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When Should you Start Trialing with a Dog?

When Should you Start Trialing with a Dog?

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looking at me
How do you decide when is the right time to start trialing? Around here I don't see any USDAA Intro classes. There ARE fun runs. I had thought to enter Joey in some Level 1 CPE classes. Colors and Wildcard are very short courses. Even jumpers is shorter, I think. Of course you can't reward with toys or treats. Do you do more harm than good by starting too soon? I was thinking just for fun, but maybe it wouldn't be fun. Joey is still very puppy. How do I decide when the time is right?

Joey 1
  • When it feels right. I don't think there is a right answer to this. I think if you feel confident with your dogs training at home, in class, etc. it is time to take it on the road. I strongly believe the goal in novice or for any baby dog is a good experience. It is about building confidence and good times. So the Q is not the goal, making sure it is fun should be. That's my goal anyway.

    I am going through this right now, and i'm not sure Hi-Fi is ready for a new environment, but this will certainly show me what we haven't worked on, and I'm sure there is lots.

    My goal is focus and good times, not obstacle perfection;)
  • I'm sure you know what I'm going to say.

    anytime! and no time. hahahaha

    But yeah, with baby dogs, putting them in a trial situation is much like just another training opportunity for you. What you get is a sense of where the holes are, what needs firming up, what the dog can "handle" in terms of energy, stress, distraction etc.

    There are dogs who are three, and still really aren't handling well the trial environment. And I've seen plenty of 18 month old dogs who were ON IT!

    So the trial itself becomes just another training opportunity. This is one of the reasons I love ASCA because I can PRAISE my dog and even pat him on the head or HUG him!! and I won't be whistled off. They give you course time. And you can put them back on contact, etc... whatever you want! LOVE>>>>>

    No Qs (of course, ) for doing that. But it's a wonderful opportunity. A good trainer in the area used to bring her young female Toller up to ASCA shows to just do 3-5 things quickly then RACE off to get treats and tugs... It was beautiful to see. Such really good knowledge of the dog and what she needed at the time.

    So, go when you want, but go in mind with "training" and seeing what's up. You'll be glad.
    • We could just take a few obstacles and then leave for rewards. Also I'll look for ASCA trials. This place where we've gone for fun runs does ASCA, too.
    • I can't guarantee it, but HERE... Asca is BY FAR the most accepting and nice venue. They LOVE "other breeds" and super encourage them. They LOVE baby dogs and clap and hoot when you do well

      and it's WAY CHEAPER!! hahaha. Ours are $10 a run. Which is really only slightly more expensive than the fun runs around here...sigh... You can enter at any level, and you don't need to register if you don't want runs tracked for titles (which is also nice because you never feel like you're chasing a title!)

      So yeah, I'd recommend it big time.
    • Oh, but you have to run naked... heheheh (well, Joey does, not you).
      • hehehe. CPE runs naked, too.

        Do they have much CPE up your way?
        • They do, actually. Lots. And it's SUPER popular!! to the point that they often sell out (have to close off entries for being "full")
          I'm very happy about it. When we FIRST got it up here, I was a big supporter and helped a lot with getting our club to host trials. Our club always sells out their trials AND they hosted the National?? West Coast National? the other year.
          I love the variety of dogs I see there, and the variety of people! Seems like people who won't do any other sort of agility will flock to CPE! Pretty good recommendation.

          I've not "done" it since Ruben... years ago. I found the many levels confusing, the many games you had to track confusing and in general (around here) the whole thing semi-disorganized. One gal was doing one-ring trials at her place only an hour south... and those were great. Run smoothly and really keep moving.

          With Razor I really concentrated on ASCA and AKC so that's where my money went. Not sure what I'll do with Rumble. I'm still not sure what "style" he is. I'm a firm believer in matching the dog's running style with the flavor of agility that suits him.
      • Oh! I didn't know you hosted the nationals. I knew it was up your way, but I didn't know it was your club. I thought about going, but that was the year I was retiring from teaching. I had a lot to do at school at just that time.
      • The games are actually very good for beginner dogs. Colors is just 10 obstacles. I was thinking of that for Joey. I'm still thinking.
        • colors is deceptive though... and wildcard too... maybe not level 1 i don't remember... but even though its just a few obstacles there are discriminations, so in some ways even a straight forward standard level 1 might be easier... careful not to reinforce his ignoring you and taking what he likes hen presented with choices?? like wildcard has three set choices--- but what do i know... you could practice being super ultra clear definite strong on discriminations

          Edited at 2014-03-17 08:57 pm (UTC)
          • I looked on line for Level 1 colors CPE maps. They looked not too bad. The nested course at the run through was much harder, but I will pass up this first trial coming up and see how he's doing in another month.

            You're right about being careful to not ignore his just taking what he chooses.
  • Food for Thought

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