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Old 03-11-2012, 04:49 PM
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Maxy24 Maxy24 is offline
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Default Foundation Exercises

I have mentioned in the past that I'd like to try agility with Tucker but am starting to think a class would be better than just doing it on my own. However that will depend on how much money I have this summer. I haven't done anything with it yet because I always have something more important to work with him on each time I go home and I don't really know where to start. I'm also concerned that his training after the class will be so sporadic that he'll forget everything he learned because I'll be back in school and only come home about once a month except on long breaks.

In any case, I always hear about "foundation work" and know the names of some stuff...hind end awareness, rear and front crosses, get outs, cik and cap turns, running contacts, 2 on 2 off contacts, etc. I don't know what most of that actually entails though...the only one I have any idea on how to train is the 2 on 2 off contacts because I read Shaping Success. So I'm hoping you all can put together a list of foundation exercises and commands someone should or at least could teach before actually getting on equipment. I'd also love a written description of what each is (whether you write it yourself or give me a link I don't care) and then websites or videos that explain/show how to go about teaching it. Then I'd have an idea of what things I can start working with him on before the class, since I don't think the places I have access to actually have foundation classes. Even if I don't end up doing agility with him, I think this could be a good resource.

So, what do you need to teach before you can start working on the actual obstacles?
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Old 03-11-2012, 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Maxy24 View Post
So, what do you need to teach before you can start working on the actual obstacles?
For Keegan, Foundations class was ~80% learning how to handle being on an agility field with lots of other dogs/humans running around being distracting. He knew most of the behaviors we were to train in the class, but there was no way we'd be able to start in a more advanced class with his distraction level as high as it was. He can't learn to walk across the dog walk if he's way too focused on the other dogs! So while it's good to have an idea of what you'll be doing in foundations class, I still would suggest taking the class just to get him used to being on an agility field.

That said, basic obedience is extremely important.... He should know sit, down, stay, heeling (on both sides with turns and pace changes), recalls, leave it is handy, and pottying on cue (or at least, don't pee on the field!). A good foundations class will probably just gloss over these behaviors and expect you to put in a lot of work on them at home.

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I haven't done anything with it yet because I always have something more important to work with him on each time I go home and I don't really know where to start.
I felt that way about Keegan, too, which is why he was over a year old before we started agility. But I've learned that there's ALWAYS something that seems more important.... "I can't take agility, he doesn't know ____ behavior yet!!" But at some point you just have to jump in and get started. Often starting to train new things will make the old things get better on their own, or at least with less effort than when you were focusing on them alone. A class will also help you isolate in your mind the specific things he actually does need to work on now, and you can just add that into your homework.

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I'm also concerned that his training after the class will be so sporadic that he'll forget everything he learned because I'll be back in school and only come home about once a month except on long breaks.
It's amazing how well dogs remember this stuff. With Luna, we took classes for about 4 months, then I moved and we had to take almost a year off. The next time we went to class, she was a little rusty, but by the end of the class she was running almost as well as when we had left off.
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Old 03-11-2012, 06:41 PM
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hind end awareness - knowing that they have back feet and how to use them. I believe Susan Garrett mentions in her 2o2o DVD that backing straight up about 20 feet as her measure of when a dog truly knows how to back up. Can they target individually with each foot? Things like ladder work and cavaletti help with this too.

rear and front crosses -
Generally speaking you cross when you need the dog to turn. Depending on how a course is laid out, however, you may cross one or two obstacles before the dog actually needs to make the turn in order to position yourself better in order to aid the dog's path better.
A rear cross is when you cross behind the dog (behind the dog's path) as the dog takes an obstacle in his path. A front cross is when you cross in FRONT of the dog's path.

get out-
This is a training term people use differently. For us it means go out laterally from me.

cik and cap turns-
Here's about cik & cap in Silvia Trkman's words:
http://silvia.trkman.net/cikcap.htm

As far as contacts go, first I think you probably understand about contacts but I will explain: on each contact obstacle (teeter, a-frame, dog walk) there is a "contact zone" which is yellow. In AKC the dog must get at least any part of one paw in the yellow in order to not get a failure to perform (NQ) on the contact obstacle.
For a running contact, the dogs have been trained to get in the yellow without stopping. There are a few different methods of actually training a running contact. A 2o2o as you know is a stopped contact with the two front paws on the ground and the two rear paws on the obstacle. There's also 4 on where the dog stops at the bottom of the contact with all four paws in the yellow... and 4 off which as I understand it is the dog runs down the contact and then stops AFTER coming off the obstacle, so it's like a running contact with a stop once they get off the obstacle? All of these will have a few different ways to train them.


