Agility dogs unite!

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Wicket
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Agility dogs unite!

Post by Wicket » Fri Jul 09, 2010 5:06 am

Does anyone else train and/or compete their dog in agility? My chi-poo and I currently go to weekly classes at my trainer's house. We are advanced beginners. My chi-poo knows most obstacles except the teeter and weave poles while I'm still trying to figure out my own hand-eye-feet-where's the dog? coordination. I hope this thread can be used to discuss obstacle/handling trouble shooting, provide information others, and any stories/successes you're willing to share.

In order to start this thread, I have a question: How did you train the weave poles? In her first beginner's semester, she understood the motions with the guiding gates but in the next two semester, she has been clueless, even with guides. Last class, I used the clicker and used my hand to illicit the action with the poles (w/out guides); we did this a couple times and she seemed to catch on quicker.

Lauram
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Re: Agility dogs unite!

Post by Lauram » Sat Jul 10, 2010 5:57 am

I did a fair bit of agility training with Alf, he used to love all the fast jumpy bits but never quite got the hang of the weave poles, he struggled to fit throug the tunnel and didn't think much to the seesaw. But he enjoyed himself

My sister is now starting agility with bramble who may turn out to be the same.

I absolutely loved it, it was the coolest thing ever and I was truly amazed by how much they could learn and loved showing everyone how Alf knew his left from his right. Infact agility was my first introduction to clicker training, the group i was in were all very positive and worked very much within the dogs comfort zone. I did do a session with another group, but they weren't as nice and tried to rush Alf so I quit. He found the A frame difficult at full height and they wouldn't put it down and I wouldn't force the issue with him so I quit. Glad I did.

I don't think he would ever have made competition standard but I came to the conclusion that you don't have to be brilliant at something to have fun and enjoy it. Doing agility improved all aspects of his training and allowed him to socialise with other dogs in a controlled environment. It was just fab.

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Scuttlebutt
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Re: Agility dogs unite!

Post by Scuttlebutt » Thu Jul 15, 2010 7:23 pm

A number of years back I did agility with my Mum's dog (he's too arthritic for it now poor boy) and I know we got him to do the weave poles, I just can't for the life of me remember how we did it! I'm hoping to start agility classes with the 5-year-old collie cross that I walk in the next few weeks, so if I get any tips I'll let you know
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wvvdiup1
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Re: Agility dogs unite!

Post by wvvdiup1 » Thu Jul 15, 2010 7:42 pm

Wicket, you might want to check out the topic, "Impromptu Agility Courses Ideas" here on the forums (it's under "Health, Diet, & Exercise") for some good other ideas you might want to try! :D
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"Common sense is instinct. Enough of it is genius." -author unknown

Zeldacorgi
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Re: Agility dogs unite!

Post by Zeldacorgi » Thu Jul 15, 2010 7:48 pm

Zelda is taking to the agility equipment at her training class really well, so we'll most likely end up training her for agility.

Savewolves96
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Re: Agility dogs unite!

Post by Savewolves96 » Mon Jul 19, 2010 9:03 am

I do agility with my six year old. He loves it but we recently have taken a year off since every time after practicing he would come up lame.

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Scuttlebutt
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Re: Agility dogs unite!

Post by Scuttlebutt » Wed Jul 21, 2010 4:44 pm

Just got back from my first agility session with Meg - she did really well for a first time, the only downside was that she kept wanting to go back to her 'mum' when she'd been clever rather than stay with me (I've obviously got to get tastier treats :D )

Tip for training on the weave poles is to walk backwards i.e. you face the dog and walk slightly ahead of them for the weave - certainly worked well for Meg who was really nervous of the poles (she doesn't like the way they move as she goes past them)

We both had really good fun and will definitely be going back there next week.
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wvvdiup1
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Re: Agility dogs unite!

Post by wvvdiup1 » Wed Jul 21, 2010 6:31 pm

The two things I like about doing agility with my dog is spending time and having fun with my dog. :D However, I've noticed Karma limping afterwards, so I will have to stop for now with the agility course. :( What a bummer! :(
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"Common sense is instinct. Enough of it is genius." -author unknown

macmomo8
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Re: Agility dogs unite!

Post by macmomo8 » Thu Jan 13, 2011 7:47 pm

i am in 4h, what i did as have the upright poles laying almost on the ground. then me and my mom took turns sending her through and calling her. Then we gradually moved them up so she's now doing full upright.

We actually have the county fair this weekend which we are gonna kill in. GOOO JAZZY!! :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)

ladybug1802
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Re: Agility dogs unite!

Post by ladybug1802 » Mon Jan 17, 2011 4:55 am

I do agility with Dylan and have been doing it since the summer some time. He loves it and picks it up SO fast....the trainers are really keen for me to compete and say he is going to be brilliant and he is the only one in that class they would recommend at the moment....so we are going to do our first little competition in April!

Dylan picked all the apparatus up really fast, but the weave poles have taken longer. We started off with the plastic 'guiders', but then I did as Scuttlebutt said - walked backwards for a while. Then I moved to moving forwards, next to Dylan with him on the lead, and subtley guided him through the weaves. Now he will do them by himself if I walk on his right (I can now just run/walk further away from the poles) but he isnt yet quite as good when I am on his left!!

My trainer suggests it is not the best idea to lure them through the weaves with treats because it takes their attention away from moving ahead and gets them to look up instead.

macmomo8
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Re: Agility dogs unite!

Post by macmomo8 » Mon Jan 17, 2011 1:05 pm

Awesome!!!! Good luck in April. Where did u get the weave guides??? My friend needs em.

ladybug1802
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Re: Agility dogs unite!

