Category: Dog Sports – general

5 Things Dogs want for the Holidays

23 Dec 18

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And the alternatives you can live with.

Before next week when you start counting up 2018 accomplishments vs 2019 resolutions, it might be nice to ask what the dog wants for the holidays. Sure you stopped by the local pet store to score a treat or two but here are some things that make a pooch’s heart sing. This post offers some suggestion for people approved alternatives that may contain affiliate links.

The dog wants… A Big Stick 

While driftwood soaked in seawater is tasty, maybe something that is smaller to carry and less dangerous when ingested. My guys love the  Petstages Chew Toys that I discovered last year when I was looking for an alternative to natural bones & antlers (that can cause slab fractures on back teeth) and rawhide (that can cause blockages if the pieces are too large when they unfurl inside the dog). Dogwood Stick, Newhide, Beyond Bone, & Deer Antler are the shapes and flavors of a safer alternative to the real thing. Made out of about 30% of the actual material (wood, antler, bone or rawhide) ground up and added to a binder that makes the product softer and more digestible. These are made in the USA by a subsidiary of Outward Hound and are lead & phthalate free.  

The dog wants… A Bed


— Well, your bed actually. So how about something enticing enough to buy you a little more room on the pillow Sunday morning? We just won a Better World Pets orthopedic dog bed at an agility trial fundraiser at exactly the same time as we needed to add beds around the house for the senior dog, Marshal. Couldn’t be happier with the product –non-slip bottom, waterproof but machine washable and replacement covers (on the Oregon based company’s website ) well priced as is the bed itself. Marshal is happy with it too.

The dog wants… The Human safely Home 

Since your dog can’t arrange an Uber for your holiday bashes, how about one of you wear a custom Bad Tag to be sure you get back to the house should you get separated at the park or the pub. You can customize the back with your home address or phone number after you pick out which tag your dog is wearing and which you are gonna use on your keychain.  This years holiday collection is particularly delightful with its Christmas Sweater options 

The dog wants… A Squirrel

That one that taunts us on our walks and tastes like sunflowerseeds because it steals from the neighbor’s birdfeeder. But it is not gonna hold up like a King Nut from  The people who source your dog-centric monthly subscription of goodies from Bark Box also have a little shop where you can pick up past offerings of various dog approved/tested treats and toys. These toys are innovative and fun and made for dog enjoyment so the fluff is actually supposed to come out of the squirrel eventually.

The dog wants…Time with you

And just you. No cat, no baby, no significant other, no dog walker. Seriously,  schedule that walk or dog sports competition into your busy life. You should come armed with treats and poop bags and maybe a ball but time spent even just walking around the neighborhood is good for the mental and physical well being of beings on both ends of the leash. No gym membership needed and it is the greatest gift of all to a dog who loves you.

So as we charge around this holiday season tossing peanut butter stuffed kongs to the dog as we rush out the door to get to year-end appointments and mandatory fun obligations, don’t forget your furry friend who has a list of their own.

Follow the Fun to Improve Trial Attendance

05 Nov 18
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Up and down the west coast, dog sports events – from official trials & shows to workshops & training opportunities – are available EVERY weekend of the year. (Maybe not Christmas when it falls on a Friday Saturday or Sunday.)  Exhibitors have an unprecedented amount of choice about where and when they spend time and money.  With that in mind, all dog clubs need to be thinking about how to improve trial attendance.

In general, there are only two ways to make money: Increase Income (improve trial attendance) or Decrease Expense (single judge, two days, ribbons as required). Along those lines, a club could split the weekend with another club but given that Saturday is the most profitable day, the second club would need to be given Friday AND Sunday (so a Hope AND a Prayer). Or two clubs could alternate annually for the corresponding weekend but that requires careful planning and cooperation between separate entities which makes the governing organizations (NADAC, AKC, CPE etc.) uncomfortable.

a laundry list of fun to improve trial attendance.

