Downeast Dog News

Training Your Performance Dog

Agility, Obedience, Tracking
By Carolyn Fuhrer | Aug 01, 2020

Good News for Performance Enthusiasts

On Track Agility Club of Maine has just finished putting on a wonderful, well attended Agility match and a great (and again, well attended) Tracking match. These events gave all of us who love dog sports an opportunity to show our dogs, to learn new things, and to make new friends. And things just keep getting better – this August, August 15 to be exact, On Track Agility Club of Maine is putting on a Rally match limited to 25 entries. The classes will include Novice through Master level and will be held outdoors in Somerville at North Star Dog Training School. For more information, call Kathy at 207-691-2332.

This club has done a wonderful job giving all of us in Maine some fun events to participate in with our dogs this summer, especially when so many of the larger venues have been canceled.

To those who are relatively new to dog sports, it is important to understand the rules and requirements of different events such as trials, tests, “A” matches, fun matches and show ‘n goes. Show ‘n goes and fun matches provide a “training situation” for the team. Food and toys can usually be used depending upon the club, and exercises may be modified and/or repeated. Usually, if you want someone, there is a facilitator who acts as a “judge” and will put you through a “routine”. These are very useful events as handlers can tailor their run to their team’s needs. They are quite informal, and you can ask for “more distraction” or have the “judge” hold your dog, for example, on a recall. They are a wonderful first step to go from training to showing, and everyone wishes we had more of them.

“A” matches are more formal, mimicking a trial but no legs or ribbons are awarded. There may be ribbons, but these are match ribbons and do not count towards titles. “A” matches require a club to do everything exactly as it would be in a trial or a test but does not require a “real” judge. A knowledgeable person may act as a judge. Formal matches are valuable events to exhibitors who are already showing or getting ready to show. They give you the real “show experience” close to home and at a lot less cost. This enables you to really practice your ring skills and identify areas where you need to work to improve connection with your dog. You may not repeat exercises or modify them, but a formal match gives very valuable feedback if you are open to learning. Matches are not about pass or fail, but about learning what are your team’s strengths and weaknesses.

So, if you have never seen Rally or a match, head on over to North Star on August 15. To keep everyone cool, the match starts at 8 a.m. Come watch, cheer on the teams, and explore some other opportunities for you and your dog.


Carolyn Fuhrer has earned over 125 AKC titles with her Golden Retrievers, including 2 Champion Tracker titles and has recently become an AKC Tracking Judge. Carolyn is the owner of North Star Dog Training School in Somerville, Maine. She has been teaching people to understand their dogs for over 25 years. You can contact her with questions, suggestions and ideas for her column by e-mailing