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In how many sports do you train?

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joie de vivre
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What challenges do you find arise from training seriously in more than one sport at a time?

I'm training both the girls in rally, obedience, and agility (different classes on different nights and I'm wondering if our challenges stem from me being a novice (I've really only been training for about 2.5 years now - never competed), or if it's common to run into challenges for those who train in more than one sport concurrently.

Specifically the differences in obedience and agility throw us off. The differences in Obedience and Rally vary slightly compared to Agility and Obedience. Obedience is all about being very precise, working closely, plenty of time spent in heel position. Agility foundation involved training to lure and signal with my hands (and body), both sides, distance work. It's hard to shut off some of those things for me, and in turn I know that can kinda throw off the dogs. They can do the basic formal obedience stuff but we're moving really slowly through it because I've spent so much time and energy focusing on learning and understanding agility handling - and there really are things that are specifically opposite in handling between obedience and agility.

Do people generally pick one sport over the other(s) to really focus on? Or are there any tips anyone can offer that may help us be congruently successful in all 3?
 

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We started at 7 months with Rally then there was an overlap with doing OB. He liked the Rally better because it had a jump. Then I ran him in UKC agility at 11 months at the same time we were finishing his RAE and CDs. Once he got a taste of agility he made it hell to go back for the other venues. He would screw with me in the Rally/OB rings. We will never go back to Rally/OB. He likes the agility and that's where we will stay. I know some regularly compete in all 3 with no problems. I envy them......
 

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Ivan does obedience, but not competitively. He's primarily training for SAR work. I added agility training to increase his confidence. I think they are complimentary. If we get to that point, I'll probably compete with him in agility. My problem is primarily the two different approaches that each trainer (SAR/obedience vs. agility) take towards training - Corrections/No Corrections, Praise&Play/Food, etc. Ivan's the first dog I've really trained, so I'm sure I'm the biggest obstacle.
 

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I had a friend back in Illinois who had a gorgeous German Shepherd. He was working on his utility title. Steve had a heck of a time moving his dog around the ring because the dog wouldn't leave the left heel position. There were times Steve had to run the outside path because his dog stayed in heel position. The weaves presented an even bigger challenge.
 

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Lucy and I train in OB, Rally and agility, and also show in Conformation. We started trialing in Rally and OB in the past few months; it will be a while before we are trial-ready for agility.

We started training in OB when she was quite young, whereas I didn't start foundation agility work until about 15 months old. And agility was put on hold for a while until we moved cross-country, but we resumed agility training about 5 months ago. The greater degree of focus on OB vs agility at a young age I think has contributed to some of my challenges.

Some of the challenges I've had are:

1) Time. Between weekly classes, private lessons, at home training and breed ring shows usually a few weekends per month, it's a lot of activity and training to juggle. I like doing it all, but sometimes wonder if we might be more successful if I narrowed the focus. I imagine you can relate to this too, as you have two dogs you are training!!

2) Because I started training in OB first and Lucy was older when we started agility, I did not focus much on working her on both sides when she was young; that can be a challenge for us now. Having her on my right feels SO foreign! Also, with OB, there is such a huge focus on attention and looking at me; however, with agility my trainer wants Lucy focusing more forward and cueing off my body position vs looking at my face/making eye contact. So that has been a challenge. It has come into play with things like retrieving over jumps in OB where Lucy is supposed to maintain attention with me when she is returning over the jump and fronting; vs in agility we want her looking forward and not turning to look AT me when she is going over jumps. So we use targets a lot to get her focusing more out vs directly at my face. I also definitely have a challenge with distance work in agility.

3) For Rally vs OB, I don't think the challenges have been as significant. Probably the main thing has been that with Rally I have to focus more on the station signs to make sure I know what I am doing, and this can take my focus away from Lucy. I have to be careful that I don't inadvertently send her the message that it's OK for her to not be focused on me. You also don't have to be as precise, so I probably am a bit more sloppy and relaxed in rally. :) When I trialed for the 1st time in OB a few months ago, it was right on the heels of getting our RN, and I had to be REALLY careful that I did not talk to Lucy or give double commands in the ring. However, I really enjoy Rally and like the fact I can talk to her. I suspect it's more fun for Lucy too.

In general, I think a lot of my challenges are also probably due to me being a novice at this. Lucy is my first competition dog, so it's like the blind leading the blind. :) It's really eye opening (and a tad depressing! LOL) when I occasionally work my agility trainer's dog and he is absolutely clueless as to what I am trying to tell him based on my body cues being so off. It's all part of the learning process though and Lucy and I are both learning a lot, no doubt about it! :)
 

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joie de vivre
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
HarvestMoon - I'm facing similar challenges as you, but kind of in reverse. Fiona has always HATED obedience. No matter how fun I attempt to make it, she responds like its nothing more than a series of punishments. So we've put a lot more focus on agility from a younger age than obedience. Her manners are nice enough that I've not been really determined with formal obedience for her.

