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Please talk to me about agility

(14 Posts)
nothoughts Wed 08-Feb-17 11:21:57

We have a four month old Hungarian Viszla. He is doing really well with his basic training although we definitely have a lot of work to do. He is very bright and definitely needs lots of mental stimulation (we knew this before we got him). I am now starting to plan for the future and am considering agility classes. Although we have had dogs before this is new territory for us so any advice is really appreciated. There are two clubs nearby can anyone advise what I should look for? I am aware he can't start for at least another 6 months but I am a planner.

Shambolical1 Fri 10-Feb-17 16:39:42

The best thing to do is ask if you can go along and watch a training session (without your dog at first unless they specifically state he would be welcome) to see if you like the trainers and the venue. Some classes operate on a 'pay as you learn' basis where you turn up and pay per session, others will hold structured lessons - perhaps a set of eight or ten classes - for which you pay in advance.

If you're going to training classes already it may be worth asking the organisers if they offer agility training themselves; if so you can progress naturally from basic training to agility.

Any agility course requires a level of basic obedience to start off with; after the first couple of sessions you will probably be working off-lead so your dog needs to know to stay close to you when the lead comes off. To make life easier for yourself you could work on a decent 'wait' command, recall and make sure the dog is comfortable walking (and working) on either side of you.

It helps if your dog is sociable, without being so keen on other dogs that he becomes a distraction.

Have a look at agilitynet.co.uk . Loads of info.

ToffeeChops Fri 10-Feb-17 17:14:17

I'm doing a basic agility class with my 18mth old Border Terrier and have discovered he's a natural. I've done lots of 'fun obedience' training with him in the past and have realised there's a lot of crossover - working on building the bond between dog and owner, training impulse control, shaping and so on. It's brilliant and I'm hooked!

I thought it was going to be mainly exercise for ToffeeDog but it's much more than that and even though we're still at the early stages I can see what great mental stimulation it is for him. Our trainer is new to it but she's really good, very thorough and sets us homework every week - exercises for both dog and handler.

I can thoroughly recommend it - hope you find a class to suit you and pup (though I was advised to wait until ToffeeDog was about 9 - 12 months old, because of the potential strain on his joints.)

nothoughts Sat 11-Feb-17 09:42:20

Thank you both of you.

Shambolical I will ask at puppy classes see what the recommend. His wait is pretty good at the moment and recall with distraction definitely needs work but we have time. I'm not doing so well with getting him to walk with me at that moment. He darts off at the slightest distraction. Do you have any tips or is it persist with treats in hand by my side encouraging and changing direction frequently? Also I think he is a definitely in the so keen on other dogs he will be a distraction group. Have been working on his focus on me in classes on walks etc and he is slowly improving. Would this be sufficient do you think?

Toffee it's good to hear that Toffee dog finds it mentally stimulating. This puppy needs more mentalk stimulation than any dog I've had previously. Can I ask what fun obedience exercises you were doing? Would really like to add a bit of variety to what we are doing. I have already been doing a bit of impulse control with him. I know I can't start him until he's nearer a year old but I was trying to do a little preplanning because the everything round here seems to have huge waiting lists for beginner levels.

Noitsnotteatimeyet Sat 11-Feb-17 12:39:57

Our dog does fun agility classes - only in the summer as they're outside. He absolutely loves it, and his special favs are the dog walk and A-frame - he would do those over and over again if he could. We don't compete as he's just a couple of mms into the large height category which would mean he'd be jumping obstacles taller than him which I don't think would be good for his joints and to be honest, he doesn't care in the slightest

BestIsWest Sat 11-Feb-17 23:56:40

I think they have to be at least a year old, older for the bigger breads because of potential damage when they are still growing. We did some fun ones last summer with ours and he loved them. Will be looking for more soon.

MidniteScribbler Sun 12-Feb-17 10:19:13

You can start foundation work earlier than twelve months. Teaching directional controls, distance handling, contacts, flat obstacles. Most good training clubs will have foundation classes now for young puppies. We start ours at 8 weeks in classes. It's all play based, but it's building drive and the basics. They do anything overly physical until later.

Nice Toller Noitsnotteatimeyet.

Noitsnotteatimeyet Sun 12-Feb-17 10:33:07

Thanks midnite

One of the most useful things we taught our boy before we started agility classes was a rock-solid wait - it means we can get several obstacles ahead of him before he gets going (which we need because he is fast - and we are not!)

weaselwords Sun 12-Feb-17 10:40:23

I tried it with my weim x viszla boy and whilst he was physically extremely able and he learned what to do very quickly , it blew his mind and the noise that came out of him. I gave up in the end, deafened. Everyone else must have been so relieved.

nothoughts Sat 25-Feb-17 10:44:09

Sorry I didn't come back. I've been knocked sideways by a kidney infection. Thank you for all your advice. We have been working on his wait and it is pretty good as long as he can see us. Not really getting where with clubs. Both are totally over subscribed and not even adding to waiting list. I will start working on some of your suggestions for training and keep my eye on the club's.

ToffeeChops Sat 25-Feb-17 13:43:35

Hi again nothoughts, the fun obedience we did with ToffeeDog was a local trainer's class - six dogs, lots of reward based training, recall, all the normal sit-stay and basic commands, trying to cope with distractions etc. Now we've started Agility I realise how much he's come on and the foundation agility class has reinforced the focus and obedience while building towards specific exercises and manoeuvres.

We finished the foundation course this morning (got a certificate to prove it smile) and all of us have signed up for the next course which starts next week. I hope you manage to find something for your boy.

Scuttlebutter Sat 25-Feb-17 19:18:10

Just as a thought, have you considered Rally? Lots to think about for both you and your dog, but it's nowhere near as physically demanding as agility (you only do jumps for instance in higher levels). Lower levels are all on lead but there's lots to think about and it tests lots of your basic cues especially sits, wait, and really good heelwork. Good rally is all about a really fantastic relationship between you and your dog - I love it, it's fascinating and is a good mental workout for us both. At the other end of the spectrum you often see elderly dogs (and handlers!) doing very well at it. And we've had several agility dogs in class when they're too young to compete as many of the exercises are transferable skills and are great for building focus and concentration.

user1486071876 Sat 25-Feb-17 19:43:40

You can do a lot of foundation work with agility with young dogs obviously not jumping or twisting until they are older.

I would be working at encouraging toy play. Toy play and tugging is great for agility to help with drive and reward. Tug with different toys and to switch when you are tugging to get your dog playing with you regardless of the toy you are playing with. Tug in different locations, at home on walks, near children, play areas, by the road (Obviously if safe!) Tug with distractions around - eg food on the floor tug then release to the food.

I would also be working on teaching your dog to target - so get your dog to touch you hand with his nose and reward this - hands are very important in agility and the dog needs to love you hand.

I would also teach a nose touch onto a target - this is fun to teach anyway but can also help with contacts (even if you do decide to do running contacts which is probably not what you will do with your first dog.

With toy play teach your dog to run onto the toy - this helps to build drive and also the dog to learn to run alongside you.

nothoughts Sat 25-Feb-17 19:44:38

That's interesting. I know nothing about rally. I'll have a look into it. I'm not that bothered about competing as such I just want some thing to keep his brain working. He definitely needs to work on his lead and heelwork. It's the area we are most struggling with.

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