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Dog Shows – Why are Online Entries More Expensive?

Good news – I’ve see more opportunities for online entries.   Including an entry that I sent last week – I entered the day before closing and a paper entry would have not arrived on time.

Bad news – almost every one of these options (AKC obedience/rally, UKI agility, breed working certificate) want to charge extra.   It kind of makes sense – sometimes it’s a second party handling the registrations and generating information.  And they do “lose” money when paying the credit card fees/paypal fees.

However – most likely it makes things so much easier.

  1. Automatic Replies Generated:  When paper entries are used, the secretary has to manually enter information, leaving room for transcription areas.
  2. Less Paper:  Dog shows produce -so- much paper!
  3. Automatic Payment/No Need to Handle Checks: Less room for things to be misplaced, less trips to the bank, less room for errors in payment amounts.
  4. Can’t Get Lost: The exhibitor knows right away if a confirmation email is not received or if errors are in the registration.
  5. Easier Refunds:  Addressing envelopes and sending out money is far more steps!

Why do they charge more? If anything – it seems shows should be charging less for online entries and more for paper entries!

I’ve helped to host WCRL rally, CDSP obedience and UKC nosework – and we received mostly online entries and have debated going to online only.  If you help host events -do you accept online entries  – why or why not?  As an exhibitor is it working well for you?

MN April 2017 :: Out of State WCRL Judging

look at the nice hanging tag!

One of our activities last weekend was judging a rally trial in MN for the Minnesota Mixed Breed Club.  This club is great- they hold different kinds of trials and events open to all dogs. This may seem unusual for people who are newer to dog activities – but many years ago, AKC events were only open to purebred dogs and a group like this brought together competition events that are available for all dogs. Many people involved in the club do have dogs of specific breeds – but they enjoy the club and activities. Our friend we visited has been a member for a very long time and so we’ve heard great things about this group for many years.

On Friday I arrived early enough to help the group set up the rings and then we came back early on Saturday to start.  This was my second judging away from ‘home’ and my first out of state judging opportunity. The club is very experienced at holding trials and at a point where they have systems for doing things but are also flexible and not stressed by any slight changes.  It was a very good environment for judging and hopefully a good environment for exhibitors

It was interesting to see a very different group of dogs and handlers than the “usual” here.  A few observations:

  • Even though the obedience trial was going on nearby (as in on the other side of a wall), not very many dogs were doing both.
  • MANY fewer teams working towards multi-level titles. I’m not sure what this means, but it felt like a good thing. I didn’t see the sadness about not getting the qualifications that I often see elsewhere.
  • Lots of A dogs!  Lots of level 1 teams!
  • Several people who are experienced at trials but new to WCRL rally.
  • Several people who calmly and politely left the ring when it was in the best interest of their dogs. While it’s unfortunate the dogs weren’t ready in the moment to be trialing, it wasn’t a bad choice and likely a great choice.  Use the information to modify training but not create additional stressful/incorrect experiences in the ring. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this in Ohio – I’ve seen some teams NQ and pull out treats to reward a lot through the rest or teams get sad/unhappy and leave the ring.
  • A new exhibitor was working with her 3-legged dog.  We see a number of these dogs in regular manners training or behavior classes at home, but haven’t persuaded them that there are all kinds of other fun activities to do too.
  • They thought I was very fast.  I did not think that I was!
  • Many more teams who attempted the retrieve bonus exercise – and very, very well.

I had a great time seeing so many teams!

MN April 2017 : CDSP Trial

On Friday we drove up to Minnesota for an action packed 3 days; participate in a trial, judge a rally obedience trial, go to the vet specialist, and visit with dog friends.

Yesterday we got to do two runs in CDSP obedience first thing in the morning before I judged. 7:30am  – which is 6:30 in “Ohio time.”   Griffin was great (because he’s Griffin) -we’ve never done training so early but I knew it was unlikely to throw him off.

