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Choosing an Agility Venue

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Hi, everyone. I've seen a couple of past threads/responses here and there on this, but I was wondering how you picked which agility program you wanted to do. I wanted to start trialing with Kieran sometime this year.

 

I thought I wanted to do USDAA - the problem is that they don't really have many trials near here. AKC and CPE seem to be the prevailing venues. I'm not really interested in NADAC. I don't want to do AKC, but everyone I know in agility does AKC. It'd be nice to start off trialing with friends, until I'm a little more comfortable with the whole thing...but it's AKC <_<

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At the time when I chose CPE, I didn't have much choice. I was training a mutt, and back then they didn't let mutts compete in AKC. She was not fast enough for NADAC, and USDAA would not have been a good fit.

 

CPE was new in our area at the time, and there weren't many trials around, but it was pretty much the only option I had. Thankfully, it grew in popularity and now there are plenty of trials.

 

When Tessa came along, I considered going into NADAC with her, and even started there, but I realized that I really love CPE. I enjoy the heck out of the games, in particular. So, I went back into CPE with her and we remain there.

 

I may dabble around a bit with Bandit, but I enjoy CPE so much that it will probably be his main venue, as well. I still love the games, and I appreciate the progression offered.

 

FWIW, I started off going to trials by myself, with no friends along. It worked out fine. It's always more fun with friends, but in the end I really enjoy being with my dog the most.

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Honestly, I didn't decide - distance and availability decided for me. NADAC has 8 trials a year within less than 2 hours drive of me. CPE and USDAA have none. AKC has quite a few, but I refuse to give them my money. So, NADAC it was.

plus my instructor's club is NADAC and hosts trials, and that meant it was more comfortable for me. Though at the time those people weren't my friends - they BECAME my friends through regularly being at the same trials.

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Do they post CPE course maps anywhere? I was trying to look for some to get an idea of how the courses look - I was thinking I'd start Kieran off in level 2 or 3 if we went that route. I actually like the AKC courses, but I don't want to give them money if I don't have to.

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Do they post CPE course maps anywhere? I was trying to look for some to get an idea of how the courses look - I was thinking I'd start Kieran off in level 2 or 3 if we went that route. I actually like the AKC courses, but I don't want to give them money if I don't have to.

 

I don't know of any places that have maps online, but you might want to search around for some blogs. There might be a blogger who posts CPE courses. Mine, unfortunately, end up smashed at the bottom of my bag.

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I am one who runs every agility trial I can NADAC, USDAA, and yes AKC under their 'partner' program. It does get expensive and time consuming, but my love for agility won out.

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Many people compete in multiple venues, time and finances being a limiting factor.

I would if I could! But with flyball and grad school, it's not really an option.

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I started in NADAC because it was the only thing reasonably close to me that was not AKC. When USDAA came to my area I added that.

I had a love hate relationship with NADAC, hated the courses, loved the organizers. I also appreciated the ability to train in the ring, which with a green is a great thing.

Loved USDAA, but was always restricted in how often we could compete as there was a limit how far I would drive.

AKC was the most prolific venue in my area, but despite masses of friend pressure I stayed away, did not want to support them, and I would have had to neuter my dog.

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Another venue you might look into is UKI. It is geared toward being competitive, but I did find, at the one trial I entered, that it had a CPE - ish flavor in some of the games they offer.

 

It might not exist in your area, but it might be worth looking into.

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my story is the same as Root Beer's. I started with a mixed breed dog and could not compete in akc, so went with CPE. now I wouldn't trade it for anything. great people, courses relevant to the skill level of the dog and depending where you live, trials available. I especially like the games. sometimes you can find a few courses listed on facebook. I have a bunch saved so I can practice some particular set up, but unfortunately they are stored in my mom's house till may. I always like to start at L1 just to get tuned up as a team.

good times- I even got to meet root beer at a few trials!

