July 15, 2022

Episode 310: How to Deal with Ring Conflicts

In this episode (26:37)

In this episode, Jennifer explains how to deal with ring conflicts and shares her advice for running multiple dogs at a trial.

You Will Learn

  • Strategies for dealing with ring conflicts.
  • How to deal with the stress of running multiple dogs at a trial.
  • When you should try to avoid ring conflicts.
  • How to train yourself to deal with ring conflicts.
  • The importance of visualization to success.


(bright upbeat music) - Welcome to "Bad Dog Agility," (dog barks) a podcast helping you reach all of your dog agility goals. Whether it's competing under the bright lights of the televised finals at Westminster, or successfully navigating a homemade course in your own backyard, we'll bring you training tips, interviews, and news about the great sport of dog agility. Are you ready? - I'm ready. - I'm ready. - I'm

ready. - The show starts with your hosts Jennifer, Esteban, and Sarah. (upbeat music) - I'm Jennifer. - I'm Esteban. - And I'm Sarah. And this is episode 310. - Today's podcast is brought to you by Synovetin OA. Is your agility dog is suffering from elbow osteoarthritis? Synovetin OA can help. It's a different way to relieve the pain that causes limping and lameness. Just one simple quick nonsurgical treatment

can provide pain relief for up to one whole year. So if your dog's elbow pain has been keeping you off the agility course, ask your veterinarian about Synovetin OA or visit activedognow.com/learn-more. This procedure can only be performed by licensed veterinarians at veterinary hospitals permitted to use internal radiation therapy. On rare occasions, discomfort in the treated elbow has been seen in dogs that can last up to 72 hours

after treatment. Short term home care instructions must be followed after treatment to minimize extended close contact, such as co-sleeping. To review the full veterinary prescribing information, visit activedognow.com/cpinfo. - Today's podcast is also brought to you by HitItBoard.com and the new Teeter TeachIt, an easy to use tool that controls the amount of tip on your Teeter so you can introduce motion to your dog in a gradual way. Go

to HitItBoard.com for the new Teeter TeachIt and other training tools and toys. Use discount code BDA10, to get 10% off your order. That's HitItBoard.com. Today, we're gonna be talking about ring conflicts in agility. So, you know, when you enter multiple dogs in a trial and you're supposed to be walking in one ring and running in another, and those things conflict and that can put a lot of stress

on the handler and sometimes stress on the dogs. And this actually came up in our VIP group. And I thought, well, I know somebody who runs a lot of dogs and I'm sure has had a lot, a lot, a lot of conflicts at big important events. Jennifer Crank showing up at things like Nationals with six dogs, showing up at Premier Cup with five dogs. Showing up at Westminster

with four dogs, like Jen has a lot of conflict. So I thought let's go ahead and have a podcast and talk about different strategies or ways to deal with ring conflicts for the handler. So Jennifer, how much conflict are you in? (laughs) - Yeah, this is something that I get asked about a lot, because you said I take numerous dogs to numerous events. I've gotten very good and

very skilled at navigating conflicts. Being able to look at a schedule and kind of predict where I'm going to need to be when. And I do think that is an advantage. The more that I'm put in those situations, the better I get at reading a schedule. So I kind of know, okay, there's this many dogs and these height dogs are gonna run slower than these height. And jumpers

is gonna go faster than standard. So definitely there's some practice to it. But I think the biggest thing that I will start by saying, is that it is my choice to show up and run a lot of dogs and therefore I may need to deal with the potential consequences that happen. The biggest thing that I see is people entering a lot of dogs, and I'm not talking two

dogs, I'm talking three, four, five dogs, and then getting frustrated with the club or the gate steward or the judge that things aren't revolving around them and working around them. And I'm always trying to keep in mind when I make the choice to sign that entry form and to mail in those entries, that I'm the one who's deciding to enter that many dogs. Now, I'm lucky that a

lot of my dogs are in different heights. So in some regard that makes things easier. So it's like, okay, I have one 12, one 16, one 20 and one 8, and that was Westminster. I had four dogs, four different heights. But when you get into two ring shows that actually then becomes a disadvantage because now you have the potential to have crossover. Like in one ring, they run

larges and in one ring they run smalls. So, there's kind of different conflicts that we can kind of look at and address. So if we start with what I think of as the biggest one, is I'm needed in two places at the same time. So we'll come back to the, my dogs are too close together. You know, you have two in the same height. But two different rings,

need to be there at the same time, whether it's running or walking. The number one piece of advice I have for anybody is to always plan ahead of schedule. Walk in a group early. Run and move up to the beginning of your jump height. Because once you get to the end, the end is the end, right? You can't move your dog any further down. And it's a lot

harder to ask the judge, the club, the organizers, to pass you in your entire jump height, go to the next height and then come back 'cause they wanna process results and they wanna process awards. So when it comes to walking, let's say the ring is small to tall and they're gonna walk, you know, 8s and 12s, and then they're gonna walk 16s and then they're gonna walk 20,

