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how did you know you were ready to trial?


Carlasl
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So Maya is almost 2yrs old and we have yet to go to our first trial, mostly because after 8yrs of being a SAHM and only working about 10hrs a week for our business I went back to work full time in November. Another issue is a BIG teeter noise fear and not being able to continue group lessons as her noise fear was getting worse and transferring to other equipment. The place I train is a facility you can get a "membership" to and work whenever you want and my plan was to work on her teeter issues with no other dogs making noise, but just cannot financially do it for a couple more months.

 

So I work her in my backyard and we were working with a great trainer at his outdoor facility when the weather was nice.

 

Anyway, I know Maya is probably ready to trial, but "I" don't feel ready, I have never walked an entire course and run it, and have no experience doing that. other than the little courses I set up for myself in the my back yard, I have a huge backyard but a very very small flat area I can set up equipment.

 

There is is a NADAC trial in a couple weeks (No teeter) and I wanted to enter her, but I really don't feel like I am ready...is it something I just need to do to get over my own anxiety... or is it something I should get more practice before I enter her first trial.

 

Any advice for what your criteria is for entering your first trial for both dog and competitor?

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i'm not sure if CPE is available in your area, but you should check it out. http://k9cpe.com/events.htm

it is geared for you and your dog to succeed and have a good time. in level 1 there is no teeter and no weaves. there are fun games to play, some where you are encouraged to run amok with your dog and gather points. the people are friendly and helpful. we often walk the course and discuss with each other our strategies and trouble spots. i highly recommend it for folks who are a bit anxious about trialing.

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My advice is probably not going to be popular, but I would say that if Maya will stay with you in the ring, I would enter and give it a shot.

 

I learned more about what I need to prepare to do to trial from going to my first trial and getting out there in the ring than I ever could have any other way.

 

Maddie and I went out in our first trial and bombed it, but I knew what I needed to do to prepare, and we went to our next one a few months later and got our first Q's.

 

I like to enter trials with my dog before he or she is technically ready to help the dog become familiar with the trial environment before it "counts", and to determine what specific areas I need to work on to finish getting the dog trial-ready. That's a personal thing. There are people who are very much against doing that. I find it works well for me.

 

I would also recommend CPE, but with one caveat. Even though there is no teeter in Level 1, you will need to consider what you will do with Maya while the other levels are being run. This is something I have to plan carefully with Dean. If he can't be in the car when I'm not getting ready and running him, I can't trial him at a particular site.

 

The other thing is that the games where the runs are not separated out by level - typically Fullhouse and Jackpot - can have a teeter and the dogs running while you are on the sidelines waiting to go in could slam it.

 

I do take Dean to CPE and run him in Jumpers, Level 1 Standard, or Level 1/2 Colors and Wildcard, but it takes a good bit of management to make sure he's not able to hear the teeter while the other games and levels are being held.

 

NADAC is nicer for a noise-o-phobe in that way since there is no teeter at all and you don't have to worry about that.

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My advice is probably not going to be popular, but I would say that if Maya will stay with you in the ring, I would enter and give it a shot.

 

I learned more about what I need to prepare to do to trial from going to my first trial and getting out there in the ring than I ever could have any other way. (edited)

 

I would agree with this so long as you don't think that you will become such a nervous wreck that you will push your dog over the edge.

 

Go enter tunnelers and jumpers, that way you don't have to worry about contacts and see what happens. If you feel like a course is way to difficult for you, then just make up a short sequence that links the startline to finish line and go have fun.

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I agree with both Root Beer and Jumpin Boots. If this is your first trial agility dog, there is no substitute for experience. You could practice until the cows come home, and you would still have first trial jitters. And there is only so much you can learn from friends & instructors. You just have to go and 'do it'.

 

Set a goal to just have fun - for both you and Maya. Don't expect a Q. Don't correct Maya on the course - if she makes a mistake just keep your happy voice and keep running.

 

Don't worry about mistakes (knocking bars, missing weaves, wrong course faults, etc). Everyone does it. Your first trial experience will be/should be a learning experience.

 

It does take some time to figure out how to sequence a course. When you are on the course, the numbers don't help (at leat they don't help me since Torque is going too fast). What helped me the most (and I still rely on this) is to watch other people running the course. That was the best way for me to remember the sequence of obstacles. Of course, you have to be careful about getting your dog to the start lime in time -- so you can't watch too many other handlers running the course.