The previous weekend we finished the Open level (with 2 passes) and so we were entered in “Open C for this trial. I wanted to see if he would do well away from home.

He was very good. Some of our details (heeling) have faded away in the last few year but his retrieves were awesome. I think it’s very cute that he goes around to the back of the dumbbell and scoops it up on his way back. I know some of our training friends intentionally teach that but I don’t know that we have.

Now onto Utility – we just need to train scent discrimination!

Griffin Does MondioRing Obedience

When Griffin was about a year old we (re)met a group of people that became dog training friends.  I was interested in obedience (AKC) and agility (CPE, USDAA). Their interest was in an obscure sport called MondioRing.  Seven years later, they’re competing/preparing to compete and 2 weekends ago they hosted their very first trial. I had planned on coming to help but then decided to enter Griffin in part of it (which also helps support events!)

MondioRing is like schutzhund in that it’s designed as a bitework things (think a choreographed/sport version of some police work) and has different sections. But unlike schutzhund, it’s not as scored on perfection and there is huge range in variation based of on what the hosts provide and the judge’s creativity.

The theme of this trial was ocean – so there were ocean -related helium balloon animals,  a beach scene (chairs, beach balls),  coral reef things, a curtain of jellyfish decorations and other things like that.

Dogs are required to have some sort of specific socialization test. Griffin has not done the Canine Good Citizen test so we took a temperament test part on Friday night which he easily passed (including a 1 min out of sight stay!). We were able to do training on the field and around the decorations. Griffin had not trained with the jumps – this would be optional in the trial but we decided to test and see.  The long jump is like AKC but 3x as long and the handler stands at a close corner instead of the far corner.  On first try he did it with me running but on stationary repetitions he didn’t.  We tried the hurdle –  1 meter – which we were able to work up to in a few repetitions (1/3+ higher than his agility jump height).  The jump has displacable bars but they look like solid panels. Once we added the lower panel he tried to bash through it with his head – not that he was tired, but that he thought that was the exercise. After two tries we gave up for the immediate future. It was fun to see that he’s such a decent jumper and could handle the added height!

On Saturday we ended up with huge errors on almost every exercise. On some he did not do well and on some I made handler errors.  I think the only part that went well was a retrieve (a fake shark, tossed through the jellyfish curtain.

Saturday night we did training and did decide to retry on Sunday.  I was more prepared as a handler, the test was better suited for us, and I did play/movement between exercises rather than heeling.  Here’s the order of exercises for Sunday:

– Introduction – dog on informal down stay while confirming the judge has the right score book, etc (so different from AKC/etc where you are supposed to be semi-anonymous!).

– 20 meter go out –  Once the dog passes the markers he can be called right back.  This is the one I trained the most in the few days before the event. He used to be able to do it very far but we had only worked up to 14 meters before the trial!   But he did it!

– Heeling – Around some decorations. It was long. He wandered but came back and the rest was great.

– 1 min out of sight stay-  The time starts when the handler is out of sight, not when walking away. The blind was 3x (or more?) further away than the previous day and the dogs were placed behind an object  – all but one level 1 dog sat up to watch the handler.  Griffin got up right when he went down – I forgot and said “STAY” instead of “Wait!” and on the”S” in stay he sat up (thinking sit!).  They let us retry – but no success.

– Food refusal –   Someone behind a tree tossed food out while Griffin was on a down stay and I walked away. The food was about 12″ from his feet.  When cued, I returned to him and heeled him away.  This was much easier than the previous day when someone walked up to him to set the food down (the approach made him get up, not the food – he’s a friendly retriever!).

– Position changes – somehow this was really good. He is NOT normally good at this!  5 meters away.

– Retrieve – the object is almost anything safe. This time it was a plastic kid sand pail. Easy.

The judge and judge-in-training made nice comments about our position changes and retrieve.  They tried to make nice jokes about him being a retriever – but I promise many (most) still need to be trained to retrieve.  Mine are all in that category!

