Dog Sports - Dog Handling

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Sunday, June 30 2013

Welcome to Dog Sports Rotorua Dogility

Mission : To provide an opportunity for anyone with any dog to experience Agility Course work. To promote Agility as a sport in our District.

Every month there will be a course set up and made available to the general public to learn more about the Sport.

Eligibility of Handler: Any one of any fitness level, any level of disability, any age can experience working their dog on an Agility course. Dog Sports will assist new people to get the best from the opportunity.

Eligibility of Dog: Dog must be twelve months old to compete, but can participate in the course at First Timer level from ten months without being eligible for placings. Dog must have current Local Body Registration, and a Certificate of Vaccination from their Vet showing that the dog has been inoculated against Parvo Virus. Dog must be fit enough (in the eyes of the judges) to achieve the course without causing undue stress to it's body. The Judges reserve the right to reject a dog for competition if it is very overweight, very lame or has some other obvious injury or condition, or shows unwarranted aggression.

Classes available

First Timers: This applies to people who have had no previous training and have never competed in any dog performance sport. First Timers may have a mentor in the ring with them during their run. They may take a ball or toy into the ring with them. They may work on lead, wearing muzzles or harnesses. They may not take any food for the dog(or themselves) into the ring. If there are 5 First Timers then there will be a ribbon presentation for first place. If they are members of Dog Sports Rotorua then their participation or placing points will be kept towards the end of year awards. The First Timer who wins their section can no longer participate as a First Timer at any subsequent Competition Day. They then become a Junior. All other First Timers can stay in that class until they win out, unless they enrol for Agility lessons at which point they also become a Junior.

Juniors: This applies to people who have been training in an Agility Class at any Club and are competing up to Starters level in NZKC Agility. If there are 5 Junior Dogs Competing then there will be a ribbon presentation for first place. If they are members of Dog Sports Rotorua then their participation or placing points will be kept towards the end of year awards. To win out of Juniors requires 3 first places. They then become an Intermediate.

Intermediate: This applies to people who are currently training Agility at any Club and are competing up to Novice level in NZKC Agility. It will also include those who have graduated from Juniors with three Junior first places. If there are 5 Intermediate Dogs Competing then there will be a ribbon presentation for first place. If they are members of Dog Sports Rotorua then their participation or placing points will be kept towards the end of year awards. To win out of Intermediate requires 5 first places. They then become a Senior.

Senior: This applies to people who are currently training Agility at any Club and are competing in Intermediate/Senior level NZKC Agility, or have graduated from Intermediate in this competition. If there are 5 Senior Dogs competing then there will be a ribbon presentation for first place. If they are members of Dog Sports Rotorua then their participation or placing points will be kept towards the end of year awards. Senior is the top division of Dogility.


Dog Sports Rotorua will keep a record of the members who win points throughout the year at the monthly Dogility Competition and trophies and certificates can then be awarded at the end of year presentations—e.g.

  • Every month that a Club Member participates 1 point
  • Every 4th placing 2 points
  • Every 3rd placing 3 points
  • Every 2nd placing 4 points
  • Every 1st placing 5 points

(example: 1 participation point + 2nd placing = 5 points)


The Judges will allocate suitable heights for each dog participating.

Micro will include the normal very small dogs, plus the very large dogs, dogs who are mildly overweight, and dogs 8 years and older. All First Timer Dogs are Micro.

Mini will be an optional height for those participating in Junior, whose dogs are none of the above, plus dogs who are normal mini .

Midi will be the top height for all of those with Midi and Maxi dogs. It will be optional for Junior Dogs, mandatory for Intermediate and Senior Dogs.


There will be two Judges on the day of Competition. Their decision will be final. They will rule on course work by calling faults to the scribe and they will decide whether a dog has an Aggression issue and should be put into a remedial class and is unfortunately unable to compete on that day. The Judges will decide on the heights the dogs will run on as above.


All dogs must be on leash or tied to an immovable object. All dog toilet must be picked up in plastic bags and put in an appropriate supplied receptacle or removed from the grounds by the Handler. No dog must be allowed to be aggressive to any person or any other dog. Dogs at risk may wear muzzles both while waiting for their run and during their run. ( Dog Sports Rotorua have anti aggression classes and are happy to help individuals with their dogs with issues.)


  • No food is allowed on the course.
  • Toys and balls are allowed on the course as part of the encouragement for the dog.
  • If an obstacle is missed, it needs to be returned to and redone correctly, no fault is called.
  • If the dog does the wrong obstacle in the wrong order then it is disqualified. ( Please continue and finish the course).
  • If the dog knocks a hurdle rail then 5 points are added to the time score. If the dog misses a contact then 5 points are added to the time score.
  • If the dog knocks four hurdle rails then it is disqualified.
  • If the dog takes longer than 75 seconds to achieve the course then it is disqualified.


The course will have two timers. The highest time recorded is the correct time. A clear round is a round where there have been no faults. If there are faults then they are added in fives to the score. At the end of the Competition the lowest score is the winner.


