Week 1: Agility Foundations Classes

Meet Quick!

Quick is a year old this month, and as promised, we’re ready to start agility! Our first class was on Monday and we had a blast! I’ll be blogging about it weekly, and sharing our journey with all of you.

It was a little difficult to explain that he doesn’t like having his collar grabbed from behind (my theory is that it pulls his hair and hurts) and that grabbing from the front or by the leash is just fine. We worked a little on shadow handling and surprised our instructor who thought that surely my obedience-trained dog wouldn’t be okay with the right side handling. He did fine with it, and was a very good boy. I had some difficulty with treating him quickly enough! I lack finger coordination I guess!

I was a little upset by another student, though.  Their pup had no manners to speak of! He bounced around on the end of his leash, barking shrilly, and his owner seemed oblivious as they texted through the lesson. I’m wondering how that’s going to work out in the upcoming weeks!

Quick seemed to enjoy the restrained recalls more than anything else. He did his ‘bucking bronco’ trick where he kicks up his back legs in glee as he runs after me.

What advice do you wish you’d heard when you started doing agility?

Check out next week!

15 Comments on “Week 1: Agility Foundations Classes

  1. Andy tried the A-frame for the 1st time. Didn’t know what to make of it. He’s so light he kept sliding down when I tried to give him his treats. Finally did make it. To think it wasn’t really set up all the way.

  2. And make sure you give him lots of affection and “attaboys” when you do it, too. You want him to start thinking, “Hey! That sound brings all kinds of really good things!” I wish I could take credit for the idea, but this is the way they teach Teeter in my beginner class. They do the sound training before they let the dogs anywhere near the equipment.

  3. Good idea. I’ll try that and I’ll make sure I have treats he can’t turn away.

  4. You need someone to help you with the teeter — you stay with Andy at a distance, while your assistant pushes the teeter down to make the noise. As soon as you hear the noise, give Andy a treat. Let him associate the noise with the treat until he’s comfortable, and then slowly move him a little closer to the teeter and repeat. Enough treats can overcome just about anything!

  5. I have set up some jumps and weave poles (since entrances are a bit of a problem). Andy just started teeters and had a scare with the noise (even though it was set up just to move a little). Now he wants none of it no matter what. Hope it will pass.

  6. I’ve set up a course in my backyard, and I’m running it WITHOUT the dogs, to try to re-pattern myself into the proper form. Once the right arms come naturally, I’ll re-introduce the dogs. I refuse to believe I can’t get control of my arms!

    • You too? I feel like a windmill, but I swear I WILL get a grip of it.

      My biggest problem so far is getting treats to my dog quickly enough. I have really fumbly hands.

  7. My puppy Andy is my second dog. My instructor has also warned me about trying to land airplanes instead of showing my first dog where to go. It is easier with dog 2. You can avoid the mistakes made with dog 1. Both dogs are Schnoodles and I have done CPE with Jake(dog1). Now we are signed up with AKC canine partners. Looking forward to trying that.

  8. I’m just starting my second dog in agility training. I know from the first dog that it’s not about the dog — it’s about the trainer! The dogs learn the obstacles in no time — the effort really goes into training the trainer to communicate what s/he wants the dog to do. My first dog is SO smart — he could be a real star, if only his trainer could learn to think ahead, place herself where she needs to be, and stop flapping her arms like a frantic bird! I’m hoping to do better by my second dog.

  9. My pup doesn’t have an obedience background we started agility foundation work. He’s only 7mos, but seems to be holding his own. Tough trying to keep him from playing with the other pup in class. But its good training for him to ignore the other pooch and play with mama.

  10. Thanks for the training tips! My next question would be how to build some drive in my non-food motivated puppy. She is very tentative about treats so I’m not sure how to approach targeting. She’s mildly toy motivated but she’s really got me puzzled.


    • That can be tricky- but no two dogs are the same. What does motivate your dog?

      If toys motivate her, use them until you can build a food drive. Quick only has drive for one toy. Mr Squeaky. And he really really wants ME to squeak it FOR him! Another way to build toy drive is to play with the toy (perhaps your own Mr. Squeaky?) yourself, and don’t give it to your dog to keep. It only comes out when you want it to, and then, joy and delight, you can play with it together! Most people find tug toys work best this way, but as I said, Mr. Squeaky and the wubba kong are Quick’s two favorite toys.

      Is it possible she’s just not hungry? Or the food you’re offering just isn’t scrumptious enough for her? At first Quick was not particularly food motivated (unlike Nova who will work for absolutely anything.), until I found freeze-dried liver. Suddenly, he couldn’t work hard enough! It may be as simple as finding what food floats her boat or ensuring she’s actually hungry when you start working!

      The oddest motivator I’ve ever seen is a dog who would do anything to be squirted with a super soaker. he loved it. L-O-V-E-D it, and he was a successful competitor! Don’t let conventionality stop you from finding what motivates your dog.

  11. I’m so glad someone is in the beginning stages too! What did you do in the first year to prepare for starting agility? I have a 9 month old puppy and we’ve just started some basic obedience.

    • Yep, I started with obedience too! I am personally of the opinion that obedience first, agility second, for my dogs anyway. I know some people who use agility as their obedience and it works well for them and their dogs!

      I would practice working off your right side as well as your left. That’s the best thing I did for Quick I think.

      I wish I had worked with more conditioning obstacles- cavalettis or ladders, etc, to teach him about his paw placement, but he is doing okay without having had that practice!

      And I also did preliminary ‘touch’ training. So far he can’t generalize to save his little soul, but he does touch my hand when I ask him! (It’s a great attention getter and it feels like a ‘free treat’ to him.)