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Agility training

Love4himies
December 7th, 2007, 10:20 AM
I am admittedly not doggie smart, but am so curious about agility training for dogs, they just look so darn happy when they are doing it. What is the purpose of it, and can all dogs participate or is it more for some breeds in particular? Does it lead into training for work dogs?

Ford Girl
December 7th, 2007, 12:58 PM
It is alot of fun for them and the human!!! Some breeds are better then others, but any breed can do it. It's keeps them focused on the task and their human partner. It builds strength and balance and a great bond between dog and handler.

In Dazy's class there were 6 dogs, a bull terrier, a muttarooski, a rodisian ridgeback, a shiba inu, a mini austrailian shepperd, and Dazy the golden. A real good mix of breeds there.

The working breeds do best in it, and smaller dogs seem to be less scared. We baited with treats along the way, and the beginner classes are easy on the joints but very tiring onthe mind, it exhaustes them! It's great!

It turns out Dazy is a corner cutter, when she was first introcuded to each pice she eagerly did what was asked of her, then when it came to sequencing - doing more thne one piece in a row, you could see the wheels in her brain working on how to get tot he end the fastest and in the least amount of time, if there was a corner to be cut - she cut it, if there was a way to complete it faster, she would, so needless to say, we wont be competeing!! She's a sporting breed - she does it more for fun then a "job".

Longblades
December 7th, 2007, 01:09 PM
I'm sure someone more versed in agility training will come along but I will tell you our purpose was to give a shy dog more confidence. It works sort of like Outward Bound does for people sometimes; gives them confidence in their physical abilities which spills over, psychologically, into their overall self-esteem.

And for my girl it worked, she did become less shy with strange people even though there is not much people contact in agility. It is said as well that your dog will bond more with you through this training, again, even though you train them to work away from you in agility as opposed to much closer to you in obedience.

My Lab girl loved it and even went on to compete and win some ribbons. A few dogs in our class didn't like it much but most seemed to really enjoy themselves. It's great for physical and mental training all at the same time.

Whether it leads into training for some kind of work, I think not. But a lot of the obstacles are like those a friend's detector dog had to learn to negotiate in her training.

Love4himies
December 7th, 2007, 02:11 PM
doing more thne one piece in a row, you could see the wheels in her brain working on how to get tot he end the fastest and in the least amount of time, if there was a corner to be cut - she cut it, if there was a way to complete it faster, she would, so needless to say, we wont be competeing!! She's a sporting breed - she does it more for fun then a "job".


:laughing: now there is one smart cookie!

Ford Girl
December 7th, 2007, 02:30 PM
:laughing: now there is one smart cookie!

TOO SMART! LOL! The instructor had to place blockades up so she couldn't start the dog walk from 4 feet in, or go around the tire instead of jumping thru. :laughing: When the treats diminished so did the steps she took to get to the end! I wouldnt call her lazy! Just smart! She liked it and had alot of fun. You'd never see a herding dog skip these steps tho!

Lissa
December 7th, 2007, 06:26 PM
I am admittedly not doggie smart, but am so curious about agility training for dogs, they just look so darn happy when they are doing it. What is the purpose of it, and can all dogs participate or is it more for some breeds in particular? Does it lead into training for work dogs?


For competition, all dogs can participate with the right organization(s) (some orgs are for purebreds only, others allow both pure and mixed breeds).
Outside of competition, agility is suitable for any breed that is free of health issues, enjoys it and who has a willing owner.
Certain breeds (generally those that have been bred to work with people) may appear to be more suited for agility but since I run a hound, I know that if you are committed (and understand motivation) you will find success with any breed.

The purpose of it really depends on each dog-handler team. For some its about building confidence or trust; for others it about finding an outlet for their dog (both physical and mental; other teams thrive on the competition and of course we all have fun.
For me, the purpose of it is to learn how to be a better trainer/handler. We both learn a lot from agility training (Dodger learns self-control as well as complex behaviours while I learn about body language and how to motivate my dog). It keeps us both active and gives Dodger's brain a workout LOL. Most importantly, agility deepens our bond - its give and take, I put a lot of trust in Dodger and he puts a lot of trust in me. Agility makes us a better team - that's why I do it.

Not all work dogs do agility...it isn't a prerequisite (and some handlers I am sure want their work to always be the #1 focus)... However for those that do, I am sure agility can strengthen the bond and the dog's desire to work with you. It can also be "time off" so to speak for working dogs... And I think it can teach everyone how to be a better trainer/handler... So while agility may not be necessary for work dogs and their handlers, it would be a positive outlet for many IMO.

Lissa
December 7th, 2007, 10:26 PM
Some breeds are better then others.......The working breeds do best in it, and smaller dogs seem to be less scared.

I believe that any committed owner can get their [healthy] dog proficient at agility... Will it be with the speed, drive or accuracy of a naturally drivey and easily motivated breed? That depends on the handler - it has much less to do with the dog's capability or aptitude IMO.

TOO SMART! LOL! The instructor had to place blockades up so she couldn't start the dog walk from 4 feet in, or go around the tire instead of jumping thru. :laughing: When the treats diminished so did the steps she took to get to the end! I wouldnt call her lazy! Just smart! She liked it and had alot of fun. You'd never see a herding dog skip these steps tho!

Just in case you wish to pursue agility, I'd like to share some things that came to mind from your post...

The biggest problem is this:When the treats diminished so did the steps she took to get to the end!
The reward became a bribe (not faded correctly or timed appropriately) - all of which = dependency.
Another thing to keep in mind is having a toolbox (variety) of rewards. Food is often the easiest reward to use because most dogs are [somewhat] motivated by it, its easy to lure with and easy to deliver (which often means its overused and thus loses appeal). Dogs will go to another level if we cater to their individual likes and use a variety of motivators.

You'd never see a herding dog skip these steps tho!

Any dog, regardless of breed will skip these steps if they have not received adequate foundation training. Obstacle proficiency at the highest level must be attained before sequencing is introduced. That means 100s of reps from various distances, speeds, angles, distractions without tools (rewards, targets, lure's etc...) before you sequence.
First and foremost it's a safety issue. But its also about control and the dog knowing what to do... A dog that knows what to do doesn't perform obstacles incorrectly unless there is a handler error, holes in foundation training or health/motivation issues. Mistakes are bound to happen because dogs are not robots anymore than people are but they should be a rarity.

The instructor had to place blockades up so she couldn't start the dog walk from 4 feet in, or go around the tire instead of jumping thru.

Dazy is definately smart for knowing what works. But I think Dazy was mostly unsure of what was expected and/or overstimulated because sequencing was introduced too early; its also likely that she found every aspect of agility to be enough motivation (in other words you and your rewards were just bonus to the fun she was already having).
If blockades were going to be used at all, they should be used early on in foundation training to set the dog up for success (and faded quickly)... Not in combination with sequencing.

mafiaprincess
December 8th, 2007, 10:58 PM
I've seen a load of breeds successfully compete. Working dog isn't a prereq. Nor is well bred. If you are determined it's enough to overcome whatever obstacles you and your dog have to work through.

Everyone on non sport forums seems to feel the need to brag about how much sequencing they can do in the shortest amount of time possible. It's not a race, at least it shouldn't be. Too many people training, aren't training a strong foundation, they are rushing dogs through obstacles instead. Doesn't help whether you are trying to forge a better bond with your dog, or if you want to compete and succeed.

Love4himies
December 12th, 2007, 10:52 AM
Thanks for the replies. Whether the purpose is for training working dogs or just a fun sport for owners and their dogs I don't think it matters to the dog, they just want to have fun!