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Well then, if you can only chose one venue and your choices are CPE and AKC, I think that you will get more bang for your buck and unit time with CPE. At least here, CPE classes are cheaper and you can do more classes per day in CPE vs AKC. However, in my experience, the distance between obstacles in CPE is very tight, which is hard with a large, long-strided dog.

 

In my experience, the distance between obstacles in AKC courses is much more generous than in CPE. In AKC, one can do 2, maybe 3 classes a day and the between-class wait in AKC trials is godawful long, especially for novice dogs. If you decide to do AKC, make it your mission to get out of novice fast, to minimize those wait times. In my experience, people at AKC trials are more uptight than at other venues (CPE, USDAA, probably NADAC--I haven't done NADAC in years, but I suspect that the trial atmosphere hasn't changed; no experience with UKI at this time).

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Well then, if you can only chose one venue and your choices are CPE and AKC, I think that you will get more bang for your buck and unit time with CPE. At least here, CPE classes are cheaper and you can do more classes per day in CPE vs AKC. However, in my experience, the distance between obstacles in CPE is very tight, which is hard with a large, long-strided dog.

 

This can be location dependent, in my experience. There is one place where I trial where I don't even enter Tessa in point games because things are spaced out so much, I can't get enough points with her in the time allotted (now that we are in Level 5 - it was not an issue in the lower levels). But for Standard and the other numbered course categories, it's a great place for us, with a goodly amount of space between obstacles.

 

But, there is one other place where things are so squashed that we have some difficulty, especially in Snooker, because things are so close together. That's a good place for us to play point games.

 

If you are interested in CPE, and you have concerns about obstacles spacing, I would try to attend some trials in your area and see how they are set.

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To confirm, Blackdawgs, AKC is still very uptight. It's by far the most prolific venue in my area, and I watch often. Unfortunately, I will end up trialing there too. It's where my trainer trials (flat coated retrievers), and I'd much rather start trialing with her and her students there with me. Once I'm comfortable with trialing, I hope to move to other venues.

 

AKC is most common here, then NADAC (which I personally don't really care for), and USDAA only has three trials here this year with one being Regionals. I haven't even seen anything CPE or UKI around here, but I could just not know where to look. They don't have anything in my close area, that's for sure.

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Well spacing can be location and judge dependent but all venues have minimum requirements. Here, we trial outdoors or in horse arenas, so space is never an issue and still CPE spacing is tight for my dog. I don't like CPE for many other reasons, but on average the courses are tighter than in AKC, at least in this geographic location. If the OP has a big running dog that tends towards obstacle focus, I think that she/he will be happier with the AKC courses, not withstanding the other issues with AKC.

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. . . then NADAC (which I personally don't really care for),

 

I know I'm veering off topic here, but you bring up a point that the OP might want to consider.

 

I hear a lot of people say they don't like NADAC, and I know the reasons why. And I think it's awesome that we have the degree of choice that we have in the US when it comes to Agility venues.

 

But I also want to say this. I deeply regret not getting into NADAC with Dean. It was stupid. I mean, I ran a little with him, but I didn't set any titling goals for him in NADAC, nor did I bother to get him to many NADAC trials.

 

NADAC would have been perfect for him. He was fast when he was comfortable. And . . . no teeter. I spent years and years and years working with him on that stupid teeter, and couldn't have him in the building at CPE trials because of the teeter. He did one teeter successfully in competition in his entire Agility career. In the end, he had to be retired because of an injury that he sustained . . . on the teeter. (In training, not competition).

 

All that time we could have been playing in NADAC. He might still be running, actually, had I omitted the teeter from our training altogether because we would have been running in NADAC.

 

Why didn't I run NADAC? Well, two reasons. One a good reason and one a horrible reason. The first, I was busy being involved with CPE with Maddie, and then later Tessa. OK, that's fine. It was the perfect venue for Maddie and it's even better for Tessa. And I love it.

 

But, could I have taken the time to have done 6 - 8 NADAC trials a year with Dean? Yes. I could have. I didn't trial with Maddie all that often, and I didn't start trialing frequently with Tessa until about two years ago.

