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How Do I get Started In Agility


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Hello,

As many of you know I got a border collie named Cooper a few days ago, I want to start him on agility come spring (march-april-ish).

I don't have enough money to bring him to agility classes just yet. I will have the money in summerish, we have a young baby so it's oretty tight but we do have enough money to take care of dogs. No flamming please. I need a to find out how ot start off and if anyone knows any good ideas for home made equiptment post it here, also same with training information. I have a prettybig yarrd and a lot of time for Cooper so, i want to get the bc mind of his going soon.

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Check out the Clean Run website for their DVD's. I'd start with a general foundation type program.

 

They are expensive, but just one would give you plenty of things to work on to get started for quite some time.

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Be careful about trying to do this on your own if you'll ever want to compete in the future. Bad habits are hard to break. I agree with getting a DVD or even a book from Clean Run. Or even better, see if you can trade services with an instructor in your area. Maybe babysit, do paper work etc. My instructor is taking tracking lessons from one of her agility students... no money changes hands.

Barb S

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I too would try to contact someone to trade services with. I trade an agility lesson each week for a ballroom dancing lesson from one of my students. Even if you can't get to official lessons you might be able to find someone local who is showing who might be able to help and point you in the right direction, even if they aren't an instructor. Just be careful that you agree with their teaching methods and familiarize yourself with the rules, etc of agility so you don't start off with bad habits.

 

Olivia

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Another option would be to go to an agility trial (USDAA, NADAC or CPE would be my recommendations), and talk to folks there. Wait till spring, and make it a field day with your kiddo! I'll second the "be careful doing it on your own" - voice of experience here. If there's a club anywhere nearby, sometimes they have a lending library of DVDs or videos.

 

Have fun - and watch out! It IS addicting!!

 

diane

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I'd just add to the advice you've already been given. Especially since you only just got Cooper very recently, your most important job at the moment (in your 'spare' time :rolleyes: ) is to get to know Cooper really well, and have him get to know you. Before you start trying to do any more complex agility lessons, you really want to do the sort of stuff you'd do with a puppy -it's called foundation training, and a lot of it doesn't need any formal obstacles. It's about setting up a great relationship between you and the dog, one in which he learns to be responsive to you, and focus on your movements. Teaching him to repond to his name, to do some hand targetting, and maybe targetting other things, like a piece of perspex or something like that on the ground, and to want to be with you. You will want to be finding out what things he finds really motivating - in the way of food treats, but also toys. You'll want to teach him to play tuggy with you, and to go away from you to retrieve a toy or tuggy and then bring it back to you for a game.

 

It's certainly much easier to do this with an instructor and/or DVD, but I'm pretty sure there's stuff out there on the net - maybe search on puppy agility, or agility foundations.

 

Some of us older folks who already compete, even at a reasonably high level, find ourselves wishing we'd paid more attention to these foundation skills early on. (Well, to be fair, not so much was known or published back then about these foundation skills - certainly here in Oz :D .)

 

Remember, at least IMHO, the obstacles can be almost the easiest part of agility training. It is a team sport, so building a great relationship with your dog is absolutely key.

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Cooper already listen to everything i say, but yah i did plan on getting to know him first, he plays tug with me and my other dog and also retrieves and brings it back , he knows drop it. If I tell him down or sit he stops what he is doing right away and does what i ask, he doesnt even need to be ona leash, coems right back but of coursei wtach him like a hawk

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Hello there.

 

I am new to agility myself. I started Daisy in a puppy agility class (no jumping and miniature equipment) when she was about 7 months old. We have done 16 weeks of that and just started our first "adult" class last week. (Daisy will be 1 year old on March 6th). Prior to agility we did 16 weeks of regular obedience.

 

From reading your posts and others suggestions, I would agree with all of the duggestions made. Be careful about training by yourself or exclusively from DVDs, etc. Things that you can work on with your pup at home that would help you once you do start agility classes are sit stays, down stays, and recall. These are all really good things to practice for just a well trained dog but they are very important in agility, too!

 

Good Luck!

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Some of us older folks who already compete, even at a reasonably high level, find ourselves wishing we'd paid more attention to these foundation skills early on. (Well, to be fair, not so much was known or published back then about these foundation skills - certainly here in Oz :rolleyes: .)

 

We were among the first people in W Michigan to do agility. My friend would go across the state to a USDAA event and come home with ideas to build equipment and we'd all chip in for materials. Our poor dogs had no clue what we were trying to do to them. When we decided to start a club, we actually sold candy bars for funding it! But back then, agility was a far different game. We have videos from early USDAA national events where most of the dogs did all the obstacles on the heel side!

Barb S

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Like others have said, until you can do classes with an experienced trainer work on foundation stuff. There is a lot of information out there on the web on different games to play.

 

Your dog needs to have a rock solid "wait" command (different than a stay IMO). needs to heel on both sides WITH distractions. A rock solid recall with distractions (other dogs, squirrels, kids people etc). I have been taking my dog to the dog park and working on her recall, this is the hardest thing for her....

 

Use this time before you start classes to have the important foundation stuff down.

 

Another thought is to contact a trainer see if they have books/DVD's (most of the ones I know have TONS) and see if they would lend them to you (maybe with a returnable deposit), explain your situation maybe they would help.

 

You also might want to start looking into how to build your own equipment (although I wouldn't start on any of it without formal training)

 

I also wanted to add that I have have three young children (5yr old twins and a one year old) and it can make things more difficult, but it is such a wonderful break for me to get away and do something NOT child related (I think all moms need that)

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Guest Marigold

Wow, I was thinking of asking a question along the same lines. I'd love to teach Skye agility, but right now I work evenings and both places I know of that teach in my area only have evening classes. I'm not crazy about going to either place anyway-the first is an obedience club and you have to member to take agility classes, and the other we recently took an obedience class from and let's just say the owner knows more about dog psychology than human psychology and I don't ever want to go back.

 

I just returned to college for to get my bachelor's degree, which I pass all my classes I'll get in May 2010. Hopefully I'll be able to get a day job with more income then, so I can travel farther for classes and to compete, if I choose to do so. Skye will be over 18 months old then. Meanwhile, if I understand right, Clean Run is the best place to get books and DVD's about agility? I'd love to make some homemade obstacles in the yard for Skye to have fun with...and train him how to use them in such a way that I can easily transfer our skills to competition if it works out.

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Marigold, you might want to check into the Helix Fairweather Cyber Agility program.

 

www.cyberagility.com

 

Also, Clean Run has a new Foundation Agility DVD out. I don't have firsthand experience with it, but it would likely be a good place to start.

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.....

 

 

Also, Clean Run has a new Foundation Agility DVD out. I don't have firsthand experience with it, but it would likely be a good place to start.

 

I'm just working through it now - it's looking like a great place to start (or go back to :D - and Barb S, I go back to those left-hand-handling-only days too :rolleyes: .)

 

All the work is done without any formal agility obstacles (quite deliberately - she says, so that if you do make mistakes in teaching the dog, those mistakes are not associated with the 'real' equipment.)

 

Her handling system is basically Greg Derrett (but she also acknowledges Susan Garrett and Nancy Gyes). I've already started a little bit of it with my little boy (17 weeks old now) and plan to do more. Her explanations and demonstrations are nice anc clear - and she shows what to do if things don't quite go to plan - always a good thing :D .

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