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Old 11-22-2010, 06:48 AM   #1
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Default Agility 'theory'

Oscar had a lesson with another trainer yesterday, she competes with Pointers and is brilliant because she understands how to get the focus from them. So, the outcome of the lesson is that Oscar is a talented boy and has a lot of potential but he has lacked structure in the basics and needs to be a bit more schooled.

This hasn't been a problem because it's all been just for fun so it didn't really matter to me if we weren't learning correct signals etc, but she thinks that if I want to compete with him I need to retrain him in the basics and that I can get a 2 on/2 off contact from him if I use the right approach, which she's going to help me with. Previously I thought it wasn't possible so i'd worked on running contacts but she is confident I can train precision with him if I use the right tactics.

Just wondering really, if anyone knows a good starting point where I can read up on all the theory stuff as i'm feeling a bit dim when she's talking techy to me and I have to admit I don't know what it means.

Yesterday I was learning how to use hand signals properly, and train directions, plus crossing in front and reverse cross, which we have done but I haven't really focussed on the technicalities or learned the theory.

I've got to practice him targetting to a mat now to begin the 2on/2off training next weekend. We're also going to be doing intense Weave training, and i'm getting our own set to do it every day and get it solid. I'm also going to get a cone to practice turns with and directional commands.

She is confident that if I work to her advice, i'll have him competing and not going on a jolly in the ring before long (my goal is potentially entering him for the summer season again).... so we shall see, but it's very exciting. By the end of our lesson yesterday I had him running a course with much tighter turns and corners than ever before and he was being really precise.... and focussed, in a new field!
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Old 11-22-2010, 11:41 AM   #2
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Sounds like you have a great trainer there. I'm not sure where to find the anything well written as I have been working with my understanding through my trainer and going to seminars for a handle on agility. Secondarily, there seems to be a bit of difference between the approaches across the ponds. But I'll hazard a bet that AgilityK9Trainer might know of some good materials!

Good luck with the contact training, I think you'll find it helps in controlling and focus.
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Old 11-22-2010, 12:21 PM   #3
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I'm struggling to know where to look at the moment too, there's so much out there and it varies in different leagues etc i'm really confused. I just felt completely dim having to ask what everything was yesterday so i'd like to be a bit more clued up!

She is great, she's really nice and encouraging and the fact she has a soft spot for loopy pointers is really good, Oscar was loving all the cuddles. She's got some videos on youtube of her basic training exercises so i'm using those for now to begin target and directional shaping (if I can get the timings right)

Our other class is loads of fun so I still want to take him and Simba to that, but we'll be having these other lessons too as I really want to get him working to his full ability and I didn't realise just how much difference it could make having someone who understands a specific breed with you.

I definitely won't be attempting another show until I have all this solid now, but the basics are there so i'm hopeful that one day we'll achieve it.
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Old 11-22-2010, 02:58 PM   #4
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Good!!!! I'm very pleased you have found a good trainer. No offense to your other trainer, but I could tell by your videos you were headed into disaster due to lack of good foundation training. Yes, yes, yes you need to train solid foundation skills and of course you can get a 2o/2o. And the fact that she even let you trial at the training stage you were at was...well...crazy!!!

You have hit the big wall of differing styles of agility training. Here where I live, we have a school that ONLY uses Linda Mecklenberg....one that ONLY uses Derrett....and me - who will build a "handling system" (that's what they are called) based on the INDIVIDUAL team. I don't use one system and stick it on all teams. A brag here...my school is far and away the most successful in the state with the most Master Agility Champions in the metro and far and away the most students qualifying and attending Nationals in the state. I'm also the only school with a National Champion and European Std. winner. So I think building an individual system for each team is a must.

But at your level, you are mainly needing to focus on the basics.

And yes, agility is FULL of terms. Learning these terms is important though. It took me years to learn the terms, and I even heard a new one yesterday for a new move I have yet to see. Do not feel dim - and in fact there's no way you should feel dim. You can't know what you haven't been taught, can you? Does the fact that your first trainer didn't teach you properly mean that YOU are dim? Nope.