Even without the stay we got enough points to pass and earn the level 1 obedience title. That was a fun accomplishment and it’s a great thing to be able to share.

Here’s a video at some of our best parts (positions and retrieve!)

Griffin – USDAA Agility

Finally an agility trial agility!  Saturdays are increasingly busy with even earlier classes, daytime lessons, and 4-H kids in the evening – which makes getting up on Sunday morning very hard.

It was great to have a day mostly with the dogs. The trial was pretty small and we ended up being done by 2pm (3 classes plus round two of some event). this meant the building and parking lot were fairly empty and we had extra space to warm up, play, and train.

Old picture - cute Griffin
Old picture – cute Griffin

I don’t volunteer as much as I should – I’m usually using time between runs to exercise and train my dogs or be a responsible person and do work. Because this trial was so small, I ended up working a few of the masters classes – I saw fun things and then most of those parts were left in the Starters courses for us.

Jumpers: Q/1st, our first USDAA qualifying score ever, and a 6+ yps speed!

Snooker: We lost 6 points with a weave pole fault but still ended up Q/1st with a reasonable 49 points.

Standard: Yet again, Q/1st. This was a really great run, he did very nice with his contacts, didn’t get stuck play bowing on the table, and almost everything went according to our plan. We only had trouble with the chute exit – it was a 90* turn to the dogwalk – he came out of the chute to me and somehow avoided a refusal at the dogwalk.

We really like USDAA – I need to find a way to get a Saturday off so we can get more of the Q’s we need to move up and enter some of the other events too.

No pictures or video – I took my camera and then got distracted and didn’t ask anyone to help us.

The puppies had a great time coming in for training. Tonks was very calm and relaxed after her first time in. Viktor found it much more exciting but we managed to avoid his excited loud baying/howling noises.

Trial Catch-Ups

End of December we did UKI and are now going to be in Senior. All the runs were great with very tiny things to fix. 1) I walked a wrong class – luckily I noticed before we ran. 2) I didn’t feel confident enough to get the higher-point gamble (distance challenge).  3) His contacts weren’t as sticky as they should be. We’ll get to do another UKI in a few weeks, I can’t wait!

Early January we did USDAA. We haven’t done it for three years!  No Q’s that day, again handler errors. I missed the first walk through. We did a back jump during snooker and while we didn’t get whistled off, we also didn’t have enough points. I learned a few things about snooker and regretted not running for more points. We finished in almost the exact amount of time I expected!  In our standard run we had one off course with an aframe/tunnel discrimination. He missed a few of those in a recent lesson so we’ll be doing a lot more training there. It used to be a strong point.

DSC_0509Last weekend we did AKC obedience. Similar challenges to our trial in October (down stays are weak) – but I haven’t worked on it much and he was much better than last time. As usual, his on leash heeling wasn’t so great but the off leash was much better. I was especially happy with his long stays – he was really interested in a pointer a few dogs down.  No Q’s but lots of great things and more training for the next one. Training focuses: 1) Down stays 2) On leash heeling 3) Figure 8 distractions. Something we don’t need to work on – his stand for exams and sit for exam were perfect! I was upset with myself for entering preferred open. Before December anyone could do it but now a CD or PCD are required so we didn’t get to run. I’m really excited for obedience but unless I drive far we’ll just have to wait a few months to go again.

Yesterday we did AKC agility. We finished our novice jumpers title and did our first open standard run!  The ring was really tight and slippery. Most of jumpers I had a good plan for him without getting too fast. Standard wasn’t as pretty, some handling errors and some are just training holes (straight lines, tempting off course options, start line stay). It was a really weird day, the judge was new to AKC judging so a rep from AKC was present and that resulted in some extra time/talking/interesting things. I enjoyed watching how she helped him and listening to her comments about his course design, safety, and ring flow. I loved the courses and wish we had run them on better footing.

