Monthly Archives: October 2009

Kala’s First Agility Trial

CR180x160_agilityThis past weekend was Kala’s first trial.  Kala is an Australian Shepherd and is almost 2 years old.  She has been practicing agility for several months now.  She is able to do small sets, mostly jumps, tunnels and tire.  She can do the contacts (except teeter), but still doesn’t get the stay part at the bottom.  She is just learning to weave using Susan Garrett’s 2 x2 training method.  By AKC or USDAA standards, she would not be ready for a trial, but by going to CPE and only entering some of the games, we were able to have the trial experience.  We entered in Jumpers (no weaves in CPE), Colors and Fullhouse.

Our first event was Jumpers.  I really had no idea what she would do – she stayed on the start line and I led out the first jump.  She is pretty fast and Jumpers is a fast course, so I had to keep up with her and call her back to be a few times.  Luckily she didn’t take any obstacles out of sequence and ended up with a Qualifier and first place! (3 dogs).  I was very happy since I knew any mistakes she made would be easily corrected once she got used to doing courses.

The second event for her of the day was Fullhouse.  At this particular venue, there is a spot in the first ring that my other dog, Sullivan, always like to stop and sniff.  I don’t really see any other dogs stopping there, so I was surprised when Kala decided to stop and sniff there too!  Maybe Sullivan told her there was something good there???  We did OK in the Fullhouse, but did not Qualify.

The second day we started out with Colors.  Colors is a course that has 2 intertwining courses and you choose which one you want to take and once you start with that one, you have to stick with it.  At Level 1, one of the courses had a sharp turn from a tunnel exit to a jump, the other course had a better path, but included the A-frame.  I decided to go with the sharp turn.  The first obstacle was a tire, so I did not lead out.  Kala took the course like she had it memorized or something.  She completed the 38 second course time in only 12.89 seconds!  She got another Qualifier and first place.  Wow – it was great!

The second event for that day for her was another Fullhouse.  Unlike the Colors, she acted like she could have cared less.  She didn’t even run or go for any obstacles and when we got over by the sniffing area – that was it – she wouldn’t budge.  I almost had to ask for her leash to get her off the course.  Very disappointing.  Not that I expect to be perfect on every run – especially on the first trial.  I was very happy with the other runs, but I was concerned at her lack of drive to go out and do anything.  So, along with everything else, I will be getting her excited before each practice run, so she will be ready to go out and have fun.

Our next trial is in early November so we have less than a month to get ready.  One of the big issues at this last trial was the heat.  It was in the 90’s both days and almost no breeze or anything.  My other Aussie, Sullivan, did her best, but did not Qualify in anything.  She does not run well in the heat and it was just too much for her.  We came close in the early morning events, but just went downhill as the day got hotter.

I learned some good lessons from her  runs too and will be posting them soon – off to practice!

click here for more agility!

click here for more agility!


Is My Dog Ready to Trial?

CRWCCHow do you know when your dog is ready to enter his/her first trial?  It can all seem very intimidating!  My Kala will be in her first trial this coming weekend and sometimes you really don’t know what to expect.  We are going to a CPE trial and only entering a couple of the games.  CPE is a very favorable venue when just starting out.

Here are a few things that I feel are important to have before going into a trial.  The first thing is a good recall.  You will be taking your dog to unfamiliar territory and although they may be doing a course where you train, they could decide to leave the ring or go jump on the judge!  You want to be able to have control of your dog whether or not they complete the course.  If this is your first trial , you will probably be nervous and your dog will pick up on that as well.

If you haven’t practiced that many courses, don’t worry.  We practice sequences of about 4-5 obstacles.  As long as your dog can do sequences, they can usually make it through a beginner course.  Most beginner courses flow fairly easily, but you will have to switch sides at least once.  If your dog starts going all over the place (the zoomies) just be patient and call him back to you and continue on.  In CPE you will only be faulted one off course no matter where the dog goes.  Now if they take a few more obstacles and then go off course again, then it would be another fault.  You are allowed one off course fault at the beginning level.    What if your dog leaves the ring?  I don’t know if there is a hard rule on this, but I have been to many CPE trials and have never seen anyone excused from the ring if their dog went out of the ring and came back in.  Now if the dogs goes way off and takes forever, it’s probably best just to say thanks and excuse yourself and go catch your dog!

In CPE, in Level 1 (beginner) there are no weave poles or teeter, so you can start without having these obstacles.  Also in CPE there is a category called FEO – for exhibit only.  You still pay your entry fees and you have to be registered, but you will not get any credit for the run.  You cannot train in the ring, no toys, treats or redo’s, but you can keep your dog on a lease and do the course.  It is a good way to get started without any pressure.  Even if you start in Level 1, and your dog is not cooperating at all, you can call for your leash and still do a few obstacles on leash before leaving the ring.  Don’t go crazy and try and do the whole course if you call for the leash midway, this would be considered training and is not allowed.  Just do a few things and exit the ring with a thank you to the judge.

One of the reasons we are just doing a few of the games is that I don’t feel we are ready to do much on contacts.  Kala can do the A-Frame and Dogwalk, but doesn’t really have a good bottom stay yet.  We are entered in Jumpers (only jumps and tunnels), Colors (2 intertwining courses that should have one contact at most) and Fullhouse (gain points, one of the jokers could be an A-Frame or Dogwalk, but there will probably be something else too).  Fullhouse is where I expect to do the best since if she goes off course (except the table) we will just be getting some extra points.

Everyone has to make their own decision about when to do for that first trial.  Don’t put too much pressure on yourself or your dog and just go for the fun of it!  Just as a reminder, to begin in CPE, your dog must be 15 months and registered with a CPE number.  You will need to go early to get measured no matter what jump height you are in.  If you are getting measured before your dog is 2, then you will have to be measured again for a permanent card after that.  Good luck!

Great agility equipment

Great agility equipment


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