Post by ladybug1802 » Mon Jan 17, 2011 1:10 pm

No idea I'm afraid....they belong to the trainer. But I reckon you can get them online...there are websites that sell agility equipment so they must do the guide things too? Or maybe try ebay?!

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Horace's Mum
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Re: Agility dogs unite!

Post by Horace's Mum » Mon Jan 17, 2011 7:15 pm

I competed for a year in agility with Horus, until his hips didn't want to play any more. We had a years break, and I have just started bringing him back into it in our garden, over very small jumps and my half size contacts. I won't be doing weaves again, but he was really good before his hips started objecting.

I originally taught it by walking backwards, luring using food. This naturally followed into following en empty hand to get a treat at the end, then we got faster and he just followed the flick of my hand to send him back in every other pole. Eventually I turned around and did the same flick, and he was able to do it himself with me running alongside.

I wanted to see if I could push him into a more independent weave entry (ie I don't have to take him right to the entry) which is more common with hearing dogs but very hard for us as we go too fast for a weave sign. I took him back to just 2 poles, and sent him through to return back to me with as much drive as he could. Once he could do that from any angle, and a reasonable distance, I added 2 more poles (always add 2, so the exit is the same). I kept repeating this a couple of times a day for several weeks until we had built up to 8 poles - as many as I could get in my garden - and I could stand anywhere and send him to either end and he would enter correctly.

The secret with weaves is little and often, and take your time. Literally only do a couple of tries before doing something different - weaving is the hardest thing for them to learn and do correctly, but if you train it well then it is amazing. But it takes a long time, months if not years, to perfect, and beginner dogs will usually be much better at everything else before they master the weaves.

Same with all other equipment, take your time to get the basics before trying to string it all together. Too many dogs get pushed to do a whole course before they have a good understanding of each element, even jumps need to be learned well to be effective and least damaging. Any time there is frustration, over excitement or an unwillingness to work, take it back a few steps and up the rewards - you need to keep the desire to work. Different breeds have different levels of tolerance, collies will often train for hours if you ask them to, but a lurcher for example might only do 2-3 mins a couple of times before objecting. Learn when to stop on a good note - one of the hardest things I think for humans!

ckranz
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Re: Agility dogs unite!

Post by ckranz » Tue Jan 18, 2011 1:38 pm

Khan and I have been doing agility now for 4 years. We still actively compete and train and will for many years to come (or at least as long as we are both able).

For training the weaves we used the 2x2 method as described by Susan Garrett in her dvd http://www.clickerdogs.com/2x2_weave_tr ... onials.php. This method is extraordinary and can train most any dog in a very short period of time she claims 12 days. The biggest issues is practice outside of class. If you do not have weave poles or take time to practice with tomato stakes (as I did), your dog will not learn weaves very quickly. While I am a big advocate of clickers, the clicker works against you with the weaves. The click attracts your dog's attention and focus to you for his treat, which takes away from where he needs his focus to complete the weaves (remember when properly used you click during the behavior). Using a toy or treat container to toss in front of the dog as they exit the weaves will help to build drive and speed. Its been my experience that the true strength of this method is training entrances. Even though Khan and i are still novices, he can hit just about any weave entrance correctly (95% reliability). Right side left side 90 degrees or more opposing the entry which is amazing to watch. Even being able to add lateral distance and working on front and rear crosses. He's pretty good with sending him ahead into the weaves and we are just starting on calling through the weaves. Khan is perhaps the best weaver in our class (next to my trainer's dog). Keep your training sessions in short bursts (work 5 minutes and take 10 minute breaks).



This is not to say that channels, guide wires, or doing the weave pole dance (this is a combo of using hand gestures and body blocking to thread your dogs through the weaves) will not or are not good methods of training. Each perhaps has their place. If you find you are using the weave pole dance (get a video of running) I suggest finding another method.

Tips for the teeter:
Never follow or precede teeter training with the dog walk for "green dogs" The angle of approach for both are about the same and the board width is equal. If your dog say is afraid of the teeter you could scare him off the dogwalk as well. I have seen this occur with some of my classmates.

You have several different things to desensitize and train with the teeter:
it makes noise when the end slams down. sound sensitive dogs need to become acclimated to the bang. Its as simple as slamming the teeter down and treating (mark with a click of course)

Second the teeter moves (mainly up and down, but may also have some side shifting). That movement can throw many dogs for a loop. I found with Khan that rewarding him for making the board move helped him to understand that he controls the board moving shaping to if he hurries to the contact he can get his reward there.

lastly is contact behavior which we could spend several threads arguing over which is the best contact behavior, easiest to train etc....Your desired contact behavior is what you decide it is in working with your trainer. Which ever behavior you decide to train and cannot emphasize enough that consistency is crucial for a competitive dog, your contacts must be the same each time and do not go "well that's close enough".

Wicket
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Re: Agility dogs unite!

Post by Wicket » Tue Jan 18, 2011 4:43 pm

I've heard about the 2x2 method for agility, but never bought the dvd due to the cost. How our trainer did the weave poles was use wire guides while he Betsy's dog's leash, guiding her through and I held a treat, telling her "Weave." By the end of our first beginner's class, Betsy got the rhythm down and could weave when I dropped the leash:

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Unfortunately, the next beginner's class (many months later) we did the weaves once and all Betsy's weaves knowledge was gone by then. I'm thinking about buying safety cones and seeing if I can get her to do the weaving motion on those and put it on cue.

With the teeter-toter, our trainer introduced the boogie board so the dogs could get used to movement under their feet:

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When is the best time to phase out the treats? Is it okay to use treats to get the dog's attention when she's sniffing the ground or otherwise distracted?

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