Jump to content
BC Boards

My agility class


Recommended Posts

I am not happy to be writing this but I could really use some feedback. I have pretty much decided to quit my agility class but would like to know what you think. We have been 3 times plus we took part in a mini-competition run by our club on my trainer's recommendation. We only go to class twice a month and it is a 3 hour seminar. Before we started I had done a little bit of stuff with Dylan. He knew "jump", "bench" and "tunnel". I taught him 20/20 on a flat and then tipped board at home. I have also taught him to weave 6 poles ( no room for any more in our garden ! ). And he can go over a teeter - we used the Clean Run special contacts edition to do that. We also did some very basic handling from Simmons Moake's first book - just sending to jumps/tunnels and going over straight lines of jumps with me running along on both sides. I have also taught Dylan a bunch of other - not really agility - stuff. He is very responsive, learns fast and wants to do anything with me. I think I could probably teach him anything if I had the knowledge - I feel like I know him really well and what will work with him. BUT I know we need someone with us particularly for "handling" skills. I hadn't really done anything with him in that department because I didn't want to have any bad habits. Sorry, this is long again !

Anyway, these 2 videos are from our 3rd and most recent class. We were working on side switches - the tyre and chute are new obstacles for Dylan. You can hear my trainer giving me directions in the background - let me know if you want a translation. In the second course we went over 18 obstacles.............and I am not bragging. Hope you can see them.





I should say that we ran the first course over 10 times again and again as I kept making mistakes... ( The second course we did 5 or 6 times ).It is kind of learn as you go. If you make a mistake, think about it and try to rectify it. I studied ceramics for 2 years in Japan and it was the same approach. I think that is fine for "me", and I am definitely on a steep learning curve and getting better, but I have to think about Dylan. He is not doing anything wrong. He is just following my bad handling. But we do it again and again without Dylan getting any real reward - I feel sorry and I think I start to get a bit frantic. Don't know if you can tell that.... I never sound frantic with Dylan normally. DH has been with us the whole time and thinks I am being overly concerned - that Dylan is fine. He certainly kept going for me. But he crashed as soon as I put him in the car and never got to play properly. I've always given Dylan a lot of reward for whatever we are doing. I would rather work on certain skills in short bursts with plenty of reward before trying to put it all together.


Actually, there was another course set up after these two which I plucked up courage to say I was going to sit out. There were 10 obstacles including the A-frame and dog-walk. We were to practice side switches behind the dog as he went over AND try to stop our dogs on the downside contacts by basically pointing and shouting. I said I didn't want to do it because I thought Dylan couldn't and I didn't want him to fail. We have never done any contact work in class before. And Dylan knows what I have taught him at home. Our trainer was kind of ok about it. But I don't see where we can go from here. I want to do things a different way.


So, I have kind of already made a decision I guess. I am not sure I can find a class where we will fit in and I don't think I can train Dylan - or I should say "myself" by myself ! I don't really plan to enter any trials with Dylan - I am just doing it for fun. But am dreading the next class.............


So that is it really ! Give me a kick up the butt or whatever you think appropriate !

Thanks for listening.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It sounds like a tough situation to deal with. I take it there are no other places you can go to in the area?

Is there any possibility of renting some equipment time somewhere so you can at least get Dylan where he is comfortable before trying to work on handling? If you can get to where you think he is solid on all his obstacles then you won't have to worry about that at least.

I would say if you don't get it right, make sure and ask the instructor what you can do to fix it, and take the time to reward your dog at least for a few seconds; you are right, he didn't do anything wrong! I would only do it a few times, then stop and watch others work and try to figure it out in your head before you try it again. You don't want your dog to think agility is a marathon where mom always gets frantic at the end!


Good Luck, I have NO idea how many instructors there are in Japan, or how good they are, how they run their classes, etc. I don't normally recommend people read Clean Run and everything in it, but in your case, please do! (Just be aware that not ALL handling styles are the same - some people prefer one move over another, some emphasize tight turns over speed, etc.)


If you have a hallway in your house you can set your weaves up down it!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

First of all let me say this if you are dreading going to class then you need to take a break, period. Agility is suppose to be fun, its not fun for you, it stresses you out, you feel you are making too many mistakes. Walk away for a while. Put the equipment at home away, dont play with it, dont practice on it find something else you enjoy doing with Dylan.

