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On the Topic of Slower and Faster Agility Dogs

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Yesterday I was doing some work with Tessa, and then with Bandit, for an online class that I am taking.

 

I took video and ended up putting together this comparison video. They are working the same behavior, "fly" (send to the obstacle and then come back toward me).

 

Tessa is a seasoned Agility dog. She and I have been working on this skill consistently for years. We weren't really working on distance here - just demonstrating the skill at a basic level.

 

Bandit and I have dabbled. He has done this since he was very young, but not necessarily with Agility equipment.

 

The video doesn't even do justice to the contrast in physical sensation between the two . . .

 

 

With Tessa this feels rather like rolling a bowling ball. Once I set her in motion, off she goes, but I had to put a certain amount of "umpf" into the "throw".

 

With Bandit this feels like he shot our of a cannon spontaneously! I lined him up, released and . . .BOOM!!

 

I am very excited to get into Agility proper with Bandit, but I am also somewhat in awe of the task of learning to handle him. In some ways it is going to be like learning everything all over again.

 

Right now I would say that I prefer the moderate paced dog, but I know I am speaking from a place where that is my experience. (Even Dean was moderate in competition because of his anxiety issues). Will I prefer Mr. Cannonball?

Time will tell . . . !!!

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It's exhausting cheerleading and coaxing a slow dog round a course. Fast independent dogs are much easier.

 

Bandit's turns are looking really good. Now to build in the distance.

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It's exhausting cheerleading and coaxing a slow dog round a course. Fast independent dogs are much easier.

 

 

Agree. But early cues are soooo important. And if you make the slightest handling mistake (that sends your dog to the wrong obstacle), there is no recovery. But, oh, the adrenaline rush is awesome. ;)

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Agree. But early cues are soooo important. And if you make the slightest handling mistake (that sends your dog to the wrong obstacle), there is no recovery. But, oh, the adrenaline rush is awesome. ;)

I remember someone in my agility class who is an extreme example. She bought herself a Border Collie from very strong working lines, presumably for agility. Its a beautiful dog, gives 110% into everything, so fast, so weightless, with so much instinct that it is giving "the eye" to the jumps when on the start line! Soo much drive as well, a little rocket!

 

However, when she tries to handle the dog, all she gets is a frustrated dog spinning in circles barking at her. Its because her handling wasnt right for the dog, and it didnt work out. The dog works well when the agility instructor is handling it though, as she has more experience and can give clearer signals.

 

They had their last lesson in our group the other day, because now the agility instructor will be handling the dog instead, which I do have to think is for the better, as this dog is one I can only describe in superlatives.

______________________

BTW im not trying to say anything from this, just a story I wanted to share based on the quote above ;)

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I see a goodly amount of Border Collies who spin in frustration in the Agility ring. (That has also made me appreciate my moderate paced, but super solid girl)

I have really good instructors and they have experience with fast dogs. I am counting on them to help me learn!! :)

I think, "if Bandit is doing that, we won't play this game". But - really - I think he has the presence of mind to run Agility very well. If the problem is my handling, I can learn!! :)

 

(I don't think you implied that I couldn't - just flowing with the conversation!! :) )

When he and I get to where we are running sequences, and then courses, we will still be us. He and I can understand each other very well. I trust we will carry that into the ring with us. Of course, there will be the green-ness, but that's just something you experience your way through.

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Agree. But early cues are soooo important. And if you make the slightest handling mistake (that sends your dog to the wrong obstacle), there is no recovery. But, oh, the adrenaline rush is awesome. ;)

 

Yeah - that's one area where Tessa is SO forgiving!!

 

I noticed that once Bandit's mind went to that hoop, he already knew where he was going and what he was doing. If I changed my cue at that point, it would be way too late!!!

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HA. I can definitely see that happening. ^^^^ (referring to post by clbmine).

 

Torque was my first agility dog. It has been a steep learning curve. My agility instructor (handles springer spaniels) tried to run him once. She never asked a second time.

