As I mentioned in my earlier post on the subject, Trick Dog is one of the easier sports to gain titles in. Unlike most dog sports, you don't have to compete in live events, worry about point scores, or gain "legs" under different judges. You can do all the work at home, the criteria are pretty relaxed (it's all pass/fail with effectively unlimited retries), the costs are relatively modest, and just about anybody can serve as a witness. It's a great way to get your feet wet if you like the idea of putting titles on your dog and are interested in dabbling in dog sports, but don't have the time, money, or gung-ho craziness to jump into the more formal venues.
In Pongu's case, we were coming at it from a slightly different angle -- Pongu's already had a fair amount of training in Rally and canine freestyle, along with other odds and ends as various things caught my interest along the way -- so it only took nine days to earn his championship once we decided to do Trick Dog at all. He already had most of the necessary behaviors from doing other sports.
There were still some new challenges for us, though. To qualify for TDCH (Trick Dog Champion), your dog has to demonstrate proficiency in 9 foundational areas of trick work: (1) hind-end coordination, (2) holding/carrying objects, (3) paw touch to directed target, (4) nose touch to directed target, (5) scentwork, (6) distance work, (7) silent signals (working on movement/hand gestures alone, without verbal cues); (8) behavior chains (one cue gets the dog to do multiple separate behaviors); and (9) "expert tricks" (sort of a catch-all provision for your dog to demonstrate tricks that are more difficult to train).
Pongu had no formal retrieve training, as we hadn't gotten to that level in Rally yet and he's not a natural retriever. He also had no scentwork training, since that comes pretty late in the game for competition obedience and we haven't even started that yet. So some of the exercise categories in Trick Dog -- the object hold/carry and scentwork -- were totally foreign, and those required us both to learn new things.
Even so, in nine days, we were good enough to pass muster (again, keeping in mind that the criteria is considerably more relaxed than it might be for some other sports!).
And that concludes Pongu's pursuit of Trick Dog titles, although certainly not his tricks training!
Crookytail, of course, has a lot longer to go. Pongu might have his TDCH, but the Crookydog only has a novice title. He's (barely) halfway to Intermediate now, but it will probably take him years to get all the way to the end, if he ever does.
And he might not, since I'll be dragging Crookytail back into the Rally ring next month, and training Crooky in two disciplines at once is too much for my patience. I don't expect him to do particularly well, but I do want him to do something. His unreliability with strange dogs shows no signs of dissipating, but he did fine in the ringside waiting area at Pongu's last trial, so I guess it's back to the Rally circuit for the poor reluctant Crookydog.
At least until I figure out what else to do with him.