Something I've been thinking about and wondering if I should be concerned is my desire to try several different dog sports with the puppy we're getting. I know people put all kinds of different titles on their dogs and its not an issue but I'm wondering about the timing.
Is it okay to train for agility from 8 weeks to 18 months and also do nosework and obedience? What about adding field work into the mix? Is it better to train one or more of these things individually, without any other training taking place, so as to avoid confusion or burnout?

I'll be watching for any signs of burnout or shut down but if I shouldn't train for more than one or two things at a time then I want to make sure I don't put too much on the pup. If that's the case then is it okay to wait a year or two to start flushing work? I'd rather try flushing over formal obedience but solid obedience is needed for good off-leash reliability so that's why I'm factoring it in ahead of field work.

I'd think that starting a dog out very young on tracking and field work is the best way to go. My breeder starts them on nosework early and gives them a little 7 week tracking test (find the sock). I'd like to develop that further and see how birdy my pup is (or isn't).
Hopefully there's no conundrum but I figured I'd better ask here and you guys are much more used to my questions than the strangers on the lists I'm on. I also figured I'd give my breeder a break as we've been novelling back and forth for weeks.

Tara
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Hopefully there's no conundrum but I figured I'd better ask here and you guys are much more used to my ... I'm on. I also figured I'd give my breeder a break as we've been novelling back and forth for weeks.

First, I forgot what kind of dog you're planning on getting, and that means quite a bit.
Second, are you planning on doing all of this for the dog? Or for yourself?
Third, it always depends on the dog, on the trainer, and on the training.
Fourth, if you don't have a Game Plan before you begin, i.e., a "road map" to where you eventually want to go with your dog, you'll likely never get there.
Fifth, I'd worry more about burnout than confusion. Burnout on your part, and burnout on the dog's part.
Sixth, your pup may enjoy one sport more than the others. That's the one I'd focus on.
Seventh, if you're not both having fun, what's the point?

Over and out.

Jack "The Unpalatable Barbarian" Morrison
*gently remove the detonator to send me e-mail
The "Religion of Peace," up close and personal:
http://switch5.castup.net/frames/20041020 MemriTV Popup/video 480x360.asp?ClipMediaID=60227&ak=null

Yo, Froggy! Why not offer them "land for peace":
http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=20086

Wake up, Europe, you've a war on your hands!
http://www.suntimes.com/output/steyn/cst-edt-steyn06.html
"Jack "The Unpalatable Barbarian" Morrison"
First, I forgot what kind of dog you're planning on getting, and that means quite a bit.

Cocker Spaniel. He or she is coming from working/sporting lines.
Second, are you planning on doing all of this for the dog? Or for yourself?

Myself, my daughter & the dog.
Third, it always depends on the dog, on the trainer, and on the training.

So there's no hard and fast rule of "do this first, this second and save this til you can focus 100% on it"?
Fourth, if you don't have a Game Plan before you begin, i.e., a "road map" to where you eventually want to go with your dog, you'll likely never get there.

I don't really have a road map because I don't yet know if I (or the dog) will like half of this stuff. Agility is guaranteed. Both Amie and I seem to have caught the bug for it. I'd pretty much like to try, enjoy and title in Tracking and Field Work (at least a JH). Obedience and Rally are not high on the list, not for titling anyway, and, if the pup is suited to it as an adult, I'd look into therapy dog certification.

Basically my road map is to try all of these things, continue with the ones we enjoy, with the end goal of having fun, becoming a better trainer/handler and winning some titles.
Fifth, I'd worry more about burnout than confusion. Burnout on your part, and burnout on the dog's part.

I burnout pretty easily but I've found that if I force myself to continue the burnout usually gives way to interest again. If I quit when I burnout then I'll probably never pick it back up again. I'd be much more concerned with the pup burning out which is really why I thought to initiate this thread. I don't want to overdo anything or inadvertantly turn the pup off of training because I put too much on its plate.
Sixth, your pup may enjoy one sport more than the others. That's the one I'd focus on.

True and that's the plan although as long as there's no outright shutdown or rebellion I may try to coax anything I like that he/she doesn't, at first anyway. Amie is going to be the primary handler for all things agility although I will be alongside her as a teammate and helper. I'd like to do something for myself though, like the tracking and flushing, so that's why I'm looking at so many different sports.
Seventh, if you're not both having fun, what's the point?

