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Discussion Starter #1
Last Saturday we started our beginner agility classes. Basically the facility I train at has batches of 6 week long classes- you just sign up for the next batch of classes at the level the trainer thinks you're need to be at after each batch ends. A friend from work is in beginner agility with us and this is the second batch she's done.

Delilah's just barely learning everything. Last week we focused on directionals (which I understand now, no worries) which Delilah is getting really good at and we were also introduced to weave poles. This is our first set of agility classes but all of the other students have taken some there before so we were the only ones who haven't done weave poles before. I'm not good at explaining but we were supposed to teach them by clicking as soon as the dog's head came past the first pole and rewarding when the dog came through that pole. We weren't supposed to lure them, just let the dog figure it out. I'm not doing a good job at explaining it but Delilah caught on right away and was able to go through the poles and back without any mistakes the first time through. She catches on to clicker training and learns patterns really quickly. Only problem is I don't really have a way to practice them outside of class without a yard or equipment.

Next class is tomorrow!
 

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Congratulations! That's awesome!! When I did agility with my dog we made weave poles in our back yard with pvc pipe. If you have a yard it is pretty inexpensive to make them. Good luck!!
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
So our second class was this past weekend and we worked more on weave poles. There were a couple of other dogs there that were much more advanced than us that did them really well.

And then the trainer set up a jump and a pause table and they had to jump and then go to the table but Delilah had never done those before. I let her off leash and she just ran away so we worked on sit-stay off leash instead of doing the jumping. Since we've been inside all winter we haven't really done a lot of work with distractions so that's something we're going to need to work on.

I like how everyone's really friendly and all of the dogs and handlers are at different levels. I talked to a couple of other students and it's just really interesting talking to them about agility- some of them have even trialed before and are in the beginner class because they have new dogs.
 

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I am so glad you two are having fun!! Agility is a blast!!
 

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Discussion Starter #5


Taking advantage of having a yard for the week. Delilah LOVES it- I let her outside and she just started running in circles around the poles and jumping the jump before I even told her to do anything.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Food isn't a strong enough motivator for her when she is distracted. She kept running off to look for birds. She is much more motivated by toys- tugs, balls, squeaky toys. I bought her a ball tug because she kept nipping my fingers when I was using a regular tennis ball. My boyfriend found it and cut off the ball and threw it out so he could use the tug as a toy for her -__-

Anyways, with a toy, she will do all 6 weave poles and the jump without getting distracted so we've been mixing up the order and the direction we go in. I'd like to get a video- I'm hoping my parents get home from their trip early tomorrow so they can take a video for me.

No class tomorrow so we're just working on stuff at my parents' house (thank goodness I'm here for the week- no where near enough space to practice at my apartment).
 

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For weave poles you can also use the plastic electric fence poles. They have a spike on the bottom and you can just push them into the ground at the proper spacing. You don't need a lot of space to set up a couple of jumps and can do a lot of different patterns with them.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Today's class didn't go so well. At one point the trainer took Delilah from me and worked with her herself.

She was just so distracted and wouldn't listen and kept running off. We were supposed to be doing weave poles. She does them perfectly whenever I use my own poles outdoors. I also brought them to work to practice with her during my break and even though we were indoors and there were a lot of dogs and people around, she did them well and still paid attention at daycare. But whenever we're at the training facility she just loses her mind and starts sprinting around or trying to hunt dust bunnies.

So I don't know. Maybe agility's just not for us. She LOVES going to class and I really enjoy it too but she's the only dog in class that runs off and just doesn't listen. I feel like we spend our turns just trying to get her to focus instead of actually learning how to do any of the obstacles. I'm living paycheck to paycheck right now so it's a lot of money for me to be spending if it's not going to be worth it :/ When I was looking for a dog, I was looking specifically for one to do agility with and she's awesome at all of the obstacles we've done and she's sooo smart, she just gets so distracted and I can't figure out how to keep her attention and be more interesting than everything else in the environment. :confused:
 

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So I don't know. Maybe agility's just not for us. She LOVES going to class and I really enjoy it too but she's the only dog in class that runs off and just doesn't listen. I feel like we spend our turns just trying to get her to focus instead of actually learning how to do any of the obstacles. I'm living paycheck to paycheck right now so it's a lot of money for me to be spending if it's not going to be worth it :/ When I was looking for a dog, I was looking specifically for one to do agility with and she's awesome at all of the obstacles we've done and she's sooo smart, she just gets so distracted and I can't figure out how to keep her attention and be more interesting than everything else in the environment. :confused:
Oh, don't worry about it. She may not focus right now, but she'll get better. I've seen SO MANY DOGS run away from their handlers and take a joy ride in the ring. Good dogs, too. They just need some more practice. Maybe you could try having her jump and table on leash. I had to do that with Biscuit, for a while. Just don't give up! She may struggle with classes, but that doesn't mean agility isn't for her. I haven't taken Biscuit to any agility classes, but he still does agility. And it's great that she'll focus with just you.

