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Discussion Starter #23
spindledreams thanks for those notes about the differences in UKC novice obedience. I think there are a number of factors that people should account for in deciding on a venue. First, of course is availabilty of that venue in reasonable travel distance. But the differences in exercises is important too. Part of why I waited until well into 2012 to do AKC rally excellent with Lily was to make sure she didn't have to do an honor exercise. I just don't like the idea of ordering one of my dogs to an on leash sit or down stay and having them want to obey my order if the working dog ends up going out of control in the ring (which would have been possible in rally excellent since the working dog is off leash, I also don't like having one dog on and one dog off leash).

I think people can use my original links to get events searches and the rules for the various venues I discussed. One of the important things is to be very familiar with the rules and actual ideal performance of each exercise in the venue you want to show in. Just last week I took a utility class at my club. We don't teach the exercises in these classes but rather work with the class instructor and each other to practice and improve the dog's execution of the behaviors. For those who are newer to utility with their first dog (me a year or so ago), we offer guidance on very basic things as we work with each other. The person who I worked with is a green handler and she doesn't know the language for the orders. I suggested to her that she study the rules so she becomes familiar with what the judge will be saying to her and also so that she can give orders appropriately to the person she is working with.
 
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Discussion Starter #24
preparing for your first trial

Ok, so you have decided that you are ready to enter a rally or agility or other trial with your dog. What do you need to do to be absolutely ready for the day of the trial.

First test your dog under trial like circumstances by entering a match if possible. My obedience club schedules matches in the weeks leading up to trials that we are hosting. There will be a judge (I often work to judge matches) and although they won't score you (if it is a "B" match, show and go or fun match) they will give you feedback and if you want them to treat it just like a trial they will. You will be scored if it is an "A" match. You can also use it as a training opportunity if you know your dog is weak in one exercise. I have also been at agility trials that run B matches on the first day of a trial after the regular event ends. The entry fees for matches are much lower than for trials. One of my favorite trials to go to are those hosted by the Syracuse Obedience Training Club in upstate NY since they always host match time in the trial rings on Fridays of the weekends of their Sat/Sun trials.

Another really important thing to do is to make sure your dog will be relaxed at the trial. If you are interested in something noisy and high energy like agility go to a trial with your dog and walk around the venue with them. Make sure you stay out of the way of the chute and the ring exit and don't interfere with teams that are getting ready to run, but do let your dog learn what the atmosphere will be like and pay attention to reading your dog for signs of stress. If (s)he seems really stressed out by it all then work on classical conditioning exercises in that highly distracting environment to help your dog refocus on you. Although there are others, I recommend Leslie McDevitt's Control Unleashed games. Leslie McDevitt: Control Unleashed®: Home Page

Since you will walk through the courses for agility and rally it is essential that your dog be comfortable relaxing in a crate. Practice this by taking the crate to class and setting it up and having your dog rest in it while waiting for your turn. Let your dog see and hear that there are dogs working nearby. You don't want to have to rely on asking someone to hold your dog while you do your walk through. Also dogs are rarely allowed into the restrooms with you so you need a place to safely leave them when you go off to use the facilities or buy something for lunch. For multi-day trials you can view your crate and chair (good idea to have a chair for yourself too) as a campground of sorts. You can leave those things set up without worry (although hide your rosettes when you aren't around, I've had a couple stolen (including last year at PCA!)). I always leave water, food, treats and an extra set of feed buckets at the trial site so I don't have to carry those back and forth, and more importantly don't have to worry about forgetting them. Duplicates of those dog care essentials also stay at my hotel.

Here is a picture that shows what the crating areas can look like. Being prepared will help you minimize your own stress and therefore will help you bring out the best in your dog when you step into the ring together.

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This thread is fantastic and full of so much useful information! Thank you Catherine (and everyone else who contributed) for all the wonderful facts and links. It is a bit daunting when you are taking that first step (paw!), so to have great resources to turn to is very helpful. Thanks again!

