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Dog Agility

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by kimberleyanddarren, Apr 5, 2011.


  1. kimberleyanddarren

    kimberleyanddarren PetForums Junior

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    Hi Everyone,

    I have a border collie who loves to run and enjoys learning new things so i wanted to try agility with him however i have looked at courses and most of them are £60+ which is far too expensive for me as i just wanted to try it out on my own really, just for fun.

    I am wondering if there is any kind of place, almost like a doggy gym, where the equipment is set up and you can just visit at your leisure to practise? I am in Birmingham, West Midlands btw.

    Thanks! :D
     
  2. lucysnewmum

    lucysnewmum PetForums Senior

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    you can make your own agility set up in the garden for very little money!

    i got a hula hoop from the 99p shop and tied it between two chairs to practise "hoop". start with the hoop at floor level gradually raising it as the dog gets the hang of jumping through it.

    also, plastic cones for footy practise make very useful weave instruments,,, also available from 99p shops!#

    for jumping....a broom handle (pref plastic) balanced on house bricks so that if the dog catches it he wont hurt himself.

    use fallen logs etc when out on walks to practise jumping too...the dogs love it!

    a tunnel.....just an old duvet cover opened up at both ends....one end sewn onto a hoop.,...the other left open for the dog to pass through...

    no need to spend a fortune...just be creative! whatever you set up though make sure it is safe and wont hurt the dog if he catches it with his paws .

    link to a website for a company who mainly supply equestrian stuff....but do some really nice, fairly cheap basic dog agility stuff so you can set up in your garden.#

    http://www.robinsons-uk.com/
     
    #2 lucysnewmum, Apr 5, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2011
  3. cocopop

    cocopop PetForums Junior

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    Have you looked on Agilitynet to find your local club. Most clubs run weekly classes at v reasonable prices.
     
  4. Oenoke

    Oenoke PetForums VIP

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    You need to know how to train the equipment safely, so it is really best to go to a club. Our club is 40 pounds for the 1st 6 weeks, then 24 pounds for 6 weeks after that.
     
  5. Already someone has mentioned Agility net!
    And another to start of in the garden!

    Also try ebay of the local free adds!

    Weave poles are cheap anyway and I picked up a jump and a tunnel from a car boot - you can then add as you go along. I dont have mine anymore - it sort of vanished in the garden
     
  6. Blitz

    Blitz PetForums VIP

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    I really agree with this. Of course you can muck around in your garden with a few jumps and hoops but if you want to really do it properly you need to go to a club and learn how to use the equipment safely and then get some proper agility stuff for your garden if you want to.
    Surely most clubs will charge a weekly fee. I pay £5 a week to go to a fun agility class.
     
  7. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    We are just back from first session of one of those £60 agility courses, and I'd say if they're well run they're good value. With plenty of jumps & different obstacles to learn, it's easy to avoid significant queuing by having small groups.

    Part of the fun of it, for the dog is the social aspect, and likely it helps to see other dogs doing things like the A frame and tunnel. Just going over the equipment on our own, or 1:1 training would not have been overall nearly as beneficial.
     
  8. Deb

    Deb PetForums Senior

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    would love to set something up in my garden (might be a bit small though!!) We tried Cassie with agility classes - she hid under the table until all the equipment had been put away! Tried her with fly ball as she is very ball orientated - she hated it. Now she is a bit older may try her again with agility classess but she has become unsocialable with other dogs if she/them are on leads so she may not be welcome! :(
     
  9. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    Wouldn't it be wiser to work on the sociability when leashed, and with leashed dogs first?

    My class had some rescue dogs and one had been in the same obedience class, where he'd been wary and prone to snapping, but through working on it, he handled the agility class situation really well, and actually seemed to enjoy meeting the other dogs now to before class start & at break time. So even in older dogs it can be turned round.

    It was one of the other young dogs that got over-excited and started lunging about at dogs coming out the tunnel!
     
  10. lemmsy

    lemmsy PetForums VIP

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    Just coming on to echo what others have said really.
    I train and compete in agility with my two and co-train a class at my local agility club as well as helping out at another too (I just passed an agility instructors course as well).

    OP if you want to do some agility, even if not competitively, I would highly suggest finding yourself a good club who will be able to teach you how to train each obstacle correctly. A good club should also give you the skills to run the dog in the best way possible, in accordance to the dog's strengths and the ability/ agility of the handler (horses for courses). A good club will give you the skills to go on to compete even if you are training not for competition (as in my experience alot of people start just for fun, but as they get into it they decide that they might like to compete- this just leaves your options open for you).

    Make sure you find yourself a decent club who use positive reinforcement/ negative punishment only. When you go to shows etc, it's shocking to see how many bad trainers there are out there who lack basic knowledge in learning theory and positive methods. It always gets me so cross when I see a dog being hollered at and dragged back on to a contact that they've missed! :mad:

    I think that ATM, in the agility world there isn't yet enough understanding of behaviour issues. Many so called "problem dogs" find themselves at agility classes (with not so good trainers) at the hands of a "trainer" who knows diddly-squat about behaviour and starts to advise the poor owner that the reason their collie is lunging at the other dog's movement is because they are dominant! :mad2:

    I honestly think that the majority of dogs that are reactive towards other dogs outside of the agility environment are really going to struggle to cope in a high arousal environment with other dogs whizzing around at high speed whilst they remain "trapped onlead". In such cases, I think it is best to do some one to one agility sessions with a good trainer, who once the dog is sufficiently "into" their agility can start to introduce one of their own "calm" dogs into the situation, setting the original dog up to succeed at each stage of course.