Good luck!
 

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You need to talk with your trainer. As an instructor, I have an hour to work with six students. I just can't afford to spend a full hour (or even a quarter hour) with just one student working through an issue. The other students get very mad when they don't get their fair share of the time.

What I encourage my students to do is schedule a private lesson with me. There we can work through their issues. If your dog isn't focusing, it may take one or two private lessons to teach you what to do.

I will quickly run down some of the possible reasons or things you can do. First, dogs don't "generalize" well. So while your pup may be great with weaves at your house or at work, when put her on different weaves, she just flat doesn't understand that they are weaves. They are completely something else to her. Because you know she can weave well, you get frustrated with her. Then NOW the weaves at class aren't only something she doesn't understand, but mom gets STRESSY around them. This makes her run off. She is blowing off stress.

You need to "proof" her weaves. This means you not only take your weaves where ever you can and have her do them, but you go and visit weave poles in other places. At class, you lighten up and be happy. How ever you originally trained the poles, you go back to that. For instance, if I trained using channels, I would open the channel back up at class. I might go from 12 poles down to 6 poles (I, personally, never train 6 poles. Why do that?) I would act like she didn't know poles because in the class environment, she doesn't.

Go back to pole basics. Retrain them with fun, play and happiness in the class. Then she will begin to understand that, "Oh. These poles at class are just like the poles at home! I get it!"

Some dogs generalize well. Some don't. I have had students who have had to see dozens of sets of equipment - retraining each thing - because their dogs were poor generalizers.

With new students, frustration easily sets in. This is a career killer. ALL dogs do this sort of thing. You may have great contacts, and then one day, poof, they are gone. New students get frustrated. The dog starts stressing contacts. Bam...agility becomes a stressful activity and the dog either shuts down or starts doing zoomies to relieve the stress.

The answer? Know - KNOW - that ALL DOGS DO THIS. This sort of thing isn't just common - it's EVERYONE. How you react to it will determine your future in agility. You need to step back, take a breather, tell yourself that ALL DOGS DO THIS SORT OF THING, and then move forward.

My 3 year old dog Aenon struggles with the "go" directional with me behind him and out of sight. We have done literally thousands of reps on this. He'll get it down, and two weeks later, poof, it's gone. We have to go back to work.

Every dog does this sort of thing. You just keep happy and keep working through it.

A private with your trainer may reveal something else too. Maybe you are looking back straight at your dog as he weaves. This is sort of like telling the dog, "Are you gonna pop? I think you're gonna pop? Don't go fast. Slow down." Maybe in class you are too lose to the weaves, putting stress on the dog. Maybe you are too uptight in class. Videoing your class and your practice helps. You can see how you do the poles in class vs. training. You may find you are doing something odd in class.

Many other issues can be involved. Another dog your dog is scared of. An environmental issue. Who knows. A good trainer can help you figure it out.

Remember, agility is not a destination. It's a journey. it really is. You are on a journey of ups and downs. Just enjoy the ride. It will go by way too quickly.

Good luck!
 

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My sister's Rat Terrier seemed like she would never learn the weaves. She finally figured it out but the last time they went camping she took our portable weaves. Every time they stopped and camped, out came the weaves for a short lesson, also a couple of jumps. She finally got her first Starters standard Q. She was already in Advanced jumpers, gamblers and snooker but the weaves were what was stopping her in standard. It has literally taken her over two years so don't give up.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
@agilityk9trainer A private lesson is a good idea, that's probably what I'll end up doing.

Funny thing about not generalizing weaves- we actually first learned weave poles in class, so that was the initial environment. And we've been practicing them everywhere in order to proof them. I think she just gets really distracted by all the clumps of hair and dust under the shelves and agility equipment. She literally runs around pouncing on them wagging her little tail like mad. It's adorable but soooo frustrating. She'd really rather be hunting than weaving around poles. When she goes into hunting mode she blocks out everything else. Too bad we don't have barn hunt in VT.

Our last class went much better- we were introduced to the broad jump. At first she tried to jump on top of it and go under it (even though she didn't fit) but eventually she got it. Then we did three regular jumps in a row and she did so well the first time but then she started chasing dust again. But other than that it was a pretty good class.

We are going to take a break for a month or two anyways due to financial reasons (moving into a new apartment with a YARD!) but in the mean time I think I'll see about a private lesson.
@Kyllobernese Yeah, at this point I've pretty much accepted that it's going to take us 2 or 3 years to actually get good at this. We'll see what happens!
 
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