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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys!

I am a blogger and I really need your help! My wife and I just got into Dog Agility and we know the basics and have had a lot of fun with our dog Ramsey. We are by no means experts and we mostly have the equipment in our backyard. We are writers by profession and we were looking to create a great article for beginners like us get better at Dog Agility.

I was hoping all of you would chime in and give us advice not only for our dog, but for our readers to help them over some hurdles that you guys have encountered.

All are welcome to comment and share experiences in!

Maybe you are a beginner yourself and had a challenge that you overcame that might give great insight to someone struggling with the same aspect.

Maybe you are a pro and can see the top mistakes people do when they first start training their dogs.

I really look forward to talking with all of you and hopefully together we can give people a really great resource to help them when starting out.

Thanks everyone!
 

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https://www.dogforums.com/dog-sports-show-forum/426354-one-piece-advice-youd.html

This might be of interest to you.

In general and much later, I'd say it's down to making sure your dog has fun and to be aware that it WILL be a year's long growth process. Not to get the basics, but to get good at it? Yeah. There's a learning curve for the human, courses get harder as you go and every dog is different in things like timing and distance and handling preferences so you're never NOT going to be working on, and struggling with something. It's part of the game. Keep it fun for the dog, keep it fun for you, and celebrate progress. It really *is* a journey.
 

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Two things I've learned is you need pro classes even if you are in it 'just for fun'. I can't afford continuous classes (in fact, it's very rare) and even though I took many classes with another dog, without an instructor, things get muddied, so I make do. For the absolute beginner, they need someone to guide them through basic safety & training.

Second, think WAY outside the box. My 'agility yard' is my unfenced front yard. I can not afford any level of distraction, my dog is either 100% with me, or I need to leash up and end the session. This makes for very short sessions, and that wasn't working too well for either of us, soooooo... I asked myself what is MY dogs BIGGEST reward, and the answer was 'running like stink through the woods chasing squirrels'. Which was dissappointing and seemed unworkable until I realized that activity required access to the vehicle, or a leashed walk past the driveway, and my dog knows this too. So I turned very short agility sessions into 'earning access to the vehicle or a leashed walk (equally exciting)' and he loves loves loves his 'in the yard' agility now.

My best advice for beginners is to skip the agility and do pre-agility and make it fun. Get the dog motivated with play, use play as a reward. Learn how to make food rewards fun (food that runs, food that flys). Learn how to make things like recalls mutually fun, and follow the handler, fun. And if either party is not having fun, it's not fun. Try something else.
 

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I agree with the above people. My first Agility dog, Remmy, I started training just on my own as I had access to Agility equipment. He ended up doing really well, making it up to Masters but looking back I know how much better he would have been if I had known what I was doing and how much more fun he would have had. All the dogs I have trained since then, I have been to proper classes.

My present dog, Bonnie, I started trialing last year and just entered FEO (for exhibition only) so you are not running for Q's, just for fun. You can take a toy in and only do what equipment you want to work on in a trial atmosphere. I will probably run her in regular classes this year, but maybe not.

Another thing that I found that really helped is to volunteer to work as ring crew at the trials. You get the opportunity to watch all the dogs run and learn a lot by watching the handlers. It also makes you realize that even the best Masters dogs can still make mistakes so when your starting dogs make a mistake which 90% of the time is handler error, you are not the only one, no dog is perfect every time.
 

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Find a good instructor. Foundation work, foundation work, foundation work. Dogs love running through tunnels and climbing on equipment. It's often pretty self rewarding.

What they really need to learn is how to enjoy working with you. You need to make yourself the most rewarding thing through treats/toys/play.. whatever. Basic handling skills should be something to always practice and work on.

Everyone is in a rush to do courses. But it will probably fall apart later without those foundation skills.

And I don't mean anything offensive by this because I am not about to hurt people's dreams of being great writers.. but. I would probably wait to write an article on agility until you are more experienced. I don't know. Maybe I am out of line here?
 

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One of the first things that I did before I entered the competition ring was volunteer to work as a bar setter, timer, leash runner, etc. at an agility trial. Just being able to sit and watch how things worked and not worry about a dog was very helpful to me. You get to meet a lot of other agility people outside your class. You end up talking to a lot of those people and learning something. It's also great to watch different people with different dogs at all levels. Don't underestimate the knowledge you gain just going out and watching!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
https://www.dogforums.com/dog-sports-show-forum/426354-one-piece-advice-youd.html

This might be of interest to you.