 

But I let the scuttlebutt get to me. I listened to people who ran NADAC down because the rules change a lot and the judges don't make their own courses and they use hoops and a lot of the equipment is missing.

 

In retrospect, would any of that mattered to Dean and me? Not a bit. And we might have enjoyed years of fun in Agility instead of years of frustration.

 

My point . . . explore the venues and try to figure out which one fits you and your dog. Make that a priority.

 

Obviously, whatever you do needs to be available in your area. But beyond that, really, find the best fit you can. I recommend that you go to competitions without your dog and see the obstacle spacing, watch the running style of the dogs, and try to figure out what will be the best fit.

 

Dean and I could have played in NADAC so easily. Back when he was running, NADAC trials were still prevalent in my area. I let other people's opinions get in my way, and I really think that Dean and I missed out on something that could have been very good for us because of it.

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I have such mixed feelings about the NADAC dislike.


There are some real reasons to dislike it - there really are - and there are even more not to want to do NADAC as a secondary venue, because of confusion regarding things like tugging into and out of the ring and the circling of obstacles. There are definitely some problems with the handbook not being up to date, sudden rule changes, the head of the organization can be frankly kind of annoying, and I really get all of that. Some people really hate the distance requirements if they want a NATCH, or get frustrated by the course times. I get that too. Heck, I even get 'I just don't like it'.

 

It's all fine, I mean we're here to have fun, and NADAC can be an odd kind of agility and there's a lot of room for criticism.

 

But I always feel kind of weird when people say they don't like it when they've never done it or tried it. It would be like me saying "I HATE CPE COURSES!!" which I've seen video of, and never run. I have run a tiny little bit of AKC at a show 'n' go, and it was just a JWW course and frankly the difference between AKC and NADAC is not extreme. You lose some obstacles and you gain a couple of other (very easy) ones. That's really about it, from a practical, running it, level.


At some point I think it became like a weird game of telephone, where some people hated it after experiencing it and knowing why they hated it, and then other people decided that they must hate it, too - or that if some people hated it, was obviously inferior and/or 'not real agility'.


It doesn't work for all dogs. I am going to hit a wall in at least a couple of classes and be lucky to get out of open (Tunnelers and Jumpers, I'm looking at you) because of course times and my dog, but. The games are fun, and it really, really, works for a LOT of dogs. Those hoops which are on the course are used for a lot of people for training handling, anyway, because they're no impact, and the barrels are just the same cone/bucket thing that's done in class and early foundations to teach the dog to move away from you.

 

By all means, if you don't like it, fine, but don't just... knee-jerk to that. MOST of the handling challenges in most classes are not different than AKC - or other venues, even if you include the games. The only things NADAC is missing handling wise are wraps to backsides and that's not seen a ton in AKC at most levels, either, and treadles. The only real thing ADDED handling wise is a lot of discriminations even at lower levels.

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USDAA is my venue of choice and I love it. Fun, but challenging courses, laid back competitors and atmosphere. I love the tournament classes, Snooker, and running Team. Even if you only have a few trials near you, I'd recommend trying it. There's no reason you can't do more than one venue as time and money allow.

 

I started out in AKC, for the same reasons as kingfisher, my trainers ran it and so did friends. It's ok, but I pretty much stopped when I fell in love with USDAA. I personally don't find the courses as challenging, and the trial atmosphere is much more uptight. And I'm not a fan of stupid rules (don't go hand your leash to the runner, it's considered training in the ring). That's not to say I won't still do some with my new dog, but it's no longer my venue of choice.

 

We've started having a lot of UKI in our area, and I will definitely be trying that when Slider is ready. It looks very challenging, with more International type courses. They offer an FEO option, though, that I think will be great for a baby dog.

 

I can't comment on CPE or NADAC, as I've never been interested in trying them. (there's only so much time and money for agility!)

 

Have fun whichever direction you choose to go! :)

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I started in NADAC and have many found memories of it.

