How did you come to chose your sport?
Not sure if this should be posted in this section or in General (Misc) Information.
I have not competed before and truthfully I am not a very competitive person. Finding myself caring for a young WL GSD has certainly thrown me into an environment I am not at all familiar with but I am up for the challenge. Ozzy is game for just about anything and he is even willing to extend me some patience while I figure this out. :)
I am curious to know how people started in their chosen sport. What appealed to you about it?
I thought I would start on what I think is low stress (for me) and go for titles such as TT and CGN(CGC). Just to get my feet wet on working while someone else grades us. Admittedly I am intimidated by how serious some people take their chosen dog sport (or any sport) so the information and feedback is much appreciated.
For me, I am still exploring... I have participated in many different training avenues such as agility, obedience, schutzhund, lure coursing, barn hunt, nose work, tracking, scent detection, conformation (SV), rally-o, dock diving, weight pull, disc dog and herding over the last three or so years.
The two avenues that I enjoy the most are schutzhund and herding, while the others are fun train for and do with the dogs, my heart is with schutzhund... BUT availability of helpers, clubs within a reasonable (for me) distance, and the cost associated with the sport at this time, is just not something I can pursue full time. So, we train obedience and tracking and when I can, protection. My female excels at the sport and LOVES to work in this venue, but for me, it's just not feasible on a regular basis right now. Once I have the time to do so, then we will get back into full swing with a local club. We are still planning to title by the end of this year for her BH and hoping too at a winter trial.
As for herding... I did their HIC's, and both my dogs did very well. They also really showed interest for it. I never really pursued the venue because I was concentrating on schutzhund and other things but have recently started working my female in herding, and it is a blast! I am so happy we decided to do this. We go weekly and although the distance (by map) is the same, it's all back roads instead of the traffic jammed highway so I can actually make it home in an hour instead of waiting in traffic for 2+ hours on top of the actual drive time. It has been very exciting to watch my female work the stock (cattle) and can't wait to see continued progression in the venue! :)
I guess it was a combination of time, distance and whether or not my dogs (and I) had an interest in it.
It's a combination of what my dog enjoys and what is safe for him/her and factors like cost, timing, and proximity. I've pretty much "quit" Schutzhund with Nikon in favor of flyball because he loves them both but flyball is about 1/10th the cost, the timing is much better for me, and I don't have to drive 3 hours one way just for regular training. Instead of spending a fortune on gas and vehicle maintenance just to attend one SchH training a week on the other side of the state, I can now train with my flyball team 2x a week (plus plenty of drills I do daily at home) and compete once a month, often traveling about the same distance I would just for SchH club training. Because the club trains close to my home, I can make every practice whereas the SchH club trains on a weeknight and it's impossible for me to attend, I wouldn't arrive until 8:30PM and it gets dark at like 6:30 now. Also flyball is a year-round thing since it can be done indoors or outdoors. Sometimes with SchH it is too hot/humid to be safe or just too cold to be comfortable, don't want to track during hunting seasons, etc.
Nosework has a similar appeal and Nikon has done well there too. I can be done nearby, very cheap, can be indoors and outdoors, very little equipment required. Trials are still fewer and far between but it is becoming more popular. I was able to do an ORT 1 hour away and a NW1 trial 1 hour away which is being spoiled since many people traveled 10+ hours for the same events.
I love agility and so have my dogs but we kind of come and go as far as training. It is more expensive because you need more space and more equipment at home. I need more instruction so I'm either paying for classes, drop-in groups, or private instruction. Trialing is far more expensive than flyball. With flyball I pay about $35 and my dog runs 4-6 races (with 3-5 heats each) every day all weekend but with agility you're paying $15-$25 per run. When Nikon was younger I did some work for a training facility and got classes free or cheap so he did several rounds of agility and started trialing CPE but now with flyball and everything else, agility is unfortunately the first thing I cut back on.
For many years I wanted to do Herding (and still do) but the only herding in my area is geared more towards border collies and not GSDs. Sure a GSD can do AKC-A or B course but it’s more natural for them to do HGH or C course. So that’s out for us unless I want to move.
Next on my list was Schutzhund. I had heard this talked about for years by other GSD owners and found it interesting. I loved the idea of training 3 phases at once. I visited a few different clubs and read a book or two. I wasn't real thrilled with the clubs in my area. In the process of looking for a place to train, I got lucky as my husband also became interested and we had a great trainer/helper move into our area right about the time we started training. It’s fun to be able to do this together and have a good trainer available.
Earlier this year I discovered K9 Nosework. I did some research on this and found the classes in my area to be rather expensive. More than I wanted to pay for a second sport. So I talked to our current trainer and again I got lucky in that he had worked for several years in scent detection training and handling dogs. Tests and trials are still very slim in my area but I have been able to get 2 ORTs (odor recognition tests) done and will be trying for the 3rd soon. I've seen a few trials pop up in neighboring states but I’m hoping to be ready for our first trial whenever one is hosted in MN.
I enjoy both of these sports.
Pongu was a severely fearful dog (he's not as bad anymore, but he's still a fearful dog) so that put some major restrictions on what I could do with him for a long time. As I posted at the beginning of my Fearful Dog thread, there are a lot of things he will never be able to handle. And there are other things that he is able to handle today, but couldn't have approached two or three years ago, so that makes me feel good. Progress!
We started in canine musical freestyle because freestyle is a highly adaptable sport that you can tailor to whatever your dog can or can't do. It's also super challenging to do well; I maintain it's got the potential to be either one of the easier sports or the absolute most difficult dog sport in existence, depending on what you make of it.
