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#1 ~*Regina*~

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 07:52 AM

Willow has been going to Agility classes now once a week for the past 2 months, she does a fantastic job and the teacher says she could some day compete since she is doing so well already :D . I am actually to the point already where Willow can run 80% of the course without me having to "help" her (hold a leash).

I would love to set up my own little agility course in the backyard that I can put away when it's not being used. I have search the forum but cant seem to find how to make them except for saying out of PVC. I know I want weeve poles, jumps, c saw and maybe an A frame.

Also any suggestions on how I can build Willow confidence on the see saw and the dog walk? She will go part way on both and then stop, she will plant her feet and wont move. Everything else she seems to do pretty good with.

Thank you!
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#2 gcv-border

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 09:30 AM

Have you done any training with a buja board or similar? Basically, it is a board that moves. Most dogs do not like or are scared of unknown motion under their feet. Since the teeter moves, and the DW looks like a teeter, it is not unusual for a dog to be tentative on both.

I like to acclimate a dog to get used to (better still, to like) motion under their feet before they meet the teeter, or even the DW since that can move a little too. This is something you can do at home, separate from an agility course. Lots and lots and LOTS of treats. Let me know if you want any ideas on training, and I know others here will have some good advice.

If you think that motion sensitivity is Willow's problem (or part of it), get her used to motion. If it is something else, well .... ignore this post. :)

Good Luck,
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#3 ~*Regina*~

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 10:05 AM

I think you are right, it must be the motion. Is there a way to make a buja board?
I would love some ideas on training, every little bit will help with her :).
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#4 SecretBC

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 10:07 AM

My guess is that fear of the teeter is causing problems with the dog walk -- Many green dogs can't distinguish between the two at first and if they are scared of one, it translates to the other.

Is the teeter fear related to movement, noise or both?

Secret was petrified of movement at first. It took several sessions with a clicker and a wobble board to get her feeling even semi-comfortable with the idea. When she grew to like the wobble board, I started her on a SUPER low teeter.

All of her teeter training was done on my homemade teeter outdoors. When she first heard the BANG and rebound noise of a teeter indoors she freaked out again and we started from the beginning. I moved the teeter to my basement and started to slam it against the ground and then give her a treat. Now we've moved on to having her slam it down onto the concrete for a treat.

It's definitely helpful to have a teeter or wobble board at home, but ultimately no matter what you are going to have to practice on several teeters before your dog is really comfortable with them -- that's my struggle at the moment, as we don't exactly have many training opportunities in this area.

No matter what, do not force the dog across the equipment. Back chain if you have to -- practice on lowered equipment so the dog can jump off safely if she feels over-faced. You might need to break out the REALLY GOOD rewards for this portion of training. But take it slow -- you don't want to rush this or it will cause many problems down the road.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of things you can do at home to help. Teach tricks that deal with teaching her where her feet are. Teach her to shut drawers and doors to become comfortable with controlling motion. Have her walk on retaining walls & benches when you go for walks. All of that translates to confidence and awareness in agility.
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#5 Root Beer

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 11:29 AM

You might want to get your hands on a copy of Agility Right From the Start. The authors describe some really fun games to help teach a dog to enjoy movement and noise. As long as your dog is not actually noise phobic, the games go a long way to actually teach the dog to want to encounter surfaces that move and make noise.

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#6 gcv-border

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 11:46 AM

Both SecretBC and Root Beer have good ideas.

Basically a wobble board (or buja board) is just a smallish square of plywood. I would get some 3/4" plywood and cut an approx. 30-32 inch square. (You should be able to get a more definite measurement if you check online.) Next find a soccer ball or playground ball. Any old nasty ball will do since it will never be fully inflated - but it does have to be able to hold some air. I actually bought a playground ball at a local sports store. Deflate it to the point where when you put the wood square on top of it, the square should tip to one side but not much more than 3-4 inches from one side to the other. Let Willow step on it. It may move a little. LOTS and LOTS of really good treats. Click if you use a clicker. Work up to the point where she likes being on the board and you can walk around the board while she moves on the board to follow you. The board will be moving. Once she is comfortable with a low height you can gradually inflate the ball. Rinse and repeat. Hopefully Willow will learn to love being on this moving board because she gets excellent treats.

