I'm taking my dachshund to our first CPE trial this weekend. We've done a couple of NADAC trials and I got pretty comfortable with the routine there, but this is a different venue, different crowd, and my trainer won't be there to answer questions. I read the CPE rule book, which is somewhat confusing, but I at least know the basics and decided to enter Regular and Colors the first day, Jumpers and Wildcard the second.
Does anyone have any advice on major differences between CPE and NADAC or things I need to be particularly aware of? I gather that CPE is much stricter about training in the ring--so what if my dog runs past the dog walk, can I redirect him onto it, etc.?
I've never done NADAC, but I had my first CPE trial this past weekend. It was very laid back, and I was surprised at the number of errors I saw. Maybe it is this way at all agility trials, or maybe this was an anomaly for CPE... but I was shocked to see so many dogs in the level 4 and 5s without start-line stays, and who had consistently blown contacts/zoomies/off-courses/missed weaves.
I entered the level 1s with my dog (also Standard, Colors, and Wildcard), and the courses were very, very easy. Just a straight down-and-back in every class. The only obstacle we did other than jumps and open tunnels all day was a single A frame in Standard, although we had the option of a tire jump in the Colors class.
Honestly I was so unimpressed with the courses (and with some other parts of the trial) that it will be my last CPE trial. I am switching to AKC with my dog... at least I know at an AKC trial we will get a chance to perform all the obstacles.
As far as I know, if your dog blows past an obstacle (in any agility organization) it just counts as a refusal. You are expected to go back and complete the obstacle before continuing, otherwise you are off course.
CPE level 1 is indeed very easy- it's intended to be so. CPE level 3 is approximately equal in difficulty to novice/starter level in most other venues. If you or your dog has any experience in other venues they suggest starting at level 3, not level 1.
However, NADAC courses are far easier than CPE level 3- even elite NADAC courses require less handling than CPE level 3, so you might feel better off starting in level 1 if NADAC is your only prior experience. They don't use the teeter in CPE level 1, and don't use the teeter at all in NADAC, so your dog might have some difficulties there if he's not a pro with the teeter in practice.
No, you can't train in the ring at CPE. This means you can't go back and put your dog in a stay again if he breaks a start-line stay (assuming you use one), and if he blows his contact you can't put him back on the contact. Otherwise do whatever you normally would in practice- if he runs by an obstacle, yes, you can and should redirect him back to take it. They don't call refusals in CPE, so you might even qualify if you didn't use up too much time.
CPE is my favorite venue- I like USDAA, but there are certain aspects, like their jump heights, that I don't like. If you take the parts of USDAA I don't like away, you get something very similar to CPE. The games are really fun and can really test your course-planning skills and your knowledge of your dog's strengths and weaknesses.
I wouldn't compete if AKC were my only option. I really dislike AKC agility.
Have you checked to see if UKI or DOCNA or ASCA is active in your area? Or if you dog is small, TDAA? UKC is another option.
That's good to know, Wendy--thank you! I'm still planning to do level 1 since he still gets a bit nervous/worried in a trial environment and so easy with a lot of straightaways would be perfect for him. He also still gets a little worried about the teeter, and has only practiced on non-rubber contacts once, so it will be good to give him some easy courses to start. He hasn't gotten a Q in NADAC yet, since he always ends up about a second or two over time, so I'm looking forward to trying CPE. (: