In addition to the Top Dogs that excel in their chosen disciplines, every year there are a few dogs who lead the pack in not one, but two sports. For these dogs, the Top Dogs Category Multi-Discipline was created. Multi-Discipline Top Dogs celebrates the versatility of dogs by recognizing teams who have earned Top Dog status in two or more disciplines at the breed, group or all breeds level.
We had a quick chat with Marissa Armstrong, owner and handler of Ch. Naku’s Major Dutch Shaefer CGN, CD, RAE2
, the #9 All Breeds, #1 Working Dog, and #1 Eurasier in rally, and the #3 Eurasier in show, about earning a spot on the Multi-Discipline Top Dogs rankings.
Like many of our members, Marissa takes great pride in not only showcasing her dog’s exceptional conformation quality in the show ring, but also excelling in a performance event that requires skills based off his breed’s original purpose. She gave us a few tips and tricks for how her and her dog train to compete in two different sports.
Why do you think it’s important to be multi-disciplinary?
I think its important not only to show that a dog’s conformation and structure is correct, but that they also have the temperament and the mind to do what they were bred to do. That’s going to be different for every breed. The Eurasier, even though they are in the working group, were mostly bred as a companion breed so I figure that if he’s meant to be a good companion he should want to do pretty much everything that we give a shot, and so far that’s been the case!
Do you ever run into problems training for different sports?
Is there anything different you when you are getting ready to compete in the two sports?
I haven’t had any major problems, other than when we were first getting started and there was a bit of confusion. But once we really got into both sports, we haven’t had any problems like sitting in the show ring or not following commands in rally.
When he puts his show collar on he knows he’s supposed to stand and act a certain way. And then when he puts his rally collar on he knows he has to use his brain a little more and perform the excercises. Having the separate gear helps him to realize what we are doing now. We’ve had days where we’ve done show and rally the same day, and both went fine.
For show we practice standing and gait back and forth before we go into the ring, and before rally we look at the course and do some of the exercises that are coming up in the course. He figures it out the difference pretty quick.
Do you have a general training philosophy?
I’m not any expert, this is the first dog I’ve done anything major with really, but I just try and keep things positive and make sure he’s having fun especially with this breed. When he’s having fun, he’s more likely to want to participate. If he starts getting bored or not having a good time that’s pretty much it for the day.
Do you have any training tips for new beginners or people who are thinking of starting a new discipline?
If you are just getting started the best thing to do is to get into some classes with an instructor that you like. Once you get into classes with someone that you get along with and they understand you and your dog you can make a lot of great progress that way.
If you’re thinking about getting into another discipline, don’t hesitate. Just give it a shot and see how it goes. Probably a lot of people will be surprised how quickly their dogs can learn something new even if they’ve been doing the same routine for a while.