Important foundation exercises: handling on the flat. Like lizzybeth said, you should be able to run your dog and do crosses away from the equipment. Mostly learning how to move with your dog and your dog learning to move with you. Turns, crosses, acceleration and deceleration.
Another one is stuff like wobble boards... getting the dog on stuff that moves and maintaining their confidence on stuff that moves.

here's two videos on YouTube that might help too:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUmHNOpGrjE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rk4DW0u3vKc

Also I would strongly recommend picking a jump methodology and working on that. I love Suzanne Clothier's jumping book but for teaching puppies to jump I think I am a bigger Susan Salo fan. She has a puppy jumping DVD but from what I heard it is the same as her foundation stuff just with jump bumps instead of actual jumps.
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Old 03-12-2012, 07:47 PM
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Thanks guys, I think for now I will do crate games (I bought and watched the DVD but then went back to school before I could do anything with it), teach him to heel (just started that last time I was home), and proof his sit and down so he will stay better. I really haven't done a lot with him because I see him so sporadically...I've taught him a bunch of stuff but not thoroughly (he sits and downs but I never added distance, duration, or distractions). I also get frustrated with how long it takes for him to get things. It'll be especially important since all the classes I'm looking at say "must have taken beginner obedience or have equivalent" so I assume they test him or something to make sure he can follow the commands they would have learned in that class.

So after I get those things done I can think about the actual agility type stuff more.

Do you think he would get rejected from a class because he is fearful of strangers? He won't just randomly react to people, they'd have to try and touch him, but I don't know what the policies generally are for aggressive dogs and whether the teacher/other people in class are generally involved in handling your dog at all.
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Old 03-12-2012, 08:03 PM
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It sounds like focusing on obedience right now would be your best bet. Being confident in your control and basic handling of your dog (sit, down, recall, heel position on both sides of your body) will make training agility much easier and enjoyable for you both. Crate games are a great foundation as well!
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Old 03-12-2012, 08:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxy24 View Post
Do you think he would get rejected from a class because he is fearful of strangers? He won't just randomly react to people, they'd have to try and touch him, but I don't know what the policies generally are for aggressive dogs and whether the teacher/other people in class are generally involved in handling your dog at all.
You'll definately need to tell your trainer about this before you start the class. Most of the time it can be managed, but there will be times when your trainer may need to hold your dog for restrained recalls and such.
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Old 03-12-2012, 08:33 PM
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I personally am NOT a fan of formal obed before agility. I had some issues transitioning dogs who were super focused on watching me and heeling. I do think basic obedience is good, however I find that most foundation classes I have gone to teach what you need.

I don't think you need any sort of heel to do agility. (you might want it to walk around the grounds though) You may not need a sit (depending on your venue).. etc etc.

What you do need is a dog who wants to play with you. The more rewards your dog will work for the better (toys, food etc) You need to instill that you are the most awesome thing out there.

Hind end awareness, crosses, stays, contacts are all very important for sure. But the first thing I work on is things like restrained recalls, having the dog come to the side I want to tug. Building drive to play. Then I work on things like hind end awareness (though it seems the JRTs come with this pre installed..) targetting behaviour, stays etc.
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Old 03-12-2012, 08:49 PM
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Susan Garrett teaches a lot of obedience before agility, her dogs have never had a problem with shifting focus.

In her 5 minute recall course, she teaches a lot of sits and downs, recalls (obviously), and loads of reinforcement in the "reinforcement zone" aka: heeling.

To me, it is much more enjoyable having a dog that pops into heel position on either side to line them up at the start line, has a reliable stay in any position, and has a solid recall. Obedience doesn't have to be boring and drive-lowering. Properly trained obedience is just a bunch of more fun games to teach your dog that will build your relationship.
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Old 03-12-2012, 09:16 PM
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From what I have read she teaches her puppies agility stuff concurrently with obedience. That I have no issue with. Its not like she has them ready to enter novice obed and then does agility... This is what I do now. I don't teach heeling first, I teach puppy games first. But if I had an adult I would teach handler focus concurrently with things like targeting etc.

Actually it was from her that I got the 'its most important to have a dog who wants to play' I would say that before doing obed too.
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Old 03-12-2012, 10:06 PM
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I don't think formal obedience is necessary for success in agility and I don't think it always helps that much. You can compete and do well with a dog who has no start line stay, pulls like crazy on lead and has never had any formal obedience training. And you can have a dog with tons of formal obedience training that doesn't do well in agility at all. IME depending on how formal obedience is taught, it can actually hinder a dog in agility.

That isn't to say you shouldn't do obedience before agility. But you should train it in an upbeat, positive manner. Sure it will be useful to have a dog who stays when you ask. And recalls are important no matter what you want to do with your dog. But the goal of your training shouldn't be a dog who obeys so much as developing a good working relationship with your dog. I think even more than "obedience", teaching as many tricks as you can think gives you an excellent foundation for agility. It teaches you to be a better trainer (with stuff that isn't important), teaches your dog to be a better trainee, offers great information on what your dog find reinforcing and how they like to work, can be used to develop coordination, flexibility and build muscle, can be used to build behaviors like 2o2o and helps you develop a good, positive working relationship with your dog.

So I guess I'm saying, tricks can be a great foundation for agility

Another thing you can work on for foundation is teaching running contacts with a plank. Even if you opt to not do RCs, following this plan will set your dog up to be super confident and fast on equipment: http://www.silvia.trkman.net/

Also you can work on teaching turns: http://silvia.trkman.net/cikcap.htm

And well...while you're there might as well read all the great training info on the site
http://silvia.trkman.net/training.htm
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