24s, if you anticipate a conflict, walk early, right? Ask the judge, tell the ring crew, trial chairman why you're doing it, right. Say, "I'm not doing this for an advantage. I'm doing it to prevent potential conflicts. I might miss my walkthrough later. I wanna be prepared." Same thing with running. At AKC Nationals, when I had conflicts, I always, always tried to move up. At any event, I try

to move up. I don't want it to seem like a advantage, a competitive advantage to watch more dogs or move my dog in the running order. So I'm always gonna try to move up and be proactive about thinking about the potential conflicts that I may have. So I think that's a big thing too, is to look ahead and move up in the running order. And then if you

are dealing with conflicts within a jump height, so let's say you have have two 8-inch dogs and there's only 10 of them, you know, again, move up and split them as much as you can. Don't always try to take the second dog and move them down. And in my experience, at least as far as local shows going, frankly, even at bigger events, I've always had everybody be incredibly

accommodating if I'm proactive and I go and I say, "I think I'm gonna have a mistake," or, "I think I'm gonna have a conflict. Can I move a dog?" And I've always had, I've had judges who said like, "Oh yeah, we'll run one of your 12s now, we'll go run the 16s. We'll come back and grab your other 12." Right? I mean, they don't wanna see you struggle

or have a mistake because you're running around crazy and not getting your dog warmed up and worried about it anymore than you want to miss the run. So be proactive, look at the schedule, plan in advance and move up early if possible. - So I have another question for you. So, you know, big events, I think it's very understandable. You wanna take the dogs that have qualified, you

know, this is the big event, you wanna be there competing with your dogs. So, you know, I can see having six dogs, if you have six quality dogs that you've qualified. Do you, at local trials, do you pick and choose dogs? Do you put yourself in that six dog less often? Do you kind of go in waves of like who needs what to qualify for X, Y, and

Z, that kind of thing? - Absolutely, and I think that brings us to a great point I was actually thinking about prior to the podcast knowing the topic, which is, you know, I say kind of planning in advance, looking at the schedule. But even going before that, I actually do kind of plan out my shows based on things that will minimize conflict. So one ring trials versus two

ring trials, two ring at trials (chuckles), and also which dogs go where. So absolutely. So let's say I have, you know, four dogs, I might do two of them on, you know, Friday, Saturday, two of them Saturday, Sunday. So maybe there's a day that's crossover, or I'll pick and choose who's gonna do Premier on what days. In our area, Premier tends to be a pretty small entry. So

I will definitely not do everybody in Premier because I'll be more than half the class. So I'll say, "Okay, one dog gets to do Premier on Friday. The other dog gets to do Premier on Saturday." Absolutely 100%, you are spot on. And for me mostly it's not just to avoid conflicts, it's to just for my own sanity and for fairness to the dog of having the time to

warm them up, having the time to cool them down, being able to walk a course and in eight minutes, know that I only have to think about my strategy for two of the dogs versus six dogs. Where at Nationals, you have all day, you have multiple walkthroughs. You don't have that at a local event. So it's not just planning and preparing after the show schedule is out, but

planning and preparing my entries. And I do know that like certain dogs of mine will run better at certain locations. So I might be more willing to take one of them here, less willing to take another one there. Some are better when I'm local at home, some are better if I'm going into a hotel. So yes, that is a great question, but I rarely show everybody, every day

when it comes to local qualifications. - I think that is awesome to know, because I think that if anybody was thinking about who runs a lot of dogs, your name has gotta come to mind, right? And so then to hear that, you know, at Nationals, you're kind of forced into that mode, but when you have, you know, when it's a local trial where every local trial, you know,

you get the same out of it in terms of, it's not gonna really hurt you to miss this trial with one dog or that trial with another. When you have more control over that schedule, you put yourself in that situation less. And I think that that will make people who maybe feel like there's something wrong with them that they're struggling, right? Like, "Oh, why can't I run so