None. While this pup is from lines with great temperaments and is suited just fine to life as a pet I chose to go with one of these puppies (vs an adult) because they're from sporting/working lines. There are conformation champions all over the place in the pedigrees but recent history has the lines of the parents and grandparents doing alot of hunting, obedience & tracking work and they're titled in all of them. So I want to fully explore the pup's natural aptitude for these things and give him/her an outlet for all that creative & able energy.

Tara
()

Again, it would mostly depend on the dog, your ultimate goals, your own ability as a trainer, etc.
If you're basically in this for the fun of it, no, I wouldn't think there are any fast rules.
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.
Fourth, if you don't have a Game Plan before you ... to go with your dog, you'll likely never get there.

I don't really have a road map because I don't yet know if I (or the dog) will like half ... for it. I'd pretty much like to try, enjoy and title in Tracking and Field Work (at least a JH).

Well, if your dog is from decent working lines, achieving a JH title should be a piece of cake. It won't require a lot of training per se. On the other hand, if your goal is a MH or a FC, then you have your work cut out for you. 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.
On the other hand, I probably wouldn't mix, say, agility and advanced field work.
()
Fifth, I'd worry more about burnout than confusion. Burnout on your part, and burnout on the dog's part.

I burnout pretty easily but I've found that if I force myself to continue the burnout usually gives way to ... want to overdo anything or inadvertantly turn the pup off of training because I put too much on its plate.

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.
Sixth, your pup may enjoy one sport more than the others. That's the one I'd focus on.

True and that's the plan although as long as there's no outright shutdown or rebellion I may try to coax anything I like that he/she doesn't, at first anyway.

To get her natural juices flowing as early as possible, I'd start off with field training, and then add sports from there.
Amie is going to be the primary handler for all things agility although I will be alongside her as a teammate and helper.

Who's going to be the primary trainer?
I'd like to do something for myself though, like the tracking and flushing, so that's why I'm looking at so many different sports.

Again, I'd think that starting off with field work would probably be the best way to go, and then add agility, etc.
Seventh, if you're not both having fun, what's the point?

None. While this pup is from lines with great temperaments and is suited just fine to life as a pet I chose to go with one of these puppies (vs an adult) because they're from sporting/working lines.

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.

If you or your dog start to plateau, or you decide that it's not as much fun as you thought it would be, or that you don't want to put in all the hard work it will take to get you to the next level, etc., then consider trying something else, e.G., agility.
So I want to fully explore the pup's natural aptitude for these things and give him/her an outlet for all that creative & able energy.

If he comes from working lines, his "natural aptitude" will be for field work.
Again, if I were you, I'd try to take advantage of that.

But good luck with whatever you decide!
Just remember, it's supposed to be FUN.

Jack "The Unpalatable Barbarian" Morrison
*gently remove the detonator to send me e-mail
The "Religion of Peace," up close and personal:
http://switch5.castup.net/frames/20041020 MemriTV Popup/video 480x360.asp?ClipMediaID=60227&ak=null

Yo, Froggy! Why not offer them "land for peace":
http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=20086

Wake up, Europe, you've a war on your hands!
http://www.suntimes.com/output/steyn/cst-edt-steyn06.html
Is it okay to train for agility from 8 weeks to 18 months and also do nosework and obedience? What ... train one or more of these things individually, without anyother training taking place, so as to avoid confusion or burnout?

Okay, JMHO.
I think you need to decide why you got the dog and what the priority listing is for each activity.
For instance - we did a lot of earthdog practices with our dogs last summer (2004). While we were doing agility. People assured us that it wasn't a problem to combine them but we ended up being not so sure. Earthdog requires the dog to think on his own. Agility requires him to work as the secondary member of a team. We didn't find that our dogs made the transition without some bumps in the road. Probably was entirely our failing as handlers but hey - we're what the dogs have got so they're stuck with us. We have decided that we need to be much more along our way in agility before we go back to earthdog.
As far as obedience training - I have talked with people who felt that it helped their agility performance tremendously and with others who didn't see any advantage. There are people doing both at the same time with their dogs. I also see a lot of agility people who can't handle their dogs from either side (which agility requires) because they are so ingrained in obedience training. Possibly the same thing happens in reverse.

However, I think the problem that might develop here isn't that the dog can't handle them all but that it will be a case of multiple handlers training the dog in different ways all at once. If the dog is for Amie to do agility with then that's what needs to happen. Probably Amie isn't going to also be out in the field training him.
Until just recently, DH and I never ran each other's dog at all. The dogs will switch off willingly enough. And Sassy has run with our instructor. (Don't know if Spenser would or not.) I do practice sessions with both dogs on stays, etc. just periodically throughout the day. But we have intentionally NOT traded them off in order to form the teamwork. And there really is a bond that forms. When we are doing a lot of agility, it is very clear which dog goes with which one of us. We are now starting to occasionally trade dogs for one run in class or practice - just in case of a sprained ankle at a trial. But one of the biggie things about agility is that bond that forms between the dog and handler.
My breeder starts them on nosework early and gives them a little 7 week tracking test (find the sock). I'd like to develop that further and see how birdy my pup is (or isn't).

