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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I currently have a 3 month old golden retriever puppy. I'd love to get into non competitive agility work with him, but I know that he has to finish growing before I can start formal agility work. What should I train in the yearish before he's ready, aside from basic commands that wouldn't really be included in regular puppy training?
 

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For the most part, I would say just getting him out and experiencing as much as possible. Walking on different substances - tile, sewer grates, etc. will help a lot. Walking through the "no vehicles allowed" iron posts at trailheads can help him. Even laying a blanket over two chair backs and having him walk between the chair backs can help. The more he gets used to in everyday life, the less he will potentially fear in the agility ring.

And of course basic obedience so he knows sit, stay, come, etc.
 

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You can start the obstacles at any age if you make them very easy and go slowly. So, stepping over the "jump" ( a broomstick lying on the ground), and cuing it using your cue word to jump. Get a little tunnel and have him go through it. Hold a hula hoop on the ground, and ask him to step through it. Set up a tiny dog walk, just 3" off the ground, and have him walk it. You can make a little wobble board, again, just a tiny bit off the ground, so that he gets the idea that he can balance on something.

Just make sure, of course, that everything is very easy, very safe, and that he gets tons of treats and praise, and don't ask him to do these things rapidly, only at a walk. If he makes any kind of mistake, ignore it. If he tries but doesn't quite succeed, praise the trying like crazy. This way it is a game he always wins.

Many people start training their agility puppies at a very early age like this, and so do people who are training service dogs. I was visiting a litter of aussie puppies the other day. 8 weeks old and they all knew how to go through the tunnel when told to, and to step over a stick and walk through a hoop. They also all lined up and sat waiting for their food. It was so cute, and they loved it. I could see how confident it made them to be succeeding at these things and getting rewarded.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
You can start the obstacles at any age if you make them very easy and go slowly. So, stepping over the "jump" ( a broomstick lying on the ground), and cuing it using your cue word to jump. Get a little tunnel and have him go through it. Hold a hula hoop on the ground, and ask him to step through it. Set up a tiny dog walk, just 3" off the ground, and have him walk it. You can make a little wobble board, again, just a tiny bit off the ground, so that he gets the idea that he can balance on something.

Just make sure, of course, that everything is very easy, very safe, and that he gets tons of treats and praise, and don't ask him to do these things rapidly, only at a walk. If he makes any kind of mistake, ignore it. If he tries but doesn't quite succeed, praise the trying like crazy. This way it is a game he always wins.
That sounds great and very doable!! Thank you!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I am home sick, so I taught him to ''jump'' over a broomstick today!! I started with it off the ground, and then raised it so it was ~1 inch off the ground using books, but he could easily step over. He picked it up super quick and would occasionally just absolutely LEAP over it out of excitement <3 I'm very happy with him!!
 

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Do you know the book Agility Right From the Start (Eva Bertilsson and Emelie Johnson Vegh from Carpe Momentum)? I remember it as a worth while read when it comes to puppy preparation, good foundation games. It's clicker training based.
 

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You need obedience classes first and foremost. I teach foundations of agility. Dogs are not allowed in my class until they are at least a year old. They have to have a sit/stay and focus. Too many people start their puppies way too early and end up with shoulder, neck and back injuries later in life because of the damage caused by working too hard to early. Sign up for a Puppy Obedience class first. Everything comes in steps. Do not use online videos to try and train your puppy agility. Tunnels are fine. Walking on trail with roots and uneven surfaces teaches the puppy where his/her feet are. Work your puppy off both sides of you and keep training to a minimum. Here is a good guideline for training a puppy. Puppy Exercise Guidelines | The Balanced Dog
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
You need obedience classes first and foremost. I teach foundations of agility. Dogs are not allowed in my class until they are at least a year old. They have to have a sit/stay and focus. Too many people start their puppies way too early and end up with shoulder, neck and back injuries later in life because of the damage caused by working too hard to early. Sign up for a Puppy Obedience class first. Everything comes in steps. Do not use online videos to try and train your puppy agility. Tunnels are fine. Walking on trail with roots and uneven surfaces teaches the puppy where his/her feet are. Work your puppy off both sides of you and keep training to a minimum. Here is a good guideline for training a puppy. Puppy Exercise Guidelines | The Balanced Dog
Thanks for the tips!! I'll try to find a puppy obedience class to take.
 

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Just a warning: Not all classes and trainers are equal. Go sit and watch a class before signing up. If you find any of the methods used in the class concerning, find another one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Just a warning: Not all classes and trainers are equal. Go sit and watch a class before signing up. If you find any of the methods used in the class concerning, find another one.
Oh yeah- I already came across one that for a PUPPY TRAINING class was like "You get to keep the E collar!!"
HECK. NO.
I'll try to watch one that I settle on.
 

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Nevermind, he'll be six days too young when the class starts.
All of the puppy classes are like "Crate training, housebreaking, and stopping nipping!!" when really I just want beginner obedience, which has a lower age limit
Most obedience classes have a 6 month minimum age limit. But that is not a hard fast rule like not being able to get your driver license before yiu turn 16.

The age limit is because younger puppies don't have the attention span to handle a one hour training session. Six days is not going to be a problem with that - he's not going to suddenly mature on his birthday.
 
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