Heather (and Cooper)
 

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Discussion Starter #26
At your first trial

Now the dig day of your debut with your dog is here. If the trial is in day trip distance of your home, make sure you know how to get there and how long it will take. Then add at least an hour to your travel time to figure out when to leave to make it to your ring on time. This gives you a buffer for bad traffic, but more importantly is also the time you need to set up your crate, settle your dog and check in at your ring.

Settling your dog should include walking through the venue while talking to him or her to let them know that this big noisy place full of dogs is no big deal to you and shouldn't be to them either. One of the biggest mistakes I see new handlers make is in not helping their dog to understand the new environment enough.

I go to many events that are not one day there and back kinds of venues. I often will enter for two or as many as four days at a big cluster. It is essential that I do everything I can to keep Lily's life as routine as possible. I go the day before I show to trials like this. Whenever possible I set up the day before the trials start. I will walk around in the buildings and/or grounds to show Lily the lay of the land. I show her the rings we will work in and walk around them with her. You are not allowed to practice in the show rings for the most part, but you can do things to help your dog be familiar with the working setting.

If the club hosting the trial has a match before the trial, think about entering. This is the biggest favor you can do for your dog. He or she will think that the work environment is not so alien if they have had a chance to practice there.
 

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I think Lou would be an extraordinary super champion agility gal! ;) she does crazy athletic things with such ease!! She is really amazing! Apollo tried his best but she is lightning fast and way more graceful on her jumps and landings :p


She jumps really really REALLY high like a horse! :D and lands gracefully like .. So gently the paws touch the floor!

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Apollo tries to keep up, running after the ball when playing fetch, but Lou is soooo much faster than him! I actually have to ask her to wait so he can have a turn to get the ball too! hehehehehe :p
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I think human women are more graceful than men too. Medium size girl spoos are famous for jumpy-jumps. Mine goes 6-8 feet in the air and lands like a feather. Different if you get in the way! 50lbs of dog from 6 feet up can flatten you.
Eric.
 

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I think human women are more graceful than men too. Medium size girl spoos are famous for jumpy-jumps. Mine goes 6-8 feet in the air and lands like a feather. Different if you get in the way! 50lbs of dog from 6 feet up can flatten you.
Eric.

Well said!! Lou & Apollo are 62-65lbs now I think LOL.... I can still carry them, but barely ! :p last time I measured / weighed them was a long time ago, they are now 2.5 years old :)

And they do "bodyslam me in the backyard sometimes enough to make me fall on my butt a couple times!! lol "
 

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Great info! I'm going to start bring a crate to Lily's agility class. Never thought of doing that, but now I know why the more experienced woman in class brings a crate for her collie!
 
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Discussion Starter #31
Great info! I'm going to start bring a crate to Lily's agility class. Never thought of doing that, but now I know why the more experienced woman in class brings a crate for her collie!
You will be really happy to have gotten her used to the home away from home of the crate before you start to run at trials!
 
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I can see the value in it. I only used a crate for a short time after I brought her home , but she was fine in it, so I imagine it won't be a problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #33
It helps them to be relaxed for when you are getting ready to run. Also you don't have to ask someone to hold her during your walk throughs. I find it much more relaxing for me if I don't have to worry about the dog when I am walking.

Separately we went to Oneonta yesterday to pick up BF's daughter who will be doing a Disney internship starting in January and therefore had to totally clear her room out. There is a lot of snow!!!
 
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Discussion Starter #34
Tracking

Tracking is something that so far I can say we've only dabbled in although I want to get more serious about it.

Tracking is a great sport for dogs that are reactive to other dogs since there will never be other dogs on your track with you. It is also a good confidence builder for a dog that is indecisive. In tracking the dog takes the lead and you just follow along (as some tracking folks say, we are the dope at the end of the rope). You can encourage the dog, you can give water along the way and untangle your line if things get jumbled up but otherwise the dog is following a scent trail that has no visual evidence associated with it unless you are tracking across recently fallen snow or something else where the track layers footprints would be obvious to you.

