Talk to me about agility

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Avola
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Talk to me about agility

Postby Avola » Tue Oct 13, 2015 9:10 pm

Ms. Zelda, the hyper active GSD would like a job. One that doesn't entail herding horses (ok, more like trying to herd them - they tend to ignore her efforts) would be ideal.
She's super athletic and I'm thinking she would like agility.
Unfortunately, there are no classes nearby as the closest agility trainer is over two hours away, so I would have to do the training myself.
Tell me about it? How difficult is it without professional help? Are there any videos or such? And the equipment, how expensive is it?
I've seen books but I'm a visual learner and would prefer videos. Also I've seen equipment for sale on amazon but it looks cheesy and flimsy so I don't think it would work to well, but may be it would?

Chancellor
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Re: Talk to me about agility

Postby Chancellor » Wed Oct 14, 2015 9:26 am

Good equipment is a must especially with larger dogs. Flimsy equipment won't give your dog confidence in being on the equipment. Sherman has been doing agility this year for similar reasons to your wanting to start. He needs a job to do.
The most important thing to do is keep it positive and fun!

Kelo
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Re: Talk to me about agility

Postby Kelo » Wed Oct 14, 2015 1:00 pm

Are you handy at all? It's possible to build agility equipment. Most of the equipment is relatively simple -- A-frame, dogwalk, table, weave poles, jumps, etc. You'd probably have to buy the tunnels. But you could build the stuff with a few weekends of work, I think, for a few hundred dollars' in supplies.

I am not an agility wizard, so take my thoughts for what they're worth. I've just gone through intro classes as a fun thing to do with my dog, we never got good at it. But handling is a big thing. And by that I mean, where you position yourself, which hand cues you use, etc., make a difference. There HAVE to be good videos on it, but I don't know what they are. Maybe, worst case scenario, you could go to the trainer 2 hrs away and do, like, a 3 hr private clinic to get a crash course and some video reccs? If you have an understanding of obedience training, it shouldn't be too hard.

Introducing your dog to the equipment is basically going slow, and making it fun. Common sense stuff. You don't ever want to scare them. Then building up slowly.

The dogs usually catch on fast, and love the treats (or toys, or just interacting with their people). It is a great team-building exercise, I've seen it work magic on a lot of high-energy dogs.

Avola
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Re: Talk to me about agility

Postby Avola » Wed Oct 14, 2015 2:25 pm

I found this:
http://3lostdogs.com/a-beginners-guide-to-dog-agility/
Seems doable enough.....will give it a try and, if everything else fails, will contact the trainer and see about scheduling a private crash course with possible follow ups every couple of months or so.
Thanks!

Code3
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Re: Talk to me about agility

Postby Code3 » Wed Oct 14, 2015 9:40 pm

I made weave poles by putting fiberglass electric fencing poles in the ground and putting PVC pipe over them. I could pull them out to mow the lawn then pound them back in. That's as far as I got in agility, and I haven't done it for years so I'm not much help.

PNG_Pony
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Re: Talk to me about agility

Postby PNG_Pony » Wed Oct 14, 2015 10:38 pm

Back when I was teaching agility, I used to tell people that if they were on a budget, the best things to have at home were four jumps and a set of weave poles (can easily be made out of PVC...mine were driveway markers for a while). With four jumps, you can set up hundreds of combinations (and oxers and spreads) and work on your handling skills galore. But, yes, it's fairly reasonable to make all the other equipment. Again, if you're on a budget, you probably need only one contact piece (A-frame, dogwalk, cross-over, or teeter) because you'll focus on training the contact zone. If you can't have a full-blown teeter, then just a board with a ball underneath it will get the dog used to movement.

There are a LOT of good books and videos and resources out there (CleanRun is great magazine, I don't have the other titles in front of me at the moment), but I do think it's a great idea to see a trainer every once in a while, because you might not be aware of how your shoulders are causing your dog to blow his contact or your feet making him pop out of the poles. Depending on how competitive you want to be, it's always easier to teach proper jumping technique, speedy accurate weavepoles, and correct equipment from the beginning than to retrain later.

Other very useful agility things to train off the equipment is "target" (you can teach all the directional commands, for example, "here," "out," "left," "right," and "go on"); we used margarine lids. Lots of agility people train with a clicker, so you may want to consider playing with that. You also want to train a fast down from a standing/running position for the table (well, it depends on which organization you plan on competing in if it's a sit or down), but this is a bit different from your average obedience "down." You'll also want a rock solid "come," you'll want the dog to play well with others (and not bolt away from you/leave the ring as soon as you take off the leash) and be able to hold a "sit" or a "down" at a distance under pressure/excitement (since you'll eventually want to lead out at the start of a run).

