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11 Month old & agility, how far without going too far too soon? and a few other qu's

Hi!

My gorgeous 11mnth old mini seems to have a natural ability for agility, and fetch. Fetch he taught himself. Agility:
We taught him to jump and 'duck' in an afternoon, over a plank of wood raised about .7mtre off the ground, he also sat and stayed on a box.

In two afternoons, he got the hang of walking across the jump, as though it was a bridge.

Today, i took him to a massive fenced off area of grass, where we worked him with obstacles he has never seen before. He got the jump, the seesaw (more like a young childs playground one than an agility one), and the tunnel within minutes, and had them sorted completely in the space of half an hour.

I have tried to contact our local agility club, but the email was invalid so I have contacted NZKC for updated details. What age do dogs normally join a club, when can they start competing, and have I been asking too much of him? He treats it like a game, he does it for a red rubber ball. One day I asked him to jump without it... he brought it over, dropped it on my toe, and took the jump.

When in competition, can you have a 'lure' in the hand. If not, how do you you break the habit? And does anyone know what the heights are for a mini poodle? Or anything else I should teach aside from weave while he's so willing to learn?

Also fun tricks, like speak, shake, beg, what age do people introduce these?

Thanks in advance!
 

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Yea you should definitely start training with him now.
Dogs can't compete until they are 18 months, but if you start now, then you'll be just about ready when he hits 18 months

The only thing I would be concerned about, would be not to get him to jump over anything higher than his elbows until he is 18ish months, as that's why they can't compete until that age.

But, get started now and you can get the basics done. Good way to get started is to walk around with treats, have your dog walk beside you and get them to focus on you (not heeling, but walking in your general side area), change speeds as he gets better, and then add in crosses, where you turn into him and do a 270 degree turn

If he doesn't have his papers (NZKC registration) then you'll have to register him on the Obedience and Agility Register with the NZKC

http://www.nzkc.org.nz/members/forms/Obedience_Agility_Registration_Part_II.pdf

And you are only allowed 25 characters (not including spaces) and are not allowed any kennel prefixes (from breeders) unless you get their permission

You'll also need to join the NZKC to compete, and when you join, you'll receive the monthly kennel gazette (dog world) which has all sorts of articles etc, and tells you when dog shows (agility, obedience and conformation) are on and where so you can go and see or compete in them
 

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Your dog sounds as though they are naturally confident and this helps a lot with the agility objects. So too does obedience, both to your voice and to your body language. Here in England, you can sometimes walk courses at competitions and plan how you would run them if you and your dog were to enter. If you plan to compete, it's as much you and your reading of the course and your ability to direct the dog, as it is the dog running and performing. Another good idea is to take them to new places and make sure that they focus on you all the time. My little girl is doing great in grade 1-3 competitions but if she sees something that attracts her attention, she diverts, for instance - coming over the A frame, seeing a nice ring steward and trying to sit on her knee. This brings you back to earth and teaches you that a dog is a dog and not a machine. So long as you make everything fun, they will stay with you and enjoy, get too serious and it can all go to pot. When you find a club, actually letting them off the lead when there are other dogs standing around can be quite an anxious time.

I practice agility in the garden. You can make jumps from canes and clothes pegs, use a kiddy crawling tunnel as an introduction to the tunnel, drape sheets over chairs and persuade them to run through (preparation for a collapsed tunnel), put a plank of wood on the floor and have them balance over it (dog walk). I've even heard that playing with a skate board can help them to have confidence when going over a seesaw. Enjoy.
 

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When in competition, can you have a 'lure' in the hand. If not, how do you you break the habit? And does anyone know what the heights are for a mini poodle? Or anything else I should teach aside from weave while he's so willing to learn?
Here in North America you can never have a lure in competition (at least, not that I know of). Most people get around this by leaving a treat or toy at the end of the course and rewarding the dog with that (get a friend to hold it for you, but of course you don't want the dog to see where you left it).

Once the dog has got a piece of equipment pretty much solid with the lure, I would start using the command without any sight of a lure and giving it once the task has been done properly. Then you start asking them to do two pieces of equipment until they get the treat. Then 3, 4, 5 etc until you are up to a full course of equipment.
 

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Here in North America you can never have a lure in competition (at least, not that I know of). Most people get around this by leaving a treat or toy at the end of the course and rewarding the dog with that (get a friend to hold it for you, but of course you don't want the dog to see where you left it).

Once the dog has got a piece of equipment pretty much solid with the lure, I would start using the command without any sight of a lure and giving it once the task has been done properly. Then you start asking them to do two pieces of equipment until they get the treat. Then 3, 4, 5 etc until you are up to a full course of equipment.
You're right

Here in New Zealand, before you are about to run, you hand your lead, a toy or treat and whatever else you don't want to run with to the lead runner and they take it to the end of the course, so when you finish you go to the bucket and give them their treat or play with their toy

After awhile of doing this the dog usually goes up after they finish and gets their toy out lol
 

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The trainer I work with with my own dogs does a lot of Agility, we had big plans for Saleen but dumb me had to go and get preggers we had to wait.
Amyway she believes you should in addition to keeping jump heights low be careful with the weave poles with younger dogs. At 11 mo old your mini is probably about finished growing and developing joint wise but her reasoning behind the weave pole caution was it could cause injury to developing shoulders. It was the first time I had heard that, and I didn't question her on it to find out more though in hindsight I should have.

As for the lure, you elimiate it in training as soon as the dog understands what it is you want. You may act like you are still holding your lure as you motion the dog to for example go up the A-Frame. The dog gets to the bottom though and you've got nothing. Reward comes only when they have completed the task fully. You begin to eliminate the need for the reward by rewarding only every second or third sucessful attempt at the task. Reward here means food or toy whichever you are using. Never ever train without praise and pets and hugs :) Those are always helpful :)
 
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