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Old 12-09-2012, 04:26 PM   #31 (permalink)
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Enzo is 11 months and loves his agility class. He is on a leash and the instructor is great. She limits any repetitive jumping and the class is always positive. Enzo always hated to wait his turn and he would bark as if to tell the others to hurry. He loves tunnels and high things. But he is a real jumper at home. I think it is an alternative to obedience which reinforces what he learns while having fun. We have to decide whether to continue agility or try something else.
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Old 12-09-2012, 05:24 PM   #32 (permalink)
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I didn't mean to suggest that I thought anyone here was pushing their poodle too hard in agility. The dog I was referring to as always bailing on its handler is not a poodle. I just think it is important that we remember we are asking a lot of them to do this sport and we have to keep them safe and happy. Lily loves it but Peeves hates it. It is all individual.
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Old 12-09-2012, 06:05 PM   #33 (permalink)
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Thank you all for your comments I can't say how much the support means!!! We live in a rural area with very limited facilities. Our previous instructor has a building in which we can work on things like small tunnels, chutes, targeting, jump angles, etc. The contact equipment though is only outside though so we can only work in good weather. I have signed up for private classes the rest of the month to help bring back a happy - confident Bella.

We went to an agility trial today held by a group that we took classes with this past fall and had a chance to talk about the situation. Their reaction was disgust as agility is supposed to be all positive and would work lowered contacts until the dog is very confident - especially with a tiny novice dog. Before this happened we were already signed up for classes with this group and they highly suggested that we just work at home until classes start in January. This is a longer drive - about 1.15 mins compared to 45 mins but seems very much worth it - only trouble is that if the roads are bad we won't be able to go.

So what would you do? Work at home (we don't have contacts) or go to the class with the not so positive atmosphere until the new classes start to continue to work on contacts?
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Old 12-10-2012, 05:02 AM   #34 (permalink)
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Work at home. There is no point in going back to a place and person that stressed Bella out and that clearly you are stressed about as well.

You can make a contact trainer for use at home to teach two on two off if that is your exit criterion at this point (or whatever your exit criterion is). Get a piece of heavy duty plywood about one foot wide and four feet long. Glue or nail reinforcing strips of 1 x 2 to one side (running the long way) and thin strips of flat molding to the other spaced like the "steps" you see on a dog walk ramp. Paint the whole thing with exterior grade latex to which you have added a generous amount of anti skid granules. You then lean this onto a steady elevated surface at whatever angle you want to work on your contact exit (will most resemble dog walk, but will be translatable to see saw and A frame). Start shallow and get it steeper gradually. Work from both sides. This will be helpful as a substitute for having contact obstacles in your yard. I don't have contacts other than a home-made table and the item I just described to you either.
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Old 12-10-2012, 10:22 AM   #35 (permalink)
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Interesting thread. I am also new to agility, and has just last month started to compete as my toy poodle was over 18 months. I started agility training – mostly jumps and tunnel work – when Cassi was 10 months. I was also concerned about the growth plates that need to close. For smaller breeds it is usually between 6 – 13 months. I spoke to my vet before I started jumping; he said that my dog’s weight has been constant since 8 months (3.9kg = 8.5lbs) and that it safe to start.

My poodle is very eager to train and has a great focus!! He can already do most of the obstacles, still need some work on the long jump, floppy tunnel and see saw, he performs them, but with caution. From my experience, when training a new obstacle, is to take it slow, as one bad experience can mess it up. Cassi was very good with the see saw, but he had a bad experience when he jumped off it too soon, and the bang scared him. He would still go on it, but not enough to tip it. I worked at it, positive reinforcing by use of clicker – as well as him doing the walk down, before up and down part together. At my recent trial, he surprised me with running all the way to the tip – I was so surprised, I just told him to “wait” so that it will touch the ground and away we go!! And we got a clear round!!

Regarding weave pole training, I used what’s called the channel method. I think someone mentioned it earlier. It really works great if your dog has speed. Cassi is very fast, and the traditional in-out method that my trainer suggested, was just not working, Cassi got frustrated and ended up barking at me! So I did some research and trained at home. After a month, he was doing 12 weave poles perfectly; I am only practicing my weave pole entries now – there a nice document covering that on clean run.

