Training For Competition

Discussion in 'Obedience Training' started by Pawtential Unleashed, Mar 5, 2013.

  1. Pawtential Unleashed Experienced Member

    So I have begun thinking about starting down the road of titling some of the furkids in whatever interest them...

    Other than 4-H as a kid, I have not actively competed in anything in a long time - though I have done agility and rally for fun.

    Now I want to look at doing some more serious competitive pursuits - but where to start? The main AKC office is in Durham, NC which is close and so I have access to a wide range of options. I am hoping to attend some upcoming events over the next few months and I have watched so many Youtube videos, my head is swimming.

    Part of this is to give the dogs a structured outlet for their drives and skills...and part of it is - I miss having pretty pretty ribbons...LOL

    Does anyone here compete - or have you titled your dog? What did you like? What was there not to like? What are the important things to know about getting started in the ring?

    Advice? Suggestions?
    dogcrazy, Dogster and Linda A like this.

  2. 648117 Honored Member

    I'm going to start competing in agility with Holly soon, she's almost 18 months. About 10 days after she turns 18 months there will be a ribbon trial at our club so that will be her first competition, she will be in "Starters B" (I think it's "B") because it will be both of our first time competing, and we might do "Jumpers C".
    I'm also hoping to get Holly her CGC soon, it shouldn't be too much trouble, our obedience trainer has just started offering CGC classes, although I've had a quick look at the list of things that the dog has to do and I think Holly can do most of it (some things might need a little tidying though) so she might not need to go to the actual classes (hopefully because I don't really have the money for more classes).

    I think we might also start obedience competitions or Rally-o. She is pretty good at Rally-o but it's not offered at many competitions. I think Holly might also be nearly ready to compete in obedience (if I can get my nerves under control - Holly does well but I tend to screw up if people are watching), she's pretty good at most of the obedience stuff.

    So I guess me and Holly are in a similar position to you and your dogs :)
    southerngirl and Dogster like this.
  3. fickla Experienced Member

    I actively train for and compete in obedience and agility, with some occasional rally runs but I don't quite understand your questions. Are you looking to compete in obedience, rally, agility, flyball, disc dog...? There are a ton of organizations out there for each sport so don't limit yourself to just looking at AKC. Tell me what sport you're interested in and I can tell you the pros/cons of each organization if that's what you're asking about. Or have you not started any formal training yet for your chosen sport and are looking for resources on teaching foundations?
  4. Pawtential Unleashed Experienced Member

    Sorry for the confusion -

    I have not begun training for any particular sport yet...I haven't even chosen which dog to try what with:

    Ayla - slow, methodical Newfoundland - currently a therapy / demonstration dog and perhaps best suited to stay in this role as I am not sure what sport if any she would excel in?

    Luka - medium energy, great water dog - I thought about taking his natural love of water and retrieving and getting into dock diving but I'm not sure how much he would be affected by his PRA?

    Juni - med/low energy, super soft, sensitive, easy to shut down Aussie x Border mix (I know weird huh) who I had introduced to both herding and agility but she wants nothing to to with either? Not interested in balls or frisbee so I figure flyball and disc dog are out...I know I could build drive in any of the above but I really want them to do it because they love it - not because I want them to do whatever it is...

    Phoenix - med/high energy, so far fearless, Catahoula/Aussie/Houndy mix - could have great potential in any sport I guess - she has a nice high toy/food drive without going over into obsession - my main plan is to maybe just work with her?

    I am thinking about starting with Rally and Companion Dog titles first...

    I guess my questions for everyone are:
    Which sports do you compete in?
    How does scoring work?
    How do you earn ribbons? How do you earn a title?
    Why that particular sport? What do you like about that sport? What are any downsides to it?
    What do you need to do to get started in that sport?
    What are the key skills to teach your dog for the sport? Foundation behaviors...
    What is the best way to get your dog and yourself "ring ready"?

    With Rally, I have taught the movements and done fun runs but have never competed myself. It looks to be, at the Novice level anyway, pretty relaxed criteria.

    For Obedience I thought I would try the BN (Beginner Novice A&B) then the CD (Companion Dog) titles...but then they are adding all the Pre Novice stuff in July so I don't know?

    I guess maybe I am just looking for a bit of info on what other people think about and have found helpful when considering getting into any sport but particularly Rally and Obedience...

    Clear as mud??
    southerngirl and Dogster like this.
  5. Evie Experienced Member

    good thread :D Evie and I are at this stage too, looking for something to get into, so I will watch, lurk:cautious: , read and learn LOL :ROFLMAO:
    southerngirl and Dogster like this.
  6. fickla Experienced Member

    those are a lot of questions :) I've done obedience, rally, 4 different agility organizations, and disc dog.

    Earning a title: For most agility, obedience, and rally organizations you need 3 qualifying scores at each level to earn a title and the ability to move up to the next level. Some organizations and specific titles require you to move up in level, other organizations have "championship style" titles within each level and allow you to stay in that level longer if you choose. In disc dog, there are no titles although most competitions have placements and medals for 1st-3 in the "novice" division and "pro" division. No one polices what division you should enter, although the general unspoken rule is once you win in novice you for sure need to move up to "pro" and most people on their 2nd dog just start in pro even though the dog might be very green itself.

    Scoring: In agility most runs are based on time+ faults. Most organizations require you to have a "clean run" to qualify in that any knocked bars, off courses, missed contacts automatically NQ you. But there are a few organizations out there that you can still qualify even if there is a knocked bar. Usually placement ribbons are given to the top 4 teams, even if only the top 2 teams actually qualified, qualifying ribbons are also given out.

