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That was a really nice run, CptJack! Love her enthusiasm.

We had a nice CPE trial this weekend. I really need to get out there and compete some more. Kai just loves it. I've just been too exhausted.
 

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That was a really nice run, CptJack! Love her enthusiasm.

We had a nice CPE trial this weekend. I really need to get out there and compete some more. Kai just loves it. I've just been too exhausted.

For pure happy dog, the first run in this video is my favorite - though I screwed up and forgot the discrimination until WAY too late so we lost the Q (and there's a Molly run tacked on at the end).

I love trialing, a lot - and love that the dogs adore it - but yeah. It is EXHAUSTING. I lost all of yesterday to basically just passed out.
 

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Kylie made the top 10 list in NADAC!

For one game. For 12" mixed breeds. At spot 10.

BUT STILL!
 

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A couple videos of my crazy poodle in his last couple classes. He has enthusiasm! But I'll take that cause a couple rounds of classes ago he completely shut down at agility.

 

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Baby dog in class. Some actual foundations stuff for the second half but mostly:
a-) Stable
b-) What's happening airheaded derp :p
c-) We're a litttttle heavy on handler focus right now.
 

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We FINALLY got back to a class (well a mini-seminar at least). We haven't been in a month and a half. I was super proud of my little man on this 19 obstacle course (the weaves are replaced with a couple 2x2s because we're not weaving yet).

 

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A horse released Kylie from her start-line today. Fortunately just a lesson but LOL!

...Things you just don't (can't) proof for.
 

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This thread is now more relevant to me since I'm taking an agility class with Brae. I'm curious... What do y'all cover in your beginner classes? Week one we did targets, ladder for rear end awareness, contacts on A-frame, tunnel. Week two we did targets, two by two weaves (only going through one set), contacts on dog walk, tunnel (longer, plus curve), and sequencing two jumps (no bars) using a target at the end. It doesn't feel like a lot to me, but I do appreciate that my instructor is very heavy on the foundations. The actual material is easy for Brae since we are a little beyond this just with what I've casually done with him and the best takeaways so far have been just classroom exposure.

The instructor calls him "the freight train" by the way. That makes me chuckle.
 

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. I'm curious... What do y'all cover in your beginner classes?

We start in foundations, not beginner. Week 4 (last week) was the first of any equipment they've seen and that was a plank on the ground, hoops and a shortened tunnel. Everything else is ground/flat work. Recalls to appropriate sides, sending the dog ahead to a target, 2o2o, circling cones/buckets with building distance (and not just around but around and figure 8s or staying out around two and eventually using crosses with them), 2o2o behavior (with nothing and then with a plank on the ground), working around distraction off leash, and start-line stuff. . Sequences with that ground work (ie: plank, hoops, tunnel, barrels or buckets or cones).

Having taken this class before (well set of classes and 'before' = 4 times) in the next couple of weeks we'll add fast downs for the table, some low jumps and the table. Otherwise, it'll be building behaviors already there for distance, speed and fluency, and general 'reading human behavior'. Longer sequences with actual obstacles.

NEXT seven week class we'll introduce the other equipment and get it and jumps up to height - slowly - and start curving the tunnel and using longer ones. The 7 weeks after that will be adding independence and handling more with the equipment. The 7 weeks after THAT is a focus on actual distance and more complex handling *challenges*. Weaves are an entirely separate 7 week class (I teach them on my own).

No way, no where, no how, would I take a class that introduces things at the speed yours seems to - BUT I know a lot do and it's fine. I also know a lot of places/people who go way slower. If you don't intend to compete and/or you're knowledgeable enough to watch your dog for safety and either fill in gaps yourself or know you're going to have a lot of them when it comes to handling, I doubt it matters. Learning the obstacles is easy for dogs - though some of the specific requirements for safety and Qing for them can be non-intuitive and just blasting through can get you in trouble. The dog listening and being thoughtful is harder. The really hard part, though, is the person and handling the spaces BETWEEN obstacles.

I don't need the class, frankly - we're doing things like serps and treadles and a lot of distance on our various crosses (with hoops, barrel and plank), because I've been playing with the foundation work since he was 4-5 months old. Still done maybe 1 set of jumps at 4" and I still have my a-frame at home down and out of the way. I'll add those things over the next couple of months, as well as weaves.
 

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That's good to know! My instructor successfully competes, and I have no intention of competing. So I see no problems with her methodology. But it's nice to hear that this can be considered 'fast' by some folks.
 

