Friday, February 11, 2011

Trialing Environment

The agility trialing environment is noisy, busy, dirty, stressful, and largely unfamiliar.  Long before I ever thought of competing, though, I was volunteering at our club's local trials and matches and bringing Maxie and Willow along for "socialization".  I didn't realize at the time that by crating them near other dogs, parading them up and down the halls and ringside, walking them on leash amidst teeming masses of people and dogs, I was proofing Maxie (and myself) against all the barking canines, buzzers, and excitement.  By the time we began competing, Maxie and I were both used to it.

That worked so well, I began Lucky in the same way.  In fact, I met Lucky at a trial when she was 8 weeks old and didn't even know how to go up and down the stairs of the bleachers.  I've been bringing her to all of Maxie's trials ever since, and she will have her first competition almost exactly 2 years later in the Parker Coliseum (a USDAA trial), the same arena Maxie first competed in.  Already, she isn't nervous a bit in the trialing environment, crates up for long periods without complaint, doesn't bark, is friendly to all, etc.

I've heard I should bring a tape recorder and tape all the sounds that occur at a trial, but since I take videos and play them frequently at home, the incessant barking and other noises are on there for my dogs to hear.  You don't really notice these as much at a trial as you do on the videos in the quiet of your living room, where when my dogs hear them, they often bark in concert.  (They don't do that at a trial.)

Now along comes the Agility Nerd, who posted on his blog this morning, a file you can download of all the new electronic timer sounds used at Agility Trials.  These can be played at home on Windows Media Player or QuickTime to innure our dogs against these loud and unfamiliar sounds.  Here's the link:

This is a great addition to my dog training tool kit.  I've been using it this morning and plan to play it several times a day just before each trial.
Upwards and onward!

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