There are four major tracking titles: TD, TDU, TDX, and VST. Before you can take a tracking test you and your dog must pass a certification which is like a TD track and judged by an AKC judge. The judge will give you four copies of your certification if you pass. You will use one each time you enter for a TD or TDU until you pass. After that having earned a TD or TDU substitutes for the certification if you want to take a TDX or VST.

TD stands for tracking dog and is the basic first title. Alternatively a TDU is an urban tracking dog title. You could do either as your first title track and the requirements are very similar for them. The requirements in terms of length of track, number and angles of turns is similar. For a TD there are no acute angle turns and there are no cross tracks. Cross tracks are laid by two other people than the primary track layer and literally intersect your dog's track at crossing angles as an off course distraction on a TDX. The length of a TD track is no less than 440 yards nor more than 500 yards. The track will have been aged between 30 minutes and 2 hours. There will be no fence lines to guide the dog as to when to turn. Verbal encouragement of the dog is allowed but signals that turn the dog are not. You only need to pass once to earn a TD and the scoring is pass/fail. There are no scores or placements. There will be one article that the dog has to give indication of finding at the end of the track. Your dog must where a harness and be on a long line. You must remain at least 20 feet behind the dog unless you stop to disentangle the dog.

A TD track will be in relatively flat and open terrain, as will a TDU. In contrast a TDX will be a longer track through varying terrains, possibly including water or fallen trees to cross. The track for a TDX will be between 800 and 1000 yards and will have aged 3 to 5 hours before you run on it. There will be two places where there will be decoy cross tracks. There will be articles that you have to collect along the track as well.

I will continue this later.
 

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A few notes on CDSP

Thanks for such an interesting thread! I just now found it and enjoyed reading all the overviews.

CDSP--Companion Dog Sports Program--is pretty new and pretty small, and mostly in the Northeast US. It used to be St. Hubert's CDSP, and was later bought by Sandi Ver Sprill, who has really helped it grow. [Full disclosure, I'm a judge for all levels in this venue.] Here's the web site: CDSP Home Page

It's an obedience venue that is deliberately dog-friendly, and is a good venue for reactive dogs since there are no group exercises. The only stay is a sit or down in the middle of the ring while the handler walks around the edge--a bit like the AKC Beginner Novice exercise, but the sit or down is the handler's choice.

A little like Rally, you are allowed to encourage your dog with praise, and you can give a treat between exercises--very specifically after the judge says "exercise finished" and before you take a single step to the next exercise. Extra commands are penalized 3 points (for example, if you say "Sit! Sit!" the first command is free and the second costs 3 points). You can cue each portion of an exercise without penalty. For example, for a retrieve over the high jump, I can cue, "Over, Take it, Over, Front, Finish" without penalty--so long as I don't give an extra command--"Over! Over!" There are a few sins that result in a non-recoverable NQ, and it has taken both my dogs about 6 or 7 runs to get the 3 Qs for their novice titles. Novice dogs like to run around jumps, for some reason.

The venue just added a new title. In addition to Novice, Open, and Utility, and the new class is Versatility, which mixes non-retrieve exercises from Utility with another exercise from lower levels. We also offer championships--10 scores of 185 or higher in Novice earns a Novice Championship (CD-CCH). Championships are available at each level. A Novice championship is required before entering Versatility.

Exercises for the levels are a little different from both AKC and UKC.
  • Novice: On Lead Heeling, Off Lead Figure 8, Moving Stand for Exam, Recall over Bar Jump, Sit or Down Stay
  • Open: Off Lead Heeling, Running Broad Jump, Drop On Recall, Retrieve on the Flat, Retrieve Over High Jump, Go Out, Turn and Sit (from between the jump the end of the ring)
  • Utility: Signals (without full heeling pattern--additional signals are allowed without NQ, but cost 3 points), Scent Discrimination (5 articles of any material), Directed Jumping (high and bar, as usual), Directed Retrieve (twice, once at each end of the ring), Moving Stand and Exam.
 
