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Thread: Agility

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
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    Default Agility

    I've been wanting to get Rox into agility for ages now, but she has such a high prey drive and needs a lot more work before I would let her be around other dogs doing it.

    I have found a place in Diggers Rest, the canine country club Kepala (Boarding Kennels Melbourne | Dog Kennels | Cattery | Pet Resort) and we're going Tuesday. They have an agility course that you can use. It's shared, but the woman on the phone said there were no other bookings so we should be ok. It's all fenced in, so I figure if another dog comes I can put Rox on the lead before they come in.

    Does anyone have any tips or tricks for us? I've never used an agility course before, only mucked around in playgrounds. Roxie knows 'up' and 'down' and I figure I'll take some treats to entice her a little more.

    The general idea is just to see how she goes around all of the equipment and also to have fun, but I do want to utilize the time we have

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    Gippsland, Victoria
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    Depending where you are, ProK9, whom I work for, run very basic agility intros. Small groups, and we've had very reactive dogs there to work... They all have done very well! PM me if you'd like to know more (I take some classes).

    Ok, tips. SAFETY FIRST. It is likely that the equipment may be at full height, or not adjustable. Go slow, especially on dog walk and A frame. On both of these, do the last bit veeeerrrryyyyy slowly and make it a habit to stop at the bottom of the contact and pause. Reward. This hopefully teaches from the beginning not to charge downward and jump off!!
    Give yourself and your heaps of room in the lead up to a price of equipment. Give dog a good look on the run in.
    Oh... Nearly forgot!! Warm up your dog first. A little running, turning and stretching (bow, cat stretch) absolutely essential to avoid hurt muscles.
    Ummmm.... What else? Do you know what contact equipment they have? If I had a list, I could give you tips for each.
    And..... Enjoy! Lots of rewards for small successes.
    Hope that helps :-)

  3. #3

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    Hmmm, I am not that keen on running untrained (in agility) dogs on full courses of equipment, ESPECIALLY if the handler is green, purely because if something goes wrong it could cause a lot of long term damage (not just injury wise but it could put the dog off running the equipment).

    We started agility last year and in the beginners course barely saw any equipment apart from jumps (set at the lowest height), a tunnel etc. It was all about training foundations and was all done through shaping not luring. This meant the dogs really got to understand what they were supposed to do before any 'major' equipment was introduced so not only were they confident on it, but it minimized any potential safety risks.

    What is it about her high prey drive that concerns you? Does she chase down other dogs? Loads of agility dogs are high prey drive, so that should actually work in your favour.


    ETA: ProK9 are great! I'd highly recommend looking into a beginners agility course with them. I am also sure Judi would be able to help you work with your dog's high prey drive too.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
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    Adelaide
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    Jucealala

    What the others said. I'd just use this time as a chance to find out if your dog likes being around the equipment and not too get fussed about actually doing any of it properly.

    Put everything you can down to the lowest levels, to help avoid injury and increase the fun part. Shorten the tunnel if you can and straighten it so the dog can see from one end to the other. Only try to do 2 or 4 weave poles not all 12.

    What you need most in competition agility is a dog that comes when called, and will stay (at the start line and on the table) then go (flat out) when you say "go" or whatever your release word is.

    Then you need a dog that will go where you point it.

    Loads of the signalling stuff you can train with no equipment at all. And it's really handy for rewarding your dog if it enjoys a game of fetch the tug and tug with you. You can throw the tug to land where the dog will be as it gets there to reward it and it should fetch the tug to you and you can play a quick game of tug to reward it. The better the game of tug, the better the reward. Ie a great game of tug after the dog does a great job, and a lesser game of tug if it didn't really get it right.

    Then you can set up a couple of little jumps with boxes or buckets and broom poles.

    Avoid jumps that have bars that do not fall if the dog touches them. Frosty likes to jump the fences around my front yard and she does plant her feet firmly on them for extra leverage - not what you want with agility jumps.

    If your dog is easily excited - you might want to get Susan Garrett's book "Shaping success" where she worked with a BC that was OTT excited about EVERYTHING. It would scream and yell when it saw something it wanted.

    The easiest way to train weaves is using SG's 2x2 method. You start with just two poles. And build up from there, two poles at a time. All weaves must be done the same way ie if you have a line of poles from left to right in front of you, and you want to do them from left to right, the dog enters at the left end leaving the first pole next to his left shoulder. And if you want to do the poles from right to left, the dog must go around the other side of the first pole on the right and leave it on his left shoulder and go through from right to left. The dog never leaves the first pole on his right shoulder.

