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New to agility OR any dog sport for that fact

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I have a 9 month old BC boy, we are new to any dog sports, and new to the BC world too.


I have been looking at a lot of agility training classes, reading CU for puppy, watching Susan Garrett DVD's etc...But still an outsider to this world !


Here is my question - what should be the format of a good agility class ? What should I look for ? I looked at pre-agility too, and whats the best format?


Mine is too distracted & hyper when he gets to class, eventually settles down & focuses, but I am not sure its the right format of a class I picked.


And do all BC's bark in an agility environment ?


Thank you in advance !


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You have been getting a good foundation by reading, so now begin to put a good foundation on your dog. First, your dog should be obedient. I don't mean 'competition obedience' obedient, but he should have manners (sit, stay, a recall) and be focused on you. Going to classes (whatever kind - obedience, rally, foundation agility, etc.) will help the dog learn to focus in spite of the distractions (if you train for that).


I would start my dog with foundation agility classes. There may be different names used (pre-agility?), but I would want to be working my dog on the flat (no jumps) and training for handling strategies. I would also want the class to be very fun for the dog - lots of rewards and lots of running. At 9 months, your pup should not be doing repetitive jumping.


Some BCs bark, but I would say most are quiet as they are focused on their task.


Have fun with dog sports - whatever you choose. It is a great way to bond with your dog.



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At 9 months, look for a pre agility/foundation class, they will learn to work with you, rear end awareness all sorts of things that you would not learn in a regular puppy/obedience class. I did all my foundation work on my current dog at home because there was no decent foundation class anywhere near by, but he was my second agility dog and I understood what I had missed by diving straight in.


My guy did not start barking at me in class until we were sequencing (doing big sections of a course) and he was only barking to tell me that I was being very slow with the directions, he still barks to let me know that he thinks I am slow, and I am fine with that.


If you are interested in another book try Agility Right From the Start, it was what I used for my dogs foundation and I think it is a great book. You will probably not understand the point of somethings - none of us did when we started out - but will give you a good idea of what you should be doing in an a foundation class.


What you should not be doing is weave poles, jumping big jumps, full size contact equipment those are flags that the class is pushing a young dog to fast. My guy did not see full size jumps or contact equipment till he was a year old, he did not jump full height of 26" until he was about 16 months, but was competing at 19 months.


Have fun and enjoy the journey, you might get hooked like many of us!!!!!

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Choose a class that teaches things slowly and puts HUGE emphasis on foundations. You'll be greatful for it later.


If you have the time/funds, consider doing an online foundations class at the same time. You'll learn things and teach them in the low stress environment of home, and at class you can focus on distraction work/self control (because behaviour will slip at class , that's normal).

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As for the barking, I think it's very common with BC's. In my class there are 5 BC's, 4 of them are barkers. (My Asa has the biggest mouth of them all!) It's a sign of excitement, and occasionally frustration. My girl is quiet and calm in all other environments, but as soon as she starts a run, "Miss Barks Alot" starts yapping at me! ;-) I started with a foundations class, and that was a great segue into agility, I highly recommend that approach. Stay away from anything that stresses the growth plates till they are older-jumping and weaves in particular. There are plenty of skills to work on until they are a bit older. If you think you will ever compete, it would be a good idea to go to some trials to get your dog used to the environment. And most important of all--have fun!

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  • 2 weeks later...

So I'm late to the ball game, but I just got posting ability and wanted to add something... Don't feel stressed about his in class behavior. Mine is great at home and turns into Tigger on a leash when we walk in the door. I was too harsh on my sar dog to behave and took the fun out of class for him. It took me a good solid year to convince him he really could have fun with this again... That was my one regret (and 10 years later, I still regret it). I've seen other newbies make the same mistake - in subsequent classes with other dogs, so I think it's a thing every needs to learn.

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Look for instructors/classes that have some emphasis on impulse control. I think a foundations class would be a great place to start, but beware, not all foundations classes are equal.


Typically newbies get bored and want to start running full courses like they've seen on TV. Take your time, work on the basics and you'll get there and be happier with what you have. Don't shut down your dog by asking for a lot of technical skills too early. Let him learn to like agility and working with you first; then you can work on technical sequences. If you think you might want to compete some day be thoughtful in what you teach the dog from the beginning. It's much easier to train the start line you want and the contact behavior that you want from the beginning rather than have to retrain it later.


We've typically taken our dogs to classes where one dog runs at a time, because that works best for us. There are other classes in rooms that are large enough to have two sections and two dogs work at one time.


I would also investigate instructors. See how many dogs they've trained, what breeds, how much they've competed, titles earned etc. Although not everyone who does well at competiton can teach and not everyone who teaches well competes well, it at least gives you an idea of their experience.


Gina Pizzo

and Abbey (retrained start line and contact behavior, and it's a good thing she's so smart)

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Thank you, yes we enrolled in a foundation class which will focus on

Sit, stays, circle work, crate games, shaping behaviors to increase focus & get the willingness to work (which mine is usually more that happy to work), feet in a box, nose touch, all basics, he knows most, but again at home not in an environment with 10 other dogs


Also we have started CU training - reorienting points, whiplash turn, LAT etc


I think these 2 should be good for foundation, and communication between him & me.


Thanks for all the advice.

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