    In obedience the scoring is based on the judge's opinion of the team as compared to perfection. You start with a perfect score of 200 and the judge gives the orders for each exercise and then takes off points for each error. Errors range from an automatic NQ for things such as a second command (except in heeling) to substantial errors of 3 points for things such as a no-sit and skipped front, to minor errors of .5-1pt for things such as minor lagging/forging, crooked sits. You need 170pts to qualify at each level and at least half the points from each exercise. Placement ribbons are given for 1st-4th place in each level and qualifying ribbons are given to everybody that qualified. In obedience, teams are also divided into "A" and "B" depending on whether the dog already has the title for that level or not or whether it is the first dog of that handler to ever compete.

    In rally, the scoring is similar to obedience however things that would get .5pt off in obedience are not deducted in rally. Because of this, it's not uncommon for good teams to easily get a perfect 100pts even though there were things such as crooked sits, bumps, or minor lagging. In rally, handlers are also allowed to talk to their dogs as often as they want, where in obedience 2nd commands are either an NQ or points off depending on the exercise.

    In obedience there are a couple different organizations. For newbies, I highly recommend CDSP if it's in your area (your bio says NC and there are trials around there!). CDSP and AKC are very similar in their requirements, 3 Q's under 2 different judges to get each title and move up, have mostly the same exercises with a few variations (such as recall over a jump in CDSP and no jump in AKC, etc.), but CDSP is much more relaxed and allows one give a treat to their dog in between exercises. Other organizations that have obedience are UKC and ASCA with rules very similar to AKC.

    In rally, APDT is my favorite option. It allows handlers to give treats at certain signs, but has longer courses compared to AKC. At the most advanced level, APDT has much more advanced signs as compared to the other organizations. It is also more relaxed than AKC.

    In agility, there are 7 organizations holding trials in my area (minnesota)! All have different styles of courses and different games. I currently compete in USDAA and NADAC with my Toller, and only NADAC with my corgi although I have tried out a total of 4 of the organizations.

    In Disc dog there are 2 popular organizations in this area. My local club puts on both types of trials. As there are no titles in either one, people compete for fun. There are regional qualifiers though for the national event for each organization.

    About the sports:
    I compete in obedience because I love the challenge of making obedience fun for my dogs. It is really the only sport that is not self reinforcing for the dogs, lasts the longest, and you only have yourself in the ring to be a reward. Many people think of obedience as boring and ridged, but it is all in how you train. I aim for high levels of drive, attitude, AND precision with my dogs. The downside to obedience is the lack of positive trainers to learn from and the snotty attitude some people hold towards positive trainers. On the positive side, Denise Fenzi has proven that getting a positive trained OTCH is possible (got it on 2 of her dogs!) and now is even setting up an online "academy" to help others around the world.

    Rally is similar to obedience but less formal. The positive to rally is that it can be used as a nice stepping stone to obedience. Rally is mainly heeling so I love doodling rally moves in my training for obedience. I mainly only compete in rally to help build positive ring experiences for my dogs. The downside to rally is that if one trains just for rally they can be doing really sloppy training. Because rally is so lenient in it's scoring, many people coax and plead their dogs through it so basically their dogs don't have the solid foundations for it and are confused and stressed in the ring. The other downside to rally is that some dogs don't like all the stopping and starting it involves. Some dogs thrive on the constant change of direction, but some dogs don't like the opportunity to never get into a rhythm with their heeling.

    Agility is fun because it's so much easier to motivate your dog for 30seconds of pure running. I love it because it has very little to do with obstacle performance but is all about the HANDLING in between the obstacles. It is fast paced and an easy sport to train in a motivational manner. The downside to agility is that if you have a very drivey dog and a handler who is constantly late in their cues, it can take a great wear on the dog's body.

    Disc is fun because the reward is right there :) Dogs naturally into retrieving can really turn onto this sport and with the right foundation even non drivey dogs can learn to love it. The downside is that the potential for injury can be high IF the handler doesn't throw in the correct location and early enough. Any time we ask the dog to leap, especially off our body, the dog needs to be able to predict where the disc is going to be way BEFORE he leaves the ground. Too late and too low throws are a recipe for disaster.

    Getting Started
    Getting started in any sport I recommend having an instructor so you build the solid foundations. Foundations are crucial to keeping your dog safe, preventing having to retrain, and prevent a dog who stresses in the ring because he doesn't know what's expected or the handler is too late in their cues.

    - For agility, there are many people who do online classes now if you don't have access to a good instructor. My favorite is Silvia Trkman, but Daisy Peel, and Tracy Sklenar also offer online classes.
    - For obedience, Denise Fenzi is my favorite but Fanny Gott also offers online classes.
    - For disc, Pawsitive Vybe with Ron Watson is amazing and offers a ton of free videos on his site.

    Before Competing:
    Before competing in any sport you should make sure your dog can do it in as many locations as possible with only the things you can legally have in a trial. Distraction training is HUGE :)
    For obedience and rally, I also put a lot of emphasis on "ring entrances." I want to make sure my dogs know the ring is a super fun place to be and that they are ready to work the second they pop in the ring.
    My dog needs to be confident in new environments with lots of strange people and strange dogs.
    My dog needs to be comfortable relaxing in that environment as many trials you're there for at least an hour if not several, or even all day for some agility trials. Some people crate out of their car, most bring crates in the building.

    I hope some of that helps :)

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