I see a potential problem here. (Again, probably because of my own limits as a handler/trainer.) Yes, hunting dogs should be started on nosework as soon as possible. We used to roll balls of hamburg around our house to create trails for the beagles to follow. Starting just about the first day they came home. My experience is with beagles. And I can tell you that if DH wanted a beagle to hunt with that it wouldn't be more than 8 or 10 weeks old when we got her. By a year old, it would take better trainers than we are to turn that dog into something that he wanted to take out hunting. So MY feeling is that fieldwork can't be put off until the dog is already comfortably running in agility.
And we are discussing just that issue. A beagle is a very likely "next" agility dog for us. For DH. And he will also want the dog to hunt. I anticipate some conflicts/training issues in doing them both at once but it will be handled by the same handler for each activity. I think that might be a crucial point to consider.
In a general situation, I'd say get the dog doing field work - along with some beginning obedience. And then when you have them going well, work in some agility.
But if you do that, you have taken much of the dog away from Amie. If the dog is or isn't birdy, what difference does it make if Amie is having fun doing agility with him?
~~Judy
"Judy" (Email Removed) said in
When we are doing a lot of agility, it is very clear which dog goes with which one of us. ... a trial. But one of the biggie things about agility is that bond that forms between the dog and handler.

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. At a recent trial, one of the judges (who Friday had never met) expressed interest in running Friday - go for it, I said. A few minutes of warming up and some well-timed treat distractions when Friday checked in on me, and they were good to go. It was a wonderful run, though I only managed to get one picture:

Not a good contact at all, but a fun run to watch.

Matt. Rocky's a Dog.
How competitve are you? Do you want to dabble in dogsports, or do you really, really want to do well? How would you define 'doing well'?

I love competitive obedience. I really enjoy teaching the dog to enjoy precise work and position. Others find it tedious.

I love agility. The rush, the high you get when you've run a course well. I've had some health issues crop up, and may never run agility again. Which is really okay, because I'm seening a lot of things happening in agility that I don't like, and won't ask of my ASTs. YMMV

I know nothing of field work.
I start all puppies on tracking, because it's so natural for them, and it's a fun thing to see your dog work naturally. It's easy on their structure, and is low stress. One day I might actually certify one and test!
Unless you're independently wealthy, you're going to have to make some decisions as to where to put your money. To my way of thinking, you first need to identify, or try to identify, your strengths as a trainer, and how competitive you are.
Debbie
p.s. you earn titles, not win them.
I'm not very competitive by nature. I want to dabble for the fun of it and because I enjoy watching dogs work things out. I'd like to put some titles on the dog in whatever we do but I'm not setting out to get a CDX, UD, SH, MACH. If we get them that's great but its not the main purpose of engaging in the sports.
I start all puppies on tracking, because it's so natural for them, and it's a fun thing to see your dog work naturally. It's easy on their structure, and is low stress. One day I might actually certify one and test!

I think I'll really enjoy the tracking. There aren't classes or any organizations doing it in my area but there is a group of people doing it once a week for fun. Its about a 45 minute trek just to get to the meeting place but its also something I think I can teach & hone in the absence of any kind of organized group tracking.
Unless you're independently wealthy,

Not even close.
you're going to have to make some decisions as to where to put your money. To my way of thinking, you first need to identify, or try to identify, your strengths as a trainer, and how competitive you are.

I don't have any strengths as a trainer, I don't think, not in general anyway. I'm fairly decent when it comes to Boxers but I've found Boxers to be pretty unique in personality and training needs. I'm probably better at dealing with problem behaviors than with training for something.

As I said above, I'm not very competitive. I'm attracted to the training/learning (both dog & human) aspect of these sports rather than the need or desire to excel at them. If we find we like a particular sport then I'll certainly aim to excel at it but if I/we don't then that's ok too.

