Beginners Agility Info
#1
"What are some things I can do before I start Agility with my dog?"

This question seem's to get asked alot so I thought I would make a sticky thread and add some helpful info. Other people feel free to post more helpful info as well. Smile

First off you need to understand that Agility is a SPORT. People that play sports are ATHLETES. That means your dog is going to be an athlete so therefor your dog must be in shape.

Agility is a TEAM SPORT. You and your dog have to learn how to work together as a team. It takes a long time before you and your dog get that specail connection while running, so don't get frustrated if you don't start out perfect... No one does. Wink

What are good rewards?? Well a tug is always a great thing, and don't stress if you dog doesn't like a tug or a ball. Food will work great to!

You can start out with some hand targeting. Getting your dog to touch his nose to your hand. Then once you get that down you can guide your dog around things like cones by getting them to touch your hand. That will build up a bond as a team and help you and your dog understand bodyspace and how to work together.

You can teach your dog to target his back feet on things such as a book. That will also build up his/her muscles, and come in handy when you do things like the a-frame and dog walk. Once you have a good 'back up' onto things like books you can build it up higher and then work onto the wall. Athena can do a handstand now because of doing all this muscle condidtioning.

Brain games are wonderful! Teaching you dog how to think and make his own decisions.

Recalls are very important. One thing I really like doing is restrained recalls. That is when you have someone hold your dog and you go run and hide and call your dog. Basically you dog will think it is the worst thing ever if he/she doesn't come to you.

Sit and down stays are very important too for your startline stay. Practice that in alot of different places with alot of distracions.

A good exercize you can do it to sit your dog and make them stay. Then you can walk about 10 feet or so and hold your hand out and release them and give them the command to touch your hand. Make sure you practice on your right side and left side the same. You don't want your dog only working good on one side of you.

Getting your dog to run across old boards/planks is great! It builds their confidence and will help them when they start the big equipment.

Jumps are very easy to build with PVC. Just don't start out jumping your dog to high. I feel there is no need to constantly jump your dog high when you don't have to. It puts to much stress on the joints and bones. I personally like steel base weave poles instead of PVC (PVC can mess up dogs footwork) so I bought my weave poles.

When you first start out only use one jump. Practice driving out to one jump. Then sit and stay your dog and walk out and release them and have them target your hand. Then you can practice them jumping and turning. You can toss food or toy over a jump and send your dog over the jump to get it. Then you can add another jump and slowly build up. Don't get frustrated, your dog isn't going to understand that they have to jump over that jump, you have to teach them and it takes time. They aren't going to start out super fast, speed comes in time when they build confidence. Then when they get that confidence you'll wish they were slower. Wink

Most of all... if you and your dog aren't having fun that's when you need to stop. Agility is ALL about FUN, FUN, FUN!!!!! /snoopy
Gabby, Athena, & Trout
The best handler in the world is the one whose dog is having the most fun.

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#2
This is brilliant, thank you! We're planning to start Keira at agility soon, this gives us a lot of pointers to start working from.
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#3
Good idea Gabby! If it wasn't for you and a couple other people on here Finn and I wouldn't have known where to begin!

By the time we got to agility foundations we knew everything she taught - oopsies /shrug

The only other thing I can think of is accelerations and decelerations - you want your dog to drive ahead but also know when to turn into you! We practiced this by sitting the dog, moving about 10 feet ahead with a tug and releasing the dog and running, when the dog gets a couple feet behind you toss the tug out ahead and both of you run for the tug. No jumps are needed for this but you can incorporate them afterwards.

For decels, we did either moving or standing decels - sit the dog and walk out about 10 feet, you can do the same release the dog and run, once the dog is out ahead you stop and the dog turns in and comes back to you and you reward with tug at your side. The standing one is just releasing the dog and not moving and the dog should come straight to you for the tug.

Another little thing you can work on would be getting the dog to bring the tug back to you. Some dogs like to do victory laps instead of coming straight back to the owner so to do this we would just restrain the dog by the collar (rev them up!), toss the tug out and then release the dog to the tug and run in the other direction calling their name - I have taught Finn to bring it back to me and jump up on my leg, basically bring the tug right back to my hands!!

There is so much more to agility than the equipment and I know a lot of people train equipment right away so my trainer's methods are actually pretty rare - we have not even touched the contact equipment yet. We have only done jumps and tunnels and just very recently started weaves. We take it slow and learn everything step by step and I think it will benefit us in the long run. He has been on the A-Frame, not over it, just on one side, so I could show the trainer we had the end behaviour of a stopped contact - 2 on 2 off. We've also gotten the dog used to the banging of the teeter by putting a chair under one end and just getting the dog to jump on the other end and it hit the floor, slowly at first!

