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Agility Training Tips


Have Fun:

· Make Agility Fun, Fun, Fun for your dog. As a famous instructor once said ... you need to be more fun than chasing a squirrel.

o Frequently use positive reinforcement such as treats and the "Yes" word when starting Agility. Later you will be able to reduce the frequency as your dog gains proficiency.

o Reward with small high-value soft treats. In their excitement, dogs tend to swallow without chewing.

· Avoid the use of the "No" word. "No" typically comes across as harsh. "Oops, Try again" is a softer sounding, friendlier phrase.

· In the early stages of training:

o A leash is helpful in guiding your dog over a Jump or through Weave Poles, etc.

o Keep training sessions short. After about 15 minutes you'll lose your dog's attention. Schedule multiple sessions throughout the day.

· Set your criteria and only reward when your dog meets your criteria. "Close enough" is not "Good Enough". Strive for accuracy ... speed will come in time. You may set your criteria at a fairly low level when first starting Agility and then raise it over time. Make sure your dog understands you raised your criteria. For example:

o When 1st starting Agility, you may reward your dog for running through the Uprights of a Jump ( no Jumping required )

o Later your criteria may be that your dog must Jump 4" before receiving a reward

o Ultimately a reward is given when your dog jumps his or her specified height

Basic Training

There are numerous articles written on how to train your dog in Agility. Do an internet search on "Dog Agility Training" and you'll find an overwhelming ( sometimes conflicting and confusing ) wealth of information. Following are some Basic Tips that hopefully will get you started on the right paw.

All Obstacles

o Let your dog familiarize him or herself with the obstacle before you start training

o We recommend setting up the obstacle a day or two before your 1st training session. Let your dog get accustomed to the obstacle ( smell, sight, etc. ). You want the obstacle to become normal part of the environment and your dog understand that it is nothing to fear.

o Every dog is unique and learns at a different pace.

o Expect set-backs. One day your dog may be weaving wonderfully, but the next day popping out of the poles. Patience here is a virtue.

Jumps

o Start your Jump Training with just the Uprights ( no Jump Bar ). You will add the Jump Bar later.

o Coach ( leash and / or treats ) your dog through the Uprights and reward with a treat and "Yes" when he or she runs through the Uprights. At this point you are associating rewards with the Jump.

o Point to the Jump and quietly use a voice command such as "Jump" or "Over". Again reward your dog for running through the Uprights.

o Once your dog is having fun running through the Uprights, it's time to add a Jump Bar. Place the Jump Bar at the lowest level possible ( normally 4" ) and coach your dog over the Jump ( continue to point to the Jump and use a voice command ). Reward heavily after your dog completes the Jump.

o Once your dog is comfortable at the 4" Jump height, slowly raise the Jump Bar until you reach the appropriate height for your dog.