Looking Back: 2015 Goals

We set some goals yearly and quarterly – this can help keep me on track and not get too distracted by other things. I am an ‘over-packing’ ‘over-preparing’ sort of person and this also means I over-set goals – I’m happy having more than what we can accomplish than to cross everything off the list.

In most ways, we did about half of our 2015 goals. We had some unexpected challenges with Viktor’s health (money and time to him rather than on trials and seminars – and he wasn’t able to do the things we hoped!).  The training center move took up a lot of time and energy and time not knowing what/when the move would occur.  I did really well with some of my business goals (get back all equipment I let clients borrow – I only ‘lost’ one treat pouch and a few harnesses to 4-H’ers).

DCIM298GOPRODog specific goals – Blaze and I met most of our goals, it also helped we didn’t have many due to his age and health limitations. While Griffin and I didn’t do as much, we spent half of the year not being able to trial, we ended up much closer to our goals and with just a few more trials we’ll finish some of the title-related goals.  Viktor’s goal list was somewhat accomplished (going to class 70 times – he was there more than 100 if we count puppy classes and the manners classes he assisted in). He did great at playing and eating in most environments. Crating quietly….. went well the first half of the year and now needs more work.

I like spreadsheets and numbers. Here’s a summary of a few trial-specific things. I learned when I looked at what we’ve done.

  • 27 Days of trialing
  • 7 Events (AKC obedience, CDSP obedience, AKC rally, WCRL rally, AKC agility, UKI agility, CPE agility)
  • 14 year old Blaze had 3 days of WCRL rally, 100% qualifying rate in that class and finished his Level 1 Championship!
  • Griffin got did amazing, the quality of his work got better throughout the year and his qualifying rate improved towards the end of the year. He did a total of 92 runs with an overall qualifying rate of 76%. We finished only a few titles (UKI Novice NID, WCRL RL3, Rl1x, ARCH)  but are very close to finishing many others. His “best” qualifying activities were WCRL where he qualified in all 20 runs we did this year and CDSP obedience where we qualified in 2 of the 2 runs. We had many ‘firsts’ for me as well as him – AKC obedience, UKI agility, AKC agility.
  • Viktor did three runs of puppy WCRL rally – qualifying twice and not so great. 

20150329_1645282016 plans?  Well – apparently there’s controversy about whether or not it’s good to publicly state goals. Like most years, I have a set of business goals for me and a set of title specific and a set of training specific goals for each dog. I did plan a little better this year and used an estimation of how many trial days we can realistically attend as well where I think we’ll want to spend out time. We’ll see what happens!

More AKC Obedience for Griffin

Last month we did our first AKC obedience trial. It was very small – I thought that was probably due to the show being on Friday. I’ve learned that it was probably more about the trial grounds/location. Yesterday’s trial was also a Friday but much bigger! Many more dogs entered, 3 separate rings and 3 judges – we got the opportunity to be in each ring!

DCIM298GOPROWarm Up: The last trial was very, very hot and held in a barn at a fairgrounds. We went later in the morning so I had time to exercise him both at home and at the trial site. Due to the heat he was a little more ‘flat’ than usual.

This time the weather has been much cooler and our first class was at 8am (2 hour drive from home). I exercised him heavily the day before and gave him a 5 minute off leash frolic on the way to the trial. When we arrived we didn’t have time for a walk or much of a warm up – I estimated 4 more minutes but one of the dogs before us wasn’t showing.

Pre-Novice: Great! His on leash heeling was the worst part and everything got better and better as we went along. He had some expected errors (first heeling as the poorest, moving on the stand for exam) and mostly very great things. I was very, very happy and will be entering this class again soon for more practice before we go to real Novice!