One agility trainer showed us that her sheltie would stand on the top side of the board (she held the bottom side down with her foot.). She would then move her foot up and down to bounce her little Shelter on the board. The dog stayed right there on the bouncing wobble board. Pretty impressive - but not something I can to with my 40 lb dog.

Good Luck,
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#7 alligande

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 12:30 PM

You might want to get your hands on a copy of Agility Right From the Start. The authors describe some really fun games to help teach a dog to enjoy movement and noise. As long as your dog is not actually noise phobic, the games go a long way to actually teach the dog to want to encounter surfaces that move and make noise.

I second this, the book is a great resource, I used it for the foundation training for my young dog (no decent foundation classes round here) and it gave us a really solid foundation.

I build my own wooden seesaw, that was fully adjustable from 4" up to regulation height, as Rievaulx was very uncomfortable with the movement and the bang. He was fine on wobble boards and wiggly surfaces. I do not think he liked the sudden drop by being able to raise the height very slowly he learned very fast that he had control, and that it was not scarry as in the beginning he was only 4" of the ground. This also kept his speed up.

#8 SS Cressa

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 12:59 PM

Not a criticism but how do you run agility with a leash on? >.< if i tried that me or the dogs would get seriously injured.


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#9 SecretBC

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 01:21 PM

Answer -- Not very successfully. :P Alas, that is how it tends to be done in most beginner agility outfits in my area and around much of this country. That would be thanks to the huge LACK of foundation training available and the number of "pet dogs" with zero obedience training that start out in those classes. They are the type of classes that throw you on full sized equipment on day one. Hopefully the instructor isn't one who encourages the students to drag the dog through an obstacle by the leash, but that happens, too.
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#10 mickif

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 01:59 PM

Am I the only one wondering why a dog is even seeing a teeter or full height dogwalk within 2 months of agility training?

#11 SecretBC

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 02:37 PM

Alas, that is how it tends to be done in most beginner agility outfits in my area and around much of this country. That would be thanks to the huge LACK of foundation training available and the number of "pet dogs" with zero obedience training that start out in those classes. They are the type of classes that throw you on full sized equipment on day one. Hopefully the instructor isn't one who encourages the students to drag the dog through an obstacle by the leash, but that happens, too.


In my area, foundation classes simply do not exist. At all.
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#12 gcv-border

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 02:42 PM

Am I the only one wondering why a dog is even seeing a teeter or full height dogwalk within 2 months of agility training?


Yep, was wondering about that too. And this is not in any way to say that Regina did anything wrong. It sounds like she is learning agility too, but that the instructor is not laying a good foundation.

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#13 mickif

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 02:57 PM

Oh, I didn't mean it to sound like Regina is doing anything wrong :), but, Regina, if there are other agility training facilities in your area, it might be to your and Willow's benefit to find out if foundation classes are available. She is still pretty young isn't she?

#14 alligande

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 03:51 PM

I did not even want to bring up the leash issue, it was one of the reasons I mentioned how good the Agility Right From the Start is for getting a good foundation. At this stage Regina could work through the exercises in the book on her own and really help Willow get a good start, and if she has any questions and does not understand why or how something worked, just come here and I am sure she will get an answer :D

I had a long conversation with a couple of top trainers about the terrible availability of good foundation classes, both only taught private lessons. Then I have had conversations with facility owners who feel that pet dog owners just want to get on the equipment, and do not want to be bothered with learning the basics or would get bored and stop coming to class hence loss of income.

#15 mickif

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 05:17 PM

I had a long conversation with a couple of top trainers about the terrible availability of good foundation classes, both only taught private lessons. Then I have had conversations with facility owners who feel that pet dog owners just want to get on the equipment, and do not want to be bothered with learning the basics or would get bored and stop coming to class hence loss of income.


Yeah, it's true, and it can be hard on the senses to just hold classes so folks can "get their dogs on equipment".

Regina, for the short term or long term, if you have a 12" or so wide board, a piece of shelving or such, about 3' to 4' long, you can put a piece of 2"x2" wood under it in the middle so that the ends tip and use this for a tippy board. If it is motion/movement that is worrying her, you can make a fun game of it. You can shape the behavior... look at it, one foot on, jumping on it, playing on it, etc. I do this with baby dogs and older dogs with teeter issues. If it is the bang that is worrying her, start with it on the grass, then once she is fine with the motion there, move it to a harder surface. I eventually move it to concrete for the biggest bang for the buck. I also use this board with and without the 2" x 2" piece under the middle for contact end behavior training (2on 2off) or whatever, prior to introducing the actual dogwalk or teeter. I find it easy to take to go practice in other environments.