Contacts, is the two-on two-off method. Works good, but I find that Cassi slows down a lot on it, and barks at me. So I have changed my tactics from giving him the touch command on the contacts, and when he gets to contact area, I hold him there for a split second before I release him. Any comments?

Two great books that helped me a lot are “The Beginner's Guide to Dog Agility” and “The Intermediate's Guide to Dog Agility” by Laurie Leach. They are fantastic and available on Amazon.
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Old 12-11-2012, 07:33 PM   #36 (permalink)
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Catherine - Thank you for the voice of sanity - safe and positive only for my girls! And thank you for the suggestion of the contact trainer we'll be making one this weekend.

Poodlenatic - Welcome! Love your dog's name - we had an Aussie named "Cassie" that we lost over a year ago - Your post made me think of her and how much she loved us and we loved her! You are way ahead of us and I really appreciate your post about training with your toy.
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Old 12-12-2012, 04:41 AM   #37 (permalink)
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Poodlenatic, congratulations on your clean run. I also trained weaves with channel weave poles. It took a while, but I am now getting very pretty weaves.

Minnie, you can make lots of stuff at home for yourself. My table is homemade too. PVC pipe and plywood from the warehouse store make it pretty affordable too. I am slowly adding competition quality equipment as I see the need and have the $$$. In the spring I plan to get a see saw, but will probably leave that as the only contact obstacle I get. It isn't so big that it will overwhelm my yard which is fairly large, but has a pool and decks plus garden beds around the edge. I am lucky to have an indoor facility where I can rent the agility floor fairly inexpensively, along with the private people I work with. I am so glad to hear that you have decided not to work with the person who coerced Bella over the A frame, that just isn't how it should be.
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Old 12-14-2012, 07:39 AM   #38 (permalink)
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Last night was our third agility class. Not quite as good as last time but OK. The biggest issue that Max faces in class is shyness and fear of the obstacles. He does well with obedience training and is good at learning the various required moves.

We did the weave pole which he has done before. The first time he balked but was able to work through this and maneuvered the weave poles pretty well. The tunnel was a different story. Last class he went through the collapsed and slightly expanded tunnel without too much coaxing. Last night he would sprint through a straight tunnel with his tail down. No amount of coaxing would get him through the tunnel with a slight curve. Even though he could see me!

He tends to hesitate at each obstacle and may preform after a few repetitions. Added to this is his shyness around most people that can distract him and affect his performance with the trainers in the class. There are about ten dogs in the class.

We are certainly not ready to throw in the towel. Max is a smart dog that likes to run and jump around the house so agility seemed to be a good outlet for him. I want him to become more comfortable around different people and increase his confidence. It is not important that Max becomes proficient in agility and I don't want to put him in a position that he becomes more stressed.

I am too new to this to know what to expect for a learning curve and what to expect from Max. This is a beginner class and I think the socialization is good for Max but at some point I need to decide whether he is cut out for agility. I would be curious to here how others experiences compare to mine.

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Old 12-14-2012, 02:27 PM   #39 (permalink)
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This is all very new to him. When something is new, scary, or difficult I use a LOT of fabulous treats. If he is getting overwhelmed with too many obstacles skip a few. Embrace the straight tunnel and when his tail goes up then have him try a curved tunnel. I have a somewhat shy dog and agility class has done wonders for his confidence. Most people expect far too much too soon. Keep things fun and before you know it he will love class.
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Old 12-14-2012, 02:36 PM   #40 (permalink)
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Specman, don't ask too much too fast. It will be much harder to get Max back onto an obstacle that has scared him than to help him get it right and be happy with it through your patience and happy support. It took me about a year and a half to get to the point where I have gotten results at trials with Lily.

Right now you should use it as a chance to do some relationship building and to help Max with his shyness. CT Girl's advise about embracing small results is good. Whether you go on to compete together or not doesn't matter nearly so much as you and Max enjoying the time you spend together and using this as a chance to enrich his life. Have fun, keep it upbeat and be safe.
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