In general and much later, I'd say it's down to making sure your dog has fun and to be aware that it WILL be a year's long growth process. Not to get the basics, but to get good at it? Yeah. There's a learning curve for the human, courses get harder as you go and every dog is different in things like timing and distance and handling preferences so you're never NOT going to be working on, and struggling with something. It's part of the game. Keep it fun for the dog, keep it fun for you, and celebrate progress. It really *is* a journey.
This is something that my wife and I agree with. we just wanted to have fun with our dog and solve a problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Two things I've learned is you need pro classes even if you are in it 'just for fun'. I can't afford continuous classes (in fact, it's very rare) and even though I took many classes with another dog, without an instructor, things get muddied, so I make do. For the absolute beginner, they need someone to guide them through basic safety & training.

Second, think WAY outside the box. My 'agility yard' is my unfenced front yard. I can not afford any level of distraction, my dog is either 100% with me, or I need to leash up and end the session. This makes for very short sessions, and that wasn't working too well for either of us, soooooo... I asked myself what is MY dogs BIGGEST reward, and the answer was 'running like stink through the woods chasing squirrels'. Which was dissappointing and seemed unworkable until I realized that activity required access to the vehicle, or a leashed walk past the driveway, and my dog knows this too. So I turned very short agility sessions into 'earning access to the vehicle or a leashed walk (equally exciting)' and he loves loves loves his 'in the yard' agility now.

My best advice for beginners is to skip the agility and do pre-agility and make it fun. Get the dog motivated with play, use play as a reward. Learn how to make food rewards fun (food that runs, food that flys). Learn how to make things like recalls mutually fun, and follow the handler, fun. And if either party is not having fun, it's not fun. Try something else.
This is a great idea and I didn't realize I had been doing this with my dog as well. Going outside is a treat for him and he knows we are going to play but to get outside he has to sit by the door before he can go out. I know its small but now he sits before anything he wants and we kinda know what he wants because he sits in front of it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I agree with the above people. My first Agility dog, Remmy, I started training just on my own as I had access to Agility equipment. He ended up doing really well, making it up to Masters but looking back I know how much better he would have been if I had known what I was doing and how much more fun he would have had. All the dogs I have trained since then, I have been to proper classes.

My present dog, Bonnie, I started trialing last year and just entered FEO (for exhibition only) so you are not running for Q's, just for fun. You can take a toy in and only do what equipment you want to work on in a trial atmosphere. I will probably run her in regular classes this year, but maybe not.

Another thing that I found that really helped is to volunteer to work as ring crew at the trials. You get the opportunity to watch all the dogs run and learn a lot by watching the handlers. It also makes you realize that even the best Masters dogs can still make mistakes so when your starting dogs make a mistake which 90% of the time is handler error, you are not the only one, no dog is perfect every time.
I never thought of actually volunteering. This is a really great tip!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Find a good instructor. Foundation work, foundation work, foundation work. Dogs love running through tunnels and climbing on equipment. It's often pretty self rewarding.

What they really need to learn is how to enjoy working with you. You need to make yourself the most rewarding thing through treats/toys/play.. whatever. Basic handling skills should be something to always practice and work on.

Everyone is in a rush to do courses. But it will probably fall apart later without those foundation skills.

And I don't mean anything offensive by this because I am not about to hurt people's dreams of being great writers.. but. I would probably wait to write an article on agility until you are more experienced. I don't know. Maybe I am out of line here?
You're not out of line and many people would think that as well. We don't come off as experts but beginner's who are learning with our audience. We share our experiences with people who might have struggled with something we write about. We also do interviews with experts as well as cultivate existing content already out there and point our readers in the right direction. Lot's of people want to read and understand things from a beginner because that's where they are at. There is a disconnect from someone who is an expert to someone who is a beginner. If you had a buddy you could learn from it makes it much easier to learn then just straight from an expert. This is what we provide to our audience.
 

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And I don't mean anything offensive by this because I am not about to hurt people's dreams of being great writers.. but. I would probably wait to write an article on agility until you are more experienced. I don't know. Maybe I am out of line here?
I agree with this. It would be very hard to write an article on helping beginners in agility if you are a beginner. The only way to truly learn this is to do it, watch others do it and train, train, train. I am still very much a beginner and I am now on my second agility dog. My first dog and I trained for a year and then started trialing, in retrospect we probably should have waited longer to trial but if we had I wouldn't have learned as much either. In some aspects trialing is a learning/training process too. We have been trialing for three years now. You are sort of limited to the types of classes you have available to you too. I strongly suggest classes of some kind though, I do think foundation classes would be best to start with however I didn't have that available here. I got a new puppy in 2017 and started her in classes at 7 months, we started trialing a year later (just last month) and she is way more ready than my first dog was simply because I knew what we needed to be able to do before starting. Each dog is different though so how you handle them and how they run will be different to some extent. If I were you I would blog about your journey into agility....will be fun looking back on it if you do eventually get into trialing. I can say I have made lots of new friends in this sport and I so love doing it, the extra bond you create with your dog is a bonus! Good luck!
 
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