I expect every student who comes to me from other trainers to have zippo knowledge on terms, handling or training methods. Sometimes they don't...occasionally they do.

Where do you go to get this knowledge? Mostly from your trainer, but there are other sources. Check out cleanrun.com. They are LOADED with videos and books that will help you. There is a new beginners series of books that I can't remember the name of that is said to be excellent. Only get books published within the last three or MAYBE five years. Agility is a constantly changing sport and we are learning new techniques for training every year. Older methods are already bypassed by better methods. Keep all of your learning only with the newer books/videos.

Also check out Rachel Sanders videos on contacts - especially 2o/2o contacts. She has a great running contact video, but you must own an A frame - or have almost daily access to an A frame - to work that method successfully. You also need to be a stellar trainer willing to hold the dog firmly to consistency. But I believe Rachel has a 2o/2o video that you should check out. Her method is very much similar to mine, and it sounds like it will be similar to what you will be learning.

You will get VERY confused and even upset as you traverse the many different methods of handling and training out there. Understand this is all part of growing in the sport, and everyone new to the sport who begins to expand their knowledge beyond their own trainer's base encounters this confusion.

My advice is NOT to go to two different trainers who are trying to teach you different methods and systems of handling. You will wind up with a horribly confused dog who may well shut down out of frustration. Stick to one, and I suggest you stick to the latest one.
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Old 11-23-2010, 05:29 AM   #5
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Thanks so much Agility, will look all that up.

It's a lot to take in at the moment but i'm really determined to try, he has definitely got the drive and the ability to be a good agility dog, if I can learn to be a good handler.

My garden isn't very big, so will have to see if I can get a small A-frame! I have found a set of home weaves that convert into 2 jumps, which I plan on buying. She's asked me to think about what style of training I am comfortable with.

One of the things she insists upon is not letting him run around when we're around the equipment, one dog out at a time the others in the van, and when he's around the equipment it is to work, so it will be a lot different to his 'fun fun fun' sessions before, but we've introduced Jackpot rewards for focus which seemed to work. I need to get him in the mindset of equipment = focus, so that will be a big task.

I'm really excited about it, watching her pointers run was amazing (she also has BCs and a poodle) so I have no excuse based on his breed this time!
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Old 11-23-2010, 12:02 PM   #6
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Yes, agility is 'fun fun fun'... however, allowing dogs to run around loose while training others is not wise. It facilitates reinforcing a dogs wandering mind, rather than the focus you desire. I'm glad you have found a trainer with higher standards as well. It DOES pay in the end to put a little more into control.
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Old 11-23-2010, 12:41 PM   #7
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I hope so, I think previously I had no hopes of him ever being 'good' at agility, it was more about something fun to do with him.

I never expected him to take to it so well, and for it to be so natural to him, so to do him justice I am going to try and do it properly now.

I'm trying to work out what equipment will fit into my tiny garden, the poles should be ok but i'm not sure we've got space for an a-frame.

New Goal: To have house big enough for own agility stuff!
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Old 11-23-2010, 01:56 PM   #8
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Look at contact trainers. They mimic the A frame/dogwalk but are very small. Google agility contact trainer to see one. They are designed for small spaces and they fold up for storage. Talk to your trainer about the pros and cons of them.

I tell my students they really need 12 weave poles and 5 umps in their yard if possible. You don't need an A frame unless you are going to do running contacts, which you aren't. You can train 2o/2o with a contact trainer or even ust a low board contact trainer, which is only about 5 feet long.

And yes, having ANY other dogs wandering around when you are training agility is not only what Draco described but it's also dangerous. The dog you are training can run into the other dogs or the teeter can drop on other dogs. Two dogs on a dogwalk is a recipe for disaster. And thus the dog running will have to slow down to try to multitask doing agility and keeping from running over the other wandering dogs. I never train my dogs with another dog loose in the same space.
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