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Agility Beginner Foundation Questions

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I have started taking a Foundations 1 class with my BC, Bella, and I just have a couple of concerned questions about teaching her to do certain things. The trainer in the class has done a great job explaining what we should be working on, we aren't doing any obstacles except tunnel and a jump on the lowest height possible. I think she does this mainly so we can introduce our dogs to it, plus people sometimes complain when you don't get to do any obstacles at all. I think this is fine because Bella needs some serious confidence building (Also, Bella and another dog in the class are less than 7 months old). I'm mainly interested in the foundation training part first anyway. She has a decent stay, can spin right and left on cue and is responsive to my hand cues. We play the "chase me" game where I throw the toy and try to race her to the toy then throw a party when we get there. I can even throw the ball and have her stay until I reach the ball then release her to come get it (I think that's her favorite).


For the life of me, I CANNOT get her to back up onto a surface. I have tried to use like a flat box lid and all she wants to do is put her front paws on it then step off and do back paws. Do you guys think this is okay, will it mes her up in the future? Any recommendations?

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It sounds like YOU want and need some foundation work, but perhaps your instructor is bending to the will of the masses. This is fairly typical! Not sure what you mean when you say Bella needs confidence building. What does she do? When does she do it? Has it improved with the class or outside of class?


Re backing up: I think it *is* important for young dogs to know where their various body parts are!! There isn't any particular agility performance that requires backing up. But if, for instance, you want her to do a "two-on/two off" performance on contacts, knowing where those back feet are is very important!


What I've done with my short-attention-span, very-long-legged boy is this: arrange an exercise pen in a long V shape. Stand in the opening, dog facing you, and simply step into him. He backs up one step at a time, and eventually hits whatever I've put there (currently onto a 3" thick foam pad). I'm working to get him to go all the way back without me stepping into him - we're getting there! You could use a narrow hallway, with something blocking one side so Bella can't turn around (ladder on its side covered with a blanket? or something similar, if you don't have an x-pen).


Good luck!


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I'll try that. That is originally how I taught her how to back up on command (Just doesn't like backing up onto things). I'll try it some more with the narrow hallway but with something behind her.


On the confidence topic, She is a very shy and timid dog towards everything: people, dogs, new environments, etc. She's getting better every day, but I feel as if doing "challenging" things can help boost her confidence. For example, when I first started teaching her touch on command, she was very scared to touch whatever object I put in front of her, but now she does it with ease, even with loud crinkly aluminum foil. She will even put her two front paws on a skateboard and move it a little. We've worked on stays and other things we are doing in class in very distracting environments like the public park and in our yard where cars are zooming by and students walking to class. We are only on week 3/8 of class starting tonight. I like that we are doing very minimal obstacles because I do want to start off on the right foot. Even the instructor has said that we really only do that in Foundations 1 because people tend to think that you need to introduce these things to your dog in the very beginning and sometimes they get frustrated or uninterested when you don't. I think the classes have helped her (and me) so far, even with the small amount of time we have spent there. She seems to be improving inside and outside of class and I do my best to work on the "homework" from class every week, but sometimes I get stumped.

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