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NeonCanines

a few agility questions for a "sorta" newbie

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Hi all!

I had a sheltie that I did agility with just for fun 5 years ago. Since then he has passed, and I've gotten a BC/Kelpie cross. She is 12 weeks old.

When can she start jumping? What can we work on now at this age?

Also I want to compete with her, and that means she needs to be registered. Correct? Where do I register a mixed dog for agility?

I am in the Bowling Green Kentucky area.

How do I find out about upcoming agility events?

 

Thank you for your time!!

 

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Love the ears! Very cute pup.

 

You don't need to have a registered dog to compete in agility.

 

No jumping until her growth plates are closed. This varies from dog to dog, but for a female I would estimate about 2 years old. You can do plenty of foundation training until then.

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Cute pup! At 12 weeks old, don't worry about agility training yet. Focus on the basics (sit, down, stay, house manners), making sure all social interactions are good ones and just having fun with your puppy.

 

I would start foundation training at about 10 months of age. If you can find a class with a good trainer, its a great way to learn and socialize at the same time. You will learn a lot by watching others learn the same things and you can also learn from your classmates mistakes. Foundation training covers the basics of agility handling, cues, direction changes, sit-stay, body awareness, and developing teamwork. No equipment yet really.

 

Jumping doesn't start until about 12 months...once growing is pretty much done. I would jump at full height until at least 18 months. Still, my dog Meg jump Skilled/Preferred (4 inches lower than the jump height she measures into).

 

You will need to register your dog with whichever organization you plan to enter events. There are several: AKC, NADAC, ASCA, USDAA, and others. I wouldn't worry about it until you are ready to compete. Most don't allow dog under 18 months in competition, so you have some time to explore what organizations are active in your area and decide which to one(s) to register with. Each one has slightly different rules. AKC is among the most expensive when it comes to event entry fees. If you choose to compete in AKC events, you would register her under their Companion Animal program.

 

Each organization also has different games. Check out their websites, go watch a few events, and see which one(s) you like the best. Also, at events, pay attention to the competitors. If your area is anything like here, you'll likely be seeing the same people at many events. Choose the organization with the friendliest competitors and you'll have more fun.

 

NADAC, ASCA, and AKC have the most events in my area. AKC events are typically bigger, entries fill quickly, and they usually involve a lot of wait time between runs. ASCA and NADAC are smaller, friendlier and cheaper. ASCA rules and equipment are very close to AKC rules. NADAC is a bit different, with some equipment you don't see elsewhere, like hoops and barrels; NADAC does not have the tire, chute, or teeter.

 

I prefer NADAC because Meg often thinks jumps are boring. NADAC has tunnelers, Touch-n-Go, and hoopers (all games without jumps) and we have more fun with those. Plus most of the local NADAC competitors are laid back and friendly. The AKC trials tend to be a bit more stressful, with some competitors taking things way to seriously (not that there aren't plenty of friendly folks too).

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I can't answer any of the agility questions, other than echoing Liz's recommendation not to jump too soon.

 

But your pup sure is cute! My lurcher, Tansy, came from the shelter in Bowling Green.

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A table of average growth plate closure with the relevant ranges that has been posted here previously. There is no one date as each plate closes at a different age.

 

http://www.provet.co.uk/health/diagnostics/growthplatedogs.htm

 

Small dogs will be at the lower end of the range, large dogs at the higher end. I would expect a BC/Kelpie mix to fall round about the middle, but individual dogs do vary.

 

Unfortunately the breeds reported are not identified but it would be a pointless exercise if large dogs were not included. I don't get the impression that giant breeds are included though.

 

Twelve months is fine for a healthy BC to start jumping but avoid too much repetition of the same exercises. Drilling for long periods is not a good idea at any age.

 

Foundation skills can be taught at any age - they are only games and basic obedience - but the sooner a pup starts developing body awareness the better. No rush to start on equipment though. There are plenty of You Tube videos giving ideas of what to do.

 

Don't take it too seriously or do too much of any one thing.

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You don't need to have a registered dog to compete in agility.