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Instructor competing is important if you want to compete, but it doesn't mean they're teaching a class geared for competition, if you follow. A lot of people just won't tolerate a class with a lot of seemingly boring foundations, that they don't understand the later benefit in. Obstacles are exciting and fun so people want those - and to keep classes filled, and people coming back - they get them.

Average timeline to competing for most dogs is about a year of training. More with first time handlers. (That said, it's something I read somewhere that matches my experiences. It doesn't necessarily mean it's true.)
 

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Yeah, I totally follow you there. I think her class 'allows' for people to move on to more advanced levels and competition, as opposed to the very 'just for fun with obstacles' agility class I teach. The truth is, we are so remote that there aren't many instructors within hundreds of miles (she might be the only one who does group lessons?) and matches are also very rare. People in this area who do compete often drive for many hours to do so. But as someone who scrutinizes every little detail, I think her advice and her methods are very sound. I just finished her nosework class and it was very in-line with what I learned taking the FDSA nosework class. She also goes to Fenzi camps and ClickerExpo and such... So, this is the best I'm gonna get out here :D
 

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I prefer a combo of foundation skills (plates, cones, recalls, wobble boards, ladder work etc) and intro to low/shortened obstacles. A lot of people coming into classes have never done good solid puppy classes that have dogs on/around different objects/textures. Tunnels are scary to quite a few dogs. Even the least confident dogs that come through my classes love the low A-frame. It builds up confidence in everyone to keep going on and learn more. I personally prefer my own dogs do both and I feel they both have benefited from it. We learn obstacles are fun/not scary but we are going to work -more- on the foundation stuff.

Kai being my first agility dog actually didn't have very great foundations IMO. Her first classes were way more obstacle driven than Embers were. We didn't do any targeting or cones, recalls.. anything. We cracked down more on handling once they were all comfortable on the low equipment. But. She is no worse in trials (CPE, AKC) than those I know who had really solid foundations from different teachers. I get a heck of a lot of compliments on her. I do see where she falls short at times.. but all dogs fall short somewhere at different times.

That being said.. high level international competing is a whole different ball game that requires the best of foundation skills IMO. Everyone has different things that work better for them. It really depends if they want to compete or which organizations they want to compete in. These days.. I won't skimp on the heavy foundations even kind of. But I will also introduce my dogs to equipment or at least similar objects to get them ready for it very early on.
 

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I definitely think venue has something to do with it - like I really, really, have to have distance to go very far in most of the NADAC classes.

I also think the dog you're working with matters, a lot. And by that I mean how likely a fear issue from a negative experience is, as well as difficulty in changing criteria if you need to later. Some dogs are just more forgiving than others.

I'll never do *international* or international style courses, but I fully intend to do NADAC's national (well, US and canada) event, so there is also that in what I want/expect/look for in classes.
 

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Ralphie had his very first agility trial today! We entered Standard Novice and JWW Novice. The standard one went reasonably well. First thing I did was promptly back into a jump and knock it over, which caused Ralphie to leave early. But, after that, he did quite well. He did miss some of his contacts, wandered for about 2.5 seconds, but he went hard and he went fast when his brain got itself back into gear and his handler figured out what she was doing LOL. He had one too many faults to qualify. I was incredibly proud of the run and everyone said it was really great for the first run ever at a real trial.

In JWW, not only did he qualify, he got first place!



We had only one little misstep with the weaves, but he did them over again because you get 3 tries in Novice. He got a score of 100 with a time of 25.1 seconds.

He also THRIVED in the trial environment, which was my largest worry. He was a stressed out when we first arrived and didn't want to take treats, but I put him in his crate, covered it, and let him hang out for a while. When he came out, he was ready to work. He wanted to see people, he wasn't concerned with other dogs (too much), he was okay with the noise, and loved the cheering. His mouth was open and happy and he was excited to be with me and be doing a thing. Except for that one time at the first run before the weaves, he never lost focus when we ran. He didn't make too much noise in his crate, either, he mostly laid down and watched, which was also a relief.

Ugh, I am just so proud of him! He really exceeded my expectations for the first trial ever!
 

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Kiran and I are on a three week break between agility classes (just finished foundations). I think I am going to be spending that time basically working obstacle focus.

Every dog is a new challenge. Thus far Kiran's is an excessive amount of handler focus and, as of yet, a total lack of obstacle focus to balance it against. Which means he's trying to do agility while staring straight into my face and let me tell you how well that works (it doesn't).
 

