Rally class coming up. Register or no? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-10-2013, 10:26 AM Thread Starter
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Rally class coming up. Register or no?

I have Gypsy in basic OB right now and she is killing it, even with her leash reactivity issues. Our trainer thinks she needs more of a challenge. There is a Rally class coming up in November that would dovetail with the end of our OB class. I don't know the trainer's experience in Rally. I took her agility class for reactive dogs and got the impression that she is very smart and talented but also young and inexperienced. Two things I am concerned about: the indoor venue is kind of small, and the trainer has a zero tolerance policy for barking/lunging. I haven't had any trouble with Gypsy in basic, but I think she would react if another dog was staring her down from six feet away.

The other option I have is to take private lessons with our current trainer (who I love) and then take Rally with the AKC training club in January. This would probably be easier on Gypsy, although I've never been to the AKC club.

Will a Rally class likely be different with a training club vs. a trainer who basically has her own "brand" and is working apart from the show community? This is all totally new to me. I've never done a dog sport and don't know what the advantages would be to join a club.


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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-10-2013, 12:14 PM
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I'm not sure on which class you should take, but as far as the trainers "brand", the rules are pretty clear for both UKC and AKC, so I'm not sure how she could vary too far from the norm. If your not sure about the trainer the go the other route, but if most of the issues are because of Gypsy then work diligently on her focus. Get her to ignore the other dogs and watch you.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-10-2013, 12:16 PM
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Yay, I'm excited you're giving Rally a try! It's lots of fun, I think you'll like it.

There are a couple of advantages to joining a training club, and I would definitely recommend taking at least one class with a club before going into competition, given that this is your first time doing any sort of dog sport.

The main benefit -- and this is something you really need with a dog that has Issues -- is that you and your dog get used to working in an indoor venue with other working teams around. The more comfortable Gypsy feels in that environment, and the more confident you are that she'll behave appropriately (i.e., the less tension you send down the leash), the better you'll do.

A secondary benefit is that if your training club also hosts trials, you'll eventually get a home court advantage there -- your dog is super familiar with that environment and relaxed in it. This can boost your performance and scores. If you're really good it doesn't make any difference, but, uh, most of us are not really good. Anyway I'm not.

With that said, given that you're probably just going to be learning the signs at first, and that's enough work in the beginning without adding on the distraction of managing potential reactivity, it may be best to start with the private trainer and then move into the training club's classes in January. This gives you some time to familiarize yourself with the basic exercises before you worry about the other stuff.

The only concerns I'd have with the situation you describe are: (1) make sure the signs you're learning are the ones for the venue you're eventually planning to compete in (there are four Rally venues that I know of: AKC, APDT/WCR, UKC, and C-WAGS. I think C-WAGS may just be on the East Coast, the others are nationwide, but availability of trials definitely varies by region); and

(2) try to find out how much actual trial experience your instructor has in the sport, because if you plan to compete, you eventually need/want to train with someone who is or recently has been active in that venue. Different organizations dock points for different minor details, which only matters if you care about scores, but probably at some point you're going to start caring about scores, and it's a lot easier to get something right from the beginning than go back and fix it later.

Good luck! Have fun! Rally is really about playing with your dog -- it is a very very newbie-friendly sport and (my personal insanity notwithstanding) not at all hypercompetitive. It is generally a supportive and welcoming crowd in that sport.

ARCHMX TDCH Pongu the Insane, CD-C, RE, RL1X6, RL2X5, RL3X2 (GSD mix, b. Apr 2010)
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-10-2013, 05:34 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merciel View Post
With that said, given that you're probably just going to be learning the signs at first, and that's enough work in the beginning without adding on the distraction of managing potential reactivity, it may be best to start with the private trainer and then move into the training club's classes in January. This gives you some time to familiarize yourself with the basic exercises before you worry about the other stuff.
This is a really excellent point. The only reason basic obedience has worked out for us is because I can focus on my dog and she already knows how to do everything. Waiting for the club classes sounds like a good way to go. We'll be doing AKC Rally since there isn't much else out here. Learning the signs will definitely take a while. I found this page with sample courses for beginners that I think we could work through this winter: Canis Sapiens - Rally-O Pages

I'm not sure if our current instructor has much experience in Rally. I'll have to ask. She does mostly formal obedience, which is her passion, so she is extremely detail-oriented and spends more time critiquing me than Gypsy. Apparently I have a bad habit of moving my hands about and bending over my dog. The class has been a great experience, overall. Very positive and fun. I just get lots of constructive criticism because I made the mistake of saying I "might consider" competing lol.

Thank you for your advice! I always find it helpful. We started doing the relaxation protocol you linked to, and it's definitely working!
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-10-2013, 06:12 PM
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Oh good, I'm glad you got some use out of that!

If your instructor has a solid grounding in competition obedience, then you should be in good shape for Rally. Most of the exercises are very similar, and (especially in AKC) the standards are higher for competition obedience, so if you can do comp OB, then you are usually in good shape for the Rally ring.

I say "usually" because there are a couple of minor quirks to be aware of in making the transition (Rally tends to be more start/stop, which can be an issue for larger dogs particularly in AKC because the courses are smaller with less space between signs; you have to learn to recognize/read the signs at a glance without interrupting your flow; and some of the moves don't exist in competition OB), but those are "cross that bridge when you get to it" sort of things.

Foundation work is all pretty much the same, and at this stage it's really just about building up the strongest, most enthusiastic, and most precise foundations that you can.

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Crookytail the Tigerwuff, RL1, ITD (Akita mix, b. Jan 2011)
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