Jump to content
BC Boards

Training Discreet Sequencing Behaviors

Recommended Posts

My Border Collie pup, Quynn, is 5 and 1/2 months old at the moment and is enjoying very much every taste of agility he's experienced. He's now familiar with jumps(bars are on the ground, of course), open tunnels, closed tunnels, pause table, we're working on stationary contacts and he's running over ladders on the ground. I've finished building the tippy board and we're almost done with the "baby" dogwalk, so we'll be working on those as of tomorrow. We're playing lots of attention games and I'm trying to control his speed without reducing it, to prevent future problems.


I'm a little hesitant, though, to start moving beyond obstacle training. I'm able to send him down a straight line of jump uprights, over 20' to a tunnel, and I've introduced both the 90 degree turn and one form of pinwheel(wetting his feet there), but I'm unsure as to what other discreet behaviors I should train and proof before starting real sequencing. I need to be consistent with the cues I make with my body and avoid confusing him and causing him to look back or break the sequence, for I know that can induce behaviors like barking and spinning.

What I need are exercises that I can do on the flat or with an obstacle or two to get us both sure of what body cues mean what and build his confidence. Touch games, targeting exercises, front/rear cross exercises - what should I do?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yikes - I'm afraid my first response was - good grief - he's only a pup. If I were you, I would back off a bit. My other advice would be to get hold of something like Greg Derrett's video/DVD called something like Agility Foundations - has some good stuff on having dogs work with your body language - which is what I would think is what you need.


I think it's important to spend puppytime having them be puppies - sure, learning lots of stuff - you could mix in some obedience, and also some tricks, or freestyle moves. But what's the rush with agility. Seems like he's a quick learner - and there's another 7 months before he'll be into 'serious' training - and another 6 before he can compete. You don't want him to burn out. I like to take things a bit more slowly - and still be having dogs enjoying agility at 10 or 11.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

It seems your response is the result of what I tend to do when trying to explain myself in quick words. Yes, he's a pup...typical Border collie, insane amounts of energy that I'm attempting to channel, he LOVES to learn, he loves to play agility frisbee, and mind games. Of every 5 minutes we train, 4 are play. I'm thinking in terms of the future here...what do I do when it's time to move on. You're absolutely correct, though, and don't worry - we'll take things slow. It must seem from my post that I'm training him the way I would an adult dog - it's not that way at all.


He's not the world's most confident pup, either, though. The puppy agility games we play seem to boost what confidence he has, especially in running way out to that tunnel or those uprights for a tug toy or a disc. I take him everywhere, which helps a great deal, but he so enjoys agility that I'm hoping it'll make for a more happy, comfortable, confident dog in stressful environments.


Every trainer has different ways of shaping a puppy...one, I remember reading, was sending her 4 month old pup 15' out to any obstacle on the course(set at puppy heights), at which I was quite surprised and indeed wondered. I'm sticking in between.


Thank you for the suggestion. I'll be sure to get a copy. :rolleyes:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh that's good. Yes, there's nothing like playing round with agility - especially with a tuggy - for boosting confidence and drive. I hope you can get hold of the Greg Derrett thing - he's a British trainer who also gives seminars in the US and in Australia - lots of people really like the way he works.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Greg Derrett reference reminded me of what he calls "circle work." Circle work means running in big circles with the dog at your side. (It's a form of flat work --- no obstacles involved.) Run both directions, dog on outside, then dog on inside. When the dog understands how to stay with you, then you can start introducing direction changes, as precursors to teaching actual crosses.


You should really buy the video to see what it is you're aiming for, and also to get Greg's tips about how to teach the dog where to be. It's this one:


Agility Foundation Training DVD


Spendy, but worth every penny.


Another kind of flat work that will pay big dividends later is something the NADAC folks call "gate training". It, too, can be done with pups. There was an intro to gate training in Clean Run in the Jan/Mar/May 2006 issues. You can also buy it on DVD:


Control at a Distance DVD

Consistent Contacts DVD

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Heh, let's see, my 5-month old pups generally know. . .



Stay (lasts maybe 5-10 feet or about 10seconds)

Come/Puppy name

And I work on things like: being able to recall away from other dogs, but still letting them play with them sometimes, tugging like a FIEND, sit means SIT all the time, it's OK when dogs bark at you from their cars/crates, etc etc. Confidence and obedience stuff. Oh and DON'T BARK FOR NO REASON. That's a pet peeve of mine :rolleyes:



I take my time and build relationships first. Now, my 13-month old is doing 2-5 jump sequencing with basic handling work, starting her 2-by-2 weave trainig, learning her down-ramp behavior on the dog walk. . . .


