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Starting Foundation class

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I am beginning a foundation class with my 14 mos. old BC, Colt in the first week of March. The instructor has achieved national championships with a number of dogs and came highly recommended. She does not compete BC's.


When I started out riding horses 12 years ago I had no idea what made a good teacher and what was correct and helpful instruction or not so. It took me a few years of studying and reading and experience to know these things.


So what are some of the things I should be looking for in good instruction and in a foundation class? Anything I should be cautious of?

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For me it just has to be someone that will accept where i am at (learning wise) and help me individually rather than attempting to run the whole class at one level. Saying this it may be hard to run a large class as such so maybe look for smaller classes of only a couple of dogs. Perhaps with people and dogs that are at your level also. I found in my Pre Agility classes i was way ahead and my instructor was forever getting angry at me for ridiculous things because she thought she knew it all. In my Beginner course i was at the same level as most in the class and the class was only a few dogs so more one on one time and more equipment time. You also need someone who you agree with. It won't help if they are an agility champion if they do not train the way you want to or can't embrace the way you want to train. Once again i had this with my first instructor for my puppy obedience class and she couldn't wrap her head around the fact that i was shaping everything and would not smack my puppy's nose to teach a leave it command. Then my instructors changed and i got a couple of wonderful ladies who could embrace that and understood that although i wasn't going to take over their class it was okay for me to do exercises differently on the outskirts of the class and join in for socialization. So you need someone who wants to help you train the way you want to or be okay with it if you disagree with a method of training without being self righteous. Just someone you get along with i think. None of my instructor were "qualified" but had many years experience and funnily enough 3 of them made it onto the WAC team for Australia. But their methods of training were trial and error and their dogs aren't specially bred or chosen but do fantastic, so i'd just make sure your instructor isn't a know it all. :rolleyes: And i mean that in the nicest possible way.

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The most important thing for me is instructors who are willing to work with where I am and my dog is. Also it's important to me that instructors respect that I know my dog best and know how far to push and what her limitations are.


The best advice I got before starting agility was to always have fun.

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It won't help if they are an agility champion if they do not train the way you want to or can't embrace the way you want to train.


I'm with you on that.

My daughter recently went on a training day with one of the most successful handlers of recent years here and was rather disappointed since her attitude was "my way is best" regardless of whether it suited individual dogs or handlers.

Patently there is no one way that is best and the rest inferior since top handlers don't all train or handle the same way. If one way was superior for everyone, surely they would all use it.


And success in competition doesn't necessarily mean that person is a good teacher. Teaching is a skill apart. It's important not to be blinded by fame.


As an example, a friend of mine has had great success over many years. Her husband has been reasonably successful - top level but not as consistent or determined. She always says that she is the better handler but he is the better teacher, and she's right.


Not having run BCs isn't necessarily a disadvantage. My favourite trainer of the moment has been at the top here for a long time with a lurcher, Pharaoh Hound, small mongrel and in the last few years kelpies. The only time he runs BCs is if he has to run his wife's dogs. Since all BCs aren't the same, I'd rather have someone who has learned to be flexible in approach rather than someone who has only ever run high drive BCs.



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Over 16 years of agility I've trained with World Team members and non World Team, they've run border collies for the most part, and I've agreed and disagreed with some. The key is to understand that not everything is nesicarily going to work for your dog and that your instructor understands it too.


What I look for in an instructor

1) What types of dogs have they run? ie different breeds, different styles velcro, workaway, confindent, timid

2) What success have they had

3) How flexible are they in their teachings...if something does not work for a dog/student team are they willing to try something else

4)Sit in on a class or two how happy are the students? the dogs?

5)How patient is the instuctor with a team that is having a problem

6)Although your prospective instructor has not run border collies in the past does he/she understand how a border collie runs/thinks


Keep in mind that a instuctor that is that competitive may not be teaching a whole lot when trial season rolls around, so you want to scope out any subs that might be filling in too,

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Doesn't matter if an instructor is a WT member or not. Plenty of great instructors are not. Look at the success of her students as a measure of her abilities to TEACH.


Good point about the sub. I've only taken one class in recent memory (because I was too lazy to set up challenges for myself), and it was from a WT member whose sub SUCKED. Only knew how to regurgitate one handling style, one that I don't use. Plus she set up this gawd-awful AKC course. Worst class EVER.

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