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Then I don't think it would hurt much {remember, I know nothing of field work} to take maybe a puppy agility class {groundwork} puppy obedience, that sort of thing. Ask around your area as to who's who in trainers. Some are better with people coming from a pet background, some may be better with experienced dogsport people. Definitely sit in on a class before you sign on, you may find that you don't like something about the class, location, instructor, etc.

I highly recommend Sil Sanders Enthusiastic Tracking. Get the map cards that go with it {
So this is a good time to identify what floats yer boat. Obedience, even competitive obedience is a blast with the right attitude and the right instructor.

There ya go. Check out the ones that interest you, and go on in the ones that you really like. Quality classes, ring time, matches, entry fees, and equipment aren't cheap. Once you find what you really enjoy, you can throw your money in that direction, and maybe afford Burger King once a week. Just a warning. ;-)
Debbie
Friday is somewhat of an agility ***, and I kind of like that. While he won't run with everybody, he'll pay attention to people who read him well. Not a good contact at all, but a fun run to watch.[/nq]
So Friday likes blondes. Good dog. He just might be as much of a chick magnet as the two schnauzers are for DH. We've had friends offer to rent them for an evening. (Suggestion: Spenser loves the whole world. Sassy loves older women.)
Sassy has always gone willingly with our instructor. Probably would run with anybody that she liked. Both times our instructor has ended the run face down on the floor. She reacts so quickly that she trips him up.

The first time he tried it, DH was away and I was trying to do class with two dogs (and we only have three dogs in the class!) So towards the end, he suggested that he try running her. He finished face down at the finish line, having sent her over the wrong obstacle at the last second. He runs big dogs (including a 24" Aussie) and said he doesn't have to run that fast with his dogs. But otherwise, she handles about the same.

The second time he did it, DH got to watch. Video just doesn't show the 3D qualities of Sassy's runs. So he finally got to see what she does that is forming her fan following. (And he couldn't stop talking about it for hours!) The instructor took one treat and ran her through a course that she had just done. (So you'd think she might be just a little tired?) They stayed together well until the final sequence when he took a wrong step and went down to avoid stepping on her. She took the final jump and looked back at him on the floor. She went over - I thought perhaps to check on him - and took the treat out of his hand before leaving the ring.

Spenser will run just fine with DH. He's more tightly bonded to us. I suspect part of that is their history. Spenser came to us at 13 weeks and Sassy spent almost two years at the breeders' - where she was used to being groomed and handled around the show ring at least once in a while by other people. Spenser might run with our instructor - but I'm guessing that it wouldn't go as well. At least not yet.The big thing for us - besides the bonding thing - is that the dogs run very differently. You would think two schnauzers, jumping 12 inches, how different could it be? The biggest difference is in the space they prefer. Spenser wants to run with me. He'll go out for distance work but doesn't like it if I get ahead of him. If I'm giving confusing signals, he'll actually think a movement through - ""did she really mean that or that?".

Sassy prefers to be ahead. It's almost like she's racing you to the finish line. Does not like to be crowded at all. Does not think at all. You move a finger and she reacts. And she speeds up in tunnels (and on the dog walk). I can usually do a blind cross with Spenser at tunnels. It's a rare tunnel that DH can beat Sassy to the other end.
I've watched another dog - an Aussie - who will run with one of the handler's relatives as long as she can see "Mom" along the ring. You would think she'd be better off hiding but it works the opposite with this dog. As long as she can see her still there, she'll run the course with the substitute. If she loses track of where "Mom" is, the dog goes looking and then after locating her, goes back to running the course again.

Strange animals that we choose to play and live with. So different and yet so much the same.
~~Judy
I won't know the priority listing until we try some things, I don't think. I don't want to say Agility is number one since we have to wait until 18mo of age to even compete in that.

Well... the first, last, and in-between of having a good agility dog, IMO, is having a dog who has an OFF LEASH relationship with you. And that is best begun from day one. Right up there with that is having a dog who is well-socialized - also something best begun from day one.
If I say field work takes priority in all aspects with agility It may also be that I get a very birdy pup who loves to retrieve but >ismediocre with agility equipment.

IMO and IME, a dog that can handle its body well in the field ought to be able to handle it on agility equipment.
I won't know the priority listing until we try some ... wait until 18mo of age to even compete in that.

Well... the first, last, and in-between of having a good agility dog, IMO, is having a dog who has an OFF LEASH relationship with you.

Right and that's something that is also required for field work.
And that is best begun from day one. Right up there with that is having a dog who is well-socialized - also something best begun from day one.

Which is why I've said we'd be doing classes immediately.
If I say field work takes priority in all aspects ... a very birdy pup who loves to retrieve but >is

mediocre with agility equipment. IMO and IME, a dog that can handle its body well in the field ought to be able to handle it on agility equipment.

