Dog agility

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by Starfire669, Aug 19, 2014.

  1. Starfire669

    Starfire669 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So my kids and I got started in dog agility. We have 1 Belgian Malinois, and 4 Siberian Huskies. My boys are 12 and 13 years old. So far we are only learning how to train the dogs and do our obstacles at a walk or slow jog. Some of the dogs are off leash, others are not.

    I'd like information on everything from handling, how to build your own backyard coarse, and how to get started competing.
     
  2. SavageDestiny

    SavageDestiny Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Please work with a trainer to get your dogs started in agility. There is so much foundation work to be done before your dogs ever touch obstacles, and obstacles must be introduced properly or your dogs can severely injure themselves. Do you know how to back chain contacts, for instance, to make sure your dogs don't leap off the A frame midway up and hurt themselves?
     
  3. Starfire669

    Starfire669 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am going to a training facility for obedience and agility in back to back classes on Fridays and Saturdays. My trainer teaches agility as a part of obedience and as a exercise/bond/have fun with your dog. I have a 2 year old Siberian b*tch that has surprised everyone with how serious and skilled she is at agility. She is off leash and already takes the teeter, she loves the dang thing. She needs work on her weaves and tunnels. I'd like to take her further in agility. this dog made our agility demo team. Our demo team isn't about speed, it's about showing people that anyone and any dog can do this and show people how much fun the dogs have. Our fastest speed is a light jog, and the dog stays next to us, off leash, as we work the coarse.

    My 10 month old male Siberian also shows promise, he is great at weaving. But he needs work on the contacts, keeping focus, and slowing his turbo jets down. I am his only handler in agility, for his own safety. He is still a puppy and sometimes does incredibly stupid things. Once he took off in a case of zoomies after weaving and nearly summersauled when he jumped over the chute, and once he tried to jump off the apex of the A-frame (he saw a dog just off to his left on the other side of the fence and decided to go play right then). I was able to catch him and push him back on the A-frame. I then immediately removed him from the training ring that had the contacts. I have never allowed him on the full sized dog walk, or on the teeter. After his display of stupidity I keep him on a tab, I let go on tunnels, and chutes and grab it again when he emerges to prevent a repeat. I hope he will settle down with maturity, he has a lot of promise as a conformation show dog, and an agility dog.

    My 12 year old son's Siberian is 3 years old, slow, but steady. She was a rescue. She is also off leash, but she takes her time and is very careful when doing obstacles. She made our agility demo team, not for speed, but because she is steady and works well. She is perfect where she is, she just don't have that drive to compete. But she perfectly compliments my son, who can sometimes get reckless. For them, agility is fun and has brought them closer together.

    My Belgian Malinois, also a rescue, is actually very athletic, he is an amazing jumper, and he can out sprint our Siberians easily. But he doesn't seem interested in agility. If I had his jolly ball he would run through fire to get it, but without his ball he just don't care. I haven't decided yet if I want to try and get his attention for agility. The dog is 5 years old and is slightly dog aggressive. He thinks our Siberians are his "herd" to protect and keep in line. He is the alpha dog in our house, but he does obey me and both my sons, as we worked him really hard in obedience when we discovered his aggression. He has been fully trained in obedience since he was 1 year old and is just getting a refresher coarse as he tends to get above himself from time to time. This time it is my 13 year old son taking him through obedience class.

    I do have a 5th dog, a 1 year old Siberian who was a rescue. But she has way to many social issues to even consider her in agility. She is a very fearful dog, she is terrified of people and strange dogs. She will either pee on herself in fear, or become fear aggressive. She is going to obedience classes only.

    What I would like help with is how to teach cross overs, distance handling, building my own obstacles here at home, and teaching my 2 year old Siberian how to add speed to her runs. She has learned heel a little too well in the agility ring, she sticks to my side like glue now. Of all my dogs, she is the one I'd like to concentrat on right now.

    Here is a photo of my 12 year old working his Siberian Sasha on the dog walk at our training center. The trainer was just off to my side and slightly in front. He was spotting them as they did the walk.
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    In the second picture you can see the surface of the dog walk. It has no traction. I would be terrified of letting my dogs hit that at high speed. This is one reason I want to build my own coarse here at home. I know where to buy the rubber grandules and would apply them to my contact. My training center does offer compitition agility training, but it is on that dog walk. We can't add speed until we have traction on their contacts. The teeter is the only contact at our training facility that has the rubber surface. The A-frame has sand in the paint for traction, and the dog walk is so worn the sandy paint has mostly come off,
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2014
  4. Windrider

    Windrider Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes. This.

