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Old 10-12-2013, 12:21 AM
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JacksonsMom JacksonsMom is offline
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Default Agility Trialing Basics

I know this may sound dumb, but can anyone fill me in on the basics involved in agility trials? I'm pretty clueless.

Jackson and I are in our 4th class and not ready to compete yet (mainly because I know next to nothing), but I have a feeling I might wanna give it a shot one of these days.

I really know nothing about the trialing aspects of agility though, or any rules, regulations, etc.

So basically I know there is NADAC and USAA are most popular 'types' right? Is there one you prefer?

When it comes time to sign Jax up for his first trial, what are the steps even involved in that? Do you do something simple... I know I've seen tunnelers, where the course is just all tunnels. And a course where it's all jumpers. These seem like they'd come fairly easy to us. He loves both the tunnel and jumps and I think he'd be ready for a course like that now. He mainly still needs work on weaves and teeter.

And as far as getting Q's... so he would have to complete the course, with no mistakes, and in a certain time to get a Q?

Sorry I know this sounds really lame, but basically if you could just fill me in on... how it works, so I can just get a better understanding of it all, I would be very happy. lol.
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Old 10-12-2013, 07:51 AM
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Quote:
So basically I know there is NADAC and USAA are most popular 'types' right? Is there one you prefer?
The rules vary a lot between venues, so I can really only speak accurately for USDAA, which is my venue of choice. I've done some AKC and CPE as well.

The venues available seem to vary a lot by area. In my part of the northeast, anything is really an option. I could find probably 3 USDAA, CPE, or AKC trials a month within a "reasonable" (3 hours for me) driving distance. A bit less NADAC, and UKI is really just starting to appear. I would think in your area you would have your choice.

There are some differences. Some are pretty minor (contact zones are different sizes in USDAA compared to AKC and CPE, for instance) and allow pretty easy movement between venues. Some require different training (USDAA requires a down on the table; AKC just requires the dog remain on the table in any position; CPE the table is just a time stopper, and the dog just has to hit it), but again can be pretty easily overcome. NADAC has some different equipment options that you'd want your dog to be exposed to prior to a trial (hoops, barrels).

There's also a general 'vibe' to the types of courses in most venues. In my experience:

NADAC tends to have a lot of distance work (handling the dog from far away). I was blown away by the amazing distance skills I saw on dogs at the NADAC trials I've worked at. My understanding is that there are definitely options where you can handle close, so it isn't required, but I think it is something the venue encourages.

AKC tends to be fairly straight forward with their course design, but the courses are definitely challenging and tend to be tight. A dog with a lot of distance or prone to taking obstacles on their own might find it more difficult; a dog like my Meg, who works tight and has a very short point of commitment tends to really like the AKC courses.

CPE starts out with much simpler courses at the lower levels, including leaving out the weaves and teeter at the first level. It's a great introductory venue, although courses certainly increase in difficulty from level three on.

USDAA tends to have the most handling challenges in my opinion. Backsides of jumps, threadles, a lot of changes from open "run fast" moments to very tight moments. I think it is the most difficult to start in (12 weaves are required at starters, whereas AKC has 6 at their lowest level), but I have an incredible amount of fun with the games and such, and I like the challenges. I also love the people who do USDAA in our area, and they are what keeps me coming back. That may not hold true in other areas.

Quote:
When it comes time to sign Jax up for his first trial, what are the steps even involved in that?
He'll need to be registered with whatever venue you are doing. It's pretty easy and cheap (around $20 for most venues I think). You can usually do it online and get a number instantly. Some of the USDAA trials will pay your registration fee to encourage new competitors, and you just send your form in with your entry. Then you just fill out your entry and check and volunteer form (don't be afraid to volunteer - it's fun and will get you interacting with people!). Depending on the venue, that may or may not assure you entry. AKC does limited runs a day - it is normal to have to overnight your entry so it arrives on opening day to get a spot in our region. USDAA does not allow clubs to limit entries, so as long as you get it in by closing, you are in. And around here, if you get it in 3 days after closing but email the trial secretary with a polite "it's on its way!" note, you usually get in as well .

Quote:
Do you do something simple... I know I've seen tunnelers, where the course is just all tunnels. And a course where it's all jumpers. These seem like they'd come fairly easy to us. He loves both the tunnel and jumps and I think he'd be ready for a course like that now. He mainly still needs work on weaves and teeter.
It completely depends on you and your dog and what you want to do. Gusto went in to all the non-tournament classes right away because I felt he was ready. Classes like gamblers (in USDAA) are really popular a way to get your dog into the ring at first, because it is a strategy game where you design your own course. That way you can set up something you are pretty sure will be a positive experience for your dog. I like jumpers as well, but some people find the fact that there are no other "marker" obstacles makes it hard to remember the course. You can find example course maps for different classes and levels online, so you can always look at some and see if you think you guys would be ready.

