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Just signed Devon up for beginning agility class

Discussion in 'Agility' started by SRW, Aug 3, 2019.

  1. SRW

    SRW Premium Member

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    I signed Devon up this week for a beginning agility class that will start on the 14th. He definitely has the ability to do it and he's pretty fearless (e.g. the picture I posted of him standing in a tree), but my big concern is keeping control of him, especially when he's off leash and around other dogs. He's so full of energy and the desire to check out everything in sight, that I'm afraid he might get booted from the class (there was something in the class description that said they have the option to send the dog to behavior class instead if they can't behave, and you don't get your money back).

    Any thoughts on what I might be able to do with him in the next 10 days or so to try to lessen the chance that he gets booted from the class? Devon is 14 months old and a complete hand full. He will sit and lie down on command when I'm alone with him, but he won't come when called when he's off leash in the yard if he doesn't want to (sometimes he comes and sometimes he doesn't). He did OK in the puppy class as long as I kept him away from the other dogs, but he wasn't off leash at any time during that.

    Suggestions welcome.
     
  2. Chris

    Chris Premium Member

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    I would work on "Come" and "Stay."
     
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  3. KarenCurtis

    KarenCurtis Premium Member

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    I'm with Chris, work on come when called and stay. You could put Devon on a 20 ft light lead to work on this and gradually increase your distance, and try to do it with distractions. Minnie's puppy class instructor says this is the most important command of all. I agree, Minnie needs work on this as she will sometimes decide not to come. With a long lead you can make sure the pup comes to you.
     
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  4. Sharon7

    Sharon7 Premium Member

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    Our first agility class had all the dogs stay on leash. Is he food motivated? Just knowing you've got treats in your hand might keep his attention. Other than that, yes, work LOTS on "Come".
     
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  5. SRW

    SRW Premium Member

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    He's not quite as food motivated as I'd like. When he gets something he's not supposed to have, like one of my slippers, he won't give it up for a treat. He wants me to chase him around the house, and I guess the chase is more enjoyable than the treat.

    I will start working with him more on "come". I walk him on a flexi-leash so I can let him get 20 feet or so away to practice.
     
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  6. SRW

    SRW Premium Member

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    Devon is now in the second agility class. The only thing he wasn't keen on doing was the big A-frame thing. We figured out that the reason was that when he gets near the top he can't see what's over it, and that's where he was freezing and trying to turn around. I managed to coax him over it a couple of times with some ham cubes. I haven't had a chance to try again, as there are nine dogs in the class and it's a bit hectic. Otherwise he will do anything else without fear or hesitation, including the teeter totter thing and the elevated walkway.

    Now that I know he isn't going to be to afraid to do everything that's involved (I think I can get him to do the A-frame thing without fear after some more practice), I'm more concerned about controlling him when he's off leash. He's a wild child and it's difficult to keep him focused. I've been working on "stay" in the house with him and in that environment I've got him to the point where I can tell him to stay and walk out of the room, or back and forth to the room he's in, and he will stay until I give him the "up" command, but he's not so good about it in the chaotic environment of the class.

    I also don't know how to transition him from basically staying beside me as we go through the obstacles, which is what we've done so far because until now it's all been on leash, to where he can do it on his own. Last week the instructor tried the first bit off off leash training, but it got cut short because one of the dogs ran amok and started a scrum with some other dogs (fortunately Devon wasn't involved), so we all had to go back on leash. However, during the bit of off leash time I had with Devon he would follow me and jump over the little obstacles, but I couldn't get him to jump over the last one and get up on the table while I waited behind. The instant I stopped, he stopped, I guess because he knows that the treats are in my pocket, so they stop when I stop. I'm not sure how to un-teach him what he's been assuming all along, that I and the treats will be right beside him the whole way.

    Also curious how many dogs are usually in the class, as there are nine in this class and it seems too many. We don't get much time on any individual obstacle, and with that many dogs you are always within a few feet of another dog which makes it hard to keep Devon focused on what he's doing. I would think it better if the class were smaller to start with, until they got familiar with what they have to do, and then once they are getting good at it, start to introduce the distraction of more dogs.
     
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  7. KarenCurtis

    KarenCurtis Premium Member

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    That is a lot of dogs. There were four dogs in Minnie's classes, we all worked on obstacles, a rotation of them, and then ran the course with our dogs one at a time. I don't know how other classes do it
     
  8. SRW

    SRW Premium Member

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    At Devon's agility class on Wednesday night, since our class had the whole building to ourselves, the instructor setup a competition on the whole floor to show people what it's like, and Devon won both heats! :)

    Some of the dogs ran amok and wouldn't do anything, and a couple of others did more things than Devon did in the opening part, but Devon got the closing part perfect in both heats, which apparently if you can do it right and within 15 seconds, is worth a whole lot of points. I think he was the only dog do do that part completely and in order.

    I was really happy that Devon stayed beside me the whole time and didn't do what some of the other dogs did and just start running around the ring without purpose. We were allowed to have treats with us this time, so that helped me keep him with me. As I noted above he still will only perform as long as I'm right there, so the downside was that at the end of each heat I was red-faced and panting as I was running at almost full speed the whole time in order to keep him moving fast. That also cost him points on the elevated walkway as the instructor put a half circle tunnel under the ramp of the walkway at one end, and I couldn't get him to go up the ramp instead of through the tunnel, which after doing twice he couldn't get anymore points from. I tried having him go up the ramp on the other side which he did fine, but when he got to the other side I had to go around the tunnel and he jumped off the down ramp rather than finishing it because I was moving away from him ( I tried to get ahead of him so that I could be at the bottom of the down ramp when he got there, but there wasn't a chance in hell of me outrunning him, and unlike the other dogs he sprinted across that elevated walkway to keep up with me like he was still walking on the ground).

    Still, he did a really good job compared to the other dogs in the class, some of which have taken this class multiple times, and as this is his first time in this class and only his second agility class, I'm really pleased with how he did. If we are going to continue though, his rapidly approaching Medicare age owner is going to have to start working out and getting in shape, as last night showed that he's the weak link on the team.....
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2019
  9. corbinam

    corbinam Moderator

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    A big part of agility is building value for being with you. One of my favorite foundation games is shadow handling.

    Get a really good treat (or his dinner so he’s hungry!) and keep it in one hand. Keep it down close to Devon’s nose and just walk around randomly feeding him treats as he stays next to you. It doesn’t have to be perfect like heeling, just being next to you is perfect. Gradually increase your speed, and then vary it.

    And don’t try to rush it. You might just be walking in a straight line with him at your side for a few weeks, but soon he’ll learn that staying with you pays!
     
  10. SRW

    SRW Premium Member

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    Oh, he stayed with me just fine, actually too well because he jumped off the side of the ramp of the walkway when I had to go around the tunnel because I was moving perpendicular to his direction of travel on the walkway in order to get myself around the tunnel underneath the walkway (guess I should have just jumped over it instead and heck maybe I'd have gotten a couple of points for the jump (y)), and the only reason he won was that I was running at full speed right next to him to get him to do the final obstacles quickly. As I said, I was very pleased that he stuck to me like glue rather than running around like a crazy dog, but it may be too much of a good thing as I'm going to have to somehow teach him when it's time for him to do an obstacle when I'm not right beside him and that if I don't move to stay right next to him he still has to finish it. Don't get me wrong though, I'd certainly rather have this problem as opposed to him just running off when I take the leash off of him in the ring, like some of the other dogs did.
     
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