Before the start of the monthly competition the Course level for the following month will be drawn. The levels for the Competition will be Elementary, Starters, Jumpers B and C, and Novice . There will be some alteration to the NZKC Level to make the courses achievable by all participants. That is, the inclusion of table and pause box, lowering of A frame and hoop etc.


As a clear First Place winner in each class is required - any identical clear round times will indicate the need for a run-off. If there are no clear rounds then it may be that identical score cards will call the need for the run-off.


That a set of Rules must be provided to each entrant — this is in response to blindly entering mainstream competitions and not being aware of the rules, even though the rules are available via the Internet and it is the job of each participant to know the rules of the game they are playing, it can be very difficult to understand the meaning of all of the Agility Rules). If the rules are made available to all participants on the day of the competition, then questions can be asked by the participants and an understanding of the game can be improved.

All suggested improvements to the rules will be looked at by Dog Sports Rotorua for inclusion in future rule changes. Please feel free to let the Club know your ideas and rules etc.

Happy Dogility. Have a Woofing Day. imagesCAH3BCVJ.jpg

Dog Sports Rotorua Inc. Club Venue Paradise Valley Stock Cars - Car Park Paradise Valley Rd, Rotorua

Sunday, November 4 2012

Why Flyball?

and not Flygility.

Well Flygility has become a truly serious sport with titles and expensive prizes and ribbons and it just isn't a bunch of people turning up on a day at a place and playing a dog game with minimal equipment. All we need is 8 dogs and we are away.Two boxes eight fly hurdles and some balls. Great.

It is just sort of Kareoke Dog Sports really, and such fun and achievable and fast. I have sort of morphed the game a bit to fit my need to train new people but it works and it is a laugh.

Hitting the box is such a huge thrill for the handlers and the dogs. So long as the dog wants the ball and will carry it, we will have him hitting the box in no time at all.

This is my method. Get a plank about the same size as a flybox pedal and prop it up on a couple of bricks. Have the handler put the dog on lead and have a 'loader' who isn't really loading anything at this point but instead is going to feed the dog every time he 'hits' the plank. The food will be presented quite high about where the ball is going to fly out of the box eventually. Do not feed low.

Have the handler walk the dog forward on lead and as soon as the dog touches the plank - the box loader feeds the dog. The handler then quickly pulls the dog away and rewards again. Food probably but preferably to play a game of tug. What am I doing. I am teaching the dog that the person at the box is a friend. That going forward and touching the plank is a pleasant thing. But returning to handler is also a good thing. I hope the dog will get quite excited by this activity and appear to be playing. How many times do I do this, probably about ten.

Then I get the flybox out and load a ball.

I start with the dog about ten meters away and fire balls from the box as quickly as I can. The handler is slowly advancing on the box with the dog on a lead saying 'get it' or 'go look'. Then when the dog is about five meters away I put the plank on the box pedal, the box is loaded I tell the handler to let the dog come. I call him he rushes up to the box, hits the plank, the ball comes out, he notices it and he then runs back to his handler for treat or game. Sometimes the dog will retrieve the ball on the first hit, occasionally the dog will actually catch the ball the first time, but most dogs just notice the ball, watch it fall and run back to their handler, for the game.

For a first lesson this is great. I would hope to reinforce that lesson about two or three days later and by the end of that second lesson the dog should be retrieving the ball either from where it drops or by catching the ball.

I rely on the handler to throw balls at the dog as part of play. If a dog is reluctant to catch I do food catches and 'good boy' praise, then soft toy catches, then soft ball catches and finally tennis ball catches.

I also rely on the handler to be working hard on the tug game or alternative play when the ball is retrieved, but this is the hard part, a lot of trainer/handlers are lazy and just use food as the reward. I tell them they will never get the return they need using food. They need to speed their dog up on the return and only game playing will do this.

Learning the box is not hard for the dog, but it really gives the handlers a buzz. I simply increase the length from the handler to the box without obstacles. I like the dog to be charging at the box from twentyfive meters without hurdles or tunnels and returning really fast. Then we are ready to move on.

We have a great retrieve, a 100% sendaway to the box and return. Now we need to put the obstacles in place....

Raewyn Saville 4-11-12

Friday, November 2 2012

Real Dog Training

it isn't all about spoilt rotten 1 year old Terriers.

My apologies to those of you who like to read about Real Dog Training. Fae the Fat Fairy keeps getting requests for her stories and I help her oblige - sorry

Over the last three years we have run Summer Flyball on a Thursday night at Dog Sports Rotorua. It has morphed a bit as it has gone along and it will probably continue to do that.

I have mentioned before that I sometimes have difficulty getting people to play with their dog. Either they feel silly about it, especially if they are a six foot macho person. The idea of playing dog tug with a pink pig tied to a piece of bungy cord just doesn't appeal. I encourage the children who come to the club to play and that works with the littles up to about six or seven years old but after that it is not 'cool' to play with the dog, in a public place anyway.

So in order to get the dog to concentrate on you and to want to please and feel part of a team thing with you, there has to be a game that both participants get something from. I believe, for beginners anyway, that game is Flyball.

