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Agility Info, Please

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I have a 2 year old female (spayed) Border Collie, Emma, and would like to learn more about agility training. I do not have access to any kennel clubs tho have attended obedience classes for 2 years with a previous dog.


Emma and I are doing well with basic obedience on our own, and her recall, sit, down and stay commands are well executed - even when she's off-leash. I have also taught her to wait before running off to retrieve a thrown object, only taking off w/ the word "go", and to stop on command even when in a dead run (this last one didn't work when she chased a wild rabbit and a baby Canada Goose, the latter of which she actually caught but didn't harm!). She has quickly learned many tricks such as jumping on command, walking on her back legs, finding a hidden object by scent, fetching my shoes, catching frisbee, and a few other cute things. She has also learned to wait before eating a meal and before eating a treat. She is sound shy - we're working hard on that, and can be "excitable" when lacking something to think about or needs a good run.


Now that summer is here, I would love to set up a little agility (obstacle) course in my back yard. I haven't a clue how to do it tho and would appreciate some feedback and perhaps references to appropriate websites/books that would guide my efforts. I am not sure what else she (and I!) needs to be taught, i.e. obedience, in order to successfully start this type of training. In other words, I would like to start at square 1 in order to alleviate undue frustration on both our parts. Is is ok to be doing this on my own? I also don't know how to build the obstacles, where to place them etc...


I thought that agility would be fun for both Emma and I and sincerly hope that I, with guidance from more experienced Border Collie handlers/trainers/owners/lovers, can enjoy Emma's energy and enthusiasm to it's fullest under our circumstances. I am aware that it would be so much more fun for her and I if we were able to attend a class/club and that classes would offer me more than I can learn on my own... this is just not a possibility at this time as I live in a remote area.

So... I am hoping that I can work something out and have loads of fun with my friend this summer!


Thanks for your time,


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Hi Billie~~


This is certainly the place to come to for your agility information.


The following is a web site that gives you directions on building equipment.




Also the Clean Run web site is an excellent place for information and you might want to consider subscribing to their magagzine.




Have Fun,




Kathy Flynn, CVT

Creekside Farm

Cannon Falls, MN


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Hi Kathy!


Thanks so much for the links. I've visited them both and printed up the directions for all of the JFF agility equipment at Dog Play. I hope to build at least 2 of the "obstacles" and have some fun. I also found many links to other sites there, as well as at the Clean Run site. Hasty (BC Board member) suggested that I try to find someone to help me out. I will contact the kennel club I attended and ask for some guidance.


Thanks again for replying, I really appreciate it!


Take Care,

Billie & Emma

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A couple of more great sites that might help you:

www.agilityability.com www.dogpatch.com


There are two organizations that might be of help as well; their web sites are:

www.usdaa.com www.nadac.com


USDAA is the US Dog Agility Association; not being in the US should not deter you! They have a book of plans for building equipment, though some of it is big and heavy (and expensive).


NADAC is the North American Dog Agility Council. It's based in northern Idaho, and there are NADAC trials in Canada as well.


Both organizations list local "clubs" which sponsor competitions. Even if you're not very close to those places, sometimes the contacts can be helpful. If you can go to a competition and talk with folks, all the better!


There are lots and lots of obstacles that can be made with PVC, that are cheap, light and easy to make. Believe me, my carpentry skills are non-existent, and I have a whole yard full of equipment!


There are several books available (at least one through Clean Run, and perhaps both) that are great beginner helps. I basically taught myself for quite awhile, and did OK, though there are certainly things that I would have done with more help during the learning process. Being able to attend a seminar now and then is helpful, and you get more "bang for your buck" in the time committed. I ended up driving 250 miles (round trip) for eight one-hour lessons at one point! But then, I didn't have all the equipment, and needed lots of help with specific problems.


The agility world is also very supportive, so if you can find ANYONE around you doing it, you'll be much better off. Folks at trials are very helpful as well.


Have fun, and watch out: the addiction is easy to catch and hard to shake! smile.gif



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  • 2 weeks later...

Dear Billie,


Delighted that you are eager to join the agility world with your Border Collie, they always need something to do. From personal experience, which is based here in Europe and not Canada nor the U.S., I would say that even if you do have the chance to build obstacles for your own use ayt home, there is nothing like being part of a club to point you in the right direction.

The information that you will find on the internet is great, however, if you are a beginner at agility, you may inadvertently teach both yourself and your dog some bad habits, which will then be hard to rectify later on.

My advice is to read whatever you can find , both books and on the internet, but do try to find yourself a club to join. As Diane said, the agility world is very supportive, they would rather help you do it right, than you see you making mistakes.

Best of luck,






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