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Discussion Starter #1
So this question is for anyone who competes in a sport with their dog.

My dog is a border collie mix, almost a year old. I've had her for five months and she came with no prior frisbee experience - just interest. As far as I can tell she has no health issues whatsoever, and the vet said it's fine to play frisbee.

We enrolled in a frisbee class, mostly because I wanted to learn how to encourage safe play. I have to say she's getting pretty darn good! I'd say she catches 80% of my tosses and usually gets some air (she's always been a bouncy dog). I have 5 years experience on an ultimate team, but I'm finding it's tougher to throw to a dog. The teacher of our class has given and continues to give good tips on how to make sure we're not doing permanent damage to our dogs by asking too much of them. We try to follow his advice because I can already tell she's going to be a great frisbee dog and I don't want to shorten her career.

There's a local frisbee competition coming up in about a month. Our teacher is encouraging us all to compete. I'm told the competition is very low key - everybody is extremely welcoming and friendly - and it's not really very high stakes - winners get gift certificates and such (not that we'd win anything!) The catch, though, is that it's a big audience - maybe 300-500 people.

The pro's: Get her on the scene. Great experience in front of a crowd. See what we need to work on. A low key local competition could be a good place to start.

The con's: Even though we take safety precautions, I'm still worried about her joints and bones since she's jumping and not even a year old. Plus, maybe it's not a good idea to enter at all if you can't really compete with the big boys yet? How important is it to make a big splash the first time?

What do you think? If you compete in frisbee, what is the youngest age you would enter a dog at? Either way, we're entering next year's competition! :D
 

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I would NOT be doing anything but ground throws with a dog under a year. I've watched a BUNCH of local agility people run their precocious border collie puppies into the ground because they CAN do the jumping- that doesn't mean they SHOULD be doing it.
 

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Youngest I would enroll a dog in any kind of sport is 2 years old. Maybe 1.5 years old if there was a really good opportunity. I'd get an X-ray from the vet first, too.
 

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I don't think she's necessarily too young to train- but I would be doing groundwork and focusing on obedience and impulse control, not speed or height.
 

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You are getting some solid advice, I know it's a great temptation to get out there and show off your dog and have fun.

The problem with competition is that some times it brings out of handler/owner the unwanted pushing dog to where it should not be style of handling. Your young dog does good 1st trial and everybody is ooohhhing and aahhhing about your young rascal and that's great. Then the next entered trial the young pup a tad unbalanced and uncoordinated snaps a leg etc. I know that sounds extreme but stuff happens. This can also occur with older dogs as accidents can happen but at least you will have waited and built your frisbee dog the right way. Knowing nothing about a frisbee dog my advice may be suspect. It's just common sense though and I'm a tad surprised at your trainer pushing it.
 

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It's just common sense though and I'm a tad surprised at your trainer pushing it.
Sad to say, but I'm not. I've seen it repeatedly with flyball, frisbee, and agility people. The young brilliant dogs make the trainer look like a fantastic instructor, and if the dog gets hurt, well, it wasn't their fault- the owner made the choice to run him, or his breeder didn't do OFA, or it was just a freak accident. I don't think ANY of these trainers think about it in those terms but I think it's a major temptation, to push a bright little dog on as fast as possible.

I think the reason you don't see this AS much in obedience is that novice has the evil heeling exercises- you can't get through on sheer brilliance, you need control, too. :p

Cait
 

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Sad to say, but I'm not. I've seen it repeatedly with flyball, frisbee, and agility people. The young brilliant dogs make the trainer look like a fantastic instructor, and if the dog gets hurt, well, it wasn't their fault- the owner made the choice to run him, or his breeder didn't do OFA, or it was just a freak accident. I don't think ANY of these trainers think about it in those terms but I think it's a major temptation, to push a bright little dog on as fast as possible.

I think the reason you don't see this AS much in obedience is that novice has the evil heeling exercises- you can't get through on sheer brilliance, you need control, too. :p

Cait
Well, I was trying to think good thoughts about trainer and actually was hoping it was stupidity which in my opinion is better than trying to push one's prowess as a trainer and hurt a promising young dog. I believe you probably are correct and I am living in a self made dream world.(which is unusual for me)I guess I am finally mellowing out a tad as I mature. Problem is I'm so mature it might be too late to do any good.
 

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Youngest I would enroll a dog in any kind of sport is 2 years old. Maybe 1.5 years old if there was a really good opportunity.
That shouldn't apply to all sports, though. I know of dogs who easily get their RN and CD by a year old.

In BC they just finished an OTCH on a 19 month old. That's amazing, really.
 

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Yeah, but pushing a dog to learn self control early is really, really different from asking for the physical demands of agility or flyball or frisbee- and THAT's where the problem lies.
 

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In Canada you cannot show a dog in Agility until they are 18 months old and for some of the bigger breed dogs, that may be a little early.
 

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I believe you probably are correct and I am living in a self made dream world.(which is unusual for me)I guess I am finally mellowing out a tad as I mature.
I lived in Chicago for a short time. As I remember, the sky was a different color there.....maybe it's not a dream world....just the way the world is.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Ok, thanks everybody. I told the trainer last night that we would not be entering the competition this year. Instead, I'm going to volunteer there so that I get a better idea of what it takes to compete. We'll keep practicing a few throws every day and my dog will be ready by next year, by which time she will have turned 2.
 

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Ok, thanks everybody. I told the trainer last night that we would not be entering the competition this year. Instead, I'm going to volunteer there so that I get a better idea of what it takes to compete. We'll keep practicing a few throws every day and my dog will be ready by next year, by which time she will have turned 2.
I think you made a good decision as it's a win-win program, dog stays healthy and you continue with training a good young dog turns into a better, older, healthier dog and all is well with the world.
 
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