Talking about agility gets me excited - it is so much fun and I really miss it and can't wait to get back to practicing Smile there are guides online how to make the jumps and other equipment out of PVC and it's fairly inexpensive.

Gabby - I want you to come teach us weaves - I have heard horror stories of how dogs are very sensitive to their person's movements/lack of movements when in the weaves and see A LOT of people have to guide the dog through the weaves, weave by weave, or have to be ahead and can't lag behind; basically they didn't PROOF the weaves and watching you run through them and trying to distract her while she just DRIVES through them - it's pure amazing! I'll buy your ticket.... Wink
- Katrina, Finnigan & Tex
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#4
(09-28-2012, 07:51 AM)kglacer Wrote: Another little thing you can work on would be getting the dog to bring the tug back to you. Some dogs like to do victory laps instead of coming straight back to the owner so to do this we would just restrain the dog by the collar (rev them up!), toss the tug out and then release the dog to the tug and run in the other direction calling their name - I have taught Finn to bring it back to me and jump up on my leg, basically bring the tug right back to my hands!!

ahem...yes, wouldnt know anyone who does that...Enzo!!



Id say another important thing is having the dog comfortable working on both sides of you, like running on either side of you, so when your out on a leash walk switch it up, some days walk them on your left and some days on your right side so they are comfortable either way!
Ally & Enzo

you get the dog you need, not the dog you want
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#5
(09-28-2012, 08:49 AM)bcmama Wrote:
(09-28-2012, 07:51 AM)kglacer Wrote: Another little thing you can work on would be getting the dog to bring the tug back to you. Some dogs like to do victory laps instead of coming straight back to the owner so to do this we would just restrain the dog by the collar (rev them up!), toss the tug out and then release the dog to the tug and run in the other direction calling their name - I have taught Finn to bring it back to me and jump up on my leg, basically bring the tug right back to my hands!!

ahem...yes, wouldnt know anyone who does that...Enzo!!



Id say another important thing is having the dog comfortable working on both sides of you, like running on either side of you, so when your out on a leash walk switch it up, some days walk them on your left and some days on your right side so they are comfortable either way!

LOL Enzo? never!! /evilgrin

and yes - take it from Ally and I - we have the opposite side problems, Enzo works better on her left and Finn works better on my right so we always have to work 3/1 - 3 times on the bad side, 1 time on the good side!

I think they've found a good balance now though Smile
- Katrina, Finnigan & Tex
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#6
You both are awesome!! As for the accel and decel thing I give I commands.

When I want her to keep driving forward (which is important in the distance stuff I do) I give her a strong "GO!" Command.

Then then she needs to collect herself for a turn she get's a "tight" and she knows that when she takes this jump, tunnel she needs to turn to whichever side I am on.

She is awesome at weaving because I sit outside and made her do the weaves and I made it easy. I always made her successful. Then her confidence went WAY up. So then I tried harder things. Running the opposite way, throwing toys at her while she weaves, squeaking toys. It took a long time. Athena use to be a horrid weaver. She skipped poles and blew entries. So I went back and did a million very successful sessions. Then she really learned how to do the proper way. Smile
Gabby, Athena, & Trout
The best handler in the world is the one whose dog is having the most fun.

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#7
It all goes back to what Ally said, make sure you practice weaves on the left and right side. Do rear crosses while he is in the weaves and front crosses. Lag behind sometimes, then other times run ahead of him. Smile Mix it up- always work different ways. Smile Alot of dogs are very sensitive to where the handler is when they are weaving and pop out. I think that is from lack of confidence from the dog. It may seem silly to you, but your dog never got used to you being on the side that you never practiced- right?
Gabby, Athena, & Trout
The best handler in the world is the one whose dog is having the most fun.

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#8
Make sure you have fun and always aim to succeed, so even if you are working on something and the dog doesn't get it, don't just keep trying to do the same thing, go back a step and make it easy for the dog to do it right, then build it up again until the dog can do what you originally tried to do. Don't train if you aren't in the right frame of mind or if you are getting frustrated with something, the dog will pick up on it.
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#9
Haven't been on here for a while!!

Any one opened the weaves and then gradually close them. It seems to work good on Laddey but shes still pretty young so i dont want to push her to hard.
Yanick, Cinthia and Laddey
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#10
I believe you are talking about "V Weaves" right? It's also another good way to teach. It is really good for their muscle memory.

I use a variety of methods, and my own to teach weaves. I really like a modified version of the 2x2 weaves. Smile
Gabby, Athena, & Trout
The best handler in the world is the one whose dog is having the most fun.

[Image: CD_15485_174335_athenaGraves_a1064195-1-1.jpg]
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