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  #21  
Old 06-20-2012, 02:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Babyblue5290 View Post
...Plus, I want to do actual agility plus trialing with my next dog so this would just be for fun plus to get my foot in the door as far as understanding equipment and all that. So I want it to be less "serious" without being a complete joke...
Doing lots of foundation type classes in general can help a lot for future dogs. Going through the class with a dog that you have no intentions of trialing can help you work on your own mechanics without fear of 'messing up' a performance prospect.

That said, no one knows which class will be the best fit for you and Art than yourself. Will the trainer allow you to sit in on a class to see if you think it would be what you're looking for?
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  #22  
Old 06-20-2012, 05:45 AM
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If it isn't what you are looking for - well, then it isn't what you are looking for. I think you will find that most agility places are going to fall into one of two categories. Either they will be focused on pet people who want to see their dog jump over jumps, and will thus have less trained staff (at least from an agility standpoint), or you will find places that have good, experienced agility instructors, and you can expect a huge amount of foundations work. I'm curious what the "four classes getting them used to equipment" are. To me, that sounds like agility. I would expect from the bit you told us that their "agility" class that you start four classes in is actual sequencing and such. And, to be blunt, dogs aren't going to do well in that without knowing the equipment. I may be misunderstanding the class progression, but that is my guess.

Schools that get you on the equipment fast are out there; the place I taught at out of college (never seen agility run in my life, but I was teaching beginners ) had dogs doing little "courses" at the end of the first 6 week course. It was a wreck. Dogs were worried, they never progressed beyond that, but the people loved it.

I've referred to Meg as my "practice dog". I never intended to compete her (ha!), but I used her to learn all the correct techniques for training. Obviously she turned into a great competition dog in her own right, but the things I learned from training her have been invaluable as I've started Gusto.
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Old 06-20-2012, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Babyblue5290 View Post
The one place that I like the looks of (haven't visited yet) that seems to have some good reviews from people I know and is fairly close, you have to take 4 classes prior to actually doing agility. 3 classes getting use to the different equiptment, and one balancing/stretching/strength training class.

That's all great, I think it would be a lot of fun, they are each 8 weeks long, so takes plenty of time to get use to the stuff and environment, which is great for Art. The bad part is it's $180 PER CLASS! >_< Which, wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't 4 classes before even getting to do the agility. Art is a fast learner, settles in really fast so I don't know if the slow pace would work well, but even if it did, that's about $720 before the first agility class. Then another $180 for the first agility class. Not only that, it's 32 weeks, which is around 8 months! That's not even counting the time between classes.
This actually sounds like a potentially excellent place to train to me. The price is high for my area but I know these things vary a great deal depending on where you live. I honestly wish more places had agility classes like this as opposed the "Get'r Done" intro classes most places off. 8 months of foundation work is not really too much at all, especially not for a new handler/dog team. Savvy has been in an ongoing foundation class for 10 months now. In this class we work on flat handling, stays, recalls, tunnels, handling with tunnels, chute, table, teeter foundation work, jump bumps, low aframe/dogwalk, targetting, etc.

The issue is that most people think agility is running courses with their dog and when starting off they want to get to that point ASAP. The problem with getting to that point ASAP is that you skip over a lot of what is really important - teaching your dog handler focus and obstacle focus and how to switch between the two, teaching independent performance of the obstacles, teaching confidence on equipment first and foremost before anything else, teaching your dog to read your cues, teaching a solid target and than a solid contact behavior, building value for the dog in performing the equipment, building speed....I could go on and on and on. When you jump right into "doing agility" in you get the dogs to just do equipment quickly and start trying to run them, you will almost always have issues down the road with independent performance, confidence on the equipment, lack of focus on handler or equipment, stress, lack of speed or with a very motivated dog speed without handler focus, etc, etc.
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  #24  
Old 06-20-2012, 12:58 PM
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Hey Blue,

Consider it this way, in the 'fun agility' places, they often have just purchased some agility equipment and started to run classes. For the simple reason that it is a cashcow for them, they don't have to invest a lot or have any knowledge. But there is a huge fall out to it, people and their dogs often get very stressed, frustrated and quit, believing that they nor their dog likes agility or is any good at it. Meanwhile at a good place, they know not to over face the dog or handler and they teach you in such a fashion that you are successful. Therefore min the stress and frustration, more than likely you wont quit, you and your dog will be having a blast.

