Puppy Forum and Dog Forums banner

1 - 13 of 13 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
255 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
The only place around here won't take dogs before they are a year old for fear of damage to their growth plates. My vet says that is absurd. He has seen damage to growth plates from being hit by cars, but never from anything the dog might do willingly. As long as there is not obvious discomfort, it is okay.

Based on that advice I have had my 7 month old Toller running around driveway markers and over 16" jumps. She seems to enjoy it.

Any advice on:
1) the advisability of agility for a 7 month old, regarding both injuries and getting into agility. (a college crew coach once told my son that he prefers inexperienced rowers because it is easier to teach rowing then to break bad habits learned in high school).
2) Other, easily built, things she could be doing
3) Any websites that might be helpful
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,369 Posts
I start my pups on low impact foundation agility stuff as soon as they come home. Working on contact training, tunnels, body awareness, handing type things is great and you can find training tips for these things on youtube! But I would definitely not be doing things like jumping or weaving until at least a year old especially with a larger breed dog. That type of stuff puts a lot of stress on a growing pup and can cause serious problems. Plus if you start with the foundation stuff you be at a greater advantage when you start the actual class at a year old.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17,913 Posts
What they said re: Low impact things.

Your vet is not a sports vet. Your vet is also probably not someone who knows agility intimately. Bottom line it is an 'extreme sport' and if your only classes are ones that work full height equipment then, yes, you absolutely need to wait. Find a foundation or puppy class if you can and if you don't - well, again, wait. T

he risk of injury is very much present and so, honestly, is the risk of your puppy scaring itself and never being willing to get near it again. There is also just plain NO benefit to starting early - like, none. They can't compete earlier, they have less attention span, brain, confidence, and body awareness to work with, and they don't learn the skills better or faster for being young. So you have risk but zero reward.

My 6 month old does hoops and barrels - which amount ot 'handling work' and also sending - paw targets, and crosses on the flat, restrained recalls to different sides, body awareness stuff, conditioning stuff (ie: physical fitness)- and tunnels. I'll introduce him to lowered equipment somewhere around 10 months old and raise it slowly to full height by the time he's 12 months old. Weaves I won't bother with starting until he's a year.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,744 Posts
Yup, agility is exactly one of those things people are talking about when they say "avoid repetitive, high-impact exercise until your puppy's close to a year (or more, depending on size)." If you can find a local course that focuses on groundwork or foundation obedience for agility like the others have said, that's awesome! But equipment is just a bad, bad idea until you've got a physically and mentally mature dog you're handling. The occasional jump over, say, a log on a walk is fine, but encouraging a growing dog to go over jumps repeatedly (esp. on a hard surface, hopefully you mean a lawn) can and does cause issues often enough to be a concern. I'd actually say it's a really good sign that your local agility class has these limitations, and you may be able to ask them to recommend courses that will give you a good foundation for once your pup's old enough to attend.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,834 Posts
With a pup that young you can't really do anything high impact such as jumps, and you shouldn't be too repetitive. I would stick with things like walking over a board laid flat on the ground to mimic a dog walk, walking over jump poles laid on the ground, very basic introduction. Other than that, really work on obedience skills. The months of obedience classes my dog and I did before we even attempted agility really paid off and strengthened our bond, which makes it much easier to handle the dog off leash in the agility course!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17,913 Posts
The impact in agility isn't just jumps, either, lest OP get the idea that everything else is okay. Jumps may be the least of it, to be honest. Raised A-frame and dog walk with contacts? You've got the risk of leaping off or falling off without a stopped contact, and with one there is the force on the front end of slamming into 2o2o. Weaves? Impact of jumping through and all the strain on the spine, shoulders, elbows, and hips of the motion.

NADAC style hoops or poles on the ground will give you everything you need for teaching path and are zero impact. Tunnels are fun and safe. Everything else is basically a 'heck no' until you've got a dog who is at least physically mature.

Also if you want something fun and not boring to train meanwhile - I highly recommend musical freestyle for pure fun training that's fun for dog and owner.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,834 Posts
Oh yeah, contacts are probably higher impact than jumps, really. Especially things like the teeter or the A-frame. It takes a lot of muscle to climb that thing and then control themselves going down it.

Some puppy things they had us do in a couple of Beginning Obedience classes was walk over tarps on the ground, interact with loud things that replicated the banging of the teeter or the sounds that the dog walk makes when they walk across it. They stood on wobble boards, walked across boards on the ground, simple things like that. We didn't have enough people for a foundation agility class, so they kind of incorporated it into Beginning Obedience.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17,913 Posts
We don't really have puppy foundations - we do have foundations but it's basically 8 months and up and it's tunnels, flat work, and tunnels. There is an introduction to contact equipment but it's the bottom of the contact equipment lowered. So they hop on a low table and then do the contact behavior at the end without going OVER it. I think there might be jumps but jump heights for baby dogs are STUPID low and there are very few of them, to avoid repetition. AND with all that it's on equestrian sand that's several inches deep.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,227 Posts
What everybody else said. Don't know what flavor agility you might compete at but a couple of the venues I went to used tables. You can put down a square of plywood on the ground and train going to, dropping/sitting on then exploding off it. It looks flashy and the dogs adore it. Keeps Bucky busy on walks, he'd happily do this every 20 feet for miles.