I have been doing agility for over 10 years competitively and let me tell you that if I ever loose that feeling of exhileration as I step to the line with a dog then its time to stop. In your post you indicate that you are running large sequences of 18 obsticles, very rarely do I train over that many in class unless its right before the season starts then we might do a class or two with 20. In my opinion keeping it short and sweet is best to work on what you need. We might have 14 obsticles set up for a course we will run the entire thing then break it down into short sequences of 4-5 obsticles. You say your classes are 3 hrs at a shot...thats a long time to train even with multiple dogs in the class. I normally attend a class weekly 1 hr long with 5 people in it and thats plenty for me and Riley. Remember you a working not only you and your partners bodies but the brain too. The mental can be more tiring than the physical by a margin. You say that you ran your first sequence 10 times and kept making a mistake...thats what we call drilling, it can erode a handler and a dogs confidence in nothing flat, if you dont get it after the first two or three tries go back and break it down to much smaller sequences, have your trainer hand walk you through it if thats what you need thats what you pay her for. If you are on the brink of quiting let your trainer know you need to speak to her after class and take the time to explain what you are feeling, and where you a headed. If you need someone to talk to or vent your frustration drop me a line.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Running a course or part of a course over and over again until you get it right is not correct agility training. It really gets you no where.


The different areas needs to be broken down individually and then put together as you get proficient at them.


For example - you need to understand the mechanics and rules of front crosses and work through the steps that build you up to doing front crosses correctly. You need to understand the mechanics and rules of rear crosses and work through those steps as well so you and the dog both understand what is going on. Blind crosses are just wrong and I know so many people that have had their knees taken out and legs broken by blind crosses. Once you have perfected those, then running sequences where you apply one, then the other and then both are what you work up to. Your trainer isn't doing you any favours if he/she is just throwing a course out at you and you are supposed to figure out what crosses to do where, when you have not solidified the mechanics of executing each of them first.


If you have limited space at home, you should look at getting Susan Garrett's new DVD on working with just one jump, although personally I think it is WAY overpriced. Also Greg Derrick's videos are excellent as he is a firm believer in solid foundation work. There are also some good books and videos/DVDS on contact training, that you can set up at home with elevated boards - you don't need the whole piece of equipment. Some people even just get a wide board, prop it up on their couch and teach the contacts.


Another book you could get is the new one by Kim Collins from British Columbia, Canada. "From the Ground Up" She also believes in laying solid foundations and most of this can be done outside of classes and in a limited space. Her website where you can order the book is: http://www.pawsitivesteps.ca/Home.html


Good Luck. I know how frustrating it can be for people to find the classes they need.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Zoe, I feel the same as the others - if it's not fun - for Dylan anyway - you need to do something about it.


I train at a club and also with a group of friends, where one of our number is sort of 'the trainer' - figures out things for us to work on - but the rest of us help out too if we can see why something might be going wrong. In terms of time, we'll probably work with 5 dogs for about an hour and a half maximum. They get really tired, even working on 5-8 obstacle sequences - mental tiredness as much as physical. Remember that when you're tired, you can't learn as well, and you run a greater risk of injury - you and the dog.


We rarely run whole courses, and when we do, we'll often spend more time working on the difficult sequences within the course, and then putting it all together for maybe one or two runs.


We have decided that we won't practise mistakes. If it goes wrong more than once, we'll stop and walk it through - minus dog - until we get our muscle memory set up for what our desired handling is going to be. (As a senior handler, that can take a bit longer for me :rolleyes: ) In my case, if I've really lost the plot about a sequence, I'll sit out for a little while, and then try it again.


We use backchaining a lot - breaking things down into their simplest components, working that and then building up. All the time, we're doing everything we can to set the dog (and ourselves) up for success.


I do hope it'll be possible for you to work something out with your trainer, so that you can still make use of the opportunity the class provides, but working in a way that you and Dylan feel comfortable - and challenging yourselves in do-able ways. I think it's really important for you to be able to say that you'll just sit something out and watch for the time being - then maybe try it at the end of the class, where there's not as much pressure as there is when you know you have others waiting.


The Greg Derrett Agility Foundations video has lots of things you can do to have fun away from equipment, as well as on it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with all said.


About learning the handling, it is VERY important that you praise the dog constantly because they are not doing anything wrong - they don't know where the course goes so if you just stop in the middle and say "Good Dog!!!" they don't care! In our classes, if the handler makes a mistake we just stop and give the dog cookie!


Have fun with your dog - and go wherever that leads you!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is my 3rd attempt at a reply - lost the other two. I wanted to say thank you for all your replies. They have helped a lot. You are the only people I can "talk" to. None of my friends/family have dogs and the people I know who have dogs around here don't really do any special activities with them. Equipment has been put away since our last class and we are just having fun as usual. I have cancelled our next seminar and don't think I can go back. I have some thinking to do........

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...