exercises that I have seen to be in that day's course that I think Lily (or Peeves) could use reinforcement on with her (or him) during the time before the walk through and then before our run if time permits after the walk through.

In the US there are three major venues for competing in rally, AKC, UKC and WCR. I have chosen to focus on AKC events myself, but many people cross back and forth between them with relative ease.

You can find a pdf of the AKC rally rules here (also has obedience rules): http://images.akc.org/pdf/rulebooks/RO2999.pdf

You can search for AKC rally trials here: American Kennel Club - Event and Awards Search

Here is a link for the UKC Rally rules: http://res.ukcdogs.com/pdf/2011RallyRulebook.pdf

And here is the link for how to find UKC rally events in your area: United Kennel Club: Upcoming Events

The other major venue for rally obedience used to be through APDT, but is now WCR (World Cynosport Rally). Here is a link to its rules: https://www.rallydogs.com/rulesReg_ebook.cfm

And here is the link for finding WCR rally trials in your area: https://www.rallydogs.com/events.cfm

When I first started competing with Lily I thought rally would be just a small stepping stone on the way to grander events and titles. Many traditional obedience folks think rally is easy. For me rally has become an important foundation of all the other sports I do with Lily. I do not think it is easy since there are elements to rally that are very different from traditional obedience, most notably that every trial presents a different course instead of a set routine. For Peeves rally substitutes for regular obedience. He just will not do the group stays reliably enough for me to feel comfortable entering him. There is never another dog in the ring with yours in AKC rally, which is a much more comfortable situation for me and for Peeves.

In my next post in this thread I will talk about traditional obedience venues and routines. Feel free to ask questions. I also hope that people who have done UKC and WCR rally or other sports will give their perspective on those venues.
 

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We're finishing up our beginning rally class tonight. Both of us have loved it, and we'll be moving on to the next round of rally classes my club offers next month. I'm not sure if we'll ever compete, but the classes have been so much fun and Dash seems to enjoy it much more than regular obedience. Planning on trying agility at some point next year as well :)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Katie I think you will find that even if you don't compete in rally, the team connection that you reinforce through working on it should really help you with agility or anything else you want to try.

Specman we dabbled in flyball a bit. While Lily loved the concept of getting to jump the hurdles to go get a shot at grabbing a ball, I didn't find that it did much to enhance our connection to each other. I also know some people feel that it is hard on the dog's shoulders to hit the box as hard as a really ball obsessed do would probably hit it. If I were to do something serious along those general lines it would be dock diving (about which I know virtually nothing, but I do know both my dogs love jumping into our pool to grab balls and other thrown objects!).
 

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Great post!

I can do the Agility rundown. :biggrin:

In Agility, dogs run a course over various obstables, including jumps, tunnels, a climbing wall (the A-frame), a long narrow ramp (the dogwalk), a seesaw, and weave poles (a line of 12 upright poles that the dog must snake through with a serpentine motion). Different classes contain different sets of obstacles and variations of the rules, but at its most basic, the dog navigates the course in the designated order, and the fastest time (with the least amount of faults, which means no faults at all in the higher classes) wins. Dogs compete in classes with dogs of similar heights.

This sport relies on great communcation between dog and handler, as the dog must obey the handlers directions while both are moving at speed, with the dog off leash. Basic obedience is a foundation, but the real fine-tuning in Agility comes in to the "dance" of handler and dog around the course, with the dog (hopefully) cueing in to the handler's movement and voice and taking the correct obstacle next.

Training can be done at home with minimal equipment, a few jumps and weave poles, but most Agility aficionados join a training center to have access to the big stuff like the A-frame and dogwalk, and to guidance from experienced handlers.

The comaradarie at shows is great, as you're really only competing against the clock, so competition between handlers needn't be cutthroat (though of course there are friendly rivalries). Though most are probably familiar with AKC Agility, there are a few other Agility venues as well, like USDAA and NADAC, which have their own variations of the rules, equipment, and jump height categories.

I've done Obedience, Flyball, and Agility, and by far I like Agility the best. For me, it has just the right combination of precision, obedience, speed, and dog enjoyment, and the training requirements aren't onorous, nor is the path to a MACH (Agility championship).

It's a great sport! Poodles of all sizes can be very successful in Agility.

