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Katarinasmum

Getting started for future Agility

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Hey everyone! 

 

I have a Border Collie X Staffy puppy who's almost 6 month old. We have been pretty successful in her training so far and are ready to go beyond the basic obedience

 

Currently her reliable (not 100% of course as she's still young but pretty damn reliable!) commands are come, sit, lay down, stand, stay, bang (play dead), roll over, speak, fetch, up (jump onto a chair, couch etc), hop off (get off chair, couch etc), take it (grab toy), let go (of toy), touch it (with paw), wait, over (only small over's don't worry!) 

 

We've most recently been working on heel, stick em up, smell it and find it (i was SHOCKED that she could literally find either my partner or I hiding at the beach 500m away when we split up...one with her, one hiding), gentle. 

 

We've worked on all training at home, outside in quiet areas and outside in busy areas. Heel is the one thing still in the "only really successful at home unless a lure is used" phase. 

 

I feel like we are ready to get started on possibly some more agility focused training. Most of what we've done is obedience related, with a few "fun" ones like rollover etc in there. 

 

SO - any agility trainers out there - where do we start? Or do you believe we're not ready to start agility focused training? Maybe there's something I've missed? I know that while she's young she can't do any of the big jumps etc.

 

We haven't been able to find a great class or trainer unless we were to travel 1.5 hours.....so we want to see what we can do at home! I have done my own research but am interested to see what some "real" people say haha. My research has said to start teaching her left and right, back, around. Is this on the right track?

 

Would like to compete one day if the opportunity arises and she is enjoying/doing well in agility - so any tips that are "need to know" for that please tell! 

 

 

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Tassie   

Hi there.    I'd say one of the things that you might need to add to your training if agility is in her future, is to be working her on your right hand side as much as on your left.   That;s for the dog, and for the humans.   If we've had an obedience background, it can be quite hard for us (and the dog) to get used to working on the right.   That would include her chasing you to come into position (similar to heel - shoulder level with your leg) on both the right and the left .  Body awareness exercises are great ,, stepping (not jumping) through a ladder, focusiong forward, not looking up at you... again working both sides.     Backing up (waling backwards away from you .. and maybe to a platform or mat which she will target with her back feet.     We teach a lot of stuff on the flat before every going near equipment .. that way we're not risking having the pup learn behaviours on equipment that we don't want.   Certainly teaching directional is good.   You can do that sitting in a chair.  The direction is the way the dog is turning when facing away from you.   (I actually use my agility directional in the directed jumping exercise in the UD obedience ring.      Targeting is a really useful skill, and toy play ... tugging and releasing the tug, and on cue, running out to get a toy (and not playing keep away.    Have a lookon the net for puppy agility or foundation agility skills.

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Tassie   

Oh and I forgot to say ... it sounds as though she would really enjoy tracking.    Do you have a club anywhere near you that teaches tracking?

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sheena   
1 hour ago, Tassie said:

Hi there.    I'd say one of the things that you might need to add to your training if agility is in her future, is to be working her on your right hand side as much as on your left.   That;s for the dog, and for the humans.   If we've had an obedience background, it can be quite hard for us (and the dog) to get used to working on the right.   That would include her chasing you to come into position (similar to heel - shoulder level with your leg) on both the right and the left .  Body awareness exercises are great ,, stepping (not jumping) through a ladder, focusiong forward, not looking up at you... again working both sides.     Backing up (waling backwards away from you .. and maybe to a platform or mat which she will target with her back feet.     We teach a lot of stuff on the flat before every going near equipment .. that way we're not risking having the pup learn behaviours on equipment that we don't want.   Certainly teaching directional is good.   You can do that sitting in a chair.  The direction is the way the dog is turning when facing away from you.   (I actually use my agility directional in the directed jumping exercise in the UD obedience ring.      Targeting is a really useful skill, and toy play ... tugging and releasing the tug, and on cue, running out to get a toy (and not playing keep away.    Have a lookon the net for puppy agility or foundation agility skills.

Yes, I agree entirely.  I teach a Foundation Agility Group & these things taught are a real asset.  There is so much foundation that you can teach in the lounge room.  I am a bit of a clicker nut also & incorporate the clicker in all my training.