many dogs? Like, Jen's out there running six and I'm struggling with three. And struggling to remember all of the courses and stuff like that." I think is really nice for people to hear that you don't always do it that way, because there is a mental tax to doing that, that you don't always wanna put yourself into. So kind of permission for people to pick and choose and not

feel like they need to do everything available to them all the time. I think a lot of times, you know, you look at that entry and you view it as what am I eligible to run, let me run it all, right? And that's not the way it has to be. You can pick and choose. You can save money here. You can save time there. You can look at

what runs first or last. I think another way that is good to prioritize, or a lot of people will prioritize their runs, is as you said, I think it's a little bit easier when you have multiple dogs running the same course, right? Little bit harder when you have dogs running different courses. And I think- - Like multi-ring courses. - Right. Well, not just that, but levels. And I

think levels actually can sometimes be even harder than let's say one dog's doing standard or one dog's doing jumpers. I think multi-level can be harder because of nesting. You can get yourself confused because the courses are so similar in the middle. So I think it can be even extra hard when you have dogs in different levels. And so I think one of the ways that you could prioritize

showing, is getting the dog that is in the lower level up, right? So, you know, as you bring a new dog in, really putting that trialing time into the lower level dog to try to get them up to the higher level where now you're not gonna have as many level to level, you know, issues between dogs, both for memorization and for conflicts. - I like that. You're really

talking about optimization. And I think that's what Jennifer's doing very, very well. Maybe you're coming up and you're trying to qualify for Nationals. Then, you know, maybe put the baby dog away for a trial or two while you lock up your last couple of points and double Qs. - Yeah. 100%. I just came from a show prepping for Premier Cup. And I only took the dogs that were

going to Premier Cup. I'm like, okay, let's just focus on the ones that are going to this event. Not the young ones, give them the time, minimize the conflicts. I will also say the other huge thing for me. And I definitely don't want this to go unmentioned and unaware for those listening is I do have a ton of support and helpers to help me at all the events

with the dogs. Now, sometimes it is somebody that if I say part of my team, like a training buddy or a travel buddy, like the people that went to AKC Nationals with me helped out, "Hey, can you hold this dog? Or would you be willing to warm up this dog while you're cooling down your dog?" So I definitely don't wanna it to go unaware that I have a

lot of helpers, right? And I have a team of people that help me. And I appreciate all them, anybody who pays attention outside the ring, you'll always see somebody running around with me, but it doesn't have to be that. So if you're thinking, well, I can't get a spouse to go with me or my friends not traveling. You'd be really surprised how many people at trials are willing

to help out. Maybe it's somebody that's in your class. They run a 12-inch dog and you, you know, run a 20 inch dog and maybe you'd need to say to them, hey, can you kind of hold my dog out or maybe walk a couple laps around the ring. I need to go over here and I need to walk this course real quick. Or, you know, can you go

down to that ring gate? And when you are checking your dog in, will you let him know I'm a potential conflict. I'm up in six dogs over here and I don't have time to run down there and let them know. People are generally willing to help out, especially if they're in opposite jump heights. I mean, if you're there with one dog, you know, kind of the standing joke,

'cause, hey, I'm gonna be here for eight hours and I'm gonna run for 45 seconds. (chuckles) So you have to imagine that there are a lot of people that have a lot of time on their hand and most of them are more than willing to help out. So even if you don't have a buddy or a training partner or a travel person with you, that you can kind

of plan in advance, you might be able to find somebody at the show to help you with a few of those things too. I know for me, my biggest conflict is not actually running in the ring. I can run in that ring and I can make that run over there. What I struggle with the most is the warming up, right? My dogs take a good 15 minute warm

up. So that's where I get myself into trouble. It's like I can go run and ring one and be eight dogs away in ring two and I can make it over there. But in eight dogs, I cannot get my dog outta the crate, potty them, warm them up, stretch them, and then be in the ring. So I have a lot of helpers for kind of walking them around,

even just simply potting them and then, okay, meet me at the practice jump and we'll do our stretches or do the practice. I always do the practice jump in a lot of the stretches, but to have them out and ready and potted, and then same thing with cooling down. If I need to get done with one run and run over to another ring to see where it's at,