Then I started Tali in agility before obedience just because I've really enjoyed it with Fiona and I figured Tali would have fun too. Well, she does, but now I feel like I've also kind of thrown her off with obedience even though she's a natural obedience dog - she loves it - but she does cross her wires between classes occasionally and she'll kind of give me this look like, "Oh...we're doing that?"

I feel like obedience really restricts, maybe that's not the right word, perhaps I should say this - obedience more narrowly defines how you're allowed to communicate in the ring than agility. I completely get what you're saying about agility training - your entire body tells the dog what to do whether you realize it or not. I've done so much reading on agility handling, we've been training in agility for almost 2 years now, so I've really kind of shaped my own thinking and handling styles for what suits me and both my girls best in agility. Going from agility to obedience, well not really from one to the other but adding obedience in to our current training schedule dominated by agility, has kind of been like going from driving a small passenger car to driving a city bus. They are 2 entirely different beasts.

While both my girls are wonderful at reading my body language and intuitively reacting in agility, I feel like we're all clunky and confused in obedience. So much of obedience goes against things I've trained. We're used to working distance, focus is not directly on me but with me, I can signal with my hands and talk to them the entire time, we're all over and I'm positioning myself where ever I need to be to keep us going. That's so not obedience! LOL

Also, I'm afraid the front in obedience has the potential to make Fiona's recall shaky again. In Fiona's world, running to me is fun. Running to me and then sitting and waiting (even for a second) is not fun. And in agility when I call her, she hauls ass and jumps on me - that's her reward for recall because it's one of her favorite things in the world - it's why she comes to me. But she's already shown some hesitation in our obedience class with it when asked to sit, so we've backed off fronts for now.

I'm glad to get some feedback from others who are hitting some bumps along the way in training multiple sports. I've even thought of postponing much of our obedience training until the girls are older and their bodies won't withstand the stress of agility, but I really like to train them in all 3 and I feel like I'm learning a TON about my dogs and training in general. I'm just unsure if we'll have much success spreading our efforts out over 3 sports rather than really focusing on 1.
 

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We are training for obedience, rally, working trials and agility.

Right now as Elsie is young the agility isn't the most important, we just do a lot of trick training, rear end awareness, circle work, tugging, waits & proofing around distractions and once or twice a month we work on some Susan Salo puppy jumping grids. Mostly just building a good foundation, socializing and spending a lot of time at agility shows.

The rally and obedience kind of works together, and is our main training focus at the moment, we train everyday and I try to make it really fun and short... I want enthusiasm, focus and a waggy tail when we work! When we are at agility shows or class we practice obedience, sometimes I borrow obedience trained agility dogs to do group stays with as we don't attend obedience classes. I talk every week to my friends who do agility & obedience to get pointers from them and to watch how Elsie is progressing. Here is a quick video of Elsie and me doing some stay in heel position stuff in the kitchen > MVI_6179.mp4 video by discodobe - Photobucket

Working trials is the other sport we work on, but it's a bit on the back burner like agility as some parts of it can't be done until 18 (UD) and 24 (WD) months old. We try to track every week, and now that agility is winding down for winter we will hopefully get lots of tracking done in the weekends. Obedience is part of the working trials so we are working on that, and we are preparing for the CD now, just need to do retrieves still. Working trials champion (WTCH) is one of our long term goals, to get WTCH a dog needs 1x CDX, 2x UDX, 2x WDX and 2x TDX... So it's a looong way away!


ETA: We aren't planning on competing in obedience to a high level, obedience here goes special beginners > novice > test A > test B > test C, winning CC's at test C is how you get OBCH/OBGRCH. I don't see us making it out of Novice LOL. Once agility & WT start up at 18 months, those trials will take precedence over OB/rally trials... We only have 4-5 WT shows a year on my island, so they are most important!
 
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sandy2233
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I just started Em in agility and find that some commands are not the same. Touch in agility means way different than touch (which I use as a realease in obed and rally). So I am using cookie for touch in agility. She is handling agility way better than obed and rally. Not so structured and she enjoys it way more. She is feeling so much better than in January, has put back the 10 pounds that she lost. Pred seems to be helping so much and counts are still not normal but manageable. Still fluctuating some but under 400. I am a newbie at formal trng so alot of her problems I attribute to me alone.
 

