TOTALLY new to agility. A little overwhelmed!

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eaglesfangirl75
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TOTALLY new to agility. A little overwhelmed!

Postby eaglesfangirl75 » Fri Nov 16, 2012 8:44 am

Ok, so Cali is our beloved pit, whom we rescued from a bad situation. She is 1 1/2 yrs old, spayed, up to date on all shots, etc. She is a totally different dog than my beloved Dez, and as soon as she started settling into our home, I noticed she was not only extremely bright, but extremely agile and loved jumping things and generally just running around.

So, I decided to contact a local agility training center to see if I could bring her out for an evaluation and see how she'd do.

She did awesome. The trainer was blown away. Cali got on every obstacle/piece of equipment that she was asked to without hesitation. She LOVED the tunnels. In fact, at the end of our session when I was talking to the trainer, she got the zoomies and ran at full speed through a long 90 degree tunnel that she hadn't even been asked to go in during our session. Then she did it again...3 times! Then she ran back to me and sat and looked up at me as if to say, "Where's my treat?"

I am completely new to and pretty much uninformed about agility, but she clearly has a drive for it, so I'm gonna go with it. We have set up weekly training sessions now, and the instructor believes she may be ready to compete in 6 months or so if she keeps progressing.

I thought I'd ask a few questions.

1. What special challenges have you found that having a pit bull presents in agility or at competitions? Cali seems to like most dog, but we definitely need to work on her recall when she's distracted by another dog.

2. How often do you work on training with your dog at home in between formal training sessions? Daily? A few times a week? Did you buy agility equipment for your yard or do you work on other things?

3. Are there any other forums for dog agility that are fairly active forums that you could recommend as a good place for me to get up to speed?

Thanks so much! :run:

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Leslie H
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Re: TOTALLY new to agility. A little overwhelmed!

Postby Leslie H » Fri Nov 16, 2012 9:38 pm

That's great that you and your pup have had the good fortune to discover agility. I've been involved for about 4 years, competing for about 2 and a half. Many APBT's are well suited to agility, with their athleticism, drive, confidence, and sense of fun.
I'm going to say something that may sound harsh. While you and your dog may both have tremendous potential, I'm really thrown off that your trainer would throw out the possibility of competing in six months. Regardless of how well suited your dog is to agility, you have no foundation. I was new to the sport when I started training Soleil. She was 3 years old, and had a fair amount of training (competed in conformation and weight pull, and a fair amount of non-competition obedience). She was pretty mature mentally. I trained in classes for over a year and a half, often twice a week, before I began competing. So for a trainer to say that she might be ready to compete in 6 months makes me concerned about your trainer.
Having the right trainer makes a huge difference. I'm very lucky to have a great facility with 2 top level instructors very nearby. They have been competing at a high level for years, and have been instructing for years as well. They make it clear that if you want to compete, there are certain things you need to do from the beginning. Not everyone wants to compete, you can have a great time with your dog without ever setting foot in the ring. But if you want to compete, you usually take things very slow in the beginning. Lots of foundation work, so that when you begin putting together multiple obstacles (and speed), your dog knows exactly how to perform each obstacle correctl y, and how to read your body language. I've been doing training for agility w/my young dog since she was 7 weeks old, she's 2, and probably a year away from competing.
Your dog is physically old enough that you'll be able to have her jump full height, and do the weave poles. I try to go to class twice a week if possible. I only have a few pieces of equipment at home. My yard is steep and rocky. I do set up a jump, contact board and 6 weave poles inside, and do some practice in my house. If I had a nice fenced yard, I'd probably practice a few times a week or more.

http://www.kineticdog.com/Homepage.aspx This instructor in PA is actually the one my trainers train with.

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FransterDoo
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Re: TOTALLY new to agility. A little overwhelmed!

Postby FransterDoo » Sat Nov 17, 2012 11:50 am

eaglesfangirl75 wrote:
She did awesome. The trainer was blown away. Cali got on every obstacle/piece of equipment that she was asked to without hesitation.


I have to echo Leslie's post above. Be careful about putting her on obstacles. Pete took a "fun class" and they had us try all the equipment in like 6 weeks. We went and took a quality foundation class and he took one jump starting in week 5.

We're about a year into training. Class is Monday nights from 8-9:15/9:30 and he has a 30 minute field rental each week as well. He did his first practice match at the end of October and is doing his first trials in December.

1. What special challenges have you found that having a pit bull presents in agility or at competitions? Cali seems to like most dog, but we definitely need to work on her recall when she's distracted by another dog.


Neither of my pit bulls want to do agility. Pete is our small terrier mix.

2. How often do you work on training with your dog at home in between formal training sessions? Daily? A few times a week? Did you buy agility equipment for your yard or do you work on other things?


We have a set of weave poles, 3 jumps and a contact trainer. When Pete was learning to weave and learning Running Contacts on the dogwalk - it was almost every day for 10 minutes. We'd also go out to a baseball field or what not and practice flatwork/shadow handling.

3. Are there any other forums for dog agility that are fairly active forums that you could recommend as a good place for me to get up to speed?


I don't know of any forums but I like Full Tilt and Team Small Dog for blogs. They both have good blog rolls to click through as well.

Just remember that foundation work might seem "boring" but without it - you risk your dogs health AND it starts to not be fun. At the fun match, we saw a lot of dogs that had no idea what their handlers wanted and a lot of handlers that eventually lost their cool and started getting really frustrated.

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eaglesfangirl75
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Re: TOTALLY new to agility. A little overwhelmed!

Postby eaglesfangirl75 » Mon Nov 19, 2012 9:52 am

Thanks for the responses so far.

To clarify a few things, I emailed the trainer and just asked her to clarify how soon dogs typically begin to compete. She said that the SOONEST she's seen a dog compete was 6 months, but that dog and handler both had previous experience before coming to her. That kind of made me feel relieved because I didn't want to push Cali into something too fast.

Also, as far as the obstacles, the only thing the trainer really wanted to see her do in the first session was just see if she would willingly go through tunnels, up on wobbly objects, etc. She wasn't actually working with her on mastering those obstacles. She just wanted to see what she'd do and what, if anything, she was afraid of.

My "homework" this week consisted solely of getting Cali used to the "touch" command with a small plastic target that the trainer asks the dogs to put their nose on when the handler asks them to stop at a certain point.

So that's what we're doing this week!

This is the facility we are working with. Norristown is about an hour and a half for me, so that's not a good option, but there may be other options close by if this one doesn't work out

http://rockycreekdogagility.com/Home_Page.html

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Leslie H
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Re: TOTALLY new to agility. A little overwhelmed!

Postby Leslie H » Mon Nov 19, 2012 8:27 pm

Well that sounds better.
I checked out her website. I didn't see anything that was a red flag. She's earned some titles, including some upper level titles, on a number of dogs.
Most instructors prefer to introduce each piece of equipment in very controlled ways; tunnels collapsed, wobble boards and planks rather than teeters, dog walks and A frame, to make sure the dog understands what is being asked of it, and to minimize the risk of something going wrong, and the dog having negative connections w/an obstacle, or getting hurt. That way, you don't spend (as much) your training time correcting issues.
At any rate, it's a ton of fun.
I like these videos for foundation building.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUmHNOpGrjE&NR=1

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FransterDoo
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Re: TOTALLY new to agility. A little overwhelmed!

Postby FransterDoo » Mon Nov 19, 2012 8:55 pm

oh good! Yes, lots of wobble board work and such. I was having visions of those folks that lead a dog on leash over the dogwalk within weeks of "class".

good luck and have a great time!!


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