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Old 11-18-2012, 04:55 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Agility - Sharing the ups and the downs

For those that are training in agility - whether it be in your backyard or competing at the excellent level I thought it would be nice to have a thread to talk about the ups and challenges that we all experience.

As an introduction - I am relatively new to agility - started actual training classes this summer and fell for it hook, line, and sinker. Right now I'm training my toy poodle Bella and are working on foundation skills with two Mini Aussies. I have found a couple really good trainers and can't wait for the seminars to start again - hope to be ready to actually train not just audit.

As someone new to agility we really celebrate the small things - a new skill means a jackpot and today we celebrated two! We've been working on going down the A-frame and the dog walk. Today Bella not only offered but was excited about performing the entire A-frame and the dog walk!!! This might not sound like much but this is huge for tiny Bella!

Our continuing struggle is with what many dogs love - the scary tunnel. Bella has decided this to be avoided at all costs even walking near it is tough. And going inside... not even for cheese :-(

Any suggestions on working through this would be much appreciated!
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Old 11-19-2012, 02:26 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Beginner, too

I think that this is a great idea. I am also new to agility with my 10 month old blue standard. She loves it and I just try to keep up with her. Tunnels are her favorite with A-frame next, so far.

I just watched a great YouTube clip about agility, I don't usually pass things like this along, but I have laughed when I watched it for 2 days. If you are interested, it is Shiva goes Crazy.
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Old 11-19-2012, 04:18 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Great idea for this thread!

Here is a funny story. Two weeks ago we were at a trial and Lily just got totally loopy at the chute on Saturday. She approached it with her head up and then just couldn't make herself go in it. I got RRRRRRR for that obstacle on my score sheet. The irony is that I had ordered a chute for us at home since I knew I needed to be able to work on it more routinely. It was sitting right next to the ring, waiting for me to pick it up. I took it home and sent her through just the barrel a few times when we got home that evening. Her chute was much better on Sunday, but that day she wouldn't weave! Go figure.
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Old 11-19-2012, 05:28 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dusty Rose View Post
I think that this is a great idea. I am also new to agility with my 10 month old blue standard. She loves it and I just try to keep up with her. Tunnels are her favorite with A-frame next, so far.

I just watched a great YouTube clip about agility, I don't usually pass things like this along, but I have laughed when I watched it for 2 days. If you are interested, it is Shiva goes Crazy.
The video was great. Thanks for posting it.
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Old 11-19-2012, 05:35 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default how old to start agility

I should have included this with the previous post. How old should the puppy be before it is safe to start with agility training. It is almost winter in Michigan so I will not start till spring. Bentley is 7 months old now and would like to try and find out if he likes it.
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Old 11-19-2012, 12:47 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I am a beginner too. Swizzle catches on so quickly it is a shame he is stuck with a newbie like me. Swizzle was not crazy about the tunnel at first either. He can't see me and he doesn't like that. I was able to coax him through by letting him see me at the end of the tunnel. If that doesn't work rig up a tunnel at home-perhaps use blankets. Make it very short and then gradually make it longer. Have extra yummy treats for things they don't like to do. I talk to Swizzle when he is in the tunnel so he knows where I am. Swizzle seems to be picking up the chute OK, I just treat him when he goes through. Once he gets comfortable I will fade back the treating on that.

As to age I don't think they should start until they have stopped growing. A year plus for a toy and probably longer for bigger dogs. Meanwhile work on foundation. I started Swizzle on rec. agility at a year and a half. Swizzle just turned two and we recently got invited to take agility class. You can't just go she wants to make sure your dog is ready and that your temperament is right. I love class but sometimes I feel like I am all thumbs. Everyone has a couple of years of agility and I am so green. Fortunately Swizzle takes up the slack so it works out. I have started teaching the teeter which swizzle is not crazy about. It is affecting his dog walk as he is leery it will start moving on him. We have yet to do weave poles, I just have him weave chairs. When they have a teeter or weaves in class I just skip that part.
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Old 11-19-2012, 05:37 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I am really enjoying reading all the stories! There is nothing better than a happy dog and the positive agility environment is so much fun!!!

Dusty Rose - The U-tube video was not only hilarious but I really really appreciated how the handler turned this into a "FUN" time even though it must have been very difficult having this occur in front of a judge - yikes!

Lily cd re - I could just see Lily - saying uh uh no way on that chute - can't say I blame her... dark tunnel - heck I don't want to go in those lol.

Mary Edwards - 7 months - perfect time for all that foundation work. Tons of games to play with puppies to get them ready to play this crazy game. A book I'm reading now is "A Beginner's Guide to Agility" seems to have lots of info on getting a puppy ready to start - wish I'd found this a year ago.

CT Girl - I've always found it funny that you'd never start a newbie on a green horse but our poor pups have to learn with us :-) We are the newbies in our class and I often feel like a real idiot - thankfully Bella can't tell and loves me anyways :-D
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Old 11-19-2012, 06:59 PM   #8 (permalink)
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When in doubt, pretend you know where you are going and keep your dog moving. Lily gets very frustrated when I get lost and hung up on where we are supposed to go.

Foundation work only until they finish growing, but you can teach many concepts like start line stays, working on both sides, get them used to jump stanchions by just running them through them with bars on the floor, etc.
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Old 11-20-2012, 05:54 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Lily cd re that is exactly what my agility teacher says to do. You want to keep the dog happy and confident and not let them get nervous over our angst when we make a mistake. I also find wait, on off, away, and around good things to teach before you get into obstacles.
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Old 11-20-2012, 06:32 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Bonnie would have nothing to do with the tunnel the first few time. The instructor closed the tunnel up so it was all of two feet wide. I treated her through it. We did that a number of times, always ending on a positive note. Then we lengthened it, 6 inches at a time. At some point, maybe at around three/four feet long, she just decided the tunnel was fine and started ripping through it no matter how long and windy....unTIL....a male dog went in there and peed inside the tunnel. She went ripping through it, I could tell she stopped smack in the middle, turned around and hightailed it out the same side. We had to start all over again with the tunnel small, but this time it only took a little work to get her through again. I was also happy to see the peeing-in-the-tunnel dog leave our class.

Right now we are working on the teeter. Sometimes she'll do it fine, sometimes not. I never force her, but admit to frustration. Why doesn't she run over it EVERY time?

Also, she will work and work and work until about an hour has gone by. Then she just turns her head so she doesn't make eye contact and saunters off to the gate and sits quietly until I come over to leave.

Jazz is still afraid of the skinny dog walk since he fell off of it when he was around 3 months old and exuberant. He is almost 6 months old now and I finally got him to walk tentatively across last week.

There is a big difference between my poodles and some of the other dogs. Some of those dogs are nervous, crazy wrecks. The minute their owners let them go they go barrelling through the stuff. Still, I prefer my calmer dogs who do everything carefully. We are working on speed now, but Bonnie's precision is much better than theirs, so I have that.
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