 

I still make many mistakes as a handler of a very fast dog, but at least my dog is having great fun. I think it is his forgiving attitude. If I am late with a cue, he doesn't spin and/or bark, he just 'flips me his paw' and runs onto the next obstacle in a course of his own design. "Hey, mom. I got it. I got it"

 

One particularly illustrative moment was a couple of weekends ago at a NADAC trial, Tunnelers course. As you can imagine, a course of just tunnels tends to get the speed ramped up. Torque and I were flying through the course - speedy, yet with tight turns - until I forgot the next tunnel and sent him to the wrong one. Aarrgghh. With a dog that may take only 2 strides between tunnels, there is no chance of redirecting. I saw several other handlers make the same mistake, but because their dogs had a shorter stride and less speed, they were able to call their dog off the wrong tunnel.

 

Since I don't want to punish my dog for my mistakes, I just kept running and completed the course. No sense in re-doing the correct tunnel since the mistake was already made, and there was no chance for a Q. I would rather that my dog stays happy.

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If the problem is my handling, I can learn!! :)

Yes, I think that having a fast dog is a great learning experience. You can do it.

 

I have always felt guilty that Torque was my first agility dog because he is so talented, and he had to have me as his handler. He has made me a much better handler (but I still have a ways to go) because I have had to learn to be more precise and have had to search out alternative handling techniques that work for us. In return, I try to make him happy to run agility and do not punish him for my mistakes. I have become VERY good at knowing when I am wrong on an agility course.

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I run a fast, powerful dog. We have trouble with off courses because if I am late, he just takes the obstacle in front of him, which is how I trained him. I think that this is infinitely better than spinning, barking, and biting.

 

I think that people get into trouble with these fast dogs because they don't let them just run. If a slow handler tries to run with a fast dog, there are basically 2 alternatives: 1) The slog slows to the handler's pace 2) Then dog gets frustrated as hell.

 

From almost the very beginning, I trained sends, lateral distance, commitment, directionals, and obstacle independence. Its my dogs job to take the obstacle in front of him and it is my job to steer. If I am late or unclear, we just don't Q, but the dog still had a blast.

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I run a slow dog, and frankly I'm okay with that. Oh, she can be fast, but she's mostly 'kind of fast, sometimes faster, and occasionally very slow'. Molly's fast. Molly is at least a year from being temperamentally sound enough to run agility at a trial, and that's okay, too. They're both fun.


But I'm NOT sorry the first dog I ran with is the slower one - who used to be consistently really slow but has gained sped with experience and confidence. In fact I'm very, very grateful to just how forgiving she was of me. Heck, if Molly never competes I won't be sorry. Kylie (the slower, lowish drive) dog is actually not a terrible fit for me.


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I run a slow dog, and frankly I'm okay with that. Oh, she can be fast, but she's mostly 'kind of fast, sometimes faster, and occasionally very slow'. Molly's fast. Molly is at least a year from being temperamentally sound enough to run agility at a trial, and that's okay, too. They're both fun.

 

But I'm NOT sorry the first dog I ran with is the slower one - who used to be consistently really slow but has gained sped with experience and confidence. In fact I'm very, very grateful to just how forgiving she was of me. Heck, if Molly never competes I won't be sorry. Kylie (the slower, lowish drive) dog is actually not a terrible fit for me.

 

 

I think Kylie runs great. You have improved a lot from last year.

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I think Kylie runs great. You have improved a lot from last year.

 

Thanks! I just realized you were there at one of my very first trials and to see my first Q. We have gotten better, and I'm proud of that little mutt. She's been very good to and for me -

 

and as weird as our whole Colfax trial this past weekend was (and it was a strange one, probably because indoors + two weeks in a row + 4 a.m wake-up) we got our very first Elite Regular Q. I was chuffed.

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I've competed with two Border Collies and trained two others (my current two.) Out of the first two, one was fast, but very good at reading me and very biddable and forgiving, the second wasn't quite as fast but also very forgiving. I do mostly obedience and rally and only dabble in agility. Out of the current two, one is hyped and crazy. I love him but my handling skills REALLY need to improve and I've tried several different trainers and didn't find a good fit. The other one is fast but not excessively so. Although I love my crazy dog and really want to find the right trainer to improve my handling skills so that we can run a course clean, the slightly slower paced dogs have suited me better.

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I was actually reminded that I have this. This is weekend before this past one's trial with a few runs and shows her range okay. Not the far extreme of either slow or fast I've seen, but pretty much where she is. (Nor are they perfect, but hey. I'm happy with my dog, and I particularly like that second course/first T'n'G one.)


The song is also a pretty neat summation of my attitude.


