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Discussion Starter #1
First off, I have no experience in dog sports at all. I did a basic obedience class with Luke when he was a year old. Zoey has just completed the level 2 "obedience" class and passed the Canine Good Citizen test. I love going to class with her and she seems to really enjoy it as well. I would say she has a high medium energy level (maybe 6-7 on a scale of 10) and she is definitely a thinking dog. I really want to continue doing things with her and I think she would really benefit from some type of sport. I have no idea of what would be good for her or how to get started.

Background on Zoey: She is 11 months old, best guess Plott Hound/Lab mix? Some think Lab/Boxer? I feel like she is more retreiver like in her personality. She is 40 lbs, absolutely loves to retreive out of the water, has a pretty high chase drive but also has a pretty good recall. Nickname "Bean" because she's is a freakin jumping bean, does everything at one speed: FAST!

The trainer that we just finished the last class with isn't offering any "sport type" classes coming up for at least the next 2-3 months. There is another "training group" (4 trainers that work out of a doggy day care) local that I have heard great things about and they have a ton of different class starting in Sept. They are offering an agility class, treibball and nosework. I just don't know what to try with her. Also, I have read that there is a huge difference between agility for fun and agility for competition. At this point I have no idea if we would want to compete in something, but I don't want to start something, decide that we like it and then find out we've started all wrong. I also have no idea how well she or I would do/like it. I just don't know what direction to go next with her and unfortunately don't have the money to try everything all at once.

I would love to try dock diving with her. She is already jumping quite well off the dock at my parent's lake house. Not sure how one gets into that or how much preparation is needed.

Sorry this turned into such a rambling novel! Basically any guidance or suggestions for us to get started or at least pointed in a direction. She is such a fun and enthusiastic dog that I think we could have so much fun doing some type of sport. Thanks for reading!
 

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While I love the nosework classes I've taken so far if you are looking for a physical outlet I'd go with agility or treibball. I guess it depends on the trainers agility experience whether there is a real difference between level one agility and agility for fun. I took our agility I class for fun but our trainer is involved in competition level agility and offers classes at that level. You can take her agilty I and agility II classes for fun but it will properly prepare you to go on and compete if you want to.

I never looked up treibball until now... it looks fun but I'm not too sure Jubel would be that into it haha. Just like flyball, I like the idea but I don't think Jubel would be into it. Sounds like Zoey would like flyball if that is available near you.
 

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First off, I have no experience in dog sports at all. I did a basic obedience class with Luke when he was a year old. Zoey has just completed the level 2 "obedience" class and passed the Canine Good Citizen test. I love going to class with her and she seems to really enjoy it as well. I would say she has a high medium energy level (maybe 6-7 on a scale of 10) and she is definitely a thinking dog. I really want to continue doing things with her and I think she would really benefit from some type of sport. I have no idea of what would be good for her or how to get started.
WOW - lots of questions. I'll try to answer some of them.

I would say that you seem to have the right attitude. That is so important no matter what activity you get into.

It's very important that you hook up with the right trainers. Some trainers are more like "master class" level - that is, very good with experienced dogs and handlers but not so good with 'green teams'. Other trainers may work well with beginners but don't work well for advanced things. That's why you probably should consider a school or training facility or training club because chances are you'll get the different levels.

There have been a few threads here about how to pick a performance trainer so you might want to go back and review them.

Go to some activities as an observer - ask about trainers - try to work as a steward or helper. Generally start to get into the "world".


Also, I have read that there is a huge difference between agility for fun and agility for competition.
There shouldn't be as far as the classes are concerned. A "fun" class should actually be in a sense a "beginner" class and get you ready to go on if you want to. Fact is that a lot of the teams in the "fun" class won't go on, but that shouldn't mean teaching incorrectly.


