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I am a new Border Collie owner and I wanted any advice I could get on how to get mine started in agility training. I have two and they are both a little over 5 months old. I know they are still pretty young but I wasn't sure if anyone had any advice on things we could do with them while they are younger as well as advice on how to start once they are older (finding a place to practice, finding other people in the area that do it as well, how to look up any local events we could attend just to watch, etc.)


Any help would be greatly appreciated. They have been doing awesome as far as training and we have been amazed at how smart they've been but we've kind of run out of things to do with them and we don't want them to get bored. Thank you!

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Congrats on your pups!


You are right that your pups are too young right now to start any serious agility training. You don't want to jump them at full height or put them on full size equipment until they are over a year old (or when their growth plates have closed)... but there is SO MUCH that you can do before you put them on obstacles that will help them immensely.


First, I would train tricks, tricks, and more tricks! Training tricks teaches your dogs how to learn, and you how to teach, and teaches them that working with you is fun! If you need ideas on tricks to train, there are plenty of youtube videos out there (free), some books on tricks (not too expensive), and there are also a couple of AWESOME DVDs by Silvia Trkman on tricks. She has a lot of really neat and creative tricks that she teaches her dogs.


(I would highly recommend that you train your dogs separately. It will make so many things simpler... so just put one of them away while you work with the other).


In addition to tricks, you can also teach your dogs to go around things (flower pots, trees, vacuums, etc.) and practice some handling on the flat.


Practice stays with increasing levels of distraction (so you can have a good start line stay later). related: work on your recalls as well. Make recall training a fun game so that your pups are super excited to run to you. You can never practice either of these enough.


Teach your dogs to LOVE toys (ball, tug, whatever). You can definitely train agility using food, and there are certain times where you will want to reward with food even with a toy motivated dog. BUT, I will say that, having done it both ways, it is easier in many ways to work with a toy-driven dog.


There are also some online courses out there that are very good. Silvia does a foundations course, and I think Daisy Peel does, too. You can audit these or sign up for working spots in which you get to submit videos and receive feedback.


To look up events in your area, try agilityevents.net You can look up shows by state/venue... there's bound to be something around that you can drive to. Most agility competitors are fairly willing to talk about their dogs/agility training... just don't approach them when they look like they are getting ready for a run.


Good luck! and have fun!

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to save typing, I will just say that dmadrid has written a very complete answer.


One book I like is "Agility Right from the Start"


and I also want to stress that full-height jumps and weave poles should not be trained until at least a year-old. (Actually, the same advice goes for any repetitive jumping or twisting activity.) Allowing your pups to jump and twist voluntarily while they play is OK - for example, jumping over logs while on a free-range walk will build up coordination and muscle.


Have fun with your pups,


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greetings from Morgantown, WV. good luck with the pups. we do agility up here and have several trials. at about 3 hours away it may be far, but it may be the closest thing to you. let me know if you want more info!

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I made so many mistakes when I started out, because I did not understand the game. I would highly recommend finding someone to train with so you can learn the game as well. I went to see a friend this weekend who I lent Agility Right From the Start To, she was very proud of her young dogs efforts he was doing great but she was giving him bad information, she was sending him over each jump with the wrong arm (outside) I quickly showed her with my dog how you used directionals, even a quick demo without arms and she understood immediately... just one example, one of my own was messing up my first dogs contacts as I had no clue of why it was so critical. It was only once we started trialling that I realized that we had problems...

Which brings me back to a trainer, if you can find one that does a foundation course your dogs are old enough to start that.

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  • 8 months later...

We've started agility too. Other games:


I play hide and seek with our girls and have been playing that since they were 4 months old. They love it. It's good as we practise the stay command and they have to use their ears and noses to find me around the house.


I also shut them in he bathroom whilst I hide a selection of treats all around the house then let them out and leave them too go find the treats. Keeps them busy long after they've found all the treats.



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