 

Good Luck,

Jovi

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I just entered my dog Speedy in his first trial in Jumpers and Standard (ASCA). I had serious doubts about his readiness but since he can complete all the obstacles safely, I figured it was time and the experience would reveal what we have to work on in future training sessions. Turns out we have lots to work on, start line stays, handling and jumping. We ended the weekend with 2 Q's in standard. They were ugly runs but it was fun and humiliating at the same time. At the risk of embarrassing myself, here is my standard run:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGvUrGrcSzk&feature=player_detailpage

 

So, as long as your dog is safe on the obstacles, I say go ahead, enter and have fun!

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Andale,

I think Speedy did great for his first trial. He is excited and motivated which, IMHO, is absolutely gold. I noticed that he read your body language very well - so once you are a better handler, he will smooth out too. (FWIW, I am constantly being told the same thing about my handling skills - but these dogs are so fast that my handling "plan" often gets thrown out the window when they are faster than I "plan" on.) :lol:

 

Jovi

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I agree that if you know she isn't going to be too stressed, just enter a few of the easier NADAC classes and give it a shot. Honestly, nobody is ready for their first trial mentally because they don't know what to expect. So if you sit around waiting for yourself to be completely mentally prepared...you will probably never trial! :lol:

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Do you have any fun matches in your area? Many of our local clubs hold non-sanctioned Fun Matches throughout the year ... they don't count toward titles and are relaxed about rules (ie your dog can wear his collar, you can bring a toy in the ring to reward the the dog etc). And they are a great way to introduce your dog, and most importantly yourself, to the wonderful world of trialing. In fact, Dexter is making his trial debut at a Fun Match in about two weeks - *I* am not nervous about trialing at all, but it's an opportunity for me to play with him somewhere other than my agility yard or the class barn, and to continue to reward his contacts with the tug / his weaves with the ball, in a trial-like setting to cement the idea that these continue to be requirements everywhere :) And if your dog has an issue with something like the teeter, you can just not do that obstacle and not feel like you are throwing your money away ;-) The Fun Match we are doing is $35.00 for 4 runs, and includes lunch (for people I mean)!

 

However, and *this* may be unpopular ... I don't really see the point in trialing if you haven't gotten your dog over her teeter phobia. Frankly, if your dog can't do all the equipment, she isn't actually ready to trial at all. I'd continue working on the teeter thing, because once you have successfully conquered that, you WILL be ready to trial!

 

RDM

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Andale,

I think Speedy did great for his first trial. He is excited and motivated which, IMHO, is absolutely gold. I noticed that he read your body language very well - so once you are a better handler, he will smooth out too. (FWIW, I am constantly being told the same thing about my handling skills - but these dogs are so fast that my handling "plan" often gets thrown out the window when they are faster than I "plan" on.) :lol:

 

Jovi

 

He's very motivated to say the least! You're right about my handling. I'm glad we took the chance to run in a trial environment, I'll work on cuing him earlier and getting into position so he knows where to go.

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However, and *this* may be unpopular ... I don't really see the point in trialing if you haven't gotten your dog over her teeter phobia. Frankly, if your dog can't do all the equipment, she isn't actually ready to trial at all. I'd continue working on the teeter thing, because once you have successfully conquered that, you WILL be ready to trial!

 

RDM

 

If one is running in NADAC, this wouldn't apply. There is no teeter. Not at any time in any class at any level. So, one's dog can do all of the equipment in NADAC even if he or she cannot handle teeter noise. It's a nice option for those of us with dogs who suffer from noise phobia.

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Secret developed a teeter phobia this winter that totally took me by surprise, as she was addicted to my teeter at home all last year. Alas, there isn't a whole lot I can do about it until the snow goes away and I can start to work on it to get her comfortable at home again before venturing out to play on other teeters.

 

From the start, though, I planned to start her in NADAC so it wasn't that big of an issue. She has always been terribly stressed in new situations, so I knew I couldn't throw her into USDAA when she turned 18 months. We are using NADAC to warm into the idea of trials -- Which is nice because the courses are flowing, she can jump 16" in Skilled (vs. 26" in USDAA), the a-frame is lower and there are several opportunities for nice short courses.

 

Secret had her first trial this weekend after turning 18 months on Feb 9. We went to a NADAC games trial (no jumping classes) and she did one round of Touch-n-Go, two rounds of Tunnelers and one round of Weavers. I had no idea what would happen -- She's trained a grand total of 6 times since I put my equipment away in November. She had never ran without me carrying a toy or treats and she'd also never seen dirt before. For my shut-down dog, I was taking a big chance -- But I also knew we'd have to get out there and try it eventually.

 

She Q'd in 3/4 runs (she was scared of the dog walk at first because the last one she saw made noise and spooked her). She was her usual slow, thoughtful, careful self that she always is in new situations, but I was happy to see her start to come out of her shell as the day wore on. For a dog like Secret, going to trials is the ONLY way to to get over her issues with new situations.