--Q
 

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I got back a little while ago from an agility class with Lily and was excited to see this thread. Thank you Catherine for initiating it.

Lily is a 12 lb poodle mix. Not sure of the combination of breeds but her personality, trainability, intelligence, energy level, and athleticism is all poodle.

She loves agility! Her enthusiasm is amazing and I am having a ball with her. She will be ready to compete probably spring/ summer, but in the meantime we are having a heck of a lot of fun. If she earns points, that would be great but I'm more about the process, and just enjoy watching her enthusiasm.

She is also at least 5 years old so we are a starting a little late, which I guess is OK.

One thing I did learn is to find a center that is a good fit for you. I looked around a bit, but finally wound up at a place I really like with an incredible trainer. The class is one of the high points of my week and the owner/ trainer really zeroes on on the specific things each dog needs. She is very intuitive about this, and having been around the block with some different trainers with Lily, I appreciate and recognize her skill.

We are just beginners, but to echo what Quossom said, agility is an incredible way to bond with your dog!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks Q for the agility perspective. The only thing I would add for those of you who commented about some of the games being confusing, go and watch a trial or two in the venue you are interested in and hang out with a friendly looking handler and ask them to explain. Also you don't have to do all of the different games in any venue. I have tried my hand at all of the CPE games and some of them are very hard! More recently I have decided to stick with AKC events to keep my calendar and budget manageable, but even there I don't do Time 2 Beat or FAST.

Some venues are more common in certain areas than others. Here are links for different venues:

American Kennel Club - Dog Shows and Trials

Welcome to Canine Performance Events, Inc.

The North American Dog Agility Council - NADAC, LLC

Welcome to USDAA

To compete in AKC events, if your dog is AKC registered you need to have his or her registration number, breeder info and sire/dam plus birth date to fill out an entry form. If your dog is not AKC registered and clearly a poodle but without papers you can apply for a Purebred Alternative Listing (PAL) or if the dog is a mixed breed you apply for registration through the AKC canine partners program.

To compete in other venues you need to register your dog in that venue. For some of them there is an annual membership fee, but for the AKC there is only a one time fee to register the dog.
 

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I printed out the novice rally signs yesterday and Max and I are off and running. He really enjoyed working on this last night and picked it up quickly. He has been crazy the last couple of days and really needs an outlet for all of his physical and mental energy!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I printed out the novice rally signs yesterday and Max and I are off and running. He really enjoyed working on this last night and picked it up quickly. He has been crazy the last couple of days and really needs an outlet for all of his physical and mental energy!
I am happy to hear that Specman. You have done so much work with Max it is nice to see it paying off. I think most dogs really have fun with rally. when I am at trials I see a lot less signs of stress in dogs waiting for or in the rally ring than in any other sport. Even green agility dogs can be very stressed by the intensity of that atmosphere. For Lily it was why she often did zoomies at agility (and in obedience). But except for one time which was largely my fault she has never taken off on me in rally.
 

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I haven't done nosework in a formal way, but I know some people who do. Feel free to add a post explaining how it works. I would like to know more about what you do and how it might be related to tracking (which I will discuss along the way).
 

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Nosework what I have learned

We didn't get as far into it as I wanted to but it really was Monsters favorite game. In this game the dogs learn to search for a specific set of odors and alert their handler to the location of the source of the odor. Nose Work is good for shy or even dog aggressive dogs as they never have to work around other dogs not even in training. Only one dog is allowed in the search area at a time. The dogs come out do a few searches then go back into a kennel or car while the next dog goes into the search area. They learn how to wait for their turn patiently and then come out raring to go. We normally did 3 searches a night but some other groups/classes may do more or less.

You start training for this game by teaching your dog that there will ALWAYS be a box with treats in it all they have to do is find it. Then they get loads of praise and we dropped extra treats into the box. There is always a treat and they will always find it but you will NEVER show them exactly where it is. You can draw their attention to an area but not the exact box. If they get frustrated you will find a way to get them near the "hide" without showing them (this is really hard for US to learn) You can see the dogs get into the game as most turn on and start to actually search by the end of the first night of training.

For the dog it is a fun game with lots of treats and praise for doing what comes naturally. For us it is a lesson in body language and patience. We have to learn to read our dogs, to know when they are frustrated, on scent, just goofing off and when they have had it enough for the day.