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@Tassie Great, thanks. Interesting about the working on the right side. Hadn't thought of that. Lots of great tips, thanks! And yes, we do a lot of toy play and she is great with tugging, letting go and running out to get a toy and actually bringing it back unlike dogs I've had as a kid (Katarina is my first dog as an adult)!

In response to your tracking comment - no we haven't been able to find any clubs in our area. I agree, I think she would enjoy it too! 

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7 hours ago, sheena said:

Yes, I agree entirely.  I teach a Foundation Agility Group & these things taught are a real asset.  There is so much foundation that you can teach in the lounge room.  I am a bit of a clicker nut also & incorporate the clicker in all my training.

Thanks so much.. Good to have it confirmed from someone who teaches Agility! Shame there isn't a foundations class here.

 

The one agility related "class" I could find was more of a "club" that does not allow beginners, although they did give me a few tips on what she'd need to get to a point where she'd be accepted into their "club" by the time shes old enough for agility which is good. There are certainly no options for puppies, unless we want to join very basic obedience classes which we have considered and are still considering, but are hesitant to pay money to go "learn" things we are already having success and seeing regular progress with. Great to know that there's lots to work on to prepare her for agility at home. 

 

Yes, we use a clicker and have found it to be wonderful. 

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Apricot   

We have a 10 month old pup that we are getting ready for agility.  We also have a 3.5 year old dog that competes in agility.  The club near us does a prep class where the pup has to be a minimum of 9 months old.  While we were waiting for her to turn 9 months, we did the basic obedience class with her.  Besides learning obedience, it has familiarised her with new, busy surroundings.   These are the surroundings she will have to do agility in.  She has learnt to focus, and has great recall despite being surrounded by many people and many dogs.  So even though you know all the obedience stuff, it wouldn't hurt to participate in their obedience classes.

 

Can I ask which area of Queensland you are in?  The reason I ask is that when we started agility, I could only find 2 clubs near me.  BUT over time, I have learned there are at least 5 places we could have done agility.... they were just hard to find on the internet.

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Dogsfevr   

Keep in mind doing all the training at home means the dog doesn't learn to control its self with the car to the venue .Some dogs go over the top knowing there going to an event,others get overwhelmed turning up to such a busy & sometime noisy world .
 

As you have a dog that will most likely not have the traditional agile figure i would be working on body fitness,flexibility & strengthing exercises .
No amount of training will be any good if the dog sustains injuries

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Tassie   

I teach a foundation agility class at my dog club .. and have competed for years, as well as being an online course junky.

We do require people to have trained with the club in regular classes, appropriate to their level, for 8 weeks after 6 months of age.   This ensures they are pretty much old enough to start learning agility skills on the flat, and they're about 9 or 10 months before we start any more physically demanding work.   The time spent in classes gives them time to make sure their pups can cope with the busy club environment, on a large unfenced sports ground,  They learn to maintain focus on their handler under arousal and distraction.  It's not really about 'learning' particular behaviours, but putting what they know into a new environment.

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Tassie   
18 hours ago, sheena said:

:wave:  Cold down your way ??

3 at 9.00 am this morning, but a stunningly beautiful day with the warm low sun streaming into the house, and a beautiful blue sky.   :)  

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sheena   

To be successful in agility your dog needs to have good handler focus, have a good solid stay, good back end awareness, release only on the verbal release cue (of which there should be only one) good reliable recall, & more that I can't think of at the moment. He/she needs to have all these with distractions & in an exciting environment & be able to work off lead around other dogs.  If you can teach these behaviours BEFORE you start agility training you will be off to a good start.  At our club we require you to have had at least the minimum obedience training in the basics before you start with agility at a minimum age of 12 months.  It sounds like you are doing just great with what you have taught her :)

 

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21 hours ago, Apricot said:

We have a 10 month old pup that we are getting ready for agility.  We also have a 3.5 year old dog that competes in agility.  The club near us does a prep class where the pup has to be a minimum of 9 months old.  While we were waiting for her to turn 9 months, we did the basic obedience class with her.  Besides learning obedience, it has familiarised her with new, busy surroundings.   These are the surroundings she will have to do agility in.  She has learnt to focus, and has great recall despite being surrounded by many people and many dogs.  So even though you know all the obedience stuff, it wouldn't hurt to participate in their obedience classes.

