Thinking about agility

Discussion in 'Agility & Flyball' started by Millieboo, Jun 20, 2016.

  1. Millieboo

    Millieboo Registered Users

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    well since Millie is so quick learned with obidience she seems so bored with it now. I got a big front and back yard I was thinking I could put up some agility equipment and start to train that a bit. Would it be ok for a 4 months old pup to start now, when did you start? I was thinking that it might be easiest to start with some sticks in the ground (don't know the name) and a small thing to jump over (wow really lost the word for that one sun is getting to me 31c out).
    Any tips or ideas what to start off with just for fun practice would be really nice. Thank you
     
  2. JulieT

    JulieT Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Hi there

    I don't do agility - but I read a lot of books written by agility trainers (who have some great training tips). I'll leave others that do agility to answer your question about how to get started. But I thought you might be interested in this article written about exercise for pups:

    https://puppyculture.com/appropriate-exercise.html

    I think it basically says no to agility for a 4 month old, but by all means keep working on the basic obedience that you'll need to do agility later.

    I think I maybe saw Kate @Beanwood post about this puppy culture stuff, sorry if I've got that muddled. :)
     
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  3. charlie

    charlie Registered Users

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    When I took Charlie at about 18 months old to agility the trainer said no to dogs under a year as they are still growing and you need to protect their bones. :)
     
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  4. Millieboo

    Millieboo Registered Users

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    Well if that's so I got a few months to start prepare for some proper training. She loves to learn (and snore in the sofa), so I just want to find something fun we can do together. And since we got a big back yard we don't use for anything I figured I can turn that into her space for training. But I mean if I just put down some poles with a big range for her to walk between for now it wouldn't hurt her growing bones, or would it? I don't mean for hours to end every day.
     
  5. Beanwood

    Beanwood Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Our dog walker is also an agility trainer. She does do puppy agility, which is basically getting pups used to equipment but NO jumps. She does not take pups under 7 months old even for puppy agility classes. They do lots of clicker games to help positioning (hand touch, targeting..) for both handler and dog, so great bonding classes. One of our labs does agility and he started at 18 months old, even then great care was taken not to overload his joints, with jumps on the very lowest rung. Our instructor prefers larger dogs to be no younger than 18 months old.
     
  6. Naya

    Naya Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    We do agility too. You can start with things like the tunnel and weave poles at this age, but jumps are a no no until they are at least 1. It can damage their joints. Really good to work on are things like:
    Put her in a sit and walk away about 10foot then recall to you - this will help when starting agility as you need to be in front of them
    Weave poles are really good - lure with a treat and walk through slowly repeating weave for each pole
    Touch is a really useful one too as will help with things like the A frame
    Put her on a very slightly raised sturdy surface (or on the bottom step of stairs) and get her to put her front paws on the floor keeping back paws on the raised surface and say 'feet' - this will help for obstacles such as the A frame, dog walk and see saw as they need to touch the floor like that on the exit of each piece of equipment.
    Hope that gives you some ideas of things you can do prior to doing agility :)
     
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  7. Millieboo

    Millieboo Registered Users

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    Thank you naya, I will get to this as soon as I get my husband to help me clear off the backyard to fix it up (bit hard for me to go with the tools needed to cut some long grass down when I got my daughter and Millie). He's not properly trained yet to get things done on time. Lol!
     
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  8. Snowshoe

    Snowshoe Registered Users

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    Yes, there are special programs you can do with puppies. It's a good idea to take a course so you don't inadvertently teach something incorrectly or dangerously. My previous Lab enjoyed agility so I started Oban on objects we had at hand. That's why we have LOG ON instead of WALK IT for one command, we used fallen big logs in the bush. Also bleacher seats at parks. And irrigation pipe for tunnels.
     
  9. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    From the one week of lessons I had, I would strongly advise to avoid tunnels at this stage. Not because there's any problem with them as far as physical stuff is concerned (although you'd want to ensure it wasn't slippery inside) but because it's very easy to create what the trainer called "a tunnel monster" - that is, a dog that is so enthused by the tunnel that it will go off its course to go through one. In only a couple of days, my two absolutely adored the tunnel, and I could see very clearly how this would be a problem if you wanted to progress.

    But one thing that is very important, and was our biggest challenge, was being ambidextrous. The dog has to be just as comfortable on either side of you. My two have learned from a young age to stay on my left - heel on my left, sit on my left, retrieve from my left yada yada yada, so have a massively strong association with that, and, even with trying to put some work into them being comfortable on my right before going on our holiday, the difference in their capability to learn things off the right side to the left was pronounced. So, focus on everything you do being equally as good and equally as rewarded on both sides.

    You'll also need a really straight sit at heel and a really straight sit in front of you (facing you), so working on some pivoting drills where your pup learns to straighten up to your shoulders as you turn would be really helpful (both sides for the sit at heel).

    A "give" cue is also very useful so that you can reward with toys - tug games are great if you've taught a "tug" and a release (my two are so-so about tugging, so I've actually had to work on building their enthusiasm for the game), otherwise playing catch with a ball, and having the dog give it back to you is a good reward, if the ball is rewarding enough. You don't want to be rewarding with chasing a ball any distance, because you'll tire the dog out and they need their energy for the agility :)

    And, as Naya said, a strong sit-stay is necessary for the start of a course, when the dog is (hopefully) super excited to start, so proofing that, with you walking ahead, doing jumping jacks, waving your arms around etc, with lots of distractions of other people, other dogs etc would be useful, too.

    I read a book "Agility: Right From The Start", which is about using positive reinforcement methods to train agility, and starting "the right way" without any "real" equipment. To be honest, it's a little dull in places, but would give you a good idea of where to start off to get the behaviours you'll eventually need to go around a course.
     
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  10. Ken McLoud

    Ken McLoud Registered Users

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