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Old 09-09-2014, 12:08 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Multiple Sports

Do you train your dogs in more than just one area of dog sports? For instance, I'm training Krieger in schutzhund/IPO at the moment, but I'd like to branch out to other venues eventually. Do you feel like this is too much of an overload for a dog, or do you think that a well-rounded dog should be able to perform well in multiple venues? I'm just curious.
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Old 09-09-2014, 12:15 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I've noticed the biggest obstacle isn't the dog's willingness...it's time in the day.

I started AKC obedience, added rally, added agility. Then got into SDA and IPO. Well...SDA ended up being Thursday nights. IPO was Saturdays. Agility was on Saturday as well. There goes agility. After going to a training place on Thursday and Saturday (all day Saturday)...the last thing I wanted (or had time for) was to go somewhere on Sunday for more AKC obedience stuff.

The dog was fine with everything, I just realized I couldn't do all those things (and then think about trialing in them) and also do my other chores and things I needed to get done.

I think the trialing really gets in the way...most are on weekends. Most training things are on weekends. If you really want to excel at something like agility...you'll be trialing a lot. That makes it so you can't train IPO (unless you're lucky to have it nearby on weekdays). So the scheduling just doesn't help...
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Old 09-09-2014, 12:39 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I train my dogs in a lot of stuff. Just depends on where my interest is that given week and their skill.

We compete in Dock diving, lure coursing, agility, and disc.

We train/have trained in all of those + nosework, flyball, rally/obedience, herding and tracking.

I love all of the different training ideas and people from each sport.

I don't think it's an overload at all as long as they enjoy it. And two of my dogs are not the most well-nerved, either.
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Old 09-09-2014, 12:40 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I didn't even think about scheduling! ACK! Thankfully, I think my situation is the other way around. Rally and agility would be on different weekdays, and training for IPO/SDA would be on Saturdays and/or Sundays, not to mention that I could get additional help on weekdays if weekends didn't work out. Trials would be on Fridays and Saturdays, so as long as I didn't pick trial days that were the same, I should be okay. How many trials did you have to do for agility, though? That's the only part I'm super concerned about.

I was just concerned with overloading the dog. I didn't know if someone had had experiences in which the dog performed much better at one sport and performed poorly at another because it was too much. I'm glad to hear that yours was performing well in all three venues!
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Old 09-09-2014, 12:45 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Thankfully, Krieger is pretty well-rounded and has good nerves. We're working on his foundation for IPO/schutzhund/SDA at the moment. He's indicating articles for nose work, has a great bite, and learns things relatively quickly. I'd like to try to dabble in rally (I feel like that would be the simplest translation from IPO), dock diving, flyball, and agility. He's only seven months old, so I know we'd have a long way to go, but it's nice to get to planning. (: He should have his CGC certificate in about five to six weeks, too, so I'll go for his BH after that. Is it too soon to start training for rally if they're around eight to nine months of age?
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Old 09-09-2014, 01:13 PM   #6 (permalink)
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We trial in agility once every month or two, typically. You can trial as much or little as you want.

As for age, Patton had a rally match last month at 9 months.. you could be trialing at 6 mos if you wanted, just depends on the dog's training really. Never too young to start anything!
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Old 09-09-2014, 01:35 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I think it really depends on:

(1) which sports you want to do;
(2) how similar they are to each other;
(3) how much experience you have in training each sport;
(4) how competitive you want to be; and
(5) your dog's athletic ability, mental acuity, and willingness to work.

Some sports -- lure coursing, dock diving, barn hunt, etc. -- require little or no training. Either your dog wants to do them or he doesn't. If he does, it's pretty much plug-and-play. If he doesn't, you probably could train them, but I can't really see why you'd bother. These are just-for-fun activities; I don't think anyone takes them seriously as a measure of the dog's ability or the trainer's skill.

Other sports require much more training. Agility, IPO, upper-level obedience -- all of those entail months to years of work before you're ever ready to set foot in a ring, and more months or years if you want to reach the top.

The next factor to consider is how similar the sports are to one another. This has pros and cons. On the up side, the more closely one sport resembles another, the less new training you have to do to make the crossover. If you're already training in IPO, then the requirements for AKC Novice obedience really don't require adding on a whole lot of new stuff. If you've trained Utility scent articles, then introductory nosework (to about ORT readiness) is pretty simple.

