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I volunteered to do an agility demo at a local fair.

 

I would love suggestions with regard to what you think would be interesting to casual spectators. I was contemplating a short (less than 5 minute) intro including the 'history' of agility, how to get started, age of dog (don't start jumping with a puppy), and the benefits of positive reinforcement in training. Followed by, of course, running my dog through a few obstacles (jumps, tunnels, weave poles) There will be another person and dog involved.

 

Since it has been quite a while since I started agility, I have forgotten what I would like to see in an agility demo as a casual observer, or even someone who may be considering starting agility.

 

Thanks in advance.

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Not agility specific but a couple things I've learned from doing demos/presentations -

 

Keep terms really simple and relatable. A lot a dog person speak is a foreign language to the average person.

 

Have a "resource list" printed to give out to people who are really interested (not out for the public but if someone comes up to ask questions afterwards)

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I did this years ago - not sure I would now! :-)


When I did it, there were a lot of people just coming and going - no set time for a "talk." Yours may be different.

But if not - it would be kinda hard to do the history, criteria, etc. (all good ideas though!)

 

The idea of a "resource list" is great. Also, a "spectator's guide" is helpful - or a posted version if you don't want to waste paper. Explain the basics - height of jump based on dog's shoulder height, contact zones, entrance of weave poles, etc.

 

The more dogs you can get, the better! How long will you be there?? Your dogs may be great, but folks like to see different breeds too. And your dog might want a break - unless it is a "once through" demo (in which case, hauling any amount of equipment would be a total PITA!).

 

And they ALWAYS love the weave poles! Even if you only have six. And at least one tunnel. ZOOOM!!

 

diane

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I have just agreed to be part of a demo in September. Its been a year since my dogs have seen anything but jumps so we have some brushing up to do. My dog is the "weave" dog

 

I agree with the keep it simple. Most people watching will be amazed that your dogs are working without being on a leash so they don't really need to see top level handling or complicated sequences. One thing that we used to do in the past was let the people watching create a simple course through the obstacles at the end of our demo. This allows them the chance to see the dogs and handlers work a sequence that was not planned in advance and it increases participation

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I've done a decent number of demos, and what seems to impress people the most is my dog holding a casual down-stay while I attend to other things. :P

 

Most demos I see are pretty light on education and heavier on entertainment. People like to see dogs run clean more than they like to see complex maneuvers that risk a dropped bar. Tug demos seem to be pretty impressive too -- to have a dog tugging maniacally and then drop at a single quiet cue is neat for people to see.

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One of our local trainers did a demo and we invited kids (and adults) to run the course as if they were the dog...the kids loved it! Tunnels and jumps and 6 weaves. There also may have been a slightly intoxicated team of college kids who also partcipated in "teams" with a handler and "dog".... Everyone signed waivers...

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Good ideas everyone. Thanks. I incorporated several of the ideas suggested.

 

The demos went smoothly. Not as many people as I thought would attend, but they were appreciative.

 

One thing we were able to do was to show the difference between a seasoned agility dog and a beginning agility dog.That seemed to make an impression. I didn't want to intimidate people by just showing a super fast advanced agility dog. I know that I saw one of those when I was just beginning agility, and I almost threw my hands up and said "no way. never going to get there. why even try?" By showing a beginning agility dog who made mistakes, but kept trying (and was happy), I hoped to send the message that all dogs must start at the bottom and can work their way up.

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One other observation this weekend: my dog loves! kids. Actually, he loves people (for the pets), and he now realizes that he will get pets from kids too.

 

When he was young (2, 3 and 4 years old), he would actively avoid kids. If we saw them in a store, he would pull on the leash to go the other way, or he would try to hide behind my legs. This weekend, he was wading into groups of 3 or 4 or 5 kids and flopping over on his back to get belly-rubs. His tail was wagging the whole time.

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  • 1 month later...

I have recently been asked to do a little agility demo for an elementary school where I work. It would be for kids about 7-11 years olds. They are going to have a day where they have some therapy dogs, agility dogs, and possibly a few other dogs with 'jobs' to show kids how they can have fun with their dogs and what dogs can do with people.

 

Do you have anything that stands out as being particularly engaging for the younger kids?

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In my recent experience, the observers loved the speed through the tunnel and the weave poles. The kids really loved petting and fawning over my dog when he was done. I also made a point to talk about how agility helps build a bond with your dog, but not sure that message got through.

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My daughter did a demo last spring. There was a tire jump, tunnel, three regular jumps, a chute, and weaves. The weaves were in the middle with the other obstacles in a circle around them. Natasha had just turned one so my daughter didn't use the weaves, just ran her around the circle. As mentioned above the observers loved how fast Natasha ran around the course. Between runs my daughter would do a few simple tricks and that was a crowd-pleaser. One of the things everyone seemed to like best was when my daughter would stand a few feet away from her dog and toss a tennis ball and Natasha would catch it in her mouth. I still can't figure out why that was so popular.

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People get impressed by the strangest dog tricks. Mostly, I think just seeing level of training at all is going to stun them, and if the dog does what you say at speed, all the better.

 

I would add that I think if I were ever doing this kind of demo I'd stress that it's something you don't need a super special dog to do, and that all dogs can LEARN. Might get them out with their dogs playing around a little. Not necessarily in agility classes, but even just training tricks, you know?

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