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Monday, January 20, 2014

Lure Coursing For Mixed Breeds

Lure Coursing for Mixed Breeds

1). How long have you been involved in the sport and what have you been doing?

By “sport” you might be referring to just the single sport of lure coursing, or you might be referring to all “lure type sports” which includes lure coursing, sprint racing and oval track. 

If you are referring to lure coursing as an aptitude test, the American Kennel Club’s (AKC)(www.akc.org) has had their Coursing Ability Test program since February 2011.

United Kennel Club (UKC) (www.ukcdogs.com) also recently started an all breed lure coursing aptitude test this past summer of 2011. 

The Mixed Breed Dog Clubs of America (www.mbdca.org) offers a full lure coursing program, and has for several years. It is not an aptitude test, but an event where dogs lure course with other dogs, patterned after AKC sighthound lure coursing.

If you are referring to all lure sports, then the All Breed Lure Sports Association (www.ablsa.org) has been running titling all breed sprint racing in Northern California since May 2010. 

See question #3 for more details about each group.

2). Do you have any brief tips for someone attending their first race/time trial?

It think the most obvious tip is to make sure that your dog will first chase a lure because it was be a shame to go all the way to a test, and find out your dog does not know what to do. 

Some dogs will chase a lure off the bat, but others need more work and coaxing, practice and training. I have found the hardest thing for a dog to do is to run away from their person full speed in the opposite direction. For many dogs who are so attached to their people, this will be the hardest. For other dogs, this is absolutely no problem at all, and they will run a full course without a second thought. 

So, where do you get practice? It may take a little networking, internet searching, persistence and patience depending on where you live. I would first check with all sighthound and terrier racing clubs within the distance you are willing to drive. Many have practices independent of trials, and many have practices as part of trials. Also, these groups will already have the necessary equipment and will have an experienced lure operator. Then check with dog training clubs to see if their members know of groups doing lure course practices. I would also check with professional dog trainers, who generally have a very wide network of students and interests. They may know of practices in the area. 

Once you get to an actual trial or test, make sure you have plenty of water, human food, strong leashes, time and patience. Some events can take longer than others due to unforeseen delays and unending equipment malfunctions. And their start times are much more relaxed than other dog shows, like obedience and agility, which need to start immediately and keep to strict schedule. 

3). Which organizations have lure coursing for Mixed Breeds? 
For each organization -
a). What is the format i.e. single dog time trials, racing against other dogs, oval track, lure course with turns, straight sprints, etc?
b). How are Mixed Breeds included? For example, can they only attend if space and time allow? Can they enter along with everyone else? 
c). How are Mixed Breeds titled? For example, do they earn titles, pass an instinct test? Are there any limitations on what Mixed Breeds can do in terms of the competitions they can attend and with earning titles?

American Kennel Club (AKC)
All breeds are allowed, and it is not optional whether to include Mixed Breeds, unlike Rally, Obedience and Agility, where it is still optional for the hosting club to include Mixed Breeds. 

At this point, tests are plentiful throughout the country and posted several months in advance. 

All dogs, including sighthounds, can run in the Coursing Ability Tests (CAT). 

The dogs run alone, and they are broken down into two groups. The first group is dogs under 12 inches at the shoulder, and they run a 300 yard course. The second group is over 12 inches at the shoulder and they run 600 yard courses. In comparison, a standard sighthound course averages around 800 yards. Also, any dogs with shortened noses like Pugs, Bulldogs, etc, no matter their size, only run 300 yards. 

Many AKC clubs are putting limits on the number of dogs allowed since they tend to run the CAT tests in conjunction with sighthound events, so their day is already full. They run first come, first served, no matter the breed or mix. Keep on eye on the AKC website for shows when they are posted and send the entry in as soon as possible. 

Muzzles are not required.

Their current titles are:
CA (Coursing Ability): three qualifying runs are needed
CAA (Coursing Ability Advanced): 10 qualifying runs are needed
CAX (Coursing Ability Excellent): 25 qualifying runs are needed

My dogs, Rusty and Dot both have their CAA and legs toward their CAX. They are the second and third mixed breeds to earn that title. 

