Aayla's Agility Progress

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Aayla's Agility Progress

This is a discussion on Aayla's Agility Progress within the Dog Performance Sports forums, part of the Dog Shows and Performance category; Okay, so my dream was to get a dog into agility. I worked on a lot of home taught agility with Pepper as a kid. ...

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Old 03-07-2016, 07:40 PM
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Aayla's Agility Progress

Okay, so my dream was to get a dog into agility. I worked on a lot of home taught agility with Pepper as a kid. I loved every moment of it, though we never did anything formally. This is kind of going to be a journal that I'm hoping people can comment on and give advice. I'll be posting up videos when I can.

I don't exactly have the funds to enroll in formal classes right now, but I am taking a building confidence class with some agility equipment as well as doing foundation work right now. I'm also talking with my trainer and she wants to get her own dog into agility and is talking about setting up classes with a great trainer a little ways from us. I have a cheap agility set from outward hound that has a small tunnel, weave poles, a jump and a tire jump.

Aayla is only 6 months old so the jumping is very minimal and when she does do it, its very short, only 6 inches off the ground. I won't seriously be jumping until her vet says her growth plates have closed (I'm guessing around 16-18 months?)

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Right now what I'm working on is equipment confidence, tug drive and sending.

She loves climbing up on things and overall seems confident with the tasks I give her. Already I ask her to walk along retaining walls, go up and down things on command. Though recently has developed some fears of man holes and storm drains which makes me think that height may play a thing for her. Yet she seems so confident otherwise that I think it will fade with time. I'm not expecting her to do a dogwalk or see saw anytime soon. Though I would love to get a wobble board. She does love platform training.

Tug drive is going pretty good, she is all willing to accept a tug as a reward 70% of the time. The other 30% is in situations when she decides that my toy is not one she wants, or no reward would outweigh the thing she wants (saying hello to dog...) I feel like I need a special toy that she would want above all things.

Her sending is going great I have to say. We play a game of sending her around and object in the way I tell her to go. I will stand in the middle of four pillars in our parking area and practice sending her around the poles in different orders. She loves it for sure. I have some exercises I want to do with her after reading some articles. I have to really work on my own handling which I honestly think is going to be the hardest part. For some reason I have been sloppy recently. My trainer noticed the other day that when I get frustrated because Aayla is distracted, I will say "sit down" and Aayla will lay down, when I actually wanted her to sit. She pointed out on how I need to be more careful with my cues.

We also did a pinwheel with jumps last week, all set about 4-6 inches off the ground. We were supposed to just go in a circle both ways and have our dogs go over the poles. (after warm up of jumping straight to a target) Aayla easily did it but I struggled with signalling with my closest hand to her, and working the leash over the standards. The best part was though after class I was able to stay and do another round where I tested to see if she would just do what was in front of her or if she would pay attention to me. She was so focused that I could be doing a clockwise circle, abruptly turn to do anti-clockwise and she would follow with ease, even skipping jumps to send across the circle on cue. I didn't take the exercise too seriously as agility training but it felt good to know she was in tune and that sending her and directing her is going to be easier than I thought.

Off leash work is going to be a task but I hope that comes with age.

Anyone know other good foundation exercises I can work on? Is there videos I can watch on handling so I can work on improving and not confuse her?
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Old 03-07-2016, 08:24 PM
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Clean run is my go to for all agility stuff. They have DVDs on handling systems I think. You can also Google Silvia Trkman (this is her website). She has tons of articles and videos.
In terms of critical foundation stuff, I highly recommend a Susan Salo jumping program. I have both her adult dog jumping for Levi and her puppy jumping program for Heidi. It's amazing how much important information on HOW to jump is left out of agility programs.
Levi had a fear of manhole covers too for a while, but he CC'd out of it. Tonight on our walk he went and stood on one and looked at us like "Hello - where's my cookie?!"
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Old 03-07-2016, 09:57 PM
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Have a blast working with agility!!!

As for advice on where to go for on line resources... A person new to the sport can get greatly confused very quickly with all of the different handling systems out there. I recommend going with something that you can easily morph into any other system as you "age" into the sport. Susan Garrett's Handling 360 is pretty much a "meat and potatoes" type handling system. It will work for most teams. You might check out Susan Garrett's website and stuff. She is heavy into marketing, but her stuff is generally pretty good.

The best thing is to find a good trainer who can teach you how to develop a handling system that works for YOUR team. In other words, not a cookie cutter system, but one that works specifically with your team's strengths and weaknesses.

Unfortunately, agility is a rich person's sport. It costs money to learn, and it costs money to trial. I wish it were more accessible to those without the extra funds for such a leisure sport.

