(Bill and Kruz - June 1999 - Nov A)
I heard several people discussing the Novice this weekend, and it got me thinking....
Should you really get out of Novice as fast as you can?
Maybe; Possibly; Could be???
My answer would be: ‘It depends on the dog.”
Novice tends to be pretty wide open, encouraging full extension running.
It seems like the obstacles are all 20-25’ apart,
and you really don’t have many options for handling.
The courses are pretty much, RLH!! (Run Like Heck)
Novice courses can be ‘deadly’ for dogs that would prefer not to collect,
lacks a good balance of handler vs. obstacle focus,
and that tend to flatten out over a straight line of jumps.
If you have a dog like this,
it might be good advice to ‘get the heck out of Novice’.
For others, it might be smarter to stay in Novice.
For those dogs that lack confidence, lack motivation,
or haven’t found the joy in the game, it might pay off to stay.
I realize some would argue that these dogs
shouldn’t be competing if they have any of the above,
but let’s face it, it happens.
Sometimes you don’t even know there’s a problem until you enter.
Some dogs stress ‘high’, some stress ‘low’,
so your first trial is somewhat of a ‘crap shoot’.
It an assessment of where you are,
and what homework you have ahead.
Nina was a dog that lacked confidence in the agility ring.
I would not have thought they would be a problem.
She was fine at home (who isn’t), and at the training building.
Her first Novice weekend was horrible!
It was a 3 day AKC weekend, and I’d stupidly
entered her in both JWW and Stnd all 3 days.
What was I thinking!!
She qualified 5/6 runs, and I suppose
some people would be thrilled with that.
They were slow, unconfident,
and to be honest, not fun.
So, we had some homework to do when we got home.
I entered Nina in 3 more weekends of Novice agility throughout that summer,
(one or two days vs. two or three), just to build confidence and joy.
Our focus was attitude, not matter the Q, and she has well the number
needed to move into Open.
Seemed rather silly to move her up, w
hen we were struggling with confidence on the ‘simple’ courses.
Nina went on to become a really nice agility dog.
For those thinking about entering Novice,
you might want to break up your days at a 3 day trial (Friday/Sunday),
or only enter one class each day.
That way, if you end up with a glaring ‘training hole’,
you won’t have the opportunity, or feel the need, to keep your turn.
You can go home and work on it.
So, I guess when you are asking yourself,
do I move up to Open, evaluate your dog.
If it’s right for both of you…DO IT!!
If it’s not, don’t move up just to avoid having to stay until the end of the day.
Now…if you ask me if you should move out of Open…….YES!!!
Seems to me that often the open courses are more difficult than the excellent!
Enjoy the Journey…..
It never lasts long enough!!