I do some small jump basics with puppies but usually stick with one jump. I don't usually do bars completely on the ground, even for puppies - but I DO keep it as low as I can but still make the puppy think "gosh, I have to JUMP over this". With a 5-month pup that's probably like 4". And I never jump a pup more than once every week or 2. You've got a whole year yet before they're old enough to compete, so what's the rush? I do a lot of sending/wraps, so that is a good idea both to teach the pup how to turn around the wing, and to reinforce them for coming back to you. Sending to the jump then running back the other way is a great speed-accelerator.


As far as other obstacles and sequencing, I wouldn't worry about that till they're at least close to a year. But then, I'm sort of a lazy trainer, national-level competitor or not. I train my dogs to a level where I'm comfortable with, and it always works for me, and I've never had a serious injury (fingers crossed!). . .

Link to comment
Share on other sites

At 5 months your pup is entering adolescence. And while training need not suspend, training lots of new and complicated things is not the thing to do. Your pup isn't going to respond like himself (do most teenagers?) and it's better to take it easy.


Just because he "wants to", "because he's a Border Collie", doesn't excuse you from being the larger brained primate and calling the limits. Concerns about your puppy's confidence are valid - but they aren't handled by training formally more; they are handled by gentle, consistant socialization and allowing time to grow and develop. As adolescence comes on fully you will probably see even more changes, and it's wise to remember to be proactive, as well as the old saying about "making mountains out of molehills". There is no substitute for time.


At 6 months Rose knew sit, down, stand, and touch...using the clicker. She walked nicely on lead and had been out and about a lot. She liked to tug, though we only did it sporadically. We went for walks int the fields with her racing and romping all over. She'd been leash walked, with food targets, over stationary agility equipment, and had wandered through a tunnel a few times. She came when called under reasonable distraction. She played with safe other dogs and children. That's it...and at 11 months she know little more than that, how to track 300 yard lightly aged trails, and had been on sheep 3-4 times. And trust me there was recall there..only a clean tackleon my part!


Rose ain't my first rodeo, er first BC pup :rolleyes: . I'm not Rosanne in agility, but I'm raised a number of solid, sane collies that do everything from open trials/farmwork to sports to service work. My first goal is solid basics, from which the sky's the limit. But it takes *time*, a lot of which is about less pressure, not more. Let that pup, be a pup!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you all for your input. I know he's still a baby and I think, Lenajo, that you may have hit the nail on the head in that one reason I'm doing a this early intro and training is to keep his brain constantly working and his energy levels managable. He is still very much a pup despite all the "work" - believe me, you still cannot call it that - we do. I still stress that we play, play, play throughout all training sessions.

I'm certainly not in any hurry whatsoever - we won't be competing for more than a year, as you said, and I'm currently training and trialing an adult dog, so I've no need to rush no matter how I look at it. I'm just trying to lay solid foundations so that he's comfortable and is enjoying the obstacles. Again, I realize that we've plenty of time, but with the 2-3 minute training sessions of going through a tunnel, over a ladder, hitting a "contact" at the bottom of the staircase, or wrapping around a jump upright and all of this for a tug game, cookies, a frisbee throw...it's fast, it's fun, it increases his confidence and strengthens our bond. This play can only benefit his future career if kept to such a minimum and done in such a way.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


one reason I'm doing a this early intro and training is to keep his brain constantly working and his energy levels managable. ...


You know, reading this thread again, I'd like to suggest something else to throw into the mix - which you may be doing anyway - and that is making sure this boy knows "settle" - either in his crate while other dogs are working, or on a mat - or just hanging out. Being able to relax is IMO an important part of an agility dog's 'bag of tricks'.


I was talking to a friend last night who has a little Tibetan Terrier with lots of potential. She did lots of early obstacle stuff etc. etc. with her as a pup - but now that the dog is old enough to compete, she realises that she didn't spend nearly enough time with her on cementing handler focus. So she's now having to go back and do the sort of flat work, relationship-building, handler-focus circle work/shadow-handling that we're talking about - as on the Greg Derrett tape. He's by no means the only one - but one I'm familiar with.


I still think it's worth doing other 'stuff' with Quinn in his 'training' time - basic obedience, some freestyle moves, some early tracking, as lenajo suggests - all of this enhances his learning, but I would think would make him less likely to 'burn out'. And they'd all enhance the relationship and focus and teamwork which is key.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...