 

No, but you will need to get a registration for any venue you enter before you enter a trial.

 

IMO, you can't go wrong focusing on manners, self control, socialization to dog show environments and enjoying her puppyhood and skipping formal agility training until she is a grown adult. There are some folks who train pre-agility behaviors to puppies (groundwork, etc) and thats safe to do.

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If you cant find a foundation class in your area, consider Sylvia Trkman online puppy class, I have heard great things about it and I believe there are people on this board who have taken it.

As everyone has said foundation is about your dog learning their body and learning to work with you, lots of fun games. My guy started going through jump standards at about 9 months, basically sequencing on the flat, started to jump at 12 months but not full height.

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http://agilityevents.net/

 

The web site above is a nice resource, it lists many upcoming events in a number of different agility venues. I am still pretty new to agility and it is helping me find trials within our traveling range.

 

I have been to Bowling Green twice this year, by the way, both for NADAC trials held at Western's Ag Center. I live in Lexington.

 

I didn't start my dog in agility classes until she was over a year old mainly because I didn't really know how to get started or what was involved, so she was already old enough to do all the jumping necessary. There was an Aussie in our class that was only about 9 months old at the time and while he still jumped, he jumped over very low bars in class until he was a year old.

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As far as I know every venue has an age limit of either 15 or 18 months before they can compete in agility. I was told on this sight to check out Bowwowflix for some dvds and they have all categories. I have found a couple of trainers that I really like their approach on agility. We are working on our distance work, not hitting bars and my handling skills LOL. Have fun and enjoy.

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Ah. Yes, learned that lesson. Growth plates in the average dog close at 14 months if they are intact, 18 months if neutered. I wouldn't jump full height before that time; you could always get rads to be sure the growth plates are closed, and some people do. HOWEVER, you can do loads of prep work in a dog under a year. My puppy didn't see full height equipment until a year or older (depending on the obstacle), but she was doing that full height equipment within a matter of weeks because of her prep work.

 

One important caveat is to keep all training sessions short (5-10 minutes, or less in a pup less than 6-8 months) and infrequent (maybe 2-3 times per week), due to both attention span and physical stress. But you can start to do exercises like tunnels, sending/obstacle focus (for a jump with the bar flat on the ground), wrapping standards/backsides, startlines!!, running a flat plank as prep for running contacts, lying down (on a table surface placed on the ground), 2o2o/backing up, and (when the pup is older, say 7 or 8 months) the rudiments of handling (crosses, threadles, serps), again with jumps having the bar flat on the ground. And I seoond that teaching your dog basic manners ("look" at you, sit, down, stay, walking on a lead, taking and dropping a tug, coming when called) is paramount. I started with things like startlines and obstacle focus and tunnels at 3-4 months, and worked up from there. But if you haven't done agility in a while, a foundations agility class (no equipment involved, just foundation work) would be useful. There are loads of these in our area (Philadelphia), but not sure about KY...things differ dramatically from region to region (USDAA and AKC are the primary venues here, for instance, although UKI is gaining in popularity, which is great).

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Ah. Yes, learned that lesson. Growth plates in the average dog close at 14 months if they are intact, 18 months if neutered.

Please see the link in my post above for times of growth plates closure.

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Er, yes, and the latest of those is 12-13 months (on average, which is imprtant to note). They told us 14 in vet school, maybe that was being unduly cautious. I have seen another manual that said 14-15 for the latest of the closures, again on average. HOWEVER, what is really important is that this can vary significantly from dog to dog (well, even that link illustrates very well the variability. I'd love to see the original article on which this was based, if there was one, but the manual iteself dates to 1985. The original source could be much older). More recent research has shown that large breed dogs, as well as gonadectomized animals, have significantly delayed closures, on the order of months. Skeletal pathology can also delay closure; dysplastic dogs, for instance, have been shown to have significantly delayed closure of the proximal femoral and tibial epiphyses, as well as the femoral capital growth plates. Truly, the only way to be certain that a given individual's growth plates have closed is to radiograph that animal's limbs, in which some performance folks certainly invest.

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