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Discussion Starter #36
Marguerite thank you so much for expanding on how CDSP obedience works. You and I have talked about it in the past, but having your expertise added here is wonderful.
 
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More on CDSP

I wanted to mention this, but my post on CDSP was already pretty long.

You can use CDSP as a way to earn titles and as a way to prepare for venues with more restrictive rules. After all, a little positive reinforcement of success for the handler helps confidence. And "live" ring practice is good for the dog, too.

Exhibitors with an eye on UKC and AKC often do their runs as if under those rules, with no chatter to the dog. But a second command can not only save your Q in CDSP, it can let the dog know, "Yes, you need to do this." (Don't forget that you can have an extra command in UKC and AKC in some situations like heeling, but it will cost you points. Except in heeling, UKC allows simultaneous voice and signal with no penalty.)

And as my CDSP mentor likes to explain, a new handler can enter Novice A in CDSP and get a title--heck you can go all the way through a UD, and when you enter UKC, you're still in Novice A because it doesn't recognize CDSP. And when you get good in UKC, you can go to AKC and you're still in Novice A because AKC only recognizes itself.

One caveat--the last time I read UKC rules, the qualifications for the B class in obedience levels included having a title in "another venue." As a UKC judge once told a group at a show, "It's always safe to enter the B class." If you mistakenly enter the A class, your scores won't count. Now that I'm also a UKC Rally judge, I'll forever be in the B class in any UKC performance event.

PS--Catherine, let me know if you want an overview of UKC Rally if no one else jumps in to share information.
 
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Miss Lily's agility progress

Lily just finished another agility class last night. The instructor kept saying how good she is doing and I can see that she has made so much progress in the last eight weeks. She can't wait to get in the ring and very much acts like she has a job when she gets in there.

I can call her through the starting obstacles and she really follows my direction - when I do it right! The zoomies still happen here and there but not nearly as often. Last night was great because I was able to redirect her back to the course when I saw that look in eyes that meant the zoomies were going to happen. That felt good, as just a few weeks ago- she would have been off zooming around the place like a little crazy dog :act-up: It's like a split second thing when her brain flips into zoomie mode, and I was SO happy that she made the choice to respond to my direction and get back to the task at hand. That was real progress.

The teeter is another challenge. But last night she actually tipped it herself so she is making progress there too. And she jumps right on it, just slows down in the middle and needs encouragement to finish it. Everything else she tackles enthusiastically- she is a speedy little thing. I'm still directing her through the weaves, but she does better all the time with those too.

I love the facility and the instructor too! She seems to know just what to say to move Lily along- clearly much experience, skill, and thought behind the suggestions. We are moving to another class next session, as getting to this class meant leaving my weekly department meetings at work 20 minutes early. I work in a dog friendly place, but I just can't do that on a permanent basis to my colleagues. So the instructor found a good class for us to move into.

In the new class, Lily will be jumping 12 inch jumps, which is what she will need to do in competition anyway. She was doing 8 inches in the last class. She's got the long poodle legs and springiness, so the height won't be a problem for her- and she definitely has the poodle smarts!

We are having a blast- loving agility!
 

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Discussion Starter #39
Marguerite I haven't done UKC rally so go for it with thanks.

Carolinek you are very fortunate to have found a great instructor and facility to train at. I spent a long time at a place with a decent facility (although that is where I fell and messed up my knee). The instructor was decent (not great) but there were always too many dogs and handlers. She often overfilled the class. Clearly she also had favorites and some people got more time than others. Before I stopped going I had gotten to the point of just treating it as run thrus since my real instruction and fixing of Lily's contacts was with my private trainer. I am so lucky to have her since she is internationally known, but she lives ten minutes away from us!
 

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Marguerite I haven't done UKC rally so go for it with thanks.
I'll work on it later today--I have some paying work to do right now. We freelancers still have bosses and schedules--but we don't have much advance notice as to who and what. :)
 
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