 

I would LOVE to have a dog with the enthusiasm of Andale's dog, but if you want to see the opposite end of the spectrum, here is Secret's first trial video. lol

 

 

We have another trial this coming weekend and I'm excited to see how she does. It's on our "home turf" where she's had the opportunity to train a few times, so things will be more familiar for her. But still, I don't expect to see gads of improvement until we can start training at home again. I hate winter.

 

For the human end of the equation, I don't think some people will ever be "ready." You just have to get out there and do it. It helps if you have the support of friends at the trial, so try to find one that your agility friends or trainer is attending. It can be pretty overwhelming, but I can tell you that the people at NADAC trials are generally very friendly and helpful. NADAC judges are also awesome and really easy to talk to if you have questions.

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I would also suggest you go give it a go, Brody and I got one Q on our first trial, he left the ring twice on the other runs. Only enter one day and just enter a couple of classes. As as already been said NADAC trials are very friendly if I had gone to a USDAA one for my first I would have been very intimidated. And of course there is no teeter.

I was a nervous wreck trying to remember the course etc, the more you do the better you feel, and you can help your dog better. I have been competing for 2 years we do not trial heavily perhaps 8-10 trials a year and there is no resemblance in my handling today than there was then.

The important thing to remember is even if it goes horribly wrong and you have no idea where you are going have a fun and do not let the dog think they did anything wrong.

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I determine whether to enter a trial by whether I feel that I can make it a positive experience for my dog, regardless of whatever nervous nellie stuff s/he may pull. NADAC is a great venue for maiden voyages because they have such a wide variety of classes. I always recommend starting out with Tunnelers if possible, since it's easy, fun, and unless your dog is ballistic fast, it's not that hard to stay on course.

 

Rex, my three year-old, will be making his agility debut sometime in the next few months. I've been getting him on different equipment at different barns, rehearsing waiting our turn while another dog runs before us, practicing measuring and other kinds of trial stuff. He's been to a couple of agility trials already as a spectator, so I don't think he'll be fizzed by it (he also has a couple years of sheep dog trialing under his belt). With all that, I'm still going to NQ us by stopping to pet him between sequences, and perhaps not running the course as prescribed. I want his first experience at a trial to be really positive, so I'm willing to sacrifice Qs.

 

Oh, and just because it still makes me misty, here is Miss Wicky in 2002, making her debut in Novice Tunnelers. She had only been to 3 classes before she ran this course. When I think of all her runs, this is the one of which I am most proud.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1v-6UedeY4

 

 

A year and a half later, I was dealing with this, so yeah, I look back with great fondness at those first, cautious runs. biggrin.gif

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPhCLj92_Aw

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I hate Tunnelers. The one and only time I ran Tweed in a Tunnelers course he stopped after about three tunnels, looked around at the arena full of tunnels and walked away in disgust. He was all "Eff this shizzat, where's the real equipment?"

 

RDM

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I am trialing my dog at my first trial this coming weekend. He doesn't do the teeter or the weaves well so I'm just entering him in Jumpers and Gamblers so that we can avoid those obstacles, therefore not stressing him. He did trial with a friend of mine (got called in to work last minute) a couple of months ago for the first time, so atleast one of us will halfway know what we're doing :) Good luck! If you think that you can do it, go for it! I'm nervous as heck, but we have a good time and my dog LOVES agility, so I'm going to take the plunge!

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Everyone has a first time. As RDM pointed out a fun match may help. As far as nerves go, have you read any motivational books? Take some of the pressure off you by making sure you are there to help Maya. A friend had a saying that we all strived for - "show to train" this and staying in the moment may help you and Maya. Only you can know when *you* are ready, you just have to be fair and honest with yourself.

 

Good Luck!

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Thanks everyone for the responses!

I wish there were some fun matches in the area, but there really are not any that I know of (and I try to keep up with all the agility stuff going on around here), I think the NADAC trial I was looking at was going to have some fun runs before the trial started at 5pm Friday, but I have to work then so I can't make it to that, I wish I could.

 

I think we will probably go ahead and go to the trial and do one day Jumpers and Tunnelers, that is what one of my instructors recommended also, the plan is to keep it short and fun for Maya (and for me haha).

 

Really I do think we are ready, I just wish I had a bit more experience walking through a course and remembering it to run through it later...I know Novice runs are generally pretty straight forward and It is really no big deal if I flub it all up as long as Maya thinks we are having a good time. I really don't give a rip about Q's either, I just want this to be fun positive experience for my girl.

 

Thanks again, the trial is the 18-20th of March hopefully I can get some video...

