The Decision: Which Dog Sports We Plan to Try (and why)

German shepherd dog in trainingYesterday I explained how we tested Riley at a variety of dog sports to figure out which one(s) to pursue. Overall she did really, really well.

Both our trainer and I were really pleased with her enthusiasm to try whatever I put in front of her and her attention span—she stayed focused for a full hour of training, even though most of it was completely new to her, which often leads dogs to become tired more quickly.

After trying our hand at agility, treibball, rally and nosework it was clear that we could do all or any of the above—still we have to start somewhere.

I immediately crossed Rally off the list. While I’d previously thought it might be a neat cross between obedience and agility (and it is), after doing even a small sampling of it I decided it wasn’t something I’d enjoy training or doing. I’ve known for a long time that whatever we decide on I want to compete, so it just doesn’t seem worth it to invest a large amount of time in a sport I’m not actually interested in doing on that level.

Several factors went into my ultimate decision (in no particular order):

  • Despite improvement, Riley still reacts to other dogs with excitement—she loses her focus and often barks. I can generally bring this under control after a while, but definitely not ideal behavior for sports where other dogs are allowed ringside. 
  • Our current trainer doesn’t compete in agility and told me she’d likely recommend me to someone else after about a month.
  • BUT our current trainer does have someone on staff who does agility, the current facility is just to small to teach it—she recently put in a bid on a new facility and if she gets the bigger space she’ll begin offering competition agility classes.
  • There is a fun day for Treibball coming up in early April in our area.
  • Treibball teaches impulse control and builds on a number of commands we’ve already been working on
  • During a Treibball competition no other dogs are allowed ringside.
  • Nosework, while interesting and fun, there aren’t currently any competitions in our area.

What we Decided: Treibball (for now) and Agility (for later)

I really want to stick with our current trainer—I’ve been really happy with her thus far and the trainer she’d recommend us to for Agility is all the way out in Chapel Hill—that’s at least a 30 min. drive each way for us. While Riley would be thrilled at the extra car time, I’d be much less thrilled at the impact the cost of gas would have on my wallet.

So for now we’re going to give Treibball a try. Hopefully it’ll help us gain better impulse control and focus, while allowing us to succeed in an environment free from other dogs. It doesn’t require a ton of fancy equipment either (like Agility) so I can train it at home in addition to spending time in private lessons or classes.

Our first goal is to get to the point where we can herd one ball by the Treibball fun day in April, so that we can participate. But we’ll also keep our fingers and paws crossed that Suzie’s bid for a bigger space is accepted and that we can add in agility classes in a few months time.

How do you make training decision? What factors do you consider? Tell me about it in the comments!

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