 

Can I ask which area of Queensland you are in?  The reason I ask is that when we started agility, I could only find 2 clubs near me.  BUT over time, I have learned there are at least 5 places we could have done agility.... they were just hard to find on the internet.

Yes this is the one reason we have and still are considering the classes. Although we have done all obedience training in many many situations (training session before dog park freedom, in quiet and busy parks, at beach, randomly at any point in her walks so basically everywhere, constantly and randomly since we've had her). Her recall and focus while being surrounded by people and dogs is good but we realise the classes would be sort of closer to that exact environment that agility would be in.

We're on the Sunshine Coast. I did notice that a lot of the websites we've found have obviously just been made by whoever owns the club (usually very simply, not updated etc) so we did think that maybe there's some that we're not finding....and had figured that possibly older, more experienced people probably run these things therefore may not even have a website. Would be great to know if there's anymore around our area! 

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18 hours ago, Dogsfevr said:

Keep in mind doing all the training at home means the dog doesn't learn to control its self with the car to the venue .Some dogs go over the top knowing there going to an event,others get overwhelmed turning up to such a busy & sometime noisy world .
 

As you have a dog that will most likely not have the traditional agile figure i would be working on body fitness,flexibility & strengthing exercises .
No amount of training will be any good if the dog sustains injuries

Yes, we do training sessions in as many situations as we can along with never just letting her "be free" randomly. She always needs to be released by us first at places like the dog park or anywhere offleash. We have worked very hard to put her in as many situations as we can and work on her focus while she's young. 

 

What would you recommend in the physical training sense? We have found that she is quite agile compared to other dogs already but probably not the strongest dog her size. Would love to ensure she doesn't sustain injuries :)

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17 hours ago, Tassie said:

I teach a foundation agility class at my dog club .. and have competed for years, as well as being an online course junky.

We do require people to have trained with the club in regular classes, appropriate to their level, for 8 weeks after 6 months of age.   This ensures they are pretty much old enough to start learning agility skills on the flat, and they're about 9 or 10 months before we start any more physically demanding work.   The time spent in classes gives them time to make sure their pups can cope with the busy club environment, on a large unfenced sports ground,  They learn to maintain focus on their handler under arousal and distraction.  It's not really about 'learning' particular behaviours, but putting what they know into a new environment.

Yes we agree, focus under distraction is super important and we work on this constantly. We do training with her in as many situations as we can. But obviously the club environment might be even different again than a busy dog park or beach in that more is going on than just owners and their dogs walking past or running around, so this is the one reason why we've considered getting her in classes. 

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9 hours ago, sheena said:

To be successful in agility your dog needs to have good handler focus, have a good solid stay, good back end awareness, release only on the verbal release cue (of which there should be only one) good reliable recall, & more that I can't think of at the moment. He/she needs to have all these with distractions & in an exciting environment & be able to work off lead around other dogs.  If you can teach these behaviours BEFORE you start agility training you will be off to a good start.  At our club we require you to have had at least the minimum obedience training in the basics before you start with agility at a minimum age of 12 months.  It sounds like you are doing just great with what you have taught her :)

 

That's great, we've been working on all of the above! Awesome to know we're on the right track. Thanks! Good to know that you think we are doing okay :)

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Hi guys, 


Thanks for all the advice and comments! It's great to actually hear from people who know what they're talking about. There's some great tips in these comments and the best thing for me is that a lot of it is just confirming that what we're doing is heading in the right direction. It seems to be clear we can pretty much continue on our current plan of attack which is so great because we are both loving it and she's doing so well. I am such a crazy, proud mummy! 

 

The focus under distractions are still a work in progress but she literally improves so much every week that goes by. So we will continue to work (or as she'd see it, play) hard! 

 

Maybe I'll do an update post in a few months with our progress if you guys are interested? :)

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