The question was asked how we manage to work all our puppies and still get the veterans their practice time. We have about eight puppies training at most practices and about a dozen veterans. Of the veteran dogs, about four of them are young veterans that are still learning to pass or still working on some issues, and haven't been racing for a year. We also have some old geezers that know what they are doing but they aren't particularly fast any more. In all we probably have twenty to twenty five dogs at any practice.
We strongly believe in training dogs to race and be part of a team, and this means they must learn to work with other dogs. Every time we bring a puppy or young dog out, we'll bring at least one veteran out as well, sometimes two, depending on what we are doing. The veterans show the puppies the way. We feel this is very important. We also seldom run team lineups, but we will run two on two so we can work on our passing. We just don't have enough people to run two full team lineups and still pay attention to the little things like boxturns and striding.
Every week, we make out a schedule before practice. We try to schedule each dog to get out two times. We'll try to work on something different each time. In general, we'll put the geezers with the littlest babies, since they are still fast enough to work with the babies. The geezers are also very tolerant in case a puppy decides to try to play with them. The dogs that are learning their box turns and learning to do full runs will work with our main racing dogs. Fortunately, these young dogs are all really fast, so it brings a little spark to them as well. It's sometimes interesting to see one of our A team veterans go out there and run with a puppy that they've grown up with, and one day the puppy just smokes them and they say "Oh Crap!". They really start to kick it in then! By working multiple dogs at a time, our practices move very fast.
It's really fun to have a mix of young and old dogs. At times we do wish we had more veterans. Occasionally we have to focus on some of our fastest dogs, we might notice their boxturn is a little sloppy or their striding is off. Having vigilant teammates really helps. We always have a couple people assigned to watching the dogs, counting their strides, watching their foot placement on the box, people running stopwatches, people videotaping, etc, so hopefully we can stay on top of it when a dog starts doing something that is out of character. It really does take a village to train a puppy. We feel very lucky to have such dedicated teammates.