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I'm looking ahead a few months but the companies that run agility here have some extensive waiting lists. I was just wondering if there is anything in particular to watch out for? Our current trainer is awesome but only does basic skills.

I'm not really looking to compete, just for fun and giving Echo a job to do.
 

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Well, I'm currently enrolled in probably the absolute worst agility club in the world. I think the only thing that could make it worse is if they encouraged shock collars. SO, with that in mind, using my horrible experience, here's what I think you should look for:

1. There should be no equipment in the first class. I mean, maybe some tunnels, planks, or jumps with extremely low bars/jump bumps. If the class is putting you on contact equipment first class/early on, run - don't walk away. A foundation class should have so much to do with flatwork and less about fancy agility equipment.

2. Make sure you're not forcing your dog to take obstacles. My club sticks a cookie in the dogs face, chokes up on the leash and pushes/pulls dogs into/onto obstacles. The result? Dogs that are scared of agility. One dog in our class is terrified of the dog walk. Our trainers solution is to grab her collar on one side, owner on the other, and drag her along. Another dog is scared of tunnels. So they shove him in and block the entry so he can't get out unless he exits correctly.

3. Go watch a class to see if their training style meshes with yours. My club is all about yelling at dogs and pinning them to the ground if they react to other dogs. It's pretty sad.

4. Check out the equipment you will (hopefully) eventually be using. It doesn't have to be top of the line, but it should be in decent shape. Ours is kinda rickety, and classes are in a horse barn. The equipment doesn't have slats or rubberized coating, so it is basically plywood with sand on it. Slipppppppery! Levi slid clear off the other side of the table once.

5. See what kind of handling system they encourage. The dog is only one small part of agility. My club does the "tour guide" style of handling where you just name the obstacle as your dog does it. :eyeroll: We also do a loooooot of luring, which I don't really like period, but especially for agility. I would much prefer my dog paid attention to what he's doing and where his feet are rather than where the cookie is going.

I am very lucky Levi has a rock solid temperament, and we are also doing H360/Agility Nation online, so he goes in with WAY more understanding than everyone else.
 

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@Chas
@Shandula give great advice. I've only taken 4 agility classes so I don't feel qualified to tell you what you should/shouldn't look for.

I went in not wanting to compete either- 4 classes in and I can't wait to compete.

Personally, I think first and foremost it should be fun for you and your dog. The first few classes will likely be boring because you're doing a lot of groundwork and it's not thrilling. I knew the facility and the equipment and likely the trainer were good before signing up because I've done obedience and CGC at this facility. If you're in an obedience class, ask for a recommendation for an agility facility.
 

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@Chas - I hope there is something awesome close-by! Also, I started just for fun, and to give my guy some mental stimulation. After my first few classes, I was totally hooked and can't wait to compete. ;)
 
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I cannot say it better than @Shandula .
I will add, does it feel safe. I went to one club where the dogs where barely in control, eyeballing each other, and breaking free and going after dogs. Nerve-wracking, to say the least. Kind of a canine version of Lord of the Flies. Highly recommended high level club too.
Another thing, does the trainer make you feel comfortable. Some trainers are pretty harsh with people. Unhappy person usually equals unhappy dog, so some people smarts is a good thing too.
Basically, it needs to fun for you and the dog, both of you.
And it needs to be safe.
And then have some awesome fun.
 

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@Shandula hit it out of the park with that reply (And holy cow your club does sound like a complete nightmare)

Another thing I've also considered is find out if the trainers compete. If so, can you watch them run their dog. Does their dog look like it's having fun? Does it cower when it is approached? Do you like the way she trains and interacts with her own dog? If so that should help. I've never understood trainers who don't actually compete in the sport they are teaching.
 

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@jclark343 - Oh my god, I know. It's the absolute worst. It's the only place that does agility here so, there's that.

Hubby keeps saying I need to join and revamp the way they do everything. ;)
 

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@jclark343
Hubby keeps saying I need to join and revamp the way they do everything. ;)
Holy freaking cow you do! Although it means good agility training is an untouched market in your area. Good to know for when you open your training school!
 

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1. The trainer should be comfortable working with your dog. My dog is deaf and I'm still searching for a trainer that has worked with deaf dogs before.

2. Doesn't push your dog to do something it's not comfortable with.

3. Won't rush you if your dog is a slower learner than the rest in the class.

4. Will explain things thoroughly and will show and give examples.

5. How are their dogs trained? Are they obedient? Can they do what the trainer is trying to teach your dog? If not, then they probably don't know what they're doing.
 

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1. The trainer should be comfortable working with your dog. My dog is deaf and I'm still searching for a trainer that has worked with deaf dogs before.

2. Doesn't push your dog to do something it's not comfortable with.

3. Won't rush you if your dog is a slower learner than the rest in the class.

4. Will explain things thoroughly and will show and give examples.

5. How are their dogs trained? Are they obedient? Can they do what the trainer is trying to teach your dog? If not, then they probably don't know what they're doing.
I think your spot on for two through five. These are my criteria too.

For #1, why not just ask the trainer how they intend to deal with the issue, if it makes sense, give them a try.
I would think training for eye contact and check-ins, marking with a hand-signal.
How to deal with deafness would make an interesting forum question.
 

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I think your spot on for two through five. These are my criteria too.

For #1, why not just ask the trainer how they intend to deal with the issue, if it makes sense, give them a try.
I would think training for eye contact and check-ins, marking with a hand-signal.
How to deal with deafness would make an interesting forum question.
Thanks :) By trainer I meant agility trainer since I don't have my own equipment yet. He's already off-leashed trained :)
 

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Thanks :) By trainer I meant agility trainer since I don't have my own equipment yet. He's already off-leashed trained :)
Yep. I know. Agility training requires marking a moment in time, and rewarding that. Deafness is a challenge as they cannot hear a clicker or voice marker. So how to shape behaviours, especially independant behaviours, for a deaf dog is an interesting question.
It's off-topic, maybe a new thread? But I'd love to know how you communicate with your deaf dog off lead. You must already have a strategy. Would it work for agility?
 
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Yep. I know. Agility training requires marking a moment in time, and rewarding that. Deafness is a challenge as they cannot hear a clicker or voice marker. So how to shape behaviours, especially independant behaviours, for a deaf dog is an interesting question.
It's off-topic, maybe a new thread? But I'd love to know how you communicate with your deaf dog off lead. You must already have a strategy. Would it work for agility?
I pm'd you but if anyone else would like to learn about training deaf dogs, I'd be happy to start a thread and answer your questions!
 
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I pm'd you but if anyone else would like to learn about training deaf dogs, I'd be happy to start a thread and answer your questions!
I can't possibly be the only dog-training-nerd that wants to know, just for the sake of knowing.
If I'm wrong, I can at least guarantee an audience of one. :)
 
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