United Kennel Club (UKC)
These tests are open to all breeds, and, like AKC, the dogs run alone. 

There is no break down in classes between sizes. All dogs run the same length of course. 

The rules do not state a minimum or maximum length of course. 

Muzzles are not required.

The current drawback to these events is that they are very rare, so earning titles can be very difficult. 

UKC only posts events for up to three months, so you need to keep checking back.

Here are their titles: 
(CA) Coursing Aptitude Test - three qualifying runs
(CAX) Coursing Aptitude Excellent - 12 qualifying runs

Both Rusty and Dot have two legs toward their CA title.

All Breed Lure Sports Association (ABLSA)

Currently, they are holding only sprint racing, which is a straight 200 yard course with a maximum of four dogs running at once. They have future plans for lure coursing and oval tracks.

This group allows all breeds EXCEPT for sighthounds that can be registered with other standard sighthound racing venues. 

Currently, this group is only holding events in Northern California, and Las Vegas, though they are open to other groups in other areas to hold sanctioned events. 

They are great about posting their events several months in advance to plan your schedule.

Muzzles and racing blankets are required for all dogs who compete because the dogs do run with other dogs.

They do require qualifying runs of all dogs before running in official races.

All dogs are matched with dogs in their own breed. Mixed breeds run with other mixed breeds by size: large, medium, small. If other dogs in their breed don’t enter that day, then they will run with other like dogs in their size range, no matter the breed. 

Here are their basic titles for sprint racing:
Sprint Racer One (SR1): 
A dog must complete full meets (which includes three races each) four times. 
Sprint Racer Two (SR2): 
A dog must complete in the top half of their racing classes in each meet (which includes three races each.) six times.

Dot, Rusty and Dino have several combined titles in ABLSA.

Mixed Breed Dog Clubs of America (MBDCA)
I have never attended a lure coursing event sponsored by the Mixed Breed Club. There has not been an event held in my area. So, I will quote from the regulations. 

“The MBDCA offers this title to prove a dog’s basic coursing instinct or hunting by sight ability. The dogs chase an artificial lure in an open field and are judged on their overall ability, speed, endurance, agility and how well they follow the lure. Since all dogs are judged individually, this is a noncompetitive sport.”

This event is different than the title offered by UKC or AKC for mixed breeds, which are coursing ability tests, and the dogs run alone. The dogs in a Mixed Breed event run against other dogs, though they are judged individually. 

“MBDCA’s Lure Coursing titles are intended to parallel those of the AKC.”

Unlike the other events that allow all breeds, Mixed Breed events only allow dogs registered with the club to attend.

Here are the titles:
Mixed Breed - Junior Courser (MB-JC)
Mixed Breed - Special Junior Courser (MB-SJC)
Mixed Breed - Senior Courser (MB-SC)
Mixed Breed - Master Courser (MB-MC)
Mixed Breed - Field Champion (MB-FC) (prefix). 
A dog which is a Field Champion and a Conformation Champion shall have the prefix MB-DC (Dual Champion).

4. Anything else you would like to include?

What I like best about lure coursing is that my dogs have such a wonderful time. It is so much fun on my part to see my dogs running at top, top speed after the lure. When they return to the end, they are exhausted and have a giant smile on their face. They want to run the course again and again. 

Many times, dog will make a big, fantastic dive for the lure at the end, and they are encouraged to “get the bunny” and rip it to shreds since it is only a plastic bag that is easily replaced.

Lure coursing take very little training. Most dogs can get the idea with just a couple of practices. If the dog already has some previous “hunting” or “chasing” experience, they will pick up on lure coursing almost instantly. 

So many dogs never get the full exercise and physical stimulation they need, and lure coursing provides that in a very simple and cost effective way, so why not do it?

If all the dogs surrendered to shelters for the reason of “too much energy” were allowed to lure course once a month, think of all the dogs that would keep their homes.

A tired dog is a happy dog.