Bottomline is there is a high risk that you will wasted your money and your time, by settling for a lesser training facility, because they can't train you and your dog properly.

Here are 2 examples that I have dealt with recently at my facility.

1:

Owner signs up for agility at a place that uses corrections and force. Trainer has NO experience in agility (doubful that they have had lessons and they certainly don't compete or have students that compete). Dog was not trained with any of the foundation skills to prep them to SAFELY perform a Dog Walk or Teeter. Dog apparently was worried (it should be) about getting on a full sized Dog Walk, so the 'trainer' grabs the dog from the owner, dragging and forcing the dog. The owner finally stopped the trainer and quit the classes. But the damage was done, dog was terrified and certainly now had trust issues in their owner as well. They started with me, it took 5 MONTHS to retrain that dog to happily and safely do the contact equipment. So 3 classes at the 'fun agility' place, quit, no refund v.s 5 months of retraining and undoing damage, you do the math. Good thing is in that 5 months plus a few more months here they learned a bunch of skills and can do agility very nicely, fast and able to run long sequences without faulting. Dog now loves agility and so does the owner

2:

Woman comes from a fun agility facility, took their beginner and then advanced agility courses where they were doing 'runs' the first night of the first class. Now she thinks she wants to 'get serious' about agility and compete. Not only had they not been taught properly, they had developed a lot of bad habits. She was not a happy camper when I told her we had to retrain her and her dog from the foundations up.


Good training with an instructor that is educated and competes (and wins plus has students that win/title) is never a waste of money. In the long run, they'll get you there faster and save you money.
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  #25  
Old 06-20-2012, 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Katem View Post
Doing lots of foundation type classes in general can help a lot for future dogs. Going through the class with a dog that you have no intentions of trialing can help you work on your own mechanics without fear of 'messing up' a performance prospect.

That said, no one knows which class will be the best fit for you and Art than yourself. Will the trainer allow you to sit in on a class to see if you think it would be what you're looking for?
But when I got the agility prospect, I would be doing the foundation classes then with that dog.

Probably, the place I like I'm not calling because I know I'll fall in love with the place and I simply wouldn't be able to afford it. Then every other place I look at after that I'm sure just wouldn't look nearly as good.

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Originally Posted by BostonBanker View Post
If it isn't what you are looking for - well, then it isn't what you are looking for. I think you will find that most agility places are going to fall into one of two categories. Either they will be focused on pet people who want to see their dog jump over jumps, and will thus have less trained staff (at least from an agility standpoint), or you will find places that have good, experienced agility instructors, and you can expect a huge amount of foundations work. I'm curious what the "four classes getting them used to equipment" are. To me, that sounds like agility. I would expect from the bit you told us that their "agility" class that you start four classes in is actual sequencing and such. And, to be blunt, dogs aren't going to do well in that without knowing the equipment. I may be misunderstanding the class progression, but that is my guess.

Schools that get you on the equipment fast are out there; the place I taught at out of college (never seen agility run in my life, but I was teaching beginners ) had dogs doing little "courses" at the end of the first 6 week course. It was a wreck. Dogs were worried, they never progressed beyond that, but the people loved it.

I've referred to Meg as my "practice dog". I never intended to compete her (ha!), but I used her to learn all the correct techniques for training. Obviously she turned into a great competition dog in her own right, but the things I learned from training her have been invaluable as I've started Gusto.
The other places (lot less expensive), are doing two foundations, so it's not like there are no foundations. The expensive place is you practice balance in the first class (fun class I), practice a bit of the agility equipment (foundations I), practice stretching and warming up, for the third class (fun class II), and then the rest of the agility equipment (foundations II). which all sounds great, though 8 months seems a bit overkill for me, but there is just no way I'm going to be able to pay (or get David on board with paying) nearly $800 for that right now. That's 100 per month where every other place is $50 per month or LESS. That's seems to be a drastic price up for this area to me for a dog that will never compete and a handler that will take the better classes with a different dog. Why pay $800 now and then $800 just to do it again later when only one actually matters? This one is just for fun type thing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by adojrts View Post
Hey Blue,