Max loved doing ladders to the point I would use them in my backyard agility courses. Lure through with a treat and whatever pup does is just fine done at a walk. She might walk between or on the rungs or rails or some combination, all fine. When she's got it then she can go her chosen speed.

A play tunnel could be a good investment as dogs don't like losing sight of you. You cannot curve a short cheap tunnel and have the dog speed through which is annoying but it's great for practicing crosses and go outs because dogs love them so much. If she's short enough draping cloth over a couple chairs can work fine.

Surprised your agility school doesn't offer puppy agility. 90% of agility is between the obstacles and all on you. All that can be started now. I don't know of a resource for teaching front, rear and blind crosses but you can start the foundation for that now. Turning away and going out were the very first things Ginger was taught in her beginning agility class. You've started the going out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
254 Posts
Yep, everyone else is spot on with what they said! Atlas and I did a puppy agility class when he was 5-6 months old. We did it backwards as we've now completed two agility classes and just now are working on obedience - I think it was Lillith that said obedience first was helpful, and I'm going to agree! He's enjoying agility so much, but walking him down the road can still be dreadful! So, obedience would be a priority, though not to say you can't play around with some of this stuff on your own.

I'll tell you what we did in our puppy class (which will likely reiterate what everyone else has said). We worked on a lot of foundation stuff, and trying to keep their attention (Atlas was TOTALLY distracted by the other puppies anytime we got near them). We used small raised dog beds to teach the "table" and "down" commands, also helped with "bottom" commands for the contacts. ALL jumps were the standards with poles laying directly on the ground (they were only raised slightly on the very last class). We introduced shortened tunnels (Atlas' favourite) and the chute. We started with a short 'bang board' to get them used to the idea of a teeter, then on the last class they introduced the actual board for the teeter, still on the ground. Each class we introduced a new skill or new obstacle until we were able to run mini-sequences. :)

Here's the link for a video from our last class, to show pretty much everything we worked on put together: https://flic.kr/p/WSmDUr

Most of the ideas can be taught at home, so you can definitely practice there and she will be ready to roll when you can enroll her in the agility class.
- You can work on sit and wait/stay (like at a start line) while you walk away
- You could use a raised bed like we did to teach 'table' and down
- You can use couch cushions to make a tunnel
- You can teach bottom by using the stairs and having her pause at the last one (back feet on the stair, front feet on the floor) and working on having her pause and wait when you call bottom before she gets there
- Sounds like you have something for jumps, so you can do a little that way (practice from both sides and all directions) but keep them low, low, low
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
278 Posts
I did 'puppy' agility with my boy.
It was pretty much all flatwork. We worked contacts by having the puppy back up and put their back feet on a little ramp. Then just did things like 'follow the hand', going around things, attention.
I also did 2 agility classes before he was a year old and we did do some contact work, but it was all on it's lowest settings and we would only do it a few times each week and the jumps were like 4-6" tall max.
This was one class when he was almost a year old
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15XBIG6TqiQ

16" is full competition height for your dog I would guess. That's much too high for a puppy, and I definitely wouldn't be doing too much high impact repetitive stuff with such a young dog.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,911 Posts
Agreed with everyone else - just because a puppy does something willingly doesn't mean that it can't be harmful.

For example, a 10 year study done in Norway found that puppies who went up and down stairs before 3 months of age were far more likely to develop hip dysplasia than puppies who were carried up and down the stairs. Did the puppies go willingly up and down stairs? Yes. Was it still harmful to their long term health? Yes.

Other studies have shown a correlation between puppies being exercised with forced repetitive motion on hard surfaces (jogging on concrete, for instance), and hip and elbow dysplasia. Would my puppy have willingly run next to me on concrete? Yes. Could it have done great and lasting damage to him? Yes.

You've gotten some great advice from other posters here. Sounds like you may also want to look into a different vet, as I think this one has given you some very bad advice.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
358 Posts
I'd say pretty good advice above. I introduced my athletic dogs to swimming early on. It's very tiring and a good outlet for excess energy. There is lots of movement with resistance but little impact. As far as agility I have to say I really don't have direct experience but observation would say limited jumps maybe an occasional low level hop that you can begin directing the dog to perform would be ok and provide " fun" for the dog. Dog walk bridges with your pauses would be ok. I'd encourage whatever speed you need. Set the climbing wall at a low level and discourage leaping off it. The same with teeter tot. Make sure the dog does not jump off. I did running to targets early on. It's not as easy as it looks but the young dogs got there sooner or later. Otherwise I'd try to make things happen quickly with commands. For dog competitions I was in, speedy, precise recalls were important. Finishes both left and right needed to be blazing fast and correct. Proper heeling, close order drills, slow,normal and fast heeling, retrieves needed to be fast and precise with various objects. All this is " on ground" but valuable training as you will get the bond needed for agility.
 
1 - 13 of 13 Posts
Top