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Old 01-18-2012, 11:02 PM   #1
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Default Speed in Agility

I recently dove in to the world of agility with my currently year-old ACD mix, Kailey. Of course, most of what we've done so far has been foundation. (Not to say I've done a ton of foundation, though; I've mostly focused on Rally obedience because I actually know what I'm doing there.)
Anyways, Kailey doesn't seem too keen on running at full speed. In fact, I have never seen her run at full speed for anything involving me except when I release her on squirrels or play chase. That's the thing; speed only comes when she's chasing or being chased. But the big thing is always movement for her; her reward has to move for her to want to run. And not just like a ball rolling away from her.
Now I was wondering if anyone has had similar experiences dealing with a dog like this and what they did. I think I'll try setting up a few jumps in a straight line and running away as I call her over them, but a half inch of ice needs to melt first. lol

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Old 03-05-2012, 08:40 PM   #2
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I started training in agility with my bichon Jake, and I pretty much had to cheer lead him around the ring. When you're doing your start line (when you start doing more advanced training) I found it was best to start with the dog instead of doing a lead out, so that you have to run along with your dog more than handling from a distance. If she sees you running with her she would likely be more motivated to move faster.

She could also turn out to just love agility, and gain some speed when she becomes more confident with the pieces and the commands! That was the case for a border collie I'd trained.

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Old 03-07-2012, 01:44 AM   #3
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While I'm here, I thought I'd drop in and answer this. Your agility trainer should be teaching you how to speed your kiddo up. I'm actually giving a seminar on "The Need for Speed" in agility (the seminar is full - so not advertising here) in the near future, so this topic is right up my current line of thinking.

It seems where you are at is the very beginning stages of handling/obstacle work. You should at this point be focusing on speed on each individual obstacle, trying to eek out as many tenths of a second in obstacle performance as possible. Your trainer should be helping you with this. Working on having your dog not feel for the teeter pivot, get a good bunny hop (small dogs) or single stepping (bigger dogs) in the weaves, getting a solid contact behavior, helping you teach confidence on the obstacles to the dog, teaching your dog proper jump skills... and more ... is what you should be working on now.

As you begin to sequence obstacles, your trainer should be teaching you how to handle properly with proper verbal and physical timing of cues (ie. acceleration, deceleration, pros and cons of the three crosses, how to find the fastest line, proper hand signal and shoulder placement, proper timing of vocal cues and the list goes on and on and on).

A few quick tips: Most people with slower dogs make the dogs even slower by running with your head turned back, watching your dog and cheerleading. Of course, the dog reads this as, "Are you making a mistake? I'm watching you!" so the dog slows down to both ensure more accuracy and because the dog now lacks confidence. Don't look back when you run forward. Also - RUN!! Leave your dog in the dirt. You said your dog likes to chase - well - make him chase you!! Setting up three, four and even five jumps in a row and running and rewarding your dog for speed is great work. Use your motivators - toy, treats, praise, all three, whatever.

Unfortunately, I can't type in what would actually take about a year to teach you, but working with your trainer, you should get your dog to speed up. Here's a good video to watch. Watch the handler, not the dog. See how she does know where her dog is at all times, but doesn't turn and run with her head turned back at the dog? See how she moves out and uses her acceleration/deceleration, shoulders, hand signals and voice at the exact moments to get her dog to move it's fastest and get the tightest lines?

Your best bet, though, is to work with your trainer. He/She should be teaching you this stuff as you go along.
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Old 03-07-2012, 12:07 PM   #4
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Agility9, have missed seeing your informative answers. When I go to practice today I am going to try doing what was shown in the video. Realized I quite often pause to make sure Remmy has done the obstacle instead of trusting him and carrying on as he really has never run past an obstacle without doing it. Wish you or someone who knew how to train "handlers" was in my area as all Remmy's mistakes have been entirely mine.

Have our first trial this year coming up this weekend.

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Old 03-07-2012, 03:20 PM   #5
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Great videos!
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