Here are some ways to attract exhibitors to your current event. Most involve pairing up with another club to hold an event. Or, if your club can hold the additional attraction, have a few more club members around to help. Some examples require additional administration (trial secretary paperwork) but many just need a club member to step up and help out. The idea is that you have already rented the facility for the first sport so it saves you that cost for the additional attractions.

Training Matches

Sometimes called a Show N Go or Ticker or Fun Match or a B Match or C Match in AKC these allow you to work on skills that need some training. If room on the grounds and a different sport from the competition,  hold Matches or Show N Go in conjunction with the main sport. Otherwise, you have to wait until the end of the trial day. For example: at an Agility Trial you may have an Agility B Match when the trial day is over or you could have a Puppy Conformation B Match or Obedience Show N Go DURING the day.

Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Tests – Trick Dog Tests – Farm Dog Tests (requires some small livestock)

These are all AKC pay as you go titles/test. All can be administered by a CGC evaluator who splits fees with the club or, if the evaluator is a club member, donates fees to the club. Reach out to the pet dog training community to see if they would like to send their students along for testing.

picture is composed of various rally signsRally Trial

Fits well with the pace of an agility trial. Good return on time investment. Would not want too close to exciting agility rings. Needs around four stewards ringside (the trial chair could be one) and a separate judge from agility.

Obedience Trial

Best offered before an agility event or some distance away as exhibitors in obedience are very noise sensitive. Works well as a Friday morning when you have a Friday afternoon start. Highest levels of obedience competitors are always looking for opportunities to compete, so small trials can be well attended.

FAST Cat Trial or Test

Lure coursing for all breeds! Requires special equipment and space so best to partner with a coursing club.

Barn Hunt Trial or Rat N Go barn hunt rat tube on straw

This takes dry space under cover. A trial has two to three rings and four to five levels You have to clear up the straw afterward so be thoughtful about where this is set up in relation to the competition rings. Expect this to be done partnering with a Barn Hunt club.

Scent Work Sniff N Go

Scent Work trials may not work with other events because of the isolation issue (teams must remain in the car until called to work). But Sniff N Go – their version of a training match — might fit in nicely. Even these types of matches help expose new folks to how the sport works.

Partner-up  in the Neighborhood

Work with a club holding an event in the same geographical area and cross-market both events. This allows exhibitors to get more chances to compete or train while in the area or to travel with friends or family who participate in a different sport.

Marshal the cardigan corgi wrapps himself thru the weave polesSpecial Competitions/Attractions

Add unique games to be played post competition. You must have a game, rules and scoring written out before you start. These could be based on classes in other organizations to help with structure. In AKC, submit this type of event on the Special Attraction Form. Examples might be:

  • Weave-a-thon  ( like drag racing with weave poles)
  • Tunnel Madness (4 or 5 tunnels with a timed course) or
  • Retriever Relay (4-inch jumps and the dog has to hold an item in mouth going over # jumps to hand off to a team member)

Fun Things with Your Dog

Highlight  that which celebrates or is enjoyed by  the dog:

  • Parade of Double Digits (price of entry includes a nice rosette ribbon when nationals do this)
  • Retirement For Exhibition Only (FEO) runs of Double Digits (Dog may not be entered in the trial if this is AKC event)
  • A prize for High In Trial Old Dog (oldest dog over 10 years with fastest YPS Qualifying run)
  • Parade or FEO or Prize for High in Trial of Rescue/Rehomed Dogs (exhibitors need to sign up for this one)
  • Painting with your Dog – dog paw prints as art
  • Holiday Snapshots or Games – bobbing for hot dogs or watermelon eating contest or Fastest Recall or Santa pictures or Halloween costume contest or Photography contest.

Next Step…marketing of course

There are ways to improve the attendance of trials that are fun and could invite new exhibitors to your particular club and trial.  After you decide what to add to your event, we need to talk about how to get the word out so you see an impact in the financials sooner rather than later.

Note: This post was originally published on in October 2018