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Hello everyone. I have some questions for those who compete in agility and obedience trials! I am the proud new momma to a German Shepherd puppy. She is only eight weeks right now, I have just been focusing on housebreaking (which is going well thus far!), teaching her name to her and working on sit (which she is doing great with!). I realize she is far too young to start working on agility training. Here are my questions though..

1. At what age can you begin training a dog for agility? I believe I read 16 months somewhere.. but I just want to confirm.

2. What should I be working on her with obedience wise?

3. I am going to look into local groups and classes, does anyone have any recommendations for the Kitchener area?

Thanks in advance!
 

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@Voodoo - welcome to DF!

I am not an expert but I can tell you what I do know and then direct some more knowledgeable members over here to fills in the blanks :)

You can start the basics of agility at anytime! You just don't want to do any jumping until they are done growing. Something that will definitely help you is teaching body awareness. This is something that I wish I started with my girl when she was a puppy.

I think just overall solid obedience and focus is really helpful. I've seen dogs who had AMAZING drive and were great through all of the obstacles completely lose focus when a person walked by or a dog came into the room. One dog left the course, jumped over the little fence to go play with other dogs.
@jclark343 @Shandula @agilityk9trainer are my go-to's with any agility questions around here! :)
 

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Welcome to the DF!

I haven't done any trialing yet, but both my guys are in training for agility. You can do lots of wonderful pre-agility training, that will help you out a ton.

Age - in Canada, in the AAC (Agility Association of Canada) dogs cannot compete before 18 months of age. You can begin training long before this. No jumping until your puppy is close to a year old. You can use jump bumps (basically 4 inch PVC cut in half) to teach them instead. I would highly recommend also doing a jump program. Susan Salo is my personal favourite.

One of the first thing I would recommend is to start getting comfortable shaping behaviors, instead of luring. In all the classes I've watched and taken, the food lure is a serious downfall. In one class, the dogs were stopping before each obstacle and waiting for their treat to be tossed! You can start shaping with the exercise 101 Things to Do with a Box

As Aspen said, body awareness is key. There are a million and one exercises to help teach Body Awareness, you can Google them. :) Just be sure to take it slow, since your guy is just a little baby.

Ask to sit it on any potential class you want to take. If they won't let you watch, that's a big red flag. Even then, be prepared for some surprises. I watched at one class, and noticed it was fine. Then when I took the class they were very much into punishing their dogs if the they reacted to other dogs or didn't want to do the equipment. Yikes. Agility can be dangerous is not done correctly, so make sure you're comfortable with the instructor.

As far as obedience, you'll want an amazing sit-stay, excellent recall, and for your dog to have good focus on you with other exciting things going on. Doing group classes of obedience will help out a lot with this.

If you can get your dog interested in having toys as rewards, I think it helps alot.

As far as classes around Kitchener, here are a couple I thought looked pretty good:

1. Wag and Train - This one looks like it has great puppy classes, and a foundation agility class.

2. MCCann Dogs - This place looks pretty good, and I know AAC trials are held here quite often.


Edit: I see she is a German Shepherd - be very mindful of her hips, and don't start jumping until later in her life.
 

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Welcome! We here at DF require puppy pictures before answering any questions.

KIDDING! But we do love puppy photos.

1. 16 months is when you can start competing (at least in AKC) but you can start training a lot younger, just no jumps or anything that is hard on their joints. You can start teaching the ground works now. A good base is going to be the best way to start.

2. Basics at this point. Also socialization is going to be a BIG thing especially for a german shepherd which can be prone to aggression.

3. Clean run has a TON of Foundations videos if you're looking for things to do at home. I recommend Foundation Fundamentals. She is working with younger dogs in the video and there is no use of equipment at all.
https://www.cleanrun.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&product_ID=2625
Also, when looking for a place to train be sure to find someone that teaches exclusively positive reinforcement. Also before you bring your puppy there go and watch a class. Make sure you like the way the trainers teach. A good teacher is worth their weight in gold.
 
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All good advice so far!! Jumping isn't the only thing to be concerned about with a pup though. I don't do full height contacts, jumps or weaving until growth plates close. I also don't do a ton of tight work. I do, however, train almost everything else with bars on the ground.

I tell people to first focus on getting a Canine Good Citizen title. Then I tell them to find a good agility puppy class. A good class can get you the agility foundations you need. All the above advice is great - focus training, sits, downs, stays good manners, etc. Also add into that crate training. You dog has to be crated at shows and must learn to behave in a crate. The DVD "Crate Games" can help with that.

I agree that GSDs are one breed that suffer from structure problems in agility. I know of many, many than have broken down over the years. I also know of a few (unfortunately, very few) that made it through their careers. Learn what you can do to help minimize stress on your dog's structure. Running contacts, handling for wider turns, less Euro moves, etc. can help your dog have a longer agility career and less pain later in life.

I will post a few links and a video to give you far more information than I can write here.

The first link is a couple of articles I wrote on how to find a good agility trainer and agility information for newbies.

https://pethelpful.com/dogs/How-to-...asses-for-You-Locating-a-Good-Agility-Trainer

https://pethelpful.com/dogs/Visitin...l-How-to-be-a-Spectator-at-a-Dog-Agility-Show

And this is a video of Aenon, my newest dog, at five months. It shows you what types of agility training you can be doing with your puppy. However get a trainer to teach you how to do this stuff. it's very complicated!!


I will add that AKC is 15 months - not 16. I think jclark had a typo. :) Really, you been given a boat load of good advice already. Have fun!!
 

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Regardless of what dog sport you decide to do--and even if you decide to do none at all competitively--it's always a good idea to start with basic obedience, as that just makes your dog easier for everyone to live with, including you. I'd agree that CGC is a good start, but even before that, you can go for a STAR puppy, correct? You can look for a good puppy kindergarten for basics in training and socialization too.

The AKC recently added a Canine Good Citizen Urban to their program of CGC and CGCA too, and that's something you could work toward while your dog's still younger too--not eight weeks young, but younger than you could do agility jumps.
 

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1. You can start agility training at any time, but any jumping should wait till 12-18 months. My 14 week old JRT already flies through the tunnel and now we're working on slow weaves.

2. Heel at left side, automatic sit is huge in any obedience trial.

3. It's in Hamilton but the Hamilton Dog Obedience Club (Welcome - Hamilton Dog Obedience Club) does agility and rally-o classes and trials, and after 2 classes, you can become a member and volunteer and trial with them.
 
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