#16 ~*Regina*~

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 08:29 AM

This is the only Agility place around me and it's a 45 minute drive :(. It's funny you say it, the teacher does have me drag her accross the see saw and I can tell Willow is scared. I thought this was the only way to teach her, now I feel bad.
Im going to go out this weekend and make a wobble board and see if its the motion that she is scared of, honestly I dont know. I'll try to take some pictures of the course this weekend at class so you can see some of the obsticles. Im also going to look into that book you mentioned because I want to do this right.
Thank you!
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#17 MrRipley

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 10:29 AM

Regina, I would also suggest that you subscribe to Clean Run Magazine. There are articles about foundation training and handling each month with exercises you can do at home in your backyard. There are also books available on the Clean Run website.

Like others have said, unfortunately you don't have anyone helping you train the foundation stuff. I am extremely fortunate to live in an area of the country where agility is very competitive and the quality of training available has become very good over the past 10 years since I began doing agility! Our training club does not even offer any "fun" agility classes geared toward pet people -- if you want to do agility you must go through the required foundation training progression.

Anyway, there is hope, don't worry :) Sounds like you need to take some steps backward to help build Willow's confidence. Maybe you can find someone who offers private lessons while you work on things at home? Good luck!
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#18 mum24dog

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 10:29 AM

Then I have had conversations with facility owners who feel that pet dog owners just want to get on the equipment, and do not want to be bothered with learning the basics or would get bored and stop coming to class hence loss of income.


It's very hard to get the balance right between what the customer wants and what would be best for them.

Top trainers can teach on their own terms because generally people who want to train with them are not beginners and understand the importance of good foundations.

But private trainers who don't have a name and the voluntary sector (which I think is probably more widespread here than over there) have a problem if they don't respond at least in part to the aspirations of those who start to train with them.

You can do as one voluntary club near here does and impose an exhaustive selection process on hopefuls to weed out the less than totally committed with the intention of reducing the drop out rate, but even so it isn't foolproof and they still lose some.

Or you can do as we do (as another voluntary club) and let everyone who wants to try it go on the waiting list. We have quite a high rate of attrition, partly because we insist on the basics being right, although not to the extent we would like to be able to do. It works out in the end for those who stay on and our competitve success rate is fine. We couldn't cope if everyone stayed on because there isn't room in the higher classes.

Neither club needs to break even as we subsidise training from the money we make holding shows so training income isn't crucial.

#19 mickif

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 01:41 PM

Regina, a very important thing to remember is that agility is suppose to be fun! For you and your dog! If Willow is stressed, she's not having fun. Since you do not have the option to pick and choose where you take classes, remembering this is even more important. Personally, if my dog showed fear, over uneasiness or stress, I would kindly say no, my dog is not ready for this/that obstacle.

It is very probable/possible, that every time you drag/force her over a piece of equipment that she is worried about, it is one more reinforcement, that in her mind, it really is not a good thing.

#20 gcv-border

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 02:18 PM

..... the teacher does have me drag her accross the see saw and I can tell Willow is scared. I thought this was the only way to teach her, now I feel bad.
Im going to go out this weekend and make a wobble board and see if its the motion that she is scared of, honestly I dont know. ..... Im also going to look into that book you mentioned because I want to do this right.
Thank you!


Don't feel too guilty. The same thing happened to me with my previous dog. I also was a first-timer - thus relying on the expertise of the teacher. Unfortunately, I did not have on-line help and persisted in that training technique. Not a good thing.

A suggestion: You can still continue to go to class, but talk to your teacher about Willow's fear. Tell her that you are working on getting her used to motion under her feet at home, but in the meantime, you would like to skip those obstacles in class. You can do the obstacles before and after the DW or teeter if the class is running a sequence that includes them, but just play with your dog (tug or treats) while you walk Willow by the DW or teeter, then start running the course again once past. Actually, both the teacher and other students may appreciate your approach since you are not taking up class time trying to get an unwilling (and scared) dog over an obstacle.

Jovi

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