"Fast or slow, I'm gonna enjoy the ride."

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@CptJack

Aww, shes precious! What breed(s) is she? :)

 

Also, what are those hoop-like obstacles? Never really seen much like them, ive seen them once or twice in other videos, rarely, but never in RL. They were in Root Beers video too

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Also, what are those hoop-like obstacles? Never really seen much like them, ive seen them once or twice in other videos, rarely, but never in RL. They were in Root Beers video too

 

Those are NADAC hoops. The dogs run through them. NADAC is the only venue that has them, but I absolutely love them for training. I train all of my dogs on the hoop, just like any other piece of equipment.

 

NADAC actually has a "hoopers" class that is made up of all hoops. I think one of my dogs has a Q in it, actually.

 

It used to be a game, but now I think it might be a numbered course? I'm not sure.

 

But they also use them in other classes, just like jumps, but not jumps.

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@CptJack

Aww, shes precious! What breed(s) is she? :)

 

Also, what are those hoop-like obstacles? Never really seen much like them, ive seen them once or twice in other videos, rarely, but never in RL. They were in Root Beers video too

 

According to Wisdom DNA (LOL) she's a beagle/sheltie mix bred to a chi/terrier mix. That's the only answer I can give, because heck all if I know. Cute and kind of prissy?

 

The hoops are like Rootbeer explained - they're a NADAC obstacle. No one else uses them but since we run NADAC - No, actually even if we didn't I'd have them. We own a set of several and I use the heck out of them. They're great for working on handling since they're zero impact on the dog (unlike a jump or something).

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Whatever she is, so looks pretty! :)

I think she does look like she has sheltie in her, but I wouldn't know at all! Is she a rescue?

 

That sounds cool, they seem far more useful than trees, goal posts and chairs when it comes to practising without much space and equipment for wraps and turns, though my boy would probably still jump it haha!

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Whatever she is, so looks pretty! :)

I think she does look like she has sheltie in her, but I wouldn't know at all! Is she a rescue?

 

That sounds cool, they seem far more useful than trees, goal posts and chairs when it comes to practising without much space and equipment for wraps and turns, though my boy would probably still jump it haha!

 

She was a very tiny dumped puppy who has grown into one heck of an incredible little dog who will try anything I ask, and I adore her completely.

 

Yeah, exactly. They're also cheap and easy to transport. It takes some dogs a bit to understand the point of them but man. Love. And everything with them translates to jumps or whatever, too.

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Easy to build hoops. Directions are on the NADAC site.

 

I agree with their usefulness for training handling moves without having to overly stress the dog's joints with repeated jumping.

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I do know people with very fast dogs, who have acquired smaller, slower dogs because they are easier to handle and their Q-rate is much higher.

 

Obviously, there is more margin for handler error with a dog that puts 5 strides between obstacles as opposed to 1 stride or even a bounce.

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I have one of each. An accurate moderately paced dog and a full on fireball. I get more titles with my moderate pacer and he enjoys agility and is in demand as a pairs dog because he is so accurate. He is nice and relaxing to run and usually places midfield. My wild child will be in the top placings if I get him clear and I hit the sweet spot of handling a course, but more often than not something goes awry. He is loads of fun to run and I always have my heart in my mouth when I step up to the start line. I have to be on my A game when I run him. He doesnt spin and bark he just forges ahead if I am too slow. He is a great sheepdog as well.

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Lily is a dog that can run like an out of control race car one event and handle like a dream the next. Being able to handle her well while she's running like a race car is a huge rush.

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In my agility class, my dog is more slow paced and accurate while another border collie is fast but ends up making up his own course. I admire handlers that have a fast and accurate dog.

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My wild child will be in the top placings if I get him clear and I hit the sweet spot of handling a course, but more often than not something goes awry.

 

Typically when Tessa places above the fast dogs on a numbered course, it is because those dogs in her class went off course, knocked bars, or something went otherwise awry!!

 

I am not huge into placements (although Tessa and I have certainly gotten plenty), but I am always interested to see where she stacked up against the fast dogs. It is interesting. They are SO much faster! We can have a run that I consider a "fast run" for her and we are like 5 seconds under course time, but the fast dogs were significantly faster! It's mind boggling. But then there are often times when they have faults and we don't. Tessa rarely places ahead of dogs on time, but often places ahead of them on faults.

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