I'll have somebody, you know, cool down my dog and their dog at the same time. I know my mom and Abbey Beasley and I, we all kind of work together. We're the similar jump heights, you know, "Hey, we've just got done running. Will you cool mine down with yours so I can go do this run." So help people, you know, help people and ask for help. There's no

shame in that at all. I think the biggest thing with conflicts in my experience is be kind to be patient. Don't be the person who comes up and I just missed my run and you need to find a place to put me in, you know, be proactive, think about what it is. Don't stress. I always tell people that come, "Don't stress, you'll get to run. And if you

don't, it's just agility, especially at local trials." but the more you run into situations, you'll get better about managing the schedule and figuring out what works best in terms of maybe you have a dog that you need to prioritize. Like in novice, you mentioned the different levels. You know, there might only be eight dogs in novice, so you can't miss that run. They're gonna tear the course down,

where in masters, you're gonna have 162 dogs running. So that would be the one to better conflict. - Right, and then I think one thing that I don't think you explicitly mentioned when you talked about like trying to prioritize moving up, but also I would think that you also need to prioritize as much as you can walkthroughs because like once those happen they're usually done. So if you

think that, you know, like, I know that there have been times in the past where we thought that it was all gonna work out, that then as it runs you're getting closer and closer. You already have your dog out, but you see that they started walking in the other ring and sometimes you kind of have to like in that moment, be like, "Okay, hold my dog. I'm gonna

go walk that course for two minutes and then I'm gonna come back." So do you like pay extra, extra attention to walkthroughs? - Yes, at AKC Nationals, for example, I always walk in the general walk just so that if I miss a walkthrough, I've already got myself familiar with the course, same thing at local trials if they have them. I'll do the general walk and so, yes, not

only moving up the run, but also walking in an early group. So again, if it's small to tall and you're a 16 and you worry, maybe walk with the 8s and 12s. Let somebody know, let the judge know so that somebody's not seeing you out there walking in the wrong height, but let them know, hey, you're walking early for the potential of conflicts or again, walking that general

walkthrough because absolutely that scenario has come up many, many times where you don't think there's gonna be a conflict. And then there's a ring delay because the batteries died and they need to change out. And then they need to clean up where a dog had an accident in the ring and all of a sudden it's falling behind and yeah, the walkthroughs going on while you're in the other

ring and you miss that. So walking in advance, preparing in advance, same thing with moving up in the run order. Absolutely great advice. - And I think also like we talk about like planning, which dogs you're gonna take and prioritizing certain dogs. But I think then it can still happen that in the moment you run into this situation and things just, everything's falling apart and things aren't going

the way that you had planned timing-wise that you may even have to in the moment make priority decisions and be like, well, if I miss that run with this dog, okay, but I really need this cue for Nationals with this dog. And so it's not just about prioritizing ahead of time, but also being willing to make those calls like day of, hour of, or whatever of what's most

important to you. And then let go of what you can't do, right? Like if everything just falls apart, like it's just kind of like, oh, well, right. Get what you can get out of, you know, the runs that you can do and then move on. And I think some of this also speaks to knowing yourself. So like how stressed out do you get when you're rushed, right? Like

Jen is probably at this point, especially pretty chill, especially in a local trial, right. If the things are not working out and she can't walk, like she's gonna be like, all right, that's fine. But there are other people that even just the specter of the conflict can stress them out so much that they don't perform as well, right. So know yourself and know what you can handle and

either get better at the mental side or don't put yourself in that situation by the way that you schedule your trials. And then I think just like knowing yourself, you have to know your dogs. So, you know, I've seen you with your dogs and even just listening to you talk about other people warming them up. It sounds like you don't have very many problem dogs, but you know,

when you have like that problem dog, I call it the busy bee dog. Like from what was the show? "Best In Show," the "Best In Show" movie, where they had the little bee and they couldn't do anything. And that was more of the handlers, I think. - Oh, the special squeaky toy. - The special squeaky toy. And they're like freaking out 'cause they didn't have it. And so

I think of that, I feel like there are handlers that are busy bee handlers and there's dogs that are be busy bee dogs. And there's a lot of crossover there (laughs) where people really need things to be just so. And if you're like that, or your dog is like that, like if you can't get your dog out too early, but you can't get them out too late, like

that is probably a red flag that you might need to be careful about how you enter things so that you can give you and your dog, what you need to put in your best effort at that run. - Yeah. Absolutely. High five can be a lot of dog and kind of it's become my process that Abbey has to be high fives handler. You always thinking that like in

horse racing, you know, there's the horse, the stable pony that like the one person that like takes them out or helps them. And I'm like, Abbey, I need you to help me with high five because high five is very routine. And we have a very specific pattern of how we do things. And I have to have Abbey, Abbey has to be the one help me with high five,