Consider it this way, in the 'fun agility' places, they often have just purchased some agility equipment and started to run classes. For the simple reason that it is a cashcow for them, they don't have to invest a lot or have any knowledge. But there is a huge fall out to it, people and their dogs often get very stressed, frustrated and quit, believing that they nor their dog likes agility or is any good at it. Meanwhile at a good place, they know not to over face the dog or handler and they teach you in such a fashion that you are successful. Therefore min the stress and frustration, more than likely you wont quit, you and your dog will be having a blast.

Bottomline is there is a high risk that you will wasted your money and your time, by settling for a lesser training facility, because they can't train you and your dog properly.

Here are 2 examples that I have dealt with recently at my facility.

1:

Owner signs up for agility at a place that uses corrections and force. Trainer has NO experience in agility (doubful that they have had lessons and they certainly don't compete or have students that compete). Dog was not trained with any of the foundation skills to prep them to SAFELY perform a Dog Walk or Teeter. Dog apparently was worried (it should be) about getting on a full sized Dog Walk, so the 'trainer' grabs the dog from the owner, dragging and forcing the dog. The owner finally stopped the trainer and quit the classes. But the damage was done, dog was terrified and certainly now had trust issues in their owner as well. They started with me, it took 5 MONTHS to retrain that dog to happily and safely do the contact equipment. So 3 classes at the 'fun agility' place, quit, no refund v.s 5 months of retraining and undoing damage, you do the math. Good thing is in that 5 months plus a few more months here they learned a bunch of skills and can do agility very nicely, fast and able to run long sequences without faulting. Dog now loves agility and so does the owner
I already said I refuse the place that does force training 100%. The place that is mostly positive with some force, it's mainly one trainer that seems to be the traditional style. And the fun classes (well, mostly except the last few places) I looked at DO have foundations,t ehy don't just toss the dogs on the equiptment and they DO compete in agility with titles.

Quote:
2:

Woman comes from a fun agility facility, took their beginner and then advanced agility courses where they were doing 'runs' the first night of the first class. Now she thinks she wants to 'get serious' about agility and compete. Not only had they not been taught properly, they had developed a lot of bad habits. She was not a happy camper when I told her we had to retrain her and her dog from the foundations up.


Good training with an instructor that is educated and competes (and wins plus has students that win/title) is never a waste of money. In the long run, they'll get you there faster and save you money.
Again, no runs the first night. It has foundations the first two classes. Also, Art will not trial. I will not trial with Art. That's that pretty much as far as I'm concerned.
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Old 06-20-2012, 01:47 PM
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I'm feeling a bit flustered with this. I didn't come to this expecting to never do any foundations, I DID. I did NOT come to this expecting to spend a measly $60 on a class, I know my area is around $120 for classes such as these, but is it really so much to ask for an affordable class to just get us started that uses positive methods without having to pay with my first born??

***edited*** that was a bit of the frustration taking over. All right, how bout agility just isn't going to happen. Thanks for the comments. What I'm getting from everyone is that if I just can't afford to do it with the top place, I shouldn't do it at all. Which makes me very sad but oh well.

I guess we will have to go with our CGC class and stop there.
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Old 06-20-2012, 01:49 PM
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Agility isn't just about the dog though. I can tell you things have been quite different working with Payton having already worked with Auggie. When I got my 2x2s, I wanted to go through the process with Auggie first - not because he needed to learn how to weave or even needed to improve his weave poles (weave poles are pretty much his best obstacle actually), but because I wanted a chance to learn the process with a dog who was already on the ball rather than going through trial and error of learning the process AND with a dog I was still connecting with and learning how he thought.