I would love to try dock diving with her. She is already jumping quite well off the dock at my parent's lake house. Not sure how one gets into that or how much preparation is needed.
You get into it the same way you would get into anything else. Go to some trials/matches/tests/training sessions - whatever is appropriate - and observe a bit. Decide if you are going to like it. Use your people skills. Find out from people there what sort of preparation/training is generally done.

if you know someone who actually does the activity you are interested in, that helps a lot to get you started, but it isn't absolutely essential.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Thank you for the replies dagwall and Poly!

I've been doing lots of reading and thinking since posting. I decide to sign up for a class offered by the same trainer that we just finished "Level 2" class with, its called "Outdoor Adventures" and its esentially focused on manners and good behavior in public.

I decided to take this class with her because her biggest weakness right now is that she does get soooooooo excited when we go somewhere new, especially if there are other dogs around. She is getting much better, but still has quite a ways to go I feel, so I thought this class would be great practice and exposure, especially since we meet somewhere new every week.

In the meantime I have looked up a couple different agility events near me that are happening in September and figured I could go observe and see what its all about. I'm also hoping that the next "term" of classes from the trainer I have been working with will include something more "sporty." I know she has an assistant that is very into flyball and competes.

On a side note: I was reading about starting nosework and was messing around with boxes and "go find it" for the dogs dinner the other night. Zoey was kind of "eh" about it, just kind of neutral, found the treats but needed more encouragement. Luke...OMG was SO excited! lol I didn't realize how much of a nose boy he is! He would race to the boxes and he was finding the food so easily. I may have to get into a nosework class with him!
 

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The problem with agility 'for fun' is that there are a lot of intructors that start offering agility that don't compete or haven't competed much at all. It's a popular class so they get money from it. But you really don't want someone that doesn't know what they're doing. Been there and done that.

I would ask to watch a class. If they start your dogs the first day on a leash and coaxing them over obstacles, I would leave. A very small part of agility is the obstacle training. Your first run of agility classes should be flatwork and foundations like drive building and shaping, hitting a target, starting contact behaviors, etc. Maybe some tunnels, maybe some very low jumps.

I've done both with the same dog (summer, just finishing up her founadtions class). The difference is amazing. Just the amount of speed you get out of the dogs and the way the dogs truly seem to understand the game at a different level.

I notice more people quit fast on the foundations classes because they don't see how the little exercises we do will ever turn into real agility. Having people jump their dogs the first class is flashier and catches attention more and is more exciting.

Also ask how long your trainer has been competing. Are they successful? Watch them in trials if you can. Watch their students in trials too.
 

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I would ask to watch a class. If they start your dogs the first day on a leash and coaxing them over obstacles, I would leave. A very small part of agility is the obstacle training. Your first run of agility classes should be flatwork and foundations like drive building and shaping, hitting a target, starting contact behaviors, etc. Maybe some tunnels, maybe some very low jumps. .
There's nothng wrong with introducing a team to any and all of the equipment - so long as the inroduction is done in a safe, non-threatening manner and does not encourage bad habits. There's a subtle but important distinction between attention training and introducing the equipment. How a trainer would approach those two aspects depends on a lot of factors, including the age and personality of the dog, the previous experience and level of expertise of the handler, and others.


Also ask how long your trainer has been competing. Are they successful? Watch them in trials if you can. Watch their students in trials too.
I'll go further in one aspect. Since we are concerned with agility, the trainer must have put multiple agility titles on multiple dogs. Also, he or she must have titled - or achieved an equivalent level of recognition - in other performance activities besides agility. If those sound like tough criteria for a trainer, they are.

Of course, it's nice if their previous students have done well and can also show a high level of achievement. But remember that all trainers have to start off sometime, and they may not have been training long enough to have developed a large body of pupils out there competing as of yet.
 

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I'm sorry, if you are going to introduce a team to all equipment in the first couple classes, you ARE going to introduce it wrong. I am talking about the 'Okay class, let's lead your dog over a jump on a leash the first day'. 'Okay class, let's go lead your dog over a dog walk on a leash the first day'. There are a lot of those 'fun classes' like that out there.
 