Tracking and Nosework are related as we are encouraging a dog to find a particular scent and trace it back to the source. They are different as you don't need a field or large area to work in. A normal size room can be used for your hides, cars are actually used in some advanced title classes. The dogs have to learn to take into account the air patterns in a room with artificial ventilation as well as how to work outside as they get further along.

UKC now has a Nosework title and there are other groups that also have different rules and hand out titles. NACSW is one of them.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
spindledreams thanks so much for explaining nose work further and for the link. That is really important to note that for dogs that may have some social issues this can be a very good activity. I think that for green handlers who have a dog with social issues a very intense environment like an agility trial this could be a great venue. If you are handling a dog with issues, making it easy on the handler by taking away the social worries is really helpful since the handler will not be loaded with stress. For myself with Peeves, who is dog reactive (but not aggressive), there is a lot that I have to deal with just to get him to the ring and back. I have a strategy that works, but without experience to understand his issues I would probably just leave him at home.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Tradiitonal Obedience

In the AKC there are three main levels of obedience: novice, open and utility. Lily and I are currently struggling with utility (aka futility). There will probably be some significant rules changes in January with elimination of one of the group stays in both novice and open. The removed exercise will be replaced with a new individual exercise, but for the time being here is a summary of the exercises in AKC.

Novice: 1) heel on lead; 2) figure 8 on lead; 3) stand for exam; 4) heel free; 5) recall; 6) one minute group sit stay and 7) 3 minute group down stay. Exercises 1 to 5 are done individually with no other dog in the ring. For the groups handlers remain in sight of their dogs facing them from the opposite side of the ring. Heeling patterns include pace changes (fast, slow and normal), and at least one right, left and about turn along with halt sits in the middle and at the end. The judge gives orders for those actions to the handler. The dog must do the sits at the halts automatically and do the turns and pace changes without verbal instructions.

Open (all done off lead): 1) heel free; 2) figure 8; 3) drop on recall; 4) retrieve on the flat; 5) recall over the high jump; 6) broad jump; 7) 3 minute sit stay; and 8) five minute down stay. In open A (for dogs not yet titled at that level, exercises 1 - 6 are always done in that order and the dog and handler are alone with the judge in the ring. The stays are done in groups and the handlers leave the ring and are out of sight of the dogs. Again, heeling patterns include pace changes (fast, slow and normal), and at least one right, left and about turn along with halt sits in the middle and at the end. The judge gives orders for those actions to the handler. The dog must do the sits at the halts automatically and do the turns and pace changes without verbal instructions.

Utility (all done off lead): 1) heeling and signals (handler leaves dog on a stand and from the opposite side of the ring orders by signal only for the dog to drop and sit in place, recall to front sit, return to heel); 2) scent discrimination of two articles one metal and one leather from a set of nine articles (four each leather and metal plus the handler scented article, all articles are numbered but visually the same to the dogs); 3) directed retrieve of one of three gloves placed behind the dog and handler; 4) moving stand for examination where judge orders you to heel and then tells you to stand the dog while you keep moving to a point about 8 feet from the dog, you turn to face the dog while the judge examines it and then the judge orders a call to heel; 5) a two part directed jumping where you set up with dog at heel and order the dog to go out to the other side of the ring then turn and sit, you then order the dog to return over the jump that the judge gives the order for, this is then repeated for the other jump. There are no group stays in utility. For untitled dogs in utility A the exercises are always run in this order.

As in rally once a dog has earned a UD (utility dog title, or rally excellent) there are ways to continue to compete and earn recognition. Similarly to rally, where each degree of RAE represents ten times of qualifying in both advanced and utility at the same trial (Lily and I are up to 50 double Qs for RAE5) you can work towards a UDX (utility dog excellent title) by earning qualifying scores in both open B and Utility B at the same trial. In the B classes the exercises will be done in different sequences at different trials, although in open the stays will be at the end (sometimes with the down first). Once you have done so ten times the dog has earned a UDX, ten more times is UDX2, etc. At the same time the dog will also be earning obedience master points and by placing highly and defeating many other dogs also be earning points towards the prefix title of OTCh, obedience trial champion.