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I just want to say Good Luck!!! Try to walk the course a couple of times, then watch a few runs. Don't get too worked up when you see someone handling a sequence differently than you had planned, don't change your plan unless you are absolutely sure. Go to the line, take a deep breath and then go have fun! End the run with lots of praise for your partner, breath again, and get ready to enter your next trial!!

 

Definitely get some video. There are always people standing around videoing their friends, don't be embarrassed to go up to one of them, introduce yourself and ask if they will video you too with your camera. I've videoed so many people whose names I never knew, they just asked and as long as I was standing there... why not?

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Good luck to you! Novice Jumpers courses are generally pretty straight forward and not too complicated to remember. Tunnelers courses can be a totally different beast, though, and can overwhelm some people. Try to look at the course in patterns more so than a set of numbers. I also will sometimes break it down by tunnel color. Sometimes courses make several passes through the center and you can get turned around, but eventually you figure it out. :blink: lol

 

It is unfortunate that NADAC doesn't provide course maps to exhibitors, as I know some people learn better that way. And sadly, it seems that they are even moving away from the practice of posting the maps somewhere on the trial grounds.

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I am going to answer the question "How did you know you were ready to trial?" with a collective "you" meaning the dog and myself. After running three dogs who started out when they could do all the equipment (all started within two years of each other) I decided that dog #4 would not come out until we met certain criteria. First obviously was that he was proficient at all the equipment and when presented with the equipment was going to give it a good honest attempt and not run past, ignore etc. Second, he was focused and controlled at all times in the ring, solids stays and understood handling (or my lack there of). Lastly, I wanted "us" to be a team that could work at a higher level of competition than we were starting out at which means that we were capable of running an excellent, masters, elite level course and not make a mockery of it. We didn't need to qualify, we just had to be together as a team. He was 22 months old when he started competing.

 

I did this to avoid the pitfalls I fell into with the other dogs who in reality, probably needed more skills when they started than I had given them. I should have fun matched them more than I did. Two of those dogs were very successful but I had to go back and correct so much that I should have taken care of first. Live and learn.

 

I am working with dog #5. She just turned a year old and her target start is December when she will be 23 months. If she does not meet the above criteria, she won't be starting and we will keep working until the time I feel we are the team I hope we will be.

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That's a great answer to the question. I applaud you for sticking to your strict criteria!

 

I am going to answer the question "How did you know you were ready to trial?" with a collective "you" meaning the dog and myself. After running three dogs who started out when they could do all the equipment (all started within two years of each other) I decided that dog #4 would not come out until we met certain criteria. First obviously was that he was proficient at all the equipment and when presented with the equipment was going to give it a good honest attempt and not run past, ignore etc. Second, he was focused and controlled at all times in the ring, solids stays and understood handling (or my lack there of). Lastly, I wanted "us" to be a team that could work at a higher level of competition than we were starting out at which means that we were capable of running an excellent, masters, elite level course and not make a mockery of it. We didn't need to qualify, we just had to be together as a team. He was 22 months old when he started competing.

 

I did this to avoid the pitfalls I fell into with the other dogs who in reality, probably needed more skills when they started than I had given them. I should have fun matched them more than I did. Two of those dogs were very successful but I had to go back and correct so much that I should have taken care of first. Live and learn.

 

I am working with dog #5. She just turned a year old and her target start is December when she will be 23 months. If she does not meet the above criteria, she won't be starting and we will keep working until the time I feel we are the team I hope we will be.

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Good luck to you!

It is unfortunate that NADAC doesn't provide course maps to exhibitors, as I know some people learn better that way. And sadly, it seems that they are even moving away from the practice of posting the maps somewhere on the trial grounds.

 

Yes, even though I like NADAC - and would participate more often if there was more than one trail a year within 2.5 hours of home - the practice of not supplying course maps really irks me. I keep the course maps (from AKC) in a notebook just in case I ever want to go back and review a course and maybe practice a particular sequence.

 

On the other hand, this could be a justification to purchase an iPad. :D:D The $ of an iPad is beyond my comfort zone, but the more uses I come across, the more I rationalize my 'need' for one. I was at a workshop a couple of weeks ago where 2 of the participants had iPads with "course designer" apps. Essentially, they used their index finger to drag obstacles onto a gridded field. Very fast way to record the course.

 

Jovi

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my first nadac trial i stressed out because they had no course maps. i usually trial in cpe where maps are common. what i found was, i did better just walking the course, rather than sitting and fretting hours before my run studying the course. the course almost always works out better in life than on paper. now when i trial cpe, i just walk the course rather than rely on the map.

also in nadac, as i recall, the upper levels go first, and the courses change very little between elite, open and novice. so just watch them and by the time it's your turn to walk, you pretty much have it memorized. have a blast.

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