By "mediocre" I meant mentality, not ability. IOW its entirely possible that I get a dog who loves* field work or tracking but doesn't *love agility..or vice versa or mix it up with another two and so on. That's why I have no hard & fast priority for anything. I want to try all three things, see what we like the most and what the pup seems to like the most.

Tara
Right and that's something that is also required for field work.

Exactly. :-)
Which is why I've said we'd be doing classes immediately.

I know you know this, but - there's more to socialization than taking the dog to classes. There's also being exposed to as many different experiences as possible in a positive way.
I've never stopped counting my blessings that when Rocsi was a wee'un, she was able to go to work with me, as well as to agility classes and trials as a tag-along.
By "mediocre" I meant mentality, not ability. IOW its entirely >possible that I get a dog who loves* field work or tracking but doesn't *love >agility..or vice versa

Gotcha.
"Jack "The Unpalatable Barbarian" Morrison"
If you're basically in this for the fun of it, no, I wouldn't think there are any fast rules.

I have no specific goal because I'm completely new to all three activities, have never trained more than basic pet manners and if I don't have any requirements then I won't be disappointed. On the flip side if I set out to just try things out of curiosity and have some fun then its entirely possible to turn out very nicely. Its a bit of a negative personality trait of mine...expect the worst (or nothing at all) and be happy when it doesn't happen.
However, if you're objective is to achieve the highest titles possible, then yes, there could well be some general rules you might want to follow.

I'm sure there are people who start out in a sport with that intent but its unrealistic for me and Amie.
Participating in agility (WARNING: I know less than nothing about agility) and achieving a JH, at relatively the same time, should also be a piece of cake.

I hope so. I really don't want to put one thing off in favor of another and I can't imagine the level of obedience and teamwork needed for field work would do anything but help us with agility, and even tracking. I just didn't want to either expect too much in the way of what a pup can handle training-wise or inadvertantly choose to train for something that would cause a conflict with training for another thing.
On the other hand, I probably wouldn't mix, say, agility and advanced field work.

Why is that? I'm sincerely curious.
That's pretty easy to do, for some dogs, and for some trainers, even when participating in only one sport..so I'd be very careful.

I intend to be. I'm new to Cockers but I've had enough experience with Boxers of varying temperaments & personalities to feel pretty sure of myself in detecting stress. I've got more books on nosework and flushing/retrieving for spaniels than I can read in a month but I intend to at least skim each one to find the things that seem like need-to-know-now stuff. I'm targeting the puppy chapters first so I know what to do and what not to do right away and I've joined a couple of lists. I don't want to screw up more than is humanly necessary.
To get her natural juices flowing as early as possible, I'd start off with field training, and then add sports from there.

I need to find a local club or people doing either non-breed-specific or spaniel field training. I don't even know if we have a retriever club doing it locally but I do know some Lab breeders in the state who may know more about where to hook up with others doing field work with spaniels. Boykins are the state dog so I'm hoping there are some folks on the coast doing it.
Who's going to be the primary trainer?

I'll be the primary trainer. For agility Amie will be a co-trainer in that she'll be learning alongside me and, since she'll be the primarily agility handler, I'd like her to do as much of the training as she's comfortable with. That's why I hope this dog will be able to bond with both of us and not be overly resistant to having two trainers/handlers. Amie is careful and sensitive , requesting and creative, whereas I'm the opposite. I'd like for her to be interested enough to watch and learn about training for the other things as I learn them. I don't see that kind of teamwork as negative and maybe if we start that way the pup will adjust to it more readily. If not then we'll figure it out.
Again, I'd think that starting off with field work would probably be the best way to go, and then add agility, etc.

Thanks. From the little bit I've read of HUP! so far I'm seeing the need to start right away. The local agility club here teaches puppy and obedience classes and they, as well as a CGC, are required to begin actual agility classes. The puppies are introduced to agility equipment as play rewards though so timewise it works out anyway. We need the obedience in place before we can do anything successfully and developing field skills in the process won't hurt pending agility training, at least it doesn't seem like it would at this point.
It would be a shame to let all those sporting/working genes go to waste, so I'd take advantage of them ASAP, and see where they lead.

That's what I'm thinking. The parents & grandparents of this litter do it all, including agility, so that's why I know its doable and why I think its possible for me to attempt. I either fail or I don't but I wanted to make sure there wasn't some inherent problem with trying to start it all (the training aspect anyway) in the first year. I think alot of the dogs in the lines have started agility later in life and did their obedience, field work, tracking and conformation earlier but still concurrently.
If you or your dog start to plateau, or you decide that it's not as much fun as you thought ... hard work it will take to get you to the next level, etc., then consider trying something else, e.G., agility.

