Saturday, March 05, 2011

So you've finished your first novice title - Part Three

So you know the move-up rules and have an idea of the differences between novice and open courses - but you're still trying to decide - should I move my dog up to Open. I've always been a list maker and planner so here are my pros and cons:

+ I don't train for novice - I train for Excellent - the same thing goes for my students - I don't setup novice sequences for classes, that being said - once you've mastered the competition novice course - Open is the next logical step to test your skillset - to see where you are in your training.  

+ The questions asked of dog and handler in Open are more complex - harder puzzles - immensely more satisfying to solve. From an adrenalin junkie standpoint - throw me the hard stuff - I like it :-) All the sweeter when we beat the course.

+ Your dog doesn't know that you've filled out a move-up form. They're stepping out into the ring to play with their person, keep it fun keep it play and it is what you make it.

+ Trials typically run FAST -> Standard -> JWW and from Excellent -> Open -> Novice. Moving up to open probably means that you won't be the last dog of the trial, you'll probably get to leave a bit sooner too.

+ There's NOTHING - and I mean NOTHING like beating a tough course - a tough Novice course, a tough Open course or a tough Excellent course...It's a great rush - and it only gets better (and more addictive).

- From a placement point of view - Q's are going to be harder to come by. With increased challenge, green teams are probably going to have a lower Q rate in open than they had in novice. Open classes are often larger classes with more dogs per height class. Placements are also probably harder to come by as well.

- The transition from 6 poles to 12 poles can be hard for some dogs. Before moving to open take an honest look at your weave work - Is your dog reliably making his weave entries at speed? Is your dog staying in the poles through pole 12? I'd move up a dog who might have less than 100% entry accuracy if he was solid in 12 poles. I'd feel less comfortable moving up a dog with "pop out at pole 10" problems in training - because I wouldn't have a lot of opportunity to "fix" it successfully (three try rule) without introducing stage stress.

- Handlers know that they've moved up and handlers know when they've NQ'ed. It's the handler's job to keep the ring a positive place to play agility.

- The bottomline is that open asks more of the team....More work, more training....More reward too (and really, shouldn't that be a plus?)

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