General Advice


 There are a number of things that happen at Earthdog tests that are dictated by custom, AKC/AWTA rules or general common sense.  Knowing them will make this adventure a little more pleasant for you. Here are a few of them.

AKC events have strict time rules.  Events may start late but they will never start ahead of the posted time (in the premium). 

Read the premium and be aware of check-in times, start times and most important closing times.  Once the closing time is past, you many not enter an event.  Some of these are clock times and some are date deadlines.  They are fixed.  Occasionally tests have a limited number of entries, if this is the case, you may want to contact the Test Secretary before the event and be sure your dog will make the entry list.  Some entry forms include an place to list your e-mail address for such confirmations.  Use them when available.

Be understanding about late starts and do not expect the rules to be bent so you can make some previously planned appointment.  It is not unusual for Earthdog tests to run long and cause the following classes to start late.  There are many reasons this can happen.  Unexpected large entries in a class, having to take time to repair a damaged tunnel liner or dig out one or more dogs that stay in the tunnel are some of the most common reasons.  There are plenty others that you will experience.

Trying to get dogs to do a precise thing on a precise schedule is impossible.   Donít make things more impossible for those running the tests or taking part by becoming impossible yourself.  Go with the flow.

If you cannot your paperwork done ahead of time at least have the information on your dog (AKC#, parents etc)  with you.  It is your responsibility to make sure the information on the entry form is accurate if you want your dog to get the title and credit it is has earned.   The Test Secretary will try to assist you but it is your responsibility, not the Secís. If you have more than one dog in the same class, check with the Test Secretary.  Most are very happy to run another dog between your pair if it is possible.

If you have a dog entered in more than one class (you may enter IQ & JE on the same day) have a separate entry form for each class.

In Conformation (dog shows),  you may enter several shows on a weekend using a single entry form.  THIS DOES NOT APPLY TO EARTHDOG:  ONE FORM EACH DAY FOR EACH CLASS FOR EACH DOG, INCLUDING IRONDOG WHEN OFFERED.

Check the premium and see what lunch arrangements might have been made.  If you cannot bring something to share when there is a potluck, be sure to put something in the donation can or offer something to the Sponsoring Club (ask the Test Sec)

You do not have to join in the pot luck but it is a great time to meet and talk to other participants.

JUDGES EAT FIRST.  The Earthdog Judges are volunteers who are paid very little or nothing for their work.  As a courtesy, in So Cal we let them be first in line at the lunch line, please respect that tradition.

You can join the judges at the front of the line, if you volunteer and work as a Steward or some other job.  Most of our pay is in the shape of food.  

BE ESPECIALLY NICE TO THE TEST SECRETARY.  When you arrive, before you set up or get your dog out of the car, it is a good thing to check in.  There will be an obvious place where all the activity is taking place. This is usually under a canopy or other cover with a person sitting behind the table.  That is probably the Test Secretary, someone you will want as your friend.   All activities for the day are usually generated from this area.  The TS has all the records and sets the running order for all the classes.  The TS has most of the information you may need.   Because the TS has all this information, she/he is the most hassled person in the area.  The TS will be trying to check in pre-entries, accept late entries, update the running order for all classes, keeping track of all the money, watching the clock for certain deadlines, watching for late Master arrivals,  coordinate Irondog entries and a thousand other things.  All the time she will be keeping a smile and friendly face to greet you and all the other uninitiated. 

Check-in and ask what you must but be patient.  The TS is always over stretched at the start of the day and may be on a short lead herself.

Remember this person controls the paperwork that will insure your Muffy gets an Earthdog title properly credited.  Be kind, be patient.

After your check in, look around for a place to set up.  Most people do not mind if you are near by and sometimes things are crowded.  Pay attention to the other dogs, some may not like neighbors.  Choosing another spot eliminates future problems.  DO NOT LEAVE A DOG UNATTENDED HOOKED UP BY A LEASH.  There are many dogs moving through the area and some may not be dog-friendly.  It is unwise to require others to make a detour around your unattended leashed dog.   Some of the dogs are very intense and concentrated on finding the prey, an apparently loose dog may be seen as a competitor and inviting an attack.

BITING A PERSON OR DOG IS CONSIDERED AN EXTREMELY SERIOUS EVENT AND MUST BE REPORTED TO THE AKC AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.  Do not leave yourself or your dog open to this by leaving it hooked up and unattended on a leash.  ANY DOG THAT BITES IS IMMEDIATELY SUSPENDED FROM THAT TEST AND ALL OTHER AKC EVENTS.  There are no exceptions.  The appeal procedure can take a long time and the outcome will never be certain.  Just be mindful of where your dog is and that is why a crate or x-pen is highly recommended for your dog so you can attend to other things.

Donít be bashful about asking strangers for information.  Most Earthdog people are friendly and glad to help you out.  This is not like Conformation (Show Ring), you are not competing against one another.  You might get even more help if you spot someone with the same breed as your dog.  Earthdog events are rather social events by their nature.  Take advantage of that and you will find sources for training tips, other Earthdog events and even a new friend or two.

Before each class begins there be an Orientation by the judge.  You will hear the call for ďIntro OrientationĒ etc.  At that time the judge will explain the test to everyone entered.  Do not hesitate to ask a question, that is what Orientation is for.  The judge will explain the layout of your particular test tunnel, what you can do and cannot do.  In general you will get a rundown of the specific rules for that test.  The judge will usually offer tips to make it easier for you and your dog.  Pay attention.  Your dog has to pass on its own but you can still cause it to fail.   Donít be bashful, you are not the first person with that question that is bothering you.   If the judge uses a term you are  not familiar with, ask.  Judges want your dog to pass but you need to do your part correctly.

After Orientation is done, you should be able to find the Running Order list for your class.  Depending on the club, this may be a big poster hanging at the Sec table or on a clip board near the test area. 

Running Order should be determined by the date the entry was received.  If you need to run early, send in your pre-entry well ahead of time.   Day-Of entries go last.  Do not show up and expect your late entry can be moved up.  The Running Order may be set to accommodate multiple entries by the same person or to get a judge done who has another class coming up.  The Test Sec has control of Running Order and will make those decisions ahead of time.

AKC RULE: You run in the order posted.  If you miss your running slot, you are automatically moved to the end and go after all the listed entries are done.  Do not expect that someone down the line will let your dog slip in.  

Most classes will have a judge and a steward.   The gate steward will call up the dogs in the order listed.  Pay attention.  Depending on the club, your dog may be called up by Registered Name (Great Hunterís Magic Muffin), Call Name (Muffy) or by the number you should have picked up when you checked in.  Not all clubs use numbers but you should check in anyway.  The running order may or may not include breed names.  If you can, look to be sure there are not two Muffy's listed.   If two dogs have the same name, check with the Test Sec to find out which is your Muffy.

At some point after your test class is finished, the Judge will call "Into Awards" and hand out the ribbons for qualifying dogs.  Even if you dog was not successful this day, come on over and applaud those who were.  You will appreciate a big crowd when your day arrives.

Show up, run your dog and have funÖ

Remember this always:  Earthdog is about the dog, not about you. 
Remember that and you and your little buddy will have a whole lot more fun.

This page was last updated on 07/12/10.
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