Tara
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. We'll start training right away and will be doing the basic obedience & beginning agility classes but we'll have time before the dog can do any trialing.
If I say field work takes priority in all aspects with agility training taking place at the same time, but not as high a priority, it may turn out that we don't like field work or that I'm really crappy at training for it. It may also be that I get a very birdy pup who loves to retrieve but is mediocre with agility equipment. My impression of tracking (for hobby, not for work) is that it isn't as intense in training and can therefore be done here and there, put down, picked back up, etc. without terrible results.
For instance - we did a lot of earthdog practices with our dogs last summer (2004). While we were doing ... have decided that we need to be much more along our way in agility before we go back to earthdog.

I can see that as a problem.
As far as obedience training - I have talked with people who felt that it helped their agility performance tremendously ... either side (which agility requires) because they are so ingrained in obedience training. Possibly the same thing happens in reverse.

That's kind of what prompted me to start thinking of this in general. IIRC basic pet obedience teaches handling differently than competitive obedience meaning that if you want to do the latter you have to unlearn the pet stuff and reteach for competitve. I don't want to be training for something that is going to be in direct conflict with the training for something else as equally appealing. Field work requires a high level of obedience, IMO, moreso than agility but I think that level of obedience can only be of help in agility.
However, I think the problem that might develop here isn't that the dog can't handle them all but that it ... with then that's what needs to happen. Probably Amie isn't going to also be out in the field training him.

The dog is for everyone, not just Amie, but she will be the primary handler for agility unless she finds she hates it in practice. The more reading I've done on field work and tracking, both are things Cockers excel at and sports these lines were bred for, the more interested I become which is how the whole agility thing started out. Amie will help me with training for agility but I'm going to try to avoid the dog bonding with only one person. I want us both to be able to train and handle the dog.
Until just recently, DH and I never ran each other's dog at all. The dogs will switch off willingly enough. ... a trial. But one of the biggie things about agility is that bond that forms between the dog and handler.

That may or may not become a problem for us, I don't know. Amie is only 10 and while I trust her to care for a dog and I know she's up for this responsibility I really want to take advantage of the various things this pup's lines (and the breed in general) excel at without acquiring one for her and one for me. If it turns out that one dog doesn't fit all then we'll assess the situation and see what it is the dog enjoys the most and go from there. Amie may end up wanting to do tracking or field work herself. Right now there's a whole world of possibility facing us with this puppy, moreso than I'd originally thought when I was thinking of starting with an adult or rescue dog.
I see a potential problem here. (Again, probably because of my own limits as a handler/trainer.) Yes, hunting dogs should ... hunting. So MY feeling is that fieldwork can't be put off until the dog is already comfortably running in agility.

Right and that's one of the things I was trying to flush out of this conversation. We set out to do agility but this puppy, his lines, the breed's abilities and learning about all these other possibilities have added more things to the mix. 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 on field work and tracking and see if we like/excel at either of those things while we also do the weekly agility basics class.
Maybe it'll be too much, if the methods are extremely different from one sport to the other, and I'll be certain to be careful of overload but I'm thinking that its either do or die with the field work. If I don't try it early then I may have missed my prime window of opportunity but I'm not sure how training for field work right away could hurt agility training unless the pup just doesn't like lots of training. That'll be on me to make it fun and interesting and both me and Amie to try and make it so that the puppy will listen to both of us.
And we are discussing just that issue. A beagle is a very likely "next" agility dog for us. For DH. ... will be handled by the same handler for each activity. I think that might be a crucial point to consider.

There's always the option, for us anyway, to approach agility lightly with classes here and there and wait until the pup is old enough to jump & compete before really diving in, giving us the first 18 months to focus more on field work and tracking. We have plenty of time, given the lifespan of a well-bred Cocker, but I'm thinking the field work and tracking rely more heavily on starting young whereas agility can be started whenever.
In a general situation, I'd say get the dog doing field work - along with some beginning obedience. And then when you have them going well, work in some agility.

That's what I'm thinking although the basic obedience classes I want to take introduce agility equipment for fun/reward. It'll also be summer before Amie can really focus a ton of time training herself as a handler as well as training the dog because of school, homework and daylight hours.
But if you do that, you have taken much of the dog away from Amie.

Do you think so? She and I need just as much training as the dog for agility so she won't really be losing time and the dog can't compete for 18 months anyway. Given her school commitment she can only realistically devote so much to agility until summer anyway.
If the dog is or isn't birdy, what difference does it make if Amie is having fun doing agility with him?

None but I'm not sure why agility should preclude anything else. I'm not saying the breeder wants these things of the dog or that I'm thinking its necessary, only that I've found field work and tracking very interesting in my current reading and that's how I caught the agility bug. Why can't we have a versatile dog with two handlers from the same family?

Tara
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