There are a ton of free resources these days, and a determined trainer can have a lot of fun training what they learn on line. Good luck!
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Old 03-08-2016, 11:36 AM
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Groundwork! At this age, you want to work a lot with groundwork. How's her recall? Does she come to side? If you're going to be doing 2o2o then work on hand touching, then target touching, and then I build a small wood plank that we will walk down and target touch with 2o2o to work on them learning to nail that touch without the stress on their joints of the incline. My trainer recommended a video off Clean run called Foundation Fundamentals by Mary Ellen Barry that is awesome to do with baby dogs. It's all done with no equipment. Foundation is really the best stuff you can work on right now. Also, maybe watch as many videos as possible and watch the people. I found training the dogs is the easiest part, and most of the time we screw up, it's my fault.
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Old 03-08-2016, 01:37 PM
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jclark is right. With a six month old pup, work the foundation stuff first. Don't be doing equipment yet. Just good old fashioned solid obedience, focus, recalls, shadow handling, wobble board, etc.
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Old 03-08-2016, 02:02 PM
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Also, crate games. If she likes her crate at home, maybe try taking her to a park or something and setting up a crate and teaching her to relax in other more public places. Agility is a lot of hurry up and wait, and dogs spend a lot of time in crates in between runs. Make sure that's not going to be a horribly uncomfortable situation for her.
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Old 03-08-2016, 07:03 PM
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Thank you all for the great advice, its good stuff to look into and research on. I'm excited to go through all of the info!
@Shandula We have started CCing for the man holes and storm drains. She does well with that but it hasn't stopped her initial reaction to avoid it. Its getting better, but still has those moments of 'it's a hole to hell I swear!' She shapes herself right onto the man hole's though if I just pause and wait. Do you think I could rent that video and take notes for the 14 days I would have it for? Then get enough from it to understand it?
@agilityk9trainer I'm just looking for the most basic right now to get a hold of teaching her basics and doing it right. So that one sounds great! I'll save more serious stuff under trainers. Talk about expenses though, I have an expensive taste in hobbies (except hiking....at least that one is free). Between the horseback riding and the agility goals my dreams are made of, I'm never going to have a lot of money. Haha.
@jclark343 - She is pretty far along in her obedience. She has a solid recall for most situations. We have to proof it more in proximity of other dogs, but recalls away from running cats, people and just loves her sit/down/stand waits for a recall. She can heel on both left and right and switch in front of me with ease. She loves touch and targets my hand almost perfectly. She walks pretty good off leash, and will offer her heel/switches and recalls in a medium distraction environment. I'm having trouble getting a helper to add a high distraction environment to practice with.

The crate would be something that I can almost guarantee she will need more work on. So I can work on that for now. I'll also work up on 2020 with a plank. Though honestly I'm not to familiar with what the 2020 actually is. I know its a way to teach hitting your marks, but I'm unsure what to be asking for.
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Old 03-08-2016, 08:28 PM
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Rachel Sanders has a good DVD on how to train a 2o/2o. You will want to have a solid understanding of how to train it before you begin. It can be messed up really easily.

Lots to train there. Have fun!!
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Old 03-20-2016, 01:16 PM
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Yesterday I had intentions of going to a dog show that had conformation and rally. I also wanted to bring Aayla to get her used to a show environment more. So I packed both of us up and headed out. On my way there I happened to notice an Agility trial going on. So I did a quick u-turn and parked there instead.

I was incredibly nervous to just drop in so I waited out in the parking lot for a while. The facility was all fenced in with a closed gate. So I didn't feel comfortable just walking in. So I ended up talking to someone who was hanging out next to their dogs in their car. She was very friendly and said that I was welcome to go in and spectate as long as I stayed at least 10' away from the ring. She said as long as Aayla bothered no one I could take her in too.

Everyone was so welcoming and helpful. I ended up finding a bench behind the e-z-ups to sit with Aayla. It was out of the way but I could still watch the ring. The people who I was sitting close all came over to say hello to Aayla and ask if I was getting her used to the environment, what trainer I was under and when I would be starting. When I told them I was still looking (everyone though Aayla was at least a year too) and hadn't started yet they were very helpful in telling what to look for and avoid in trainers as well as tell me about the best local trainer in the area. They also told me to train with multiple trainers if I can and take in a lot of information from everywhere.

I got a lot of information, and felt very welcomed into the community. It was a lot of fun. I stayed for a couple of hours before heading out. I also have a trainer in mind to start out with that was highly suggested by a few people. She is within a 15-20 minute drive of me! Which is great. Supposedly all positive, and focuses on handling more than most trainers that are local. Anyone heard of Stacy Winkler? She supposedly has online classes and holds group/private classes. The prices don't seem too outrageous either.

Aayla did really great for the atmosphere. A lot of dogs getting hyped up around us and running around. So she had a few moments of thinking it was play time but a few settling commands had her calming down. She spent most of the time laying down at my feet and watching. I would walk her around when she got antsy and riled up but overall did amazing for that setting.
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Old 03-20-2016, 09:22 PM
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I am glad you got up the nerve to go in. Spectators are always welcome, and while agility competitors don't like the general public bringing in their dogs, we DO like future agility dogs to come in to socialize (like the person you talked to said...as long as they don't bother anyone). So it's great you did both.

Talking to competitors at agility trials is the best way to learn who to train with. Most good agility instructors don't advertise. Their classes fill via word of mouth. If you want to find them, you have to go plug into the "word of mouth." You did!!

I have not heard of the trainer, but it doesn't mean anything. And she is very close to you too. Bonus!!
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