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How have you or your instructors handled dogs who are afraid of the A-frame or dog walk?

I had a very disappointing experience last night. Brae was fearless and awesome, as per usual. But I share the class with a long time student of mine, who I recommended take this instructor's agility course. His dog was afraid of the A-frame last week so the instructor pretty much forced the dog to do it. IE, prevented the dog from backing out and used the leash to make it so that the dog has no choice but to go up and over. Last week the dog in question was fearful at first but was doing the A-frame on his own after a couple tries.

I have seen this instructor do this before (I took this class in the past with Soro). Soro had a little hesitation at first since it was around 8+ years since he's done the A-frame. But when the leash was tightened (ie, he couldn't back out), he went over it and then was perfectly fine afterwards. The hesitation was so slight, and Soro has done A-frames a long time ago; I would have stepped in and intervened if they needed to push him more. A dog in Soro's class was much more fearful and the instructor did the same thing to no avail (she shut down), so instructor picked the dog up and put her on the bottom ramp; rewarded the dog for going down... put the dog on the top;rewarded the dog for going down. Pretty much, forced backchaining. However, the dog was happily doing the A-frame on her own by the end of class.

So back to Brae's class last night, the dog (who was able to do the A-frame last week after a period of fear) approached the dog walk in the same way. The walk was set low, maybe 2-3' off the ground. The instructor did the same thing, forcing the dog to stay on by holding his leash and harness, feeding him treats on it. But it didn't work, at times the dog was hovering because he was being held while trying to jump off, and the dog totally shut down. This was attempted twice. It was so bad that after the experience, the dog tried to leave the classroom multiple times and spent half the class curled up against his owner. This is a dog that I've had in 6+ group classes of my own; I did this dog's intake exam at the shelter and was there when he was adopted. His owner is very devoted. I know this dog almost as well as his owner does and have never seen this dog shut down like this before. Typically, he is super sweet and comes in like a bullet; excessively excited about life. This really broke my heart and was hard to watch. Whatever it's worth, the instructor asked them to stay after class to do some fun exercises to boost confidence; I didn't stay to watch that. During waiting times, the owner individually had his dog do some parkour/shaping type exercises around the dog walk to boost confidence, once the dog was no longer shut down. The dog was happy to perch on the walk and go under it and such... Better. Compared to the fact that the dog wouldn't even LOOK at the dog walk anymore when he was shut down.

The instructor is a CPDT and other than this approach in agility I have only seen her use positive techniques. I think she has a good eye, in agility and nosework. But I am very disappointed with how the instructor handled this dog. I am not against forcing a dog to work through fear in SOME situations. However, I see this as a totally nonessential exercise and as a non-sport trainer I would have approached it differently. I am wondering... Is this the norm in agility training or what?

I also don't know what I should have said and done, if anything at all. I would NOT have let that fly with my dog. But I have a good relationship with the dog's owner AND the agility instructor. I felt it wasn't my place to butt in and say anything, but I feel like I 'let' it happen to that dog.

Anyways, generally the class went well. The dog's owner and I are both going to continue to level 2. I am not a sports person in general, so thanks for any perspective you might have!
 

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No.

That is not the norm. At least not in my experience.

There are things there that *ARE* - lowered A-frame, treats, and, yeah, leash being held and prevention of the dog from bailing, but faced with a dog that afraid it would basically be a shaping session, from 'put your feet on it' to 'take one step' to get the dog over and then raise it.

But. You really can't 'let' the dog bail off even a low a-frame, either. Not safe at the start and WAY less safe at height and speed. It's just not a thing you can let the dog do. Sometimes the dogs get to the top and kind of freak, even with it lowered and want to jump. At that point dog can be led down, dog can be picked up and put down, but you can't just let them jump off. It's dangerous even at 2 feet high, but it comes REALLY dangerous with speed and full height, so it should never be an escape option to the dog. You don't just DRAG THE DOG OVER though, much less repeatedly and to the point of shutting down. That's a recipe for a career of contact issues.
 

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And for the record, while Kiran's had no exposure to contacts yet:

My instructor back-chains the a-frame and that's my preferred method at home (if I ever put mine back up, oops). So it's contact/2o2o first, then hop onto a table and down the bottom half of the off ramp to the 2o2o, THEN the upramp, down ramp, and contact behavior, THEN it starts raising.
 
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