she does a great job. So all the Shetlands are pretty low maintenance and pretty easy, but yeah. - And, and without even asking him, I know that one of Esteban's big key points that he is going to want to make about how to do your best, even when you don't seem to have enough time and you only get part of your walkthrough or you miss the walk or,

you know, you're waiting for your next dog or you have multiple dogs, what is it? - Oh, wait, she pointed at the notes here. Visualization. - Yes, Esteban is always on top of visualization as the key to getting your best performance, even with what would seem like limited time. - Yeah, if you have two dogs and they're in the same height class, you're in a local trial and

you live in an area where the show isn't very big for whatever reason, single ring. I suppose the two-ring show could be worse if you had the two dogs running basically at the same time, two different levels, but it's just the same, you're at a single ring trial. Let's say there's only six dogs in your class. I know a real example. Back in the day, they used to

have the 26-inch class, right, for tryouts and all that stuff. And then 24C, so you might have two dogs, right? So you got kind of your older dog and then your upcoming hotshot dog. And now you got two dogs and you might be the only two dogs in the class. You know, that there are people who are constantly in that situation at local trials. So you gotta run

one dog and then you gotta take a quick breath and do the other. I find that people, especially the judges, are very, very accommodating. When you get to AKC Nationals at least also very accommodating. I think the understanding in our sport is that people have multiple dogs, that is the default, right? If you're typically running just one dog you might be the exception. And so they really build

a around that. But as you said, visualization, I think, is really important. It's probably one of the underlying pillars of Jennifer's success because she is such a big visualization person as well. And, you know, because of our history with the visualization and having done so many runs, you know, we could probably miss a walkthrough at a big event or watch 10, $15 run, memorize the course, even without

a map and then get out there and run it pretty well. You know, I'm not gonna lie, but that takes practice and skill and work, but it's something that you can invest and think of as a skill that you want to acquire, right. So add that to your skillset. I think it's definitely going to be well worth it. - I think for me, a lot of that visualization

can occur while I'm in the process of switching from one dog to the other, right. So I'm walking back to the crates to get the other one out and as I'm walking, I'm not walking and talking to my friends, I'm walking and reviewing that course in my head, you know, making sure I know where my crosses are, where this jumps are. Same thing as I come back, I

know we've talked a lot about my warmup jump routine and how I use the warmup jump as part of my visualization process. So maximizing your time, maximizing your efficiency would be great. The other thing is give yourself some extra practice. If you think there is a potential that you'll run into that problem at a bigger event, which is gonna carry more stress like Nationals, practice some of that

stuff. Maybe force yourself at a local event to only walk for four minutes instead of the full eight and then work on more of that mental side of things that visualization, that dealing with the nerves and the stress. So that by the time Nationals rolls around, you get better at it. That was something that I was told to do and practice growing up and coaching under Linda Mecklenburg.

She would have me come, I would come to trials and she would like put her arm up and go, you're not walking this course. You're gonna stand here and you're gonna watch it and you're gonna run it. And then I was like, "Oh my gosh. Okay." And so getting a lot of practice at it in preparation for that stress at a big event or the visualization aspect is

really good too. - Yeah, absolutely. I do that a couple times a year as well. Usually it's when I'm late to a trial and I show up and I miss the walkthrough and I say, "Okay, this is a training, visualization training exercise is just turned into." - Absolutely. All right. Well, that's it for this week's podcast. We hope that helps you with your own stressful, ring conflicts in

your own training. We like to thank our sponsors Synovetin OA and HitItBoard.com. Happy training. (upbeat music) - Thank you for listening to "Bad Dog Agility". We hope you enjoyed today's episode. For more information, updates, and links to all our socials, just check out our website, www.baddogagility.com. If you haven't already signed up for our email subscription, we would love to have you join the BDA Community. Until next time,

take care. (upbeat music)

Thank You for Listening!

Thanks so much for joining us this week.

To get Bad Dog Agility podcasts sent directly to your device as they become available, you can subscribe on iTunes, SoundCloud, or TuneIn. Or even better, download the FREE Bad Dog Agility Podcast Mobile App, now available for both iOS and Android.

Happy training and thank you for helping us reach over 2 million podcast downloads!


Subscribe & Download

Never miss out on a new episode! Subscribe using your favorite app for listening to podcasts.

You may also like

February 21st, 2024 Wednesday Wrap Up (Finding Your Next Agility Dog, The Last Airbender, Battle of the Sexes)

February 21st, 2024 Wednesday Wrap Up (Finding Your Next Agility Dog, The Last Airbender, Battle of the Sexes)