Quote:
And as far as getting Q's... so he would have to complete the course, with no mistakes, and in a certain time to get a Q?
Depends on the venue. In USDAA, you have to be clean and under course time in the non-game classes (games are a whole other ballgame), but at the starters level, some things are forgiven - like they don't call refusals. In AKC, you can have some faults at the lower levels and still Q, but they do call refusals. I know you can have faults at CPE at some levels and Q.

Quote:
I really know nothing about the trialing aspects of agility though, or any rules, regulations, etc.
I panicked about the rules when I first started, but it really isn't bad at all. Very little can actually get you into trouble, and people in my experience are incredibly nice when they aren't stressing and focusing on their own dog. Get there on time to check in and get your dog measured (which will have to happen at your first 1 - 3 trials depending on the venue). Go straight to the registration table, say that you are new, this is your first trial, and where and when do you have to be to get measured. There's usually an agility table with a wicket on it, and a line of nervous new people standing next to it. Listen to announcements so you know when you can walk your course, and don't hesitate to ask questions when the judge does their briefing. They are really generally nice about it, and they are getting paid for it.

Keep your dog to himself, just like you would at any dog event. Not every dog is friendly, and some of the friendly ones are so amped up they may be on edge. Agility is great with a reactive dog like Meg, because people are so very smart about keeping their dogs to themselves. Don't play with him loudly right outside the ring when dogs are running, and don't feed right next to the ring.

Don't keep yourself to yourself Volunteer. Things like ring crew (sitting in the ring and putting up jump bars) and leash running (walking the leash from the start line to the exit gate when the dog is running) are easy and get you involved and can win you cash and prizes.

Have fun. Relax, remember that nobody is judging you but the judge, and everyone wants to see you do well.
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Old 10-12-2013, 08:53 AM
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Laurelin Laurelin is offline
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I would highly recommend going to as many trials as you can and volunteering before entering. I'm very glad I did that. You can do all sorts of jobs- help build courses, time, shadow someone scoring, set bars, etc. I learned SO MUCH from doing this.

Most the trainers I talk to recommend 1-2 years of training before entering. I know everyone has a different idea there but I'm glad I waited till I was pretty sure we could Q and new for sure my dogs would handle the environment happily. I'd taken them to trial environments before.

Popularity will depend on the area. Around here it is AKC that is most popular. We're starting up USDAA and hoping it catches on. I like USDAA and the games, personally. Haven't trialled AKC yet but everyone I've talked to says AKC is not as fun and the people are more 'serious'. We have some NADAC but it's weird.... some TDAA. But almost every trial is AKC.

We do USDAA mostly because that's my club's venue. I'm going to start AKC probably in January/February.

USDAA is harder in some aspects, lots of more international style courses. But it's fun. We started our first two trials just playing jumpers (jumps and tunnels only) and gamblers. Gamblers is a game where you go collect points from obstacles for a certain amount of time then do a distance sequence.

On that note, Qing depends on venue and what game you're playing. In jumpers for example you have to run without any faults and under time to Q. In gamblers you have to get X amount of points and complete the gamble (distance challenge).

I wish there were more USDAA trials around to play at.

One of the things I've heard people say about USDAA is they find it harder because course times tend to be faster, particularly with the little dogs. Not sure if that's true or not. It is pretty competitive here when we get the people from Texas coming up to trials.

Registering- BB covered it. Register with the venue then enter the trials. One thing is that you need your dog's height measured so when you register with USDAA they will give you a blue card. You have to get 3 judges to measure your dog before you get your permanent height card.
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Old 10-12-2013, 09:16 AM
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AWESOME - thanks you guys. This is exactly what I needed.

The place where we train (Hog Dog Productions) is very close to my house, and they have LOTS of trials coming up. Actually there is 1 this weekend. So I'll definitely have to go check it out and get a feel.

There's a few NADAC as well as USDAA. I'll also talk to my trainer about this stuff, too, but sometimes I miss things in general conversation so wanted an online reference with everything written out. I'm almost positive she's been training us USDAA style.

Here's all the upcoming trials:
http://www.hogdogproductions.com/events.htm
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