We lost our NADAC trials in part due to competition with CPE. CPE came on the scene and all the people who could not make time in NADAC elite flocked to CPE, where they could make time.

I have not done NADAC in many years, but once upon a time, the courses were wide open and flowing--fabulous for a dog that likes to run with good distance skills.

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I started in NADAC and have many found memories of it.

We lost our NADAC trials in part due to competition with CPE. CPE came on the scene and all the people who could not make time in NADAC elite flocked to CPE, where they could make time.

I have not done NADAC in many years, but once upon a time, the courses were wide open and flowing--fabulous for a dog that likes to run with good distance skills.

 

That's still very much the case, overall. There have been changes - lost obstacles, gained obstacles, weird rules changes - from what I gather, but by GOD you still get some nice sweeping arcs where they dogs can just GO. I love touch 'n' go for that, actually, in particular. ALL THE SPEED BUT BY GOD HIT YOUR CONTACTS.

 

It's just fun. My dog doesn't always decide to open up and really run, but when she does it's the most fun thing ever.

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There are some real reasons to dislike it - there really are - and there are even more not to want to do NADAC as a secondary venue, because of confusion regarding things like tugging into and out of the ring and the circling of obstacles. There are definitely some problems with the handbook not being up to date, sudden rule changes, the head of the organization can be frankly kind of annoying, and I really get all of that. Some people really hate the distance requirements if they want a NATCH, or get frustrated by the course times. I get that too. Heck, I even get 'I just don't like it'.

 

It's all fine, I mean we're here to have fun, and NADAC can be an odd kind of agility and there's a lot of room for criticism.

 

But I always feel kind of weird when people say they don't like it when they've never done it or tried it. It would be like me saying "I HATE CPE COURSES!!" which I've seen video of, and never run. I have run a tiny little bit of AKC at a show 'n' go, and it was just a JWW course and frankly the difference between AKC and NADAC is not extreme. You lose some obstacles and you gain a couple of other (very easy) ones. That's really about it, from a practical, running it, level.

 

At some point I think it became like a weird game of telephone, where some people hated it after experiencing it and knowing why they hated it, and then other people decided that they must hate it, too - or that if some people hated it, was obviously inferior and/or 'not real agility'.

 

It doesn't work for all dogs. I am going to hit a wall in at least a couple of classes and be lucky to get out of open (Tunnelers and Jumpers, I'm looking at you) because of course times and my dog, but. The games are fun, and it really, really, works for a LOT of dogs. Those hoops which are on the course are used for a lot of people for training handling, anyway, because they're no impact, and the barrels are just the same cone/bucket thing that's done in class and early foundations to teach the dog to move away from you.

 

By all means, if you don't like it, fine, but don't just... knee-jerk to that. MOST of the handling challenges in most classes are not different than AKC - or other venues, even if you include the games. The only things NADAC is missing handling wise are wraps to backsides and that's not seen a ton in AKC at most levels, either, and treadles. The only real thing ADDED handling wise is a lot of discriminations even at lower levels.

 

I concur!!

 

I have no trouble with objective critique of the venue, nor with the fact that people don't like it. The times in NADAC are very tight. They do use hoops (I personally don't mind that, but I know some people do). The rules do change a lot. They don't have a teeter or a tire or a table or spread jumps or a chute.

 

I think the thing that I allowed myself to be influenced by were the statements like, "it's not real Agility". Who is to say what "real" Agility is. People made all of this up. That was a stupid thing for me to listen to. Or, "if you run NADAC, your dog will just run around taking whatever is in front of him". Actually, I did find that after running a few NADAC trials with Tessa, she started to do that. So . . . we addressed it in training and she was fine.

 

I hear people do that with Teacup. "If your dog trials on little equipment, it will mess him up for the regular equipment". I have a friend who does both Teacup and CPE with her Beagle, and he transitions back and forth just fine. I went along to a Teacup trial with her once and it was so much fun! If I had a dog small enough, I would totally play in that venue.