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ive trained in multiple sports for years

at some point if you want to be super successful in one of them, you will have to put something on the back burner.

obedience is always my preference and focus - i only did agility as a hind thought and competed only because berlin wanted to - rah took one six week class in his entire life and it was not competitive based, it was fun agility before he even finished his CD. he showed a few times and has a jumpers leg in NADAC but i wont show him in AKC agility.

i dont find obedience boring - its all about how you approach it. what i appreciate IS the specificity. im not looking just to get by - im being scored on every singe step and how close that matches someone elses version of perfection. in agility, no one cared how well i executed a cross, how much i did something perfect, or how well they listened. no one scores how perfect my dogs 2o/2o was (or wasnt ha ha, nice quick release), if they blew their SLS, etc. so we can screw up quite a lot and still qualify - but not in obedience in many instances. you can be heavily penalied to NQ'd.

i appreciate that perfection and strive for it. agility is fun, but its not my main focus.
i dont train for rally, we just do it. i review signs that day at the show and have gone into the ring realizing my dogs dont know stuff (berlin didnt know a right finish, to this day rah sometimes wont do a left since he never shows with one)

and as a side note - if you're doing so many fronts that your dog is getting hesitant i would look at how you work front and if your dog understands that. i can do 20 recalls (and did last night with cherry) and only three of them actually resulted in a front, and only one with a finish. the rest all were games games games and she loved them. shes a soft dog and harder to train than any other dobe ive had i think, and its a chore sometimes keeping her engaged but keeping it fun is the key.
 

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joie de vivre
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
ive trained in multiple sports for years

at some point if you want to be super successful in one of them, you will have to put something on the back burner.

obedience is always my preference and focus - i only did agility as a hind thought and competed only because berlin wanted to - rah took one six week class in his entire life and it was not competitive based, it was fun agility before he even finished his CD. he showed a few times and has a jumpers leg in NADAC but i wont show him in AKC agility.

i dont find obedience boring - its all about how you approach it. what i appreciate IS the specificity. im not looking just to get by - im being scored on every singe step and how close that matches someone elses version of perfection. in agility, no one cared how well i executed a cross, how much i did something perfect, or how well they listened. no one scores how perfect my dogs 2o/2o was (or wasnt ha ha, nice quick release), if they blew their SLS, etc. so we can screw up quite a lot and still qualify - but not in obedience in many instances. you can be heavily penalied to NQ'd.

i appreciate that perfection and strive for it. agility is fun, but its not my main focus.
i dont train for rally, we just do it. i review signs that day at the show and have gone into the ring realizing my dogs dont know stuff (berlin didnt know a right finish, to this day rah sometimes wont do a left since he never shows with one)
Kim, I always appreciate your perspective on training and dogs. I read your response several days ago and I've been mulling over in my mind what you've said regarding the specificity required in obedience vs the controlled crashing of agility (not to insult anyone but there are still occasionally days/nights where agility training with my dogs is controlled crashing LOL).

I really do find obedience fun with Tali because the girl lives for it. I have never seen so much enthusiasm from a dog learning obedience. LOL She cracks me up and surprises me everyday and she shows me how much fun obedience can be.

Fiona is less precision oriented and I think she doesn't always get, or maybe care, why she has to sit straight or why I want a difference in body position between dropping and doing a long down. I think it's a bigger challenge for Fiona because it doesn't come as naturally for her as agility does. And, I admit, that puts a lot of pressure on me when training Fiona in obedience. It's this constant challenge to figure out how to communicate to her what I'm asking.

So much of agility relies on natural body movements and motion - kind of like fumbling my way through a foreign language I don't speak by using universal hand motions, pointing, and excitement to convey what I mean. Where as obedience is more like actually learning the language and practicing it's communication with someone who is already fluent. I really feel that way about obedience. Like my dogs are already fluent and they're waiting for me to learn how to communicate with them so we can have a real, coherent conversation.

I genuinely look forward to pursuing obedience with Tali and I'm hopeful, if a bit confused, about pursuing obedience with Fiona.

and as a side note - if you're doing so many fronts that your dog is getting hesitant i would look at how you work front and if your dog understands that. i can do 20 recalls (and did last night with cherry) and only three of them actually resulted in a front, and only one with a finish. the rest all were games games games and she loved them. shes a soft dog and harder to train than any other dobe ive had i think, and its a chore sometimes keeping her engaged but keeping it fun is the key.
I agree with you completely. And this is an ongoing discussion with our obedience trainers. I express that I don't want to drill the hell out of Fiona on fronts; I want to work on it gradually, take breaks as needed, praise the hell out of her when it's right and so on. But I keep being met with, "You have to work on it if you want to do it." And by that they mean I should be drilling her and putting a lot of focus on fronts until Fiona becomes consistent. Fiona is about the last dog on Earth you can drill and expect her to become more precise or more consistent. She starts to stress and then you lose her. Fi checks out and clowns around because that's more fun than what we're working on and it makes her feel better than the pressure does.

So I'm working with her more like it sounds you're working with Cherry. More games, more happy, good feeling fun, less intense focus and pressure. I think Fiona is just going to progress more slowly in obedience than Tali. And that's fine. Every dog is different. Fiona is outpacing Tali in agility, so it just goes to show every dog is an individual with their own strengths, weaknesses, and needs.

Also, I think we're due for a Cherry Bomb and Chill update! :D
 
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