The downside is that the more closely one sport resembles another, the more likely it is that you and your dog may get confused on the finicky small things that can cost you points in the ring. I managed to lose 20 points(!!) on an AKC Rally Advanced run because I executed the exercises in the way that would have been correct for World Cynosport Rally but was not correct in AKC Rally. Same sport, different rules, worst score ever.

Similarly, I notice that whenever I've been doing a lot of obedience-style heelwork with Pongu (long flowing stretches), his Rally-style heeling (choppy short spurts with lots of starts and stops) tends to suffer, and vice versa. Doesn't matter for Qs, does matter for scores.

Then there's trainer experience and dog experience. As I write this today, I'm pretty comfortable training all the Rally exercises and most of the obedience exercises. I'm a total novice to agility, as is my dog. It's therefore harder for me to train the agility exercises because I really don't have a clear picture yet of what the final finished forms are supposed to look like or how the nuances in training them might influence the outcomes. This means it takes more time and effort for me to reach X level in agility proficiency than it does for me to reach the same level of fluency in other sports that I'm more familiar with.

However, Pongu has a really strong foundational background from other sports and I am pretty good at clicker shaping, so we've pretty much condensed six months of agility foundational work into six weeks. There are some shortcuts we can take after training in other sports that genuine newbie teams can't do.

Then there's the level of competition you want to reach. If you just want to play around in a new venue and have fun, it's not that hard to hopscotch among them. If you want to really master a field, though, it is harder to train simultaneously in multiple sports because you're dividing your efforts and there's only so much time in the day, and only so much mental and physical energy that you and your dog can devote to perfecting the fine points in each sport.

It's also obviously harder to trial in everything at once, since you'll run into scheduling conflicts and at some point most people run out of money for seminars, practice equipment, specialized classes, entry fees, gas, etc. Especially if you're trialing multiple dogs in multiple sports, this can add up FAST.

And then, finally, it varies based on your dog. Some dogs can handle more than others (there's a reason those go-go-gooo!! Border Collies are so popular among cross-sport competitors: they're smart, they work hard, and they never seem to get tired). Some seem to find it easier to keep all the different "jobs" straight in their heads (although, of course, trainer skill makes a big difference there too). Some can't handle that intensity, though, and will burn out.

Personally I think there's much to be gained from training in different sports. You learn different things and get to try out different approaches, and all those skills add to your problem-solving toolbox.

But I also tend to concentrate my trialing efforts in one thing at a time. Right now we're phasing out of Rally/obedience (will probably wrap that up at the end of this year) and shifting more into agility (will probably start trialing in that sport sometime in early 2015). I'm not into dabbling in a lot of things at once; my preference is to concentrate on one thing, achieve whatever level of proficiency I can in it, and then move on to the next.
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Old 09-09-2014, 02:39 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I plan to do the same things so I find this thread super interesting.

My boy comes home the 27th and he's already enrolled in agility. I will also be starting either flyball or puppy pre-K at the same time. I want to start lure coursing, but that will probably be next year as the weather is starting to become unpredictable. And herding is also an option...finally if he likes water, I'll be looking for a dock diving location. Lots of plans for this little boy!!
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Old 09-09-2014, 02:45 PM   #9 (permalink)
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If you have the time, the ability, you'll be fine. Obedience transfers over really quick.

Trialing is how far you want to go. If you want to get a Master's title, or an Mach...you're unlikely to be training for IPO. I'd assume you'll be at a trial every weekend or every other weekend. So you could still train for IPO...but you'll greatly slow that down. Everything is dependent on how quickly you want to succeed or what level you want to get to in the given sport. The more you do, the more likely everything will take longer. Of course...you'll have more at the end, but it just won't come as fast.

Someone focusing on IPO, can get an IPO3 on their dog by the age of 3. If you throw in training in agility and trialing in that...it will naturally just take longer because you won't be 100% focused on one or the other.
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Old 09-09-2014, 02:47 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I agree about the time issue - and it isn't just the classes but the outside training that you do.

I got Paisley for herding, but we can only do that 1x a week (maybe 2 - it's expensive!). Since there isn't an IPO club around (that is accepting new members, or would even call me back), I started Nosework with her to give her something to do at home to mentally stimulate her (since I don't have my own flock of sheep!). I then found someone to do IPO with, which we go to approx 1x a week - but I do a LOT Of work on my own. Paisley loves them all, but I think I have figured out her "order" in which she prefers things and how I will eventually prioritize things once she starts trailing. I think it is fun doing different sports and I know Paisley likes them all too. She is still young, so I am just kind of seeing how this all pans out
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