    YouTube - Susan & Encore Win Gold at the IFCS World Championships

    YouTube - ClickerDogs's Channel

    And she bases her handling/dog signalling stuff on Greg Derrett's DVDs "Agility Foundation Handling" and "Great Dog, Shame about the Handler" ie how you signal the dog consistently so it knows where to go next.

    PS if there is a see saw, I would not encourage the dog on it, or if you must, I would hold it so the dog can get used to the wobble without freaking out. A lot of people catch the see saw so it doesn't bang and let it fall only from a very short height eg 5cm (or one hand width) and then build up from there.

  5. #5
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    Gippsland, Victoria
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    @ Smeagle: Agree entirely... Would much rather Jucealala come to a structured class, but as she has made her booking....

    In our intro class (4weeks), the dogs get to use the table, weavers and tunnel. We do loads of instruction on 'body language' as well. Janelle, our main instructor is really great, and Judi is also involved with dogs whose owners might be unsure about their suitability. Our class sizes are capped and very small. At the minute we have 4 per class. In our second beginner class (weeks 5-8), dogs get to use A Frame at very low height, dogwalk again very low, jumps, tyre and wobble board. More body language skills.
    Throughout weeks 1-8 we do lots of small 'hind end awareness' stuff.

    Jucealala... Would love to see you and your dog in class- it's ALL on leash and high drive dogs are awesome most times.

    But don't wanna push ProK9 down your neck :-D

    @Hyac; I think we teach weavers a better way than 2x2... One of the common complaints about 2x2 method is that the dogs sometimes 'start counting' and leave the poles before they're done. We start with the full set, but use 2 sets initially in 2 parallel lines (so owner and dog run together through the middle.... The lines of poles come closer and closer together until they merge into one line of poles. Our dogs learning this way have basically done it in an error less way... It has looked so natural!!

  6. #6
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    Just looked at Kepala website... Very much like what I want my business to be... But that's off topic.

    The equipment looks pretty good... I'll just reiterate: go very very slowly, don't let your dog run uncontrolled especially on A Frame and Dog Walk.

    I'd also say don't use teeter-totter/ see saw at all. Best to learn that one eith a helper. Only takes it to crash down under your dog once and it becomes an issue forever!!!

  7. #7
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    Oct 2010
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    Southern NSW
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    We started at home with planks on bricks and very low home made jumps, to teach direction. it is a lot of fun in itself....And mike made a table for Annabelle, which we also use for horses to stand on . From bricks we went to milk crate height and so on. it gave the dogs confidence and fun. When we went to our first structured agility course we had a lot of fun, because our dogs had some confidence.
    Anyway have fun, just like all the others said, take it easy and low
    Pets are forever

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
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    Thanks guys

    I'll definitely look into that agility course through ProK9. The group that I am with are fantastic, but Rox is nowhere near ready to be in a group environment and the website specifically says dogs cannot be dog aggressive.

    Roxie barks when other dogs are playing and running. She's not fussed by bikes or anything like that, not even birds, but other dogs (and horrifyingly sometimes kids, esp the running/arm waving/screaming variety) she will go for. She's ridiculously friendly, just has absolutely no idea how to say hello properly. Once she's 'friends' with them it's completely fine for that day, but the next week she will carry on again.

    I inquired about desensitization training for her but I don't really have the funds to be able to do it just yet.

    She has been through tunnels before and I take her to the park and run her on the equipment there so she's used to different surfaces and things. I'll definitely be taking it slow and just letting her play.

    Where we are right now, I think she would be so distracted in a group by the other dogs running and jumping that she wouldn't concentrate and it would be a waste of money and a complete nuisance to everyone else in the class. She also hates 'missing out' (it's a completely different reaction to the first), if I put her lead on and throw the ball for Jackson she acts like she's being murdered.

    I'll definitely stay away from the seesaw, even without the warning I know Roxie wouldn't appreciate that.

    I am excited to go and see what it's all about. I'll let you know how we go.

    Thanks so much for the help!

  9. #9

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    Judi from Pro-K9 also does behaviour consults, she's great and definitely worthwhile contacting to have a private lesson with. I know it may be an added cost, but the sooner the better when it comes to behaviourial stuff.

  10. #10
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    Mar 2010
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    Trust me Smeagle, the second I can afford it I will. I understand the benefits and that it is necessary. If I could right now I would in a second.

    As far as current training though, it is definitely helping a lot and I'm confident that with even more lessons - we have membership until May - that she will grow even more.

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