Sadly I am beyond terrible at dancing, so we dropped out of freestyle after about a year of training and never actually competed in it.
From there we moved to Rally Obedience because it used a lot of the stuff I liked from canine freestyle, plus (a) no Stand for Exam (Pongu couldn't deal with people approaching him, let alone touching him, for years); and (b) you can talk to your dog and use treats in the ring for World Cynosport, which is incredibly important for a fearful dog that needs lots of reassurance.
I really love Rally because, for me, it hits a great balance between "fun" and "challenging." The sport community is very supportive and welcoming, there are plenty of other dogs with Issues so you never feel like you're the one sad failure in the building, and -- if you want -- it can also be technically challenging to a very high degree.
Now and then you'll hear diehard obedience people say stuff like "pssh Rally is so easy" but IMO they are dead wrong. There are more exercises, they're reshuffled on every run (so you can't just pattern train everything, you have to actually develop your dog's heeling skill to the point where the dog can follow you closely on an unpredictable course), and speed counts. Personally I like that and think it's fun.
I also like that the sport is structured so that you don't have to beat other people to "win"; I think the structure of AKC OTCH competition contributes to a lot of the cutthroat and frankly nasty atmosphere you find in some corners of the obedience world (because you cannot win unless someone else loses), and I much prefer the CDSP/WCRL system of making championships score-based instead of placement-based. Placements still exist, but it's not like you completely wasted your day if you come in 3rd instead of 1st.
So that's currently my main sport with Pongu. We also did Trick Dog because one of my clients asked me about it so I looked into it and went "huh, that's fun," and that's a great sport for fearful, reactive, or other dogs who aren't ready for a traditional competition ring. Plus I think trick training is great and super helpful for tons upon tons of sport purposes.
And we're going to start trialing in competition obedience on Saturday, because probably we're going to beat the game in Rally next year, so comp OB is the next logical place to go, now that Pongu can (sometimes, sort of) tolerate strangers touching him.
Finally, I'm starting agility with Crookytail just so Crooky has something to do. I don't think he'll get too far with it, because he's slow and clumsy and not that bright, but for those same reasons he's probably a good dog for me to learn the sport with. God knows I don't need to be trying to handle a BC as a total newb.
One of my mentors as a child competed in obedience, and I grew up loving it! I also showed in conformation, and while I still enjoy it, health issues have made it impossible to show my own dogs. Any training that you do with your dog will help to strengthen the bond between you. I have done conformation, obedience, agility, herding, rally, and lure coursing.
Scent work and obedience have always been what I thought I would enjoy. I dabble in it at home on my own I just haven't competed or even bothered to find out what is involved until recently. I do train my dogs I just never cared to find out how I stacked up against others - Im odd :)
Now though its time to actually start working at a sport and/or competing and I finally have a dog who can do it with me.
I hadn't considered herding for some reason I will have to look into it. Thanks for the suggestion elisabeth!
The idea of Schutzhund has never really appealed to me. I would be interested in entertaining it but money, time and distance would be a factor.
Merciel your comment was the one that is sticking with me. From what you describe Rally Obedience may just up my alley to get started with Ozzy and we can always move to other sports later. The pressure to win is just not something I'm good with. If I am having a good time the best way for it to be ruined is to make it feel like I'm competing against others. Besides...Ozzy doesn't know the darn difference he just wants to work at something.
Thanks for the information everyone, definitely given me some things to chew on!
I basically fell into mine because of proximity and the amount of time needed to do it well. That's why I do obedience, rally, and agility. My training club is 30 minutes away, shows are generally less than an hour away, and its very easy to do by yourself.
I loved watching my boy herd. He had a blast doing it. But its like an hour away, and I just can't afford to spend that much time driving out there every weekend and sometimes on the weekdays.
We dabble in dock diving, that's my husband's sport with Halo. He chose it because he doesn't have to do any actual training, he can just show up to an event and they both have fun.
My sport is flyball, and I didn't know much about it and had never seen it live before, but I'd always thought it looked like fun when I saw videos on youtube. I found a class, Halo did awesome, I searched online for more advanced classes, found a list of clubs in my area on the North American Flyball Association, saw that one was starting up a class in a couple of weeks and I signed us up. We took the next class after that, the club asked us to join them at practices afterwards, and a few months later we were invited to join the club and start racing with them. Halo LOVES it so I never bothered to try agility with her, which was next on the list. She's been racing about a year and a half now.
I've also done Nosework with both Halo & Keefer, we just kind of fell into that since the boyfriend of a private trainer we'd worked with was Andrew Ramsey, who went on to make the Leerburg Nosework DVD series (Halo and I appear briefly on DVD #1). He had a search area set up on their deck, and did classes right there at their house. It was a lot of fun, but it was also fairly expensive, and once I really got going with flyball, that starting taking up a lot more of my time, so I had to make the choice to stop Nosework.
I began IPO when a local breeder was getting a club together. I wanted Onyx to do more than the obedience that was offered at the nearby AKC club. And I didn't want to do the vaccinations required by the AKC club.
Onyx washed out when she proved she didn't care for the protection phase.
So I looked for a puppy that I could do IPO with. I'm not really interested in doing agility or competitive obedience so I travel 2 hours to train in IPO(the original club broke up).
PSA or SDA is something I'd really love to do, but those clubs are far and few between. Nosework is something I'd love to do too, but more to dabble in, not so much to compete. I need to stay moving, not wait around and I don't like the loud indoor venues that involve some sports. Not enough herding places or trials to even invest time in, sadly. I chose to do what I do out of convenience, even though now it is hardly convenient travel-wise.
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