    I was going to respond to this in the other thread, but having an agility thread is better. Starfire, from what you've posted here and what you've messaged me, it sounds like your trainer is doing things right, in spite of his old equipment - it doesn't sounds too much different from what we do at our facility with beginners. You don't mention how many lessons you've had or how long you've been doing the lessons, but you've got to be patient. People always make the mistake in thinking that agility should be easy for a dog to pick up. At our training area at a public park, it is not uncommon for by-standers to comment as we are training "Oh, MY dog could do that better!" Actually, the dogs do pick things up reasonably fast, but we always joke that agility training is mostly about training the handlers!

    I wouldn't expect dogs starting out in agility to work at speed. I wouldn't expect for them to do full courses. You've first got to get the performance of the obstacles, learn to do short sequences, and the basics of handling at slower speeds. Then you can start to put it all together and as the dog gains confidence in both himself and you, the speed will increase.

    I am VERY leery of people just starting out having the contact obstacles in their backyard. Like Destiny said, it is a recipe for hurt or scared dogs.

    Jumps in your backyard: YES! Most of an agility course is actually jumping. There are lots of books and even some stuff online that can give you jumping exercises, patterns, and skills you can do with several jumps. It is amazing what you can accomplish with just a few jumps in your backyard. You don't need contacts to practice crosses, lead-outs, go-ons, get-outs, and all the other directional cues we use in agility. Add a tunnel in your backyard too and you can really make some nice sequences.

    Once your dog has the basics of weaving at the training facility, it is great to have weaves at home, too. Weaves are the most difficult obstacle for dogs to understand. Entrances are particularly difficult. I have a three year old dog who is already working towards her MACH and all I have in my backyard are weaves and three jumps.

    But PLEASE don't build contacts at home and just rush willy-nilly into putting your dog on them!
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2014
  5. Starfire669

    Starfire669 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 31, 2014
    San Antonio, Texas

    Right now I have 2 jumps and a set of weave poles, and im working on building another 2 jumps. The jumps have the regulation cups for saftey. The next thing I'd like to get would be a tunnel or chute. The contacts are the very last thing I'd add, and then only after and if I felt the dogs would be safe. I have no desire to hurt or scare my dogs. And I would not use the backyard instead of class, but as a compliment to classes. The contacts would not be added to my yard for at least a year, but I'd like to know how to build good ones. Safety is a priority, and my fear is that when I do start working the dogs at speed, the worn, old contacts at our training facility would be dangerous. I don't know if I am explaining my thoughts right or not, I hope I am.
     
  6. Starfire669

    Starfire669 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 31, 2014
    San Antonio, Texas
    So here are pics of Dawn and I working the teeter. We had just had a 2 1/2 hour team practice. Dawn was tired but keyed up at the same time. We did a lot of waiting for our turn and met a lot of other handler teams from different classes. Much of last night was meeting eachother and ensuring the dogs could work together. So I took Dawn up on some contacts to help her settle after much of the team had gone home. My 12 year old was the photographer, using my phone. Because of Dawn being tired and a little jittery I stayed right next to her. She kept turning her head to look at me, which is my I kept a hand at her shoulder, to grab her in case she started to come off the teeter. I also put a hand in front of her to slow her down and to make her "wait" while the teeter came down. We are not working for speed right now, we are building confidence and accuracy. Dawn is best at the contacts, she loves them and hates the weaves. She has finally started taking the tunnels, but still balks at the chute. Dawn has therefore been selected as 1 of 3 dogs who will demonstrate the contacts during our demos, and she will participate in the team relay race as she gets along well with other dogs and is able to maintain her focus while off leash and with another dog in the ring. Her compitition for the race is my 12 year old son's dog Sasha. The dogs are paired based on size and ability to get along/work in the ring together. Because both my girls are Siberians they naturally got paired up for the race.

    We have tons of small dogs on our demo team, but we need more large dogs. So our pup Phantom is being considered for running in the relay race only, if he can maintain focus and not get distracted by all the other dogs and people. I won't allow him to do more than weaves, jumps, and tunnels during demos, if he even goes along on demos. He is 8 months old (sorry for saying 10 months in previous post, our 10 month old pup is Cheyenne, I get their ages confused sometimes) and is mainly a conformation dog. I use the agility as a way to burn off his energy and make him more manageable for training. He has promise, but needs another year before I really work him in agility.

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    Last edited: Aug 23, 2014
  7. Starfire669

    Starfire669 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 31, 2014
    San Antonio, Texas
    Some pictures of my dogs having fun, and a couple pics of my girl doing agility.
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