My motive is to use Flyball to get people involved in wanting to train their dog to do specific tricks, but that means their dog has to come when called, wait quietly for its turn, send away after a ball, bring the ball back as a retrieve. The dog has to 'like' other dogs. You can't turn a dog loose to do a retrieve ten meters away from another dog if it is going to rip off and tear up the other dog, so socialisation is necessary.

In an enclosed environment where there are fifteeen other dogs and maybe the same number of people, the dog and handler team effort is pretty much laid bare. Untrained dogs will be at their worst when under pressure of being around other 'strange' dogs and equally 'strange' people.

When people sign up for Flyball, I need to know that the dog has some desire to play. Will bring a ball or frisbee or soft toy back and that it doesn't have a history of ragging other animals. Then let the fun begin.

The first thing that a new handler discovers is that when the distraction level is very high, their dog no longer recognises his name, any commands or for that matter even the look of his handler. He seems to just lose it and run off and meet and greet all the other dogs, zoom around the park with the other dogs, jump wildly at other people, grab any dog toys left lying around and shred them, and sometimes lose his manners so badly, that he gets overexcited and nips another dog, which can sometimes cause a reaction from the other dog and then trouble begins in the form of a growling and snapping match. If the handlers step into this fray, it can turn nasty, so I beg the handlers to walk in opposite directions and for people to stay out of the scene. 98% of the time it is over as quickly as it starts and is not caused by any particular malice. If no fuss is made it is generally forgotten by both dogs in no time. If the handlers accidently re-inforce the behaviour then it can have the long term effect of causing stress to both the dog and the handler for the rest of their days.

In what way? Handler usually sayes, that for some reason his dog does not like - dogs with shaggy coats, or dogs with white tails, or small fluffy dogs, or large black dogs. Rubbish. That is the handler's view but not the dog's view. If the handler is tense and grips the lead extra tight and yells at the owner/handler of the other approaching dog to keep away or any other stupid thing along this line, then the dog may well develop the propensity to attack other dogs that are recognised by his handler as being dogs he does not like.

Now and again I run across a dog that does Sudden Attack Syndrome but they are not invited to play Flyball with us until a lot of work has been done to settle the problem.

So when the dogs come to Flyball they are often very excited. Exciteable playful dogs make very good Flyball Dogs. Even the dogs that run away and don't hear their name, and even the dogs that are brave and stupid and run up to other dogs and people in great glee as though they are their best friends. These are the dogs that will do the game. The poor little dogs that are scared of their own shadow, and big trucks and sky rockets, really do not make good Flyball dogs. They would be much better doing Obedience and Rally O to build up their confidence, than to even entertain the idea of doing a sport where another stupid dog might jump at them just when they have hit the box and grabbed the ball and it just terrifies them.

So we want dogs with guts and stamina. These are usually the unruly dogs who never run out of steam.

Obviously the first thing we want to do is to get the dog to focus on us and the game. So out comes the tennis ball and the fluffy pink pig tied to a piece of bungy cord. One dog at a time I teach retrieves. All the other dogs are in a down beside their handlers on leash and one by one each dog comes forward to chase his own ball and when he turns around with the retrieve the stupid pink pig on the bungy is being waved around and he wants it so he drops the ball and comes in for the kill on the pink pig and a massive tug game ensues.

All the other class dogs are kept still because the thing that moves the most is what will attract the dog doing the game. Sometimes at our Dog Park a lot of traffic goes by and some of our dogs lose the plot and the traffic movement becomes the 'most movement' and therefore the most attractive. So you have to practice avoidance when learning this game and make sure when the dog turns it will see your game, not the traffic, not the birds in the sky just your game. Oh I had better mention that the Park we use at the moment is well fenced so that the dogs cannot get to the road and the traffic, otherwise everyone will think I am winding dogs up to become axle fodder.

Once you have the retrieve going and the dog carrying the ball back, then dropping the ball and playing tug, you have virtually won the war against distraction. Now we need to get two dogs, two handlers and two balls and two stupid fluffy pink pigs on bungy cords. I put my handlers about twentyfive meters apart and they face in the same direction.

First I get one handler to throw their ball and get their dog back for the game. As soon as No.1 handler has his dog by the collar, the other handler throws his ball and gets his dog back to play tug. Then I get both handlers to tug with their dogs at the same time. Then I get them to do a very short retrieve at the same time and back to tug. By short I mean two or three meters. If this works the first time for both dogs it is a miracle, but I can make a note of where the wheels fell off for each dog and we can work on that weak point. We can do all combinations with a bunch of dogs and handlers and with a bit of homework each night, by week three all dogs should be able to work 25 meters apart doing a ten meter retrieve and playing tug, consistently without running off to each other, or another distraction. But you have to be awake, and if your dog is looking interested in something else then you may have to resort to (heaven forbid) the food pot to get him back on track.

This is an introductory lesson for Flyball remember. This is the anti distraction retrieve. The other elements are learning to hit the flybox and get the ball on the full, and learning the flyball hurdles which make up the flyball course.

Raewyn Saville 2nd November 2012

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