Beginner Novice:  I accidentally entered us in “B” instead of “A”  – so we were in a class of 13. Like before – initial heeling was the poorest piece but things got stronger from there. I missed awards because I was in the rally ring and we left before scores were posted. Some parts of this were better than last time (figure 8). I wish I would have stayed or asked about our score to compare it to our first experience in this class. I do know we qualified! One thing we observed was many dogs NQ’ing  – during the “stay walk around the ring” portion several dogs got up as the handlers passed the ring gate – the dogs seemed worried about the handlers leaving.

Rally Novice: B: Huge class! 20+ dogs!  I almost missed the walk through and was the very last one. The course was much, much shorter than the WCRL ones I’m used to. We ended up with a Q but a low score due to some serious handler errors. I went slow at a fast sign….realized that when I got to the real slow sign at the end of the course!). I also didn’t think carefully enough and on a “Call Front Return to Heel” I did the similar WCRL sign of “Call Front About Turn.”  His overall performance wasn’t great – disconnected heeling, but very passable for rally and I don’t think it was a bad experience for him.

DCIM298GOPROOther Notes: I’m new to AKC obedience trials – I repeatedly got ‘in trouble’ with the stewards for not knowing my numbers that had been emailed. It was a little stressful that all three had to question me and didn’t want to look it up (or let me borrow a judging book to look it up myself). Next trial – I will write them down on a paper and keep that in my pocket!

I also had one of my most unpleasant experiences – a large dog of a breed known for being…not so friendly with strangers… was hanging out with owners/friends in the bathroom. The dog growled at me and the handler barely glanced at the dog. I didn’t want to push it, so I left and came back later.

What’s Next: I’m ready to enter more! I want to also try the “Pre-Open” class.  Being at trials is addicting. I used to take a lot of agility classes and when classmates were competing it made me work harder and want to be doing that too. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in that type of environment. Attending events of the last few months has been very motivating – “I know we can do better next time!” This has helped our training and helped to prompt me to send in more entries.

Griffin and I need to work on our heeling. In familiar environments we need to work on lowering arousal and 100% focus. We also need to work on good starts in unfamiliar environments. And we need to go back to doing more distraction training.


Griffin’s First Obedience Trial

Last week we did our first obedience trial!  We entered on a Friday – which ended up working out great, more people are at work, meaning a smaller event. This trial was held with a big conformation show and at a fairgrounds (so not climate controlled) and that may have made for a smaller event.

Distracting training for stays at a 2014 seminar.
Distracting training for stays at a 2014 seminar.

Griffin was so laid back and relaxed while we waited, the temperatures and a lot of swimming the previous day probably helped. I really liked that we had so much space and were not squashed in a corner.

We just entered the “Beginner Novice” level which was due to be the very last activity of the day (most people left before then), making things even more quiet. We were the last dog of the last class into the ring! A big storm was coming in and the barn doors were being closed up due to the high winds.

Good parts:

  • He did not jump on the judge (always my fear – and especially as many are …not quite so stable on their feet.
  • He did not run out of the ring to party on the fairgrounds
  • He stayed on task
  • His work got stronger and stronger the longer we were in the ring
  • We survived!

Things we need to work on:

  • Details
  • Heeling – much improved from the recent run throughs/matches, but not ‘training level’ quality yet. A few weeks ago I noticed during training that he was so far forward that his tail was brushing my hand – we’ve been working on fixing his heel position and that broke his sits, we’ll be able to easily repair that.
  • Handler errors/choices: I had only practiced the sit, walk around the ring going counter clockwise – the judge asked us to go clockwise and it felt very awkward. Even though we had never practiced that before, Griffin was fine.
  • Handler error – I may have accidentally been rude to another exhibitor. Someone wanted to introduce herself and, with her dog, walked right up to me to shake hands. I backed away moving Griffin behind me and greeted her, but didn’t comment on why we had moved away.  After awards (2nd place, 187) we moved away to head out before the storm while all the other exhibitors wanted to congratulate each other, shake more hands, etc.  Griffin is fine around dogs and often friendly or neutral, but I don’t want to take a chance and I don’t want him to think about friends at trials.
  • Arousal level: SO much of our training and practice in obedience has been about calming him down. Due to his exercise and the heat – I think our heeling would have been better if I had got him a little more excited first – that’s not something I’ve done in obedience and I didn’t even think about it until later!  I need to be prepared to adjust if necessary.