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Our agility 1 class introduced the dogs to all the equipment. The trainer has titled multiple dogs in agility - not sure about other activities (and I'm not really sure why that would matter, to be honest). We focused more on shaping and drive building, and we certainly weren't leading our dog over the obstacles on a leash, but we were exposed to all the obstacles at least once. For some dogs, that just meant shaping and rewarding the dog for interacting with the obstacle. We're doing agility 2 now and I think the exposure to the different equipment was a good experience for Biscuit.

That said, in agility 2, I do see some dogs that I don't think are really ready to be there, and the other day the instructor said something about "if you are still pulling your dog over a jump with the leash, you need to take it several steps back." We never did that with Biscuit, but obviously other people in her classes have done things differently.

I definitely agree that the focus in agility 1 should be more on training/handling concepts like shaping, drive building, voluntary attention. That stuff is all way more important (and applicable to many more situations beyond agility, unlike the obstacles).
 

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I have taken several classes and trained privately under two trainers. I would run from anyone who has students dragging dogs over obstacles on lead. Any time that a dog is being forced against it's will to do ANYTHING in agility, I would leave. I have suffered through my last session of watching a dog hang itself up by a 6 foot line on the riser of a jump while wearing a prong collar. I am all done watching two handlers block a dog, on a leash and a prong, from avoiding or bailing on a teeter. Anytime it takes two people to force a dog over a dog walk, the dog walk is being trained incorrectly.

There are a ton of really, really bad trainers out there. I don't know of a single person who has earned multiple titles on multiple dogs that started with prongs and force. Agiltiy should be about choice and motivation. If a dog can't be motivated enough to chose the jump, it needs more work with shaping and motivation.

I was SO fortunate that my first trainer for my current dogs required that students train collarless in an open field. No options. You were collarless in a place where your dog could run for miles and miles. This forced students to have a dead-solid recall and did not allow for crutches of any kind. It was a perfect way to ensure that the dogs were making choices. If your dog would abandon you in an open field (with sheep roaming on one side behind an electric fence) then you needed to do remedial work on focus and relationship. You could come back after you did that work, but you couldn't start agility until the collar came off in and unfenced rural area with sheep. Talk about a good foundation... I consider myself very, very fortunate to have started in this manner.

When I watch the leashed dogs on prong collars with spotters forcing them over the teeter, I ask myself how they will ever transition to the place they need to be with that history. In truth, they probably never will. Without the correct foundation, they will never move forward. It's much more difficult to FIX a foundation than it is to construct it correctly the first time. As some point, the force I have seen used will ruin a dog permanently. It breaks my heart knowing that the owner is out there trying to do the right thing and that they are blindly trusting someone they see as an expert. In this case, I completely blame the "trainers" who are out there teaching something they know next to nothing about.

Because of some of the really bad things I have seen, I would not train with anyone who wasn't teaching leashless from the beginning. It's hard to make a really, really bad mistake leashless. At least if you really blow it, your dog will not let you keep rehearing it over and over again leashless. The dog will have the good sense to go into avoidance.


Everyone has a unique perspective and history. This is just mine.
 

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... The trainer has titled multiple dogs in agility - not sure about other activities (and I'm not really sure why that would matter, to be honest)....
It matters. It's hard to explain exactly, but it's along the same lines of why you want your trainer to have titled multiple dogs.

Once you work with a trainer who has those kinds of experiences, you won't want to work with any other.

I'm sorry, if you are going to introduce a team to all equipment in the first couple classes, you ARE going to introduce it wrong. I am talking about the 'Okay class, let's lead your dog over a jump on a leash the first day'. 'Okay class, let's go lead your dog over a dog walk on a leash the first day'. There are a lot of those 'fun classes' like that out there.
I'm sure there are such classes, but that isn't what I'm talking about. Those are the sort of classes I think you would want to avoid.

I'm talking about trainers who know what they are doing. And yes, they'll start with preliminary familiarization on the equipment quite early.
 