    The issue with some clubs, in particular KC ones IMO, is that they have to have a board, chairperson etc and so everything concerning the club needs to be discussed by the committee. Alot of issues that could with being dealt with quickly end up taking ages due to the bureaucracy of the system. At one club, myself and others are trying to suggest policy for behaviourist recommendations for dogs that could do with some one-to-one behaviour work with a pro outside of and alongside our club. The difficulty is that whilst I and others are very conscious of the impact of behaviour in agility, to many others who train "a dog is a dog" and so it is hard to get across the importance of such a policy.

    Anyway, I've gone on a bit of a ramble here. Agility is a fantastic activity for all dogs. My own BC boy has gained alot of confidence with it and we have great fun! Good luck to the OP with her young BC (any piccies? :D) and hope you enjoy. Keep us updated :)
     
  11. Twiggy

    Twiggy PetForums VIP

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    I think that ATM, in the agility world there isn't yet enough understanding of behaviour issues. Many so called "problem dogs" find themselves at agility classes (with not so good trainers) at the hands of a "trainer" who knows diddly-squat about behaviour and starts to advise the poor owner that the reason their collie is lunging at the other dog's movement is because they are dominant! :mad2:

    I honestly think that the majority of dogs that are reactive towards other dogs outside of the agility environment are really going to struggle to cope in a high arousal environment with other dogs whizzing around at high speed whilst they remain "trapped onlead". In such cases, I think it is best to do some one to one agility sessions with a good trainer, who once the dog is sufficiently "into" their agility can start to introduce one of their own "calm" dogs into the situation, setting the original dog up to succeed at each stage of course.

    The issue with some clubs, in particular KC ones IMO, is that they have to have a board, chairperson etc and so everything concerning the club needs to be discussed by the committee. Alot of issues that could with being dealt with quickly end up taking ages due to the bureaucracy of the system. At one club, myself and others are trying to suggest policy for behaviourist recommendations for dogs that could do with some one-to-one behaviour work with a pro outside of and alongside our club. The difficulty is that whilst I and others are very conscious of the impact of behaviour in agility, to many others who train "a dog is a dog" and so it is hard to get across the importance of such a policy.


    Excellent post and your observations apply to many other clubs involved in dog activities.
     
  12. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    Yep, I'm just so frustrated by the blind spot! Fortunately the owner of the young dog I saw, got given sensible advise by the Behavourist who was acting as assistant-trainer. There's just no way the classes would make a large profit, though I can imagine they may build businness in general, I'm sure those involved weren't primarily motivated by money.
     
    #12 RobD-BCactive, Apr 11, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2011
  13. lemmsy

    lemmsy PetForums VIP

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    Totally get where you are coming from! Great news that the owner you saw (I'm assuming the rescue that was wary of other dogs) got some good, solid advice from somebody who knew what they were doing.
    The main frustration for me, is that, just for instance I've seen and had to train several dogs with arousal and proximity with other dogs issues. The combination of such issues makes the bog standard agility club training environment really unsuitable for these dogs. And whilst you can ask the owner to remove the dog temporarily when they get over aroused and over threshold, the unfortunate thing is, because the dog is being subjected to such an environment he is highly likely to go over threshold when he returns to the environment over and over again. Vicious circle or what?! Think of the impact of such stress on the poor dog. Furthermore if it is a beginner class, the other dog owners, or many of them are unlikely to be aware of reactivity thresholds and other such concepts and so not meaning to be, they are not sufficiently conscious of how their dogs' behaviour (staring at other dogs etc) could affect the other dog. This is why I feel that such dogs really do, do better at least to begin with, in a one-to-one environment with a behaviour savvy agility trainer.

    It's a really tough one. I think alot of clubs would do better to assess which dogs they put into which classes, i.e. to avoid placing dog-obsessed (or OTT, rude type) dogs, with shy or previously dog-aggro ones to avoid setting any dogs back.

    Dog agility can do so much for under confident types but for many far better in a one-to-one environment initially for sure.
     
  14. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    The older rescue may have had some additional socialisation work. He was a model citizen of the class yesterday :) It was a different younger dog, who reacted strongly to dogs appearing out of the tunnel, who's owners needed the advice yesterday. That's an example of Agility class, provoking reactivity in a sociable dog so it was important help that the other dogs ignored it's snapping and lunging, rather than join in!

    The only people I know who were referred to doing Agility by a Behaviourist and it "worked", had a dog with Adolescent issues, lack of recall & possibly was bored, rather than being unsociable.

    I don't think it's fair for people to attend basic Obedience classes with idea to socialise their dogs either. If you missed the socialisation boat, then assessment and a specialist class is going to be much better than trying to handle 2 issues at once.
     
  15. Twiggy

    Twiggy PetForums VIP

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    It's a really tough one. I think alot of clubs would do better to assess which dogs they put into which classes, i.e. to avoid placing dog-obsessed (or OTT, rude type) dogs, with shy or previously dog-aggro ones to avoid setting any dogs back.

    Dog agility can do so much for under confident types but for many far better in a one-to-one environment initially for sure.[/QUOTE]

    When agility first took off in the UK many of the KC registered clubs insisted the dogs were trained up to novice standard obedience before they were allowed to join their agility classes.
     
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