Anyway, welcome to the agility club! It's super addicting!!

Avola
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Re: Talk to me about agility

Postby Avola » Fri Oct 16, 2015 2:53 pm

it depends on which organization you plan on competing


Oh I doubt very much we'll compete, ever. I just want to do it to get her mind occupied.
Thanks all for the tips! I volunteered DH for the equipment construction project.....

PNG_Pony
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Re: Talk to me about agility

Postby PNG_Pony » Fri Oct 16, 2015 9:13 pm

Hehe, that's what you say now..... ;) just wait. Once you see how fast she is and how much she's having a blast (and how much YOU are enjoying it)...well, it's hard to turn back!

Chancellor
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Re: Talk to me about agility

Postby Chancellor » Tue Nov 10, 2015 1:40 pm

Avola,
Did you see this? This is our Sherman in his agility lesson:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTuFOb9GWTE

Avola
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Location: Oregon Coast

Re: Talk to me about agility

Postby Avola » Tue Nov 10, 2015 2:46 pm

I saw that on FB. He looks so happy! :)
I've emailed the trainer that is two hours away about doing one introductory session and explained the situation. Hopefully I'll get an answer soon.

Chancellor
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Re: Talk to me about agility

Postby Chancellor » Tue Nov 10, 2015 4:16 pm

I completely forgot we are friends on Facebook!

Sherman LOVES LOVES LOVES crashing through stuff and running over it! He's just happy to run and play!

Marshfield
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Re: Talk to me about agility

Postby Marshfield » Wed Nov 11, 2015 10:33 pm

I really wouldn't try it without professional help. There's a lot that goes in to teaching a dog to play safely on the contact obstacles--teeter, A-frame, dog walk. While I'm sure there are areas with easy access to agility, we're in the car 75 minutes each way once or twice a week for training time.

Reiter
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Re: Talk to me about agility

Postby Reiter » Thu Nov 12, 2015 10:58 pm

You can learn a lot online these days with good trainers who are using web based communications.

Susan Garrett is one of the top handlers in the country, but more importantly, she is a great teacher. You can check out what she offers for those trying to learn some things via distance learning at Say Yes Agility: http://susangarrettdogagility.com/

For video training and game guide as well as publications designed FOR the backyard agility enthusiast and Just For Fun Agility...visit Bud Houston's work at:
http://www.dogagility.org/newstore/

He is a master teacher of great handling technique and one of the backyard books, for about $15, includes all manner of sequences, hundreds, to start a dog on equipment and progress with everything from equipment method to distance handling. I was an instructor at his Dogwood Center for many years, and we had numerous shorthairs in our classes. Most of the owners thought there was no way they were working their dog off lead because he or she was too hyper, too hunty, too distracted etc! But in this sport, dogs learn very quick to focus with their handler and within the course, and within a couple weeks, the dogs are working off lead just fine.

Also offering online is Daisy Peel: http://classroom.daisypeel.com/

Also, check out resources at Clean Run: http://www.cleanrun.com/

As a previous poster mentioned, it is well worth your while to get some hands-on instruction with a trainer. Attend a camp or workshop or at least go watch some trials and audit workshops or clinics. There are sports safety considerations for the dog as well as training issues that come up where you want to have some kind of mentor. Some dogs can be iffy about the teeter, depending on the dog, but I have seen several who just didn't like it even though their training started on a wobbly board and progressed gently. If the dogs feel rushed or forced into it, they seem quicker to lose confidence and get locked into a mental program about it. This can happen to "any" dog or breed.

Folks like Bud and Susan and many others have camps and clinics across the country. If you ever get an opportunity to attend one of Bud's (or Susan's, or Stuart Mah's or Daisy Peel and many others') camps, you will love it! They are fun and designed for you and your dog to be successful.
Happy Running! I have a shorthair and grew up with them, they are wonderful companions and working dogs!

hoopoe
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Location: Western Washington

Re: Talk to me about agility

Postby hoopoe » Sat Nov 28, 2015 9:38 pm

have you considered contacting the local 4H and see if there are any older teens who do agility. Perhaps they would welcome the chance to teach and earn some extra money.

are you anywhere near Coos Bay?

Avola
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Location: Oregon Coast

Re: Talk to me about agility

Postby Avola » Tue Dec 01, 2015 3:32 am

are you anywhere near Coos Bay?


YES! Do you know anyone?

hoopoe
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Re: Talk to me about agility

Postby hoopoe » Thu Dec 03, 2015 7:07 pm

No I dont know anyone but there is / was a Coos Bay Dog Club


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