Cadi had a great comeback yesterday -- 12 weeks after having her babies she finished her Novice Agility title, making her a BMDCA Working Dog. This award requires that a dog have titles in three working events, one of which must be draft; Cadi has her TD, NDD and now an NA.
You can watch her jumpers run on YouTube -- notice that she knocks a bar when she looks back at me so she did not qualify in that run but it is still a fun run and really shows what she is doing (and how bald she is!):
Marti is so right that training a performance dog creates a relationship that transcends the ordinary, and this bond is the best part of working so hard to do well with a dog. This is another reason not to rush a dog to the ring -- while titles are nice, the journey is the best part.
And so I want to offer another opinion that may not be popular -- I see rally as the enemy of the inexperienced dog. Rally is a sport in which the dog and owner move from exercise to exercise, and the exercises are written on signs. This means the owner is paying attention to what? Not the dog -- the signs. And when an owner stops paying attention to a dog, a dog stops paying attention to an owner -- and attention is the single most important foundation skill a dog needs to learn. And so rally introduces inattention in the ring -- a terrible, bad idea.
My older, experienced dogs do rally -- I enjoy it but not with a young dog. I took Cadi in for her Rally Novice title -- the first time she was brilliant with attentive heeling, but that did not last in the next two legs -- I was reading signs and not paying attention to her, so she decided she did not need to pay attention to me. Consider how we extinguish behavior -- we ignore it. And so when attention is ignored, it will stop. I have seen this over and over in green dogs doing rally, and so I strongly discouraged it if an owner has any interest in doing obedience with the dog.
Sometimes owners think rally is something to do with a young dog -- and it is -- but know you are likely to pay a price for rushing a dog in to the ring just for a title. Laying a solid, steady foundation takes time up front but is well worth it in the end. Tracking is such a better choice for a puppy, and it certainly can mean an early title.
I know we are all so enthusiastic but better to exercise patience now then to spend months or years later re-training a dog who was rushed and is now stressed and/or does things poorly. Again, the journey is important and racing to get there is likely to cause one to crash and burn, so to speak.
Just my opinion -- I accept that others can hold different ones :)
I hope you are having a lovely Sunday, and enjoy whatever journey you are on.