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Just recently there was an ad in the paper for Obedience and Agility classes. I am going to go to the Obedience classes with Lucy as she is 6 months old now. I can and do train her myself but she needs the socialization of working with other dogs and people. I am planning on doing Agility with her when she is a little older but want her to get the Obedience done properly first.

When I asked about the Agility she said it was Beginners Agility. I compete with Remmy in Agility and have never seen this person at an Agility trial so not at all sure what she knows about Agility. I am just going to watch to see what it is like before I commit myself to it, if I do. I will know more after taking the Obedience classes.

One of the other Agility classes that is put on by someone else is called "Fun Agility" and it is like Traingjunkie says, the dogs are on lead and being dragged over the obstacles. The person putting it on has had his dog in one Agility trial and was excused from the ring for yelling and hollering at his dog when it just took off so you know his degree of knowledge! They even had a five month old Border Collie puppy doing (or trying) to do all the Obstacles. It is a real shame as some of the dogs had a lot of potential but will probably never be able to show it.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
The problem with agility 'for fun' is that there are a lot of intructors that start offering agility that don't compete or haven't competed much at all. It's a popular class so they get money from it. But you really don't want someone that doesn't know what they're doing. Been there and done that.

I would ask to watch a class. If they start your dogs the first day on a leash and coaxing them over obstacles, I would leave. A very small part of agility is the obstacle training. Your first run of agility classes should be flatwork and foundations like drive building and shaping, hitting a target, starting contact behaviors, etc. Maybe some tunnels, maybe some very low jumps.

I've done both with the same dog (summer, just finishing up her founadtions class). The difference is amazing. Just the amount of speed you get out of the dogs and the way the dogs truly seem to understand the game at a different level.

I notice more people quit fast on the foundations classes because they don't see how the little exercises we do will ever turn into real agility. Having people jump their dogs the first class is flashier and catches attention more and is more exciting.

Also ask how long your trainer has been competing. Are they successful? Watch them in trials if you can. Watch their students in trials too.
Thank you for pointing out a difference, I think this is what I was looking for originally in how to determine the type of class. I contacted the local agility club in my area and they offer a decent number of classes. It looks like the classes are put on by a bunch of different instructors. I am waiting to see what they are offering this fall. I think this is class that Zoey would need...

Pre-Agility

The pre-agility class is a beginner class that will expose your dog to basic obedience and some obstacles in an agility course. It is open to puppies over 6 months of age and dogs who have never seen agility equipment before. In this class you will learn how to control your dog in the ring, handle him through various obstacles (jumps, ladders, planks and the table) and learn the basic concepts of the great sport of agility. Goals for the class include learning to warm up your dog properly, controlling your dog in the ring, sending to the table, obtaining body awareness and motivating your dog!

Prerequisites: The puppy or dog must be current on vaccinations and non-aggressive.

No prior agility classes are required but the dog must be able to sit on command, sit stay for 15 seconds, down on command, down stay for 15 seconds, walk on a loose leash, and recall from 10’. An obedience class is recommended prior to this class.
This looks like the beginning class, after that is Intro to obstacles, then they have a bunch of handling classes and specialty classes. From the searching I've done this club seems like the best place to start in my area.
 

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I found a really good Foundation Agility class for Lucy. It is something I missed out on with Remmy and it is catching up to me now that I am in mostly Masters classes. Just need two more Snooker classes and he will be in everything in Masters. Anyway, we had our first class today and it was great. The instructor has titles on a lot of her dogs, in an AAC judge and knows what she is doing.

I have never used a clicker before but decided to give it a try with Lucy. I find it hard to juggle, a leash, clicker, toy and treats but think I will be able to get it with practice. Today was our first class and we started with teaching them what a jump was with the bar just off the ground. The weaves are being taught with Channels so we started teaching them to run straight through the two rows of them. I won't actually be doing weaves with Lucy till she is older but it is a good start. We just have those two things to practice on this week. My sister is taking Lisa, the full sister to Lucy, to the classes so it is nice as we can practice together like we did with Remmy and her Mikey.
 
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