We'll definitely do agility as that's what made us decide to add another dog, especially a non-Boxer dog, at this time. We want to do agility so that's a definite plan but I have no problem with bailing on field work or tracking if I find that one or both of us (dog and me) doesn't like it. Our local kennel club does AKC Obedience and Rally so those are possibilities for much later on as well.
But good luck with whatever you decide! Just remember, it's supposed to be FUN.

Thanks. We're incredibly excited.

Tara
I know you know this, but - there's more to socialization than taking the dog to classes. There's also being exposed to as many different experiences as possible in a positive way.

That shouldn't be problematic. Not only do I have 4 little girls who are in and out of the house frequently but I'm self-employed and work from home for all but one client. I always take Fancy with me when I make my pickups & drop-offs and she's allowed in these offices for the 5-10 minutes I'm doing what I'm doing. Most of my neighbors are huge dog lovers and there's a dog in 7 of the neighboring houses that can act as a friendly socializers & even playmates.

Tara
Then I don't think it would hurt much {remember, I know nothing of field work} to take maybe a puppy ... a class before you sign on, you may find that you don't like something about the class, location, instructor, etc.

I plan to do puppy and basic obedience classes with the agility club rather than the local kc, even though I've taken classes at the local kc before, because the agility club seems to teach a more rounded class, knowing their dogs are going to go into agility, therapy, tracking, etc. The local kc teaches basic pet obedience where you get mostly people who just adopted shelter dogs and got a coupon for 50% off the class (lots of uncontrolled dogs with generally nice but clueless owners) *or* you elect for competitive obedience classes.
I highly recommend Sil Sanders Enthusiastic Tracking. Get the map cards that go with it {< $25.00} and you could most likely get a TDX without instruction as long as you follow his guidelines.[/nq]
Thanks. The first of my books arrived, Fun Nosework for Dogs. My other books should arrive anyday, they are (in case you have an opinion on any of them):
Building Blocks for Performance, Scent and The Scenting Dog, Try Tracking!: The Puppy Tracking Primer
So this is a good time to identify what floats yer boat. Obedience, even competitive obedience is a blast with the right attitude and the right instructor.

I haven't ruled that out as something to try but I'm planning on it being a year or two down the road unless tracking and field work aren't our cup of tea. I found the group of people meeting once a week for tracking through the local kc. They're mainly kc members who do conformance, obedience and rally from what I gather so it'll be nice to know more people in the club and possibly have something in common with them before moving towards competitive obedience.
There ya go. Check out the ones that interest you, and go on in the ones that you really like. ... you can throw your money in that direction, and maybe afford Burger King once a week. Just a warning. ;-)

I can't believe I'm so excited about losing all my free time and any spare cash I might normally have. I've never had a clean slate to start with at the same time that I wasn't an ignorant dog owner. Now that I know about all these dog sports, find that they all interest me to some degree or another, and that I'm starting with a blank slate whose genes are geared to dog sports my head is swimming with a bad case of the I Wants.

Tara
Since we can't compete in agility for a year
and a half (this club does USDAA) locally then I don't think its unreasonable to start the puppy right away ... but I'm thinking the field work and tracking rely more heavily on starting young whereas agility can be started whenever.[/nq]One thing to keep in mind - even if starting with an adult dog, it can take a year or more to become competition ready, depending on the dog and the handler. Since this will be Amie's first agility dog, much of that time will be spent training her to teach the dog as well as to learn the ins and outs of handling. Even if you devoted the first year and a half of the pup's life to agility, it isn't a given that the team would be ready to compete at 18 months.

Experienced handlers might be able to do this but a youngster with their first dog is going to have a longer learning curve, especially if you do it at a rate that won't burn out a youngster. So I wouldn't worry too much about the fact that you can't compete till the dog is a certain age - it is more important that the team progress at its own rate and start when they are ready.I think its very admirable to have a versatile dog that can play in different aspects of working/performance. Personally, I find myself pretty cemented in the agility venue, even though I have a breed that excels in several other performance areas - I just find certain things a bit dull (obedience, flyball) and others too long of a learning curve for myself (herding) or too difficult to get started in (tracking) and that pretty much leaves me with agility! And maybe I'll try Rally one day.

For me, the attraction of dog sports is having fun with my dog, not taking things too seriously but also not being bored silly or frustrated (even if the dog likes herding or flyball, I kinda don't, and I'm the one who writes the checks!!) There is only so much time and money to go round, so I've picked the game that suits me best. Kudos to those who can "do it all" but don't feel badly if it ends up that you choose a favorite and devote your time to that in the end.
Christy
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