just starting agility?

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by danielle82, Jun 15, 2011.

  1. danielle82

    danielle82 A Good Egg

    Apr 27, 2009
    Tonasket Wa
    Hi, I have a 3 year old border collie/blue heeler/ pointer mix, who is a ball of fun and energy and super smart. I would like to start her on some agility stuff to capitalize on the "bond" she has with me, and because I think we would have fun. I doubt I'd ever do any shows ( not because I don't want to, but because I live in a remote area) but I want to just have some fun and some good training on my dog. I realize she is a little older than most dogs starting in agility. She has a solid "sit" and "down" (lie down) So far I have taught her to jump up on a table when I point to it and say "table"
    I guess I'm wondering what would be a good way to start? what games or tricks would be easy to start her with?
    she is highly food motivated (hot dog pieces are great and mostly what we use haha)
    Her "come" is not so hot, on leash she'll come to me (if the leash is on but I step away from her and call het to me dragging the leash), but off leash its hit or miss...could it be my demeanor changes when she is off leash? I've checked to make sure my cues are the same but I'm wondering if I "expect" her recall to fail on some level so it does? like she is picking up some cue I'm giving that shows a lack of confidance? is that possible?
  2. bogielousa

    bogielousa Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 13, 2011
    The Swamp
    There are alot of things you can do!! I'm ready to start trialing my older Aussie (I wish she could run the weekend I'm getting her spayed [​IMG] but then there isn't a local trial til the fall so we're aiming for that one!)

    For your recall, look up restrained recalls, Susan Garrett has a very nice explanation on her website of them as well. They want you to take a course but you can get a lot out of just the intro. You want her excited to come to you ALWAYS!!! NEVER fuss at her when she offers to come to you and keep your pocket stuffed with treats, even if you're just letting her go potty in your yard, when it's time to come, tell her come then treat treat treat!!!.

    For agility fun, check out cleanrun.com and agility nerd. I don't have the websites available at the moment, I'll add them for ya later if I get a chance. Agility Nerd in particular has Lots of beginner exercises to start with.

    My favorite one to teach a new dog or puppy is touch, as in push your nose against an object. I start with just my hand then teach them to touch a butter lid, lol. REALLY helpful for teach a dog to drive away from you.

    I have Aussies which are velcro dogs so getting them to be more obstacle oriented is my major challenge so I started the puppy on that very early and he's much better about that than my older gal.

    I'm actually fixing to give a stinky goat poopy breath doggy a bath and a brush (including TEETH! gak, she just ate a bunch of poop!) and then I'm off to Agility class....I'll see if I can think of anything to add for tomorrow.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2011
  3. bossynbella

    bossynbella Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 11, 2007
    I don't have any experience with Agility, though I would like to work with my dog on it as well. I had to respond however because of the come! I may be wrong, but I think its not you failing in your cues, or your body language, your dog is smart as you said, She knows that when you say "Come" when she is on the leash , you can make her come, so she listens, when she is off the leash however, she knows that if she doesn't "come" you can't do nill about it.
    My beagle is the same way, inside, or even in the fenced yard she is a pro at sit, stay, down, come, the second she is outside the fence, off the leash, its like she is hard of hearing or as if I don't even exist. She knows I can't make her come, she knows if she does come, she will probably get put on the leash or in the pen.
    Its a lost cause with her. Once she is loose, she is loose, anymore I don't even waist my breath, I go get the car and drive away, she looks expectantly, like "crap, did I miss a car ride." So I stop/turn around and come back, open the car door and say "Annie, want to go for a ride in the car?" Works every time, of course I do take her for a short ride afterword, or I don't think it would work the next time.
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I'm not much further than you are -- I adopted my first-ever dog Russell last August, he is I guess about 15-16 months old now, and we are just starting "real" agility classes (handling thru sequences of 5-6 jumps/tunnels; now doing teeter *almost* alone, instructor just leaves his foot on to make sure it doesn't bang too hard if dog does something dumb; solidifying 2o/2o contacts and told that we will start doing the whole A-frame and dogwalk real soon now). It is HUGE amounts of fun [​IMG]

    You might go back and look at a coupla threads over the past 9 months or so where I asked for the same sort of general advice you're looking for and got some really useful suggestions.

    I would think that installing a reliable recall and being reliably able to hold the dog's attention offleash would be big priorities at this point? Do you have a fenced area you can work in, otherwise you can use a dragline but that's not nearly as good. I have zero personal experience doing this with dogs other than Russell but what worked fantastically for us was to ensure I always had some special nummy treats (preferably both some 'okay' ones and some 'super amazing' ones) and call him to me frequently, ONLY when I KNEW he'd come, and reward him every single time without fail. Eventually the reward did not have to be food necessarily, and I could call him from further and from bigger distractions. Obviously in real life you don't always have food but if the dog is used to getting treated 99.9% of the time, or a nonfood reward, those few exceptions don't matter.

    One thing I wish I'd started doing earlier with Russell was getting him into toys. Yes, I've had to TRAIN him to tug and to retrieve (the latter still being a work in progress [​IMG]), but for many systems of teaching agility they are near-essentials. For instance trying to teach weave poles by Susan Garrett's 2x2 method does not work real well if the dog is not thrown-toy-motivated... you can kind of fake it with a thrown food pouch but not as well IMO.

    An imperturbable stay (a la start-line stay) despite excitement and distractions is also something you can easily work on at any time, I started doing that with Russell right from the day we adopted him just b/c it seemed likely to be generally useful in life but it has really paid off in terms of making agility easier (and impressing instructors LOL)

    If you think you are going to take a clicker approach to agility -- and a great many people do, in whole or in part -- it is also worth starting now and getting GOOD at it. There is quite a lot of judgement and timing involved, and you want to get that worked out on things that don't honestlly matter much (like "roll over" or "sit pretty") before trying it on things that DO. Also (again, *if* you want to follow methods that have a strong element of this sort of thing, like 2x2 for weaves) I have found that a lot of arbitrary "what's something interesting we can do tonight" work on SHAPING is highly useful, not just b/c it gets you better at shaping but (largely) because it gets the DOG better at BEING shaped. I'm not sure you can even use the 2x2 method for weaves without a dog that fairly thoroughly understands the shaping process (of course, there are other ways of teachign weaves too)

    Oh, if you go to the Agilitynerd website, somewhere on there is a link to the full free text of an e-book (.pdf) about starting agility, with primary emphasis on games to promote self-control, motivation, focus, etc. I think the actual link to the downloadable files is in one of my earlier agility threads on this forum but if you just go to agilitynerd you should be able to find it.

    Sixty-five thumbs up for Susan Garrett's videos, btw, once you get over the pricetags [​IMG] (I guess they're not THAT bad, certainly well worth it for what you get). I have her Crate Games and 2x2 weaves dvds, and have been strongly recommended (by instructor) her one-jump exercises dvd as well. You have to pay attention b/c everything she says *matters*, but they are some of the most information-dense and example-filled training dvds I've seen, and I love her emphasis on proofing right from the beginning.

    Good luck, have fun,

  5. danielle82

    danielle82 A Good Egg

    Apr 27, 2009
    Tonasket Wa
    great stuff guys, and thank you! Ive now been exploring eagility nerd and am finding that very useful! Thanks bunches!

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