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Agility handling (for someone with no experience)


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Hi everyone! 

This is my first time posting on the boards so I'm sorry in advance if I say something stupid or unintentionally controversial. 

I have always wanted to get involved in agility (since childhood), and after much careful discernment and research, I have decided to get a border collie. I am not sure whether I would do agility competitively or not, because for me the priority will be working as a team and having fun together, but at the same time... I am kind of a competitive person and will probably take it fairly seriously even if it is for fun. 

I do not actually have a border collie (I am on the waitlist for a litter that is being planned - you can see how obsessed I am), but I think it would be beneficial if I could learn the basics of agility handling before I got the dog so that I have some idea of what I am doing and don't slow down the progress. 

How would you recommend going about this? Are there any resources that you know of that would help? Should I try to self teach? Are there programs that teach handling without the dog? 

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There's actually a whole section here for dog sports, agility etc. 

Keep in mind that you cannot start training a dog in agility until he or she is at least 2 years old because it is too hard on the growing joints and muscles of a young dog. So you have plenty of time!

What you can do with a puppy, though, is as soon as the puppy shots are finished, that the pup to many places with different textures to walk on. Uphill, downhill. Teach him to walk along a long piece of wood you have on the floor (ON the floor, not above). Teach him to walk (not jump) through a hula hoop. Make a wobble board by putting a ball underneath a square piece of wood and train him to feel comfortable standing on it and keeping his balance.  You could even teach him to weave (slowly) through a set of garden stakes placed far apart, just so she learned the idea of going in and out between them.

You can do all those things and it will prep him for the actual training. Go at everything very slowly, never push the dog, and train with lots of treats and praise and never let him see you disappointed if he makes a mistake. Praise all efforts abundantly, including those that fail. Make it fun for the puppy and only do 2-3 minutes of it at a time, maybe 5 when the dog is a bit older. You always want to stop while the dog still wants to do more. Don't ever do ay kind of training if you are feeling impatient or are in a bad mood.

Finally, don't self teach unless you want to spend a lot of money or time making equipment and have a huge area in which to put it all up and maintain it. Classes are best. And are a lot of fun.  If you ever want to compete, your dog needs to know how to do it with a bunch of other dogs around anyway, and the teacher can tell you what to do if you get stumped.

 

 

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2 hours ago, gcv-border said:

Yes, this is better posted in the Obedience, Agility, Flyball section.

I will post my thoughts there once it has been relocated.

Is there a way to relocate it or do I just make an identical post in the other section? 

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D'Elle, thank you for your advice -- it is very helpful! 

With regards to the time for starting agility, I know I will have to wait a long time before beginning. I know that I would need to wait a long time before teach jumping. Is it necessary to wait a full two years before using the other equipment as well? 

Thank you for your advice on getting started with the equipment. When I mentioned self teaching, I didn't mean self teaching for the whole process - I don't have the experience or equipment for that. I will definitely enroll in agility classes when the time is right.

My main concern is not so much about learning how to train or get started with a dog right away. My main concern is the handling. Even if the dog is athletic or quickly catches on to using the equipment, that would only get us so far since I don't have any experience handling. Is there a way for me to train myself before I get the dog and/or before the dog is ready? How would I go about doing that? 

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Hi again, YES it is necessary to wait a full two years! No good agility trainer would even allow a dog in class who is younger than that. Unless you want to risk your dog's growth and joints being injured, knowing the injury could affect the dog's entire life and certainly could make agility impossible, wait until the dog is two years old. 

Just like the training itself, this is something you cannot rush if you care about your dog's health and mobility.

There's really no way to train yourself except through experience. The reply you got on the other thread that suggested watching agility trials gave you a good idea, and I recommend that. If you have an agility group or club or occasional trials near where you live, go to them and watch. Maybe even volunteer to help if they need volunteers.  Often they have enough help but you may be able to do something. That would get you the opportunity to get to know some people and visit with them and ask questions. Just remember to approach it slowly, not coming out with 100 questions or requests for help on the first day. And don't ever bring your dog with you. As tempting as that may be, don't do it. It won't be appreciated.

You could also ask the local agility teacher if you can come and watch classes (again, without your dog). some are OK with that and some not but it wouldn't hurt to ask. I think it's great that you want to educate yourself ahead of time and wish you good luck.

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I don’t often disagree with D’elle but most agility dogs start training much younger than 2. Their foundation work usually begins when we get them, learning to play, learning to chase, the real work starts at 6 months, nothing extreme but learning some basics, at 12 months they can start to do more, most organizations allow dogs to compete at 18 months but today most serious competitors don’t start till around 2 as there is so much to learn today. 
I would find a local agility trainer and ask if you can come along and watch, maybe audit an online foundation class to learn the moves, so much of it is timing and learning where you dog is going to be.

Its a sport I love, have fun once you get your dog

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Well, allingande, I stand corrected. You know vastly more about agility than I do; I have only done some several years ago now and never in competition. Thanks much for correcting me, because I need to get things like this right. I am glad I am wrong about this because it means the dog and person don't have to wait as long t o get started. :)

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On 6/19/2022 at 4:38 PM, D'Elle said:

Well, allingande, I stand corrected. You know vastly more about agility than I do; I have only done some several years ago now and never in competition. Thanks much for correcting me, because I need to get things like this right. I am glad I am wrong about this because it means the dog and person don't have to wait as long t o get started. :)

It’s all a balance, not over doing it to protect their bodies so they have a long and relatively injury free life, and getting in all the skills they need. Some things you never do until their growth plates are closed like weaves, but basic handling on the flat can start much younger. 

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