You asked "agility people" for their take but you don't seem to really be that interested in honestly taking our advice on it...
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  #28  
Old 06-20-2012, 01:55 PM
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Agility isn't just about the dog though. I can tell you things have been quite different working with Payton having already worked with Auggie. When I got my 2x2s, I wanted to go through the process with Auggie first - not because he needed to learn how to weave or even needed to improve his weave poles (weave poles are pretty much his best obstacle actually), but because I wanted a chance to learn the process with a dog who was already on the ball rather than going through trial and error of learning the process AND with a dog I was still connecting with and learning how he thought.

You asked "agility people" for their take but you don't seem to really be that interested in honestly taking our advice on it...
I appreciate all the responses, my issues are with the incorrect statements. You assume $180 is reasonable for my area when I clearly said it was not. You guys said the "fun classes" didn't teach any foundations so I would regret it, but I already had stated that they DO teach foundations.

Excuse me if I feel a bit flustered, I'm not in any way saying your guys advice isn't valid, but it's seems mostly based off those two incorrect statements, which just aren't true.

There's been a lot through this thread that I read and that has helped make my decision, and I appreciate all the responses, I just don't agree with the advice.
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  #29  
Old 06-20-2012, 01:57 PM
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I honestly would have trouble affording it if I didn't work at a facility that I traded hours for classes/ring time. Can you ask about financing or trading?

We charge 100 for a class which is 6 weeks of 1 hour each.
I missed this the first read through, what would financing and trading involve?
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Old 06-20-2012, 01:57 PM
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Again, no runs the first night. It has foundations the first two classes. Also, Art will not trial. I will not trial with Art. That's that pretty much as far as I'm concerned.
A few things stand out to me...

#1 - 2 nights of foundations before you do what? Run sequences? If that's all the prep work they're going to give you, why not just buy some pvc and do jumps in your yard for free? Getting the dog to go over equipment isn't that difficult.

#2 - We poll our agility students at each level with "Do you have plans to compete?" At the first class, on average 1 out of ever 20 students says yes. The other 19 are adamant that it's just for fun, they're just exploring, etc. Yet 75% of students come back for level 2. And the majority of them come back for level 3. And by the time they get to level 4, about 80% of students say they now are planning to try going to a trial one day.

You may never want to leave your backyard, and that's okay--but if you one day change your mind, it'd be nice not to have to fix anything.

#3 - You're talking about doing it the "proper" (can't think of the right word) way with the next dog. Honestly, agility is probably 2/3 handler, 1/3 dog. If you learn how to do things properly with Art, you'll have a much easier go of it with your next dog. You won't have any bad habits to retrain in yourself, you'll know the exercises to do with the dog the moment you bring it home to get it acclimated, etc.

I took classes at a great place for around a year, before one session I couldn't get in because I waited too long and everything was full. I signed up with another place in town, where all the instructors are experienced, titled competitors. It was still a disaster. I went to one class before I quit, lost my $180, and never went back. It was the little things like, "Wow, your dog is really fast, you should slow her down and perfect the technique, then build back up speed." I was grateful that I knew that was ridiculous advice, or I might have listened and killed some of Lucy's drive and ruined the next dog that I get. I paid for privates for the next 2 months until classes were available at the good place again. Expensive mistake.

As for the 8 month time line...we've been training for THREE YEARS. Granted, I have a dog rife with issues (she's reactive, she's ADD, she upstresses like mad, etc), but 8 months is nothing in the training world. In my program, you don't see short sequences (<10 obstacles) until level 5--but that's not to say you never get on equipment! We have introduced the dogs to every obstacle by the end of the first level (7 weeks), just at a very, very slow and gentle level (flattened aframe, wobble boards instead of full teeter, low jumps, chute with the fabric slightly lifted, straight (not curved) tunnels, etc). No one has EVER said "wow, those classes were boring and a waste of time".

Long winded...but the bottom line is that if YOU ever intend to compete with any dog, I wouldn't waste the money on a less than awesome class, or you're going to have to un-teach yourself later. People who "transfer" to my trainer from other programs generally go down 2-3 levels or have to take numerous privates ($$$$$) to fill in the holes in their handling.
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