Now What: I came home from the trial ready to fill out entry forms. The earliest we will be able to do AKC again will be mid-July. We have a WCRL rally trial in two weeks. We might not get very many runs due to me judging many classes. We’re going to do more training to fix our weak areas and be ready to enter more levels/classes!

WCRL March Trial

photo by nm
Level 3 Blaze! photo by nm

We did our first WCRL rally trial of the year today. Three trials in one day – I judged a whole trial (my first time with Level 3), ran Griffin in all 9 classes and Blaze in two! Because all of my hosting and judging responsibilities my dogs didn’t get a good warm up or even the planned exercise that morning.

I had planned to enter Griffin in all 9 classes (3 levels, 3 trials). WCRL is interesting because judges can be evaluated on their courses by another present judge – though we aren’t eligible for placement on our own courses (which makes sense).

Blaze: At the last minute I decided to add Blaze into Level 3. After our last trial I had debated about the sportsmanship of entering him with a 0″ jump height. Our March vet eye exam did show his cataracts have progressed somewhat and will impact his depth perception – so that made me feel okay with a 0″ jump. We tried – and got our Level 3 title!!!  I didn’t think it was going to happen – he’s now 14 years + 1 month old!  We had a 188 which was reasonable, especially as we didn’t even try the bonus. He was so happy that we did a level one run later and he was more tired but did fight me the rest of the day – every time I took out Griffin, Blaze was sure he should come too.

20150329_164528Griffin Overall: He had a great day  – even without proper warm ups (or maybe because of that?) we had all scores 204+ out of a maximum of 210 points. Best things? His fronts, his retrieves, and 0 running away!

Griffin’s Training List:

  • Position changes – specifically his down. He was not always all the way down. He was possibly the reason the other judges mentioned in briefings that dogs needed to go all the way down. This has been a more recent problem area.
  • Heeling – he was bumping me so much. The judges didn’t seem to score it or his hair hid it. But I know we lost points for me tripping over him at one point. I would way rather this problem than him running off and sniffing though! I know exercise and a warm up would have (likely) made a difference here.

20150329_164717Things that are improved: No running away! Horray!  He was very attentive and responsive.  He only anticipated cues once. His right turns (90 degrees, 180, 270, 360’s) were really great – I lost 5 points on a course because I did a 360 the wrong way, I was so excited about this new skill!

Results: All our scores were great. We had two perfect scores! We got our ARCH (Rally Champion) which requires a number of points that we easily got and qualifying in both Level 1 and 2 in the same trial. Looking back at our results, we actually finished this in 2 days of trialing/5 trials.  It will be interesting to see if we can continue to progress at this rate!  We also finished his Level 3 title which was exciting too.

Misc: We have a great ring crew and very enthusiastic participants. I wish we had better ways to build interest in our students. We primarily started hosting events to give students a good trialing opportunity but it’s been harder to create the interest than we initially expected.

Hopefully we’ll do our next event in May and Viktor will be old enough to participate then if he’s ready. We’ll see how that goes!

20150329_164631Goals for me:

  • After the next trial I should be able to finish my paperwork and be a full judge!
  • I want to be more focused during the walk through – I get bored easily and am not as careful as I should be. “It’s just rally” – but I need to practice the focus I will need for obedience and agility. Most of our points lost are due to handler errors vs. training weakness
  • Find a better course design system. I have a good program for AKC courses (the style used when I judge 4-H), but the WCRL programs that we were given are not very good and are quite hard to use. if this is easier, I will procrastinate less and do a better job designing courses.