For those seriously interested in pursuing obedience titles through UD or UDX and OTCh, don't do as I did with Lily and wait until the dog is titled at one level to train for the next. Train all of them from a young age. I feel I would not be having some of the problems I am currently experiencing in utility had I started working on go outs and signals when she was much younger. Also do not practice in the A order with a poodle! Lily memorized the open A order just from trials and now is somewhat befuddled by the B orders for open. This is why even though we don't have the UD title I am entering her in utility B. I don't want her to memorize the A order for utility.

You can train all of this except the group stays largely by yourself. However, I strongly recommend going to classes. Having other people critique your work and offer suggestions to solve challenges is priceless! I belong to a not for profit (501(c)(3)) obedience club. Members pay $12 for a single class and if you take two in a day it is only $17. I can't imagine anything I have formally done with Lily and Peeves that has higher bang for the buck than classes at the club (dues for both me and BF each year is only $60).

The link to the AKC rules that I posted at the beginning of this thread for rally also has the obedience rules. UKC and CDSP are other venues that offer obedience trials.
 

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How to enter a trial

Now that we have discussed some of the events one can enter with your dog and how to get started preparing for your first event, let's talk about how to enter.

You can search at the web pages for the venues you want to enter for trials in your area. I will use AKC as my sample venue. By going to their obedience event and awards search page I was able to find obedience trials in NY for the next 12 months. http://www.apps.akc.org/apps/events/search/blocks/dsp_other_show_report.cfm?active_tab_row=2&active_tab_col=4&fixed_id=12&states=NY&club_name=&COMP_TYPE_O=OBED&COMP_TYPE_RLY=&COMP_TYPE_AG=&cb_mxb=N&cb_t2b=N&lb_t2b=Agility Time 2 Beat&cb_ole=N&date_type=Event&month_limit=12&save_as_default=Y&tab_type=OAR&saved_states=

I can scroll through to find trials I might be interested in. Important information in the search results will include whether the show is accepting all breeds or is a specialty as well as whether AKC canine partners program dogs can be entered. The judging assignments will also be found if they have been finalized. Additionally the dates and location for the show and the closing date for entries will be listed. Contact information for the show secretary and if applicable the superintendent will also be listed. The superintendent is where you will send your entry. You must pay attention to the closing date since the entry will have to reach that person or company before noon on the closing date. Generally there is no opening date for rally or obedience trials but there will be for agility trials. Your entry cannot reach the entry service or superintendent prior to the opening date or it will be discarded. You will need to fill out the entry form accurately and completely. Make sure you sign it where indicated and that you include proper payment.

Here are links to the AKC entry forms for agility, obedience and rally. As you can see they are fairly similar. Be careful about entering the correct classes. For example you need to enter your dog in rally B classes if the dog has earned an obedience title. In obedience you enter B classes at all levels if you have earned an OTCh, but can enter open A or utility A if the dog you are entering has not earned that level title.

http://images.akc.org/pdf/events/agility/AEAGL2.pdf

http://images.akc.org/pdf/AO9999.pdf

http://images.akc.org/pdf/AOR999.pdf

For smaller trials the entries often go directly to the trial secretary, who is usually a member of the club hosting the trial. For large shows the clubs involved will usually hire a superintendent who coordinates handling the entries. The major superintendents generally accept online entries in addition snail mailed forms with checks. Although they charge a fee for processing online entries I like to do my entries this way when possible since it gives me a confirmation number to use to track the status of my entries and a way to resolve problems (fingers crossed, so far haven't had any) the day of the trial.
http://www.apps.akc.org/apps/events/search/blocks/dsp_other_show_report.cfm?active_tab_row=2&active_tab_col=4&fixed_id=12&states=NY&club_name=&COMP_TYPE_O=OBED&COMP_TYPE_RLY=&COMP_TYPE_AG=&cb_mxb=N&cb_t2b=N&lb_t2b=Agility%20Time%202%20Beat&cb_ole=N&date_type=Event&month_limit=12&save_as_default=Y&tab_type=OAR&saved_states=
 

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UKC Obedience is very similar in title structure to AKC HOWEVER there are some differences in the exercises preformed. For instance in UKC Novice you do an Honor exercise where you do a down stay with your dog while another dog goes through the heeling exercise. You also do a recall over a jump so you need to train for that before you compete while in AKC you don't do a recall over a jump until after you get your CD. Copies of regulations for both UKC and AKC are available for download from their sites.
 
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