 

Generalizations like that can be so harmful. I admire my friend for sticking to her guns and doing what is best for her and her dog, no matter what people say!!! :) I should have done that for my own dog when I had the chance.

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We only have 2 venues. The most popular in my state is ANKC and I enjoyed the venue and the people. My dogs are registered on working sheepdog, Border collie or kelpie council registers so they don't have to be neutered as these are recognised by ANKC.

 

The other ADAA which is less popular but I enjoy it because it is cheaper and has more variety. You can call an NFC run and spend the time training in the ring which I like as I live on a farm so it is useful with a young dog to get them used to a trial environment. You can choose to run international or regular so have a wide choice of heights and course times depending on the abilities of your dog and yourself. They don't care what breeding your dog is, so neutering is not in the equation.

 

I would just pick the venue that most suits my budget and my dogs. Theses days I choose to run ADAA over ANKC because they suit me better. If I lived closer I would probably run both.

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Maybe it's me, but I would not worry about where my trainer competed if your aspirations or philosophies don't line up with a particular venue (AKC in particular), I went to my first trial knowing one person, but everyone was so friendly and welcoming, I went back the next week and I was hooked which is why I will always have a soft spot for NADAC. I always wanted to do USDAA, signed up went, even played snooker the first time without really understanding it (and we Qd), my trainer competed in AKC and ASCA. I don't think I would want to do USDAA as my first trialing experience, the rules are laid back, people are friendly but it is an intense enviroment full of crazy border collies, and people really focused on their runs. I always found it welcoming but it is intense. If I was still in the US I would be doing UKI, good courses, I love the games.

My dislike of NADAC is really do with the style of courses, from the beginning I wanted to be able to run with my dog, and "handle" I am not into extreme distance, I admire it, but I would much rather teach my dog a back, and how to learn how to execute a german turn, than teach him to go over a jump 30ft away...

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Oh, Oh - can I play too? I love hearing about the comparisons, so here are my 2 cents:

 

First: trial in whatever venue you feel comfortable in, what you think fits your style of running/training, what you can travel to and what you can afford.

 

Having said that, I have trialed mainly in AKC, then some NADAC because of proximity of trials, and a couple of USDAA.

 

IME and IMHO (and certainly others may feel differently) --

 

I like NADAC for the relaxed atmosphere, the multiple classes you can play in every day, the (frankly) less technical courses which are good for beginning dogs, the hoops which are less stress on the joints, the more flowing courses which are good for speeding up the dog, Tunneler courses (Whoopee!), and day-of-trial entries [if the weather is crappy, I haven't wasted any entry money if I don't feel like going.]

 

I dislike NADAC because of less challenging courses, the flowing courses which my dog takes as an invitation to run to whatever obstacle he wants to, and the hoops which can be disregarded easily (what? what hoop?).

 

I do see many of the upper level handlers using distance skills, but since I like to run with my dog, I don't attempt to emulate them. [We have decent distance skills, but not the skill to handle from 40 feet away.] I believe that training for the tighter, more controlled courses used in AKC and USDAA makes for an easier transition to NADAC if you are willing to put in a few extra steps. The distances are not that huge. I believe someone who only trains for NADAC would be very, very frustrated with an AKC or USDAA course.

 

AKC and USDAA venues: I like the more complex courses. AKC is beginning to incorporate more challenges found in the European scene. Because AKC doesn't offer the games that other venues do, the wait between classes can be long and boring. Most AKC trials now have either FAST or T2B at trials, but not both on the same day. So the most classes you can enter in one day would be 3. Bring a book or plan to volunteer to relieve the boredom. I do like the game classes at USDAA, but there are just not any close trials in my area.

 

Attitude at trials: People in my area may be nicer?, or I may just be oblivious, but I don't see a lot of drama or bad attitude at either AKC or USDAA. I think some of it may be that I choose not to hang around, or listen to, certain people. I prefer to be around people who are happy to run their dogs at a trial and enjoy their dogs. If someone is bitching about their run or dog or the judge or the course, I just move on.

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