Tuesday, December 27, 2011

How do you know?

So, question for all of you who compete with your dogs in any sport: how do you decide if you are ready to enter the ring?

After the awesome performance Koira gave me with the Rally course at the fun run, I am debating if it would be worth our time to enter in Novice rally at the Rose City Classic, which is in mid January. If I did, I would only do Sunday (I work the other days it is happening).

Reasons not to:
With a $29 entry fee, parking fees, and gas to get there (two hour drive), it wouldn't exactly be a cheap day.
Koira is no where near perfect with any of her exercises, except in the giving me 100% attention and focus; her fronts are sometimes a bit far away, her butt swings out to the side when we halt (she has no automatic sit, but in Rally, I can tell her to sit), occasionally she forges or lags a bit on the heel
Rose City is a huge show, with a ton of stuff happening. It might easily be overwhelming to me or my dog, especially for our first time in the ring.

Reasons to:
It would be a great chance to see what we need to work on to be show ready. The fun match was supposed to do that, and did a little bit, but with no major issues in the ring, it seems more that it showed we might be ready instead of we need a ton more work.
If I go into it expecting mistakes, but just working with my dog to have fun, it could be a really fun time. I don't need titles to have fun with my dog.
The next show after that is an additional month away, and only a dollar cheaper on entry fees. If we do RCC and do good, we could then enter the next show. If we don't do RCC, we would have another month of practicing before going into the ring.
I don't think the environment, as insane as it might be, can possibly be more stimulating to Koira than a flyball tournament- it is bound to be quieter, at the very least.

But, I need to decide soon. The show is soon, which means the closing date is a week away. So- what would you do? How do you decide if your dog is ready for the ring? Is it totally insane to try an actual rally competition after only three months of regular training?


  1. I'd do it, but I'm crazy like that. I tend to jump in with both feet and hope I swim. LOL My philosophy has always been: "how will you know if you don't try?" Sometimes it gets me in trouble, other times there are some pretty amazing results. I think if you go in thinking that it is a time to have fun with, and to bond with your dog you, and your girl, will definitely gain from it. If it's at the end of January, you still have time to work with her. And, it's your first, there are bound to be mistakes, but as long as you learn from them, they aren't mistakes, just learning experiences.
    Sorry about the ramble. LOL Just my humble opinion. :)
    PS: You inspired my post for today. :)

  2. *g* If I waited for my dogs to not forge before I took them into the ring, I'd still be waiting. You don't need to be perfect to do well in rally- remember that the half-point deductions that are taken in Obedience are not taken in Rally.

    Personally, I would wait for a smaller show than Rose City, but my dogs are super environmentally tweaky. I did one of the big shows that was held in conjunction with conformation, and while we did fine, I doubt I'd do it again. I am lucky enough that we have enough Rally-only trials in quiet venues to meet my needs.

    Good luck with your decision!

  3. I guess I'm a perfectionist - I like to try and train to the level beyond the one which I'm about to compete in. I like to set myself up for success! So when I started Rally I knew my dog and I were capable of all the advanced exercises, and we got our RN title in 3 runs and it was loads of fun. Rally is such a practical sport, so a lot of the training for it comes from simply living with your dog.

    With agility it's kind of a different story -- I think we're capable of more difficult courses, but there are so many things that can go wrong on a course, so we're still muddling our way through the novice level.

  4. I asked this awhile back too. The advice I got was just go for it. Since have already done a fun run with Koira and she did well, I would give it a show a chance. Like you said as long as you are going in with the intention of having fun with Koira then you have nothing to lose.

  5. If I had always waited till *I* felt we were ready, I'd still be not trailing with my MACH agility dog :) I had to be nudged into it by friends, and now I just figure it's a good training experience if nothing else.

    My Stanley will be at Portland showing!! (but I'll be off on a cruise LOL)

  6. I think a lot depends on your future goals and your goal of your first trial.

    Do you want to eventually compete in obedience, and score well? If so, you might want to wait to enter rally until you feel your heeling and fronts foundation are solid enough. Rally doesn't score 1/2pts and training only for rally can result in sloppy foundations and a need to retrain a lot of things. Of course it doesn't have to be that way, you are the one training and deciding your criteria.

    Do you think going into the ring now would be a positive ring experience for her? Going into the ring early, with no pressure can be a good thing as you can just focus on having fun with your dog and teaching her that a ring is a a great place to be. However, if she's not prepared to work with the other distractions around and used to seeing a stressed Mommy it can be a stressful experience for her and may not be a good way to start her trialing experience.

    I like entering rally before obedience as I think it can be a great way to support my dog if they are getting a little stressed (by talking to them) and I know I don't get as stressed over rally as I do obedience. But ideally, I want to enter their first trial after doing several fun matches where I can give treats/toys in the ring, or let their first trial be APDT rally where I can treat in the ring. But every dog is different and of course you have different goals then the person standing next to you.

  7. Just go for it. It's rally-good experience and with only one day, it will give you an idea if you are ready for a whole weekend or not. It's hard to know for sure if are ready. I've had a lot of unexpected things (good and bad) happen the first time out in various sports!

  8. I would ask, "Will it be fun?" Then do it! That's the whole point of dog sports :) Spending time with your dog!

  9. I have no really sound advice; I would probably go for it though, mind you have a "Ah, what the hell..." sort of attitude to a lot of things though. I also have to drive 45+ minutes to do ANYTHING with my dog, so 2 hours is like nothing to me. Let us know what you decide. I'd love to hear more about your Rally experiences.

  10. The Mama says that when you start itching' to go to trials, it's time - even if you aren't *sure* that you're ready! Will it be fun? Will you and Koira bond over it? Then go for it .

  11. It depends on the individual and the dog and I don't think that you really know how ready you are or aren't until you try. I'll be watching to see if you decide to enter. I'll be there all five days and I'd love to pop by and say hi!

  12. If you were to ask me why Elli and I haven't taken the CGC test yet (even though my new boss is an evaluator), I'd tell you because I'm a total perfectionist and one of the tests (at least) I feel like we'd fail miserably. If I were you, I wouldn't -- but I'm not you, and Elli isn't Koira, soooo go for it!

    I think you're right about the environmental factor -- she can handle flyball competitions, so why not RCC?

  13. We think you should go for it! Just have fun, no pressure!
    Stop by the Airedale booth on Sunday and say HI! Wyatt will be the face of our club on Sunday.

    Wyatt's mom