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Emma

BIG puppy - when to start agility?

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Hi, my name is Emma and I have a 4 month old female BC named Ash. I've had Ash for about 7 weeks and plan on doing Agility with her once she is older. We start Puppy classes (regular obedience and socialization) on Tuesday - and we are looking forward to it.

 

We went to the vet's today to have her last set of shots before starting classes and the vet mentioned that she is a big BC (she's 24 lbs at 4 months old) and to be careful with our activities as because of her size, she could be susceptible to hip dysplaxia, joint and back problems if she is over worked frown.gif

 

So this makes me stop and rethink my plans. I was originally planning on starting her in Agility this summer (about June - 9 months old) - just doing low stuff such as tunnels, chutes, see saw, and the like. But if I should be controlling her exercise so that she doesn't stress her growth plates, maybe I should wait?

 

Any ideas? I don't want to hurt my Ash...

 

Emma & Ash

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Hi Emma

First of all Happy New Year!

Here in England we start our dogs on serious agility training at about 18 months old. In one of the other threads you will see some good advice from Diane regarding simple things you can do that won't overstretch your young dog's limbs. My advice is don't rush your dog. She has a lot of years in front of her for you both to enjoy this sport.

Regards, Val

 

------------------

Val Clark

Hailsham, United Kingdom

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Happy New Year! Should be a great one with a BC pup. Take it easy, but 9 months is a pretty good age to start. Make sure wherever you go to train has an emphasis on safety and going slowly for puppies. Learning tunnels, low contacts, and low jumps is fine- biggest problem for hips is learning the weave poles- that's a lot of flexing. Work on attitude (fun) and the rest can come later. One thing I recommend is taking the dog to the park where he can get on some playground equipment- nothing formal, just fun, learning to go up and down and not be freaked by things moving underneath her (sway bridges, small ramps, and tunnels). Another great thing is going on narrow walkways e.g start with a low wall or bench, work up to bleachers (wooden).

Good luck!

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Hi, I am new to this board. I love to do Agility with my BC. I can relate to your concerns about a big BC. I have a very big BC who was growing like a weed. He started Agility training very early, about 12 weeks old. We did very little and very low and easy. Low Aframe and Just wooden planks on cement blocks for a dog walk. Tunnels were his favorite, Still is. As far as jumps he never really jumped untill he was about a year. very low about 8 inches. I was still concerned about his growing. He did however learn to go over a rail on the ground and between 2 standards. Brodie went to his first show 1 week before he turned 18 months.He must jump the 24inch height at shows. He started jumping 24 inches 2 weeks before his first show. I have seen no problems with him and he does great has a few titles and can't wait to show again this year.

 

Judy and the crew

Brodie (BC)

Tia (GSD)

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Just another note: My understanding is that doing agility, at any age, will not CAUSE hip dysplasia. It may exacerbate the problem, if there is one. Obviously other joint problems can be caused and/or compounded by overwork. If you can't find the other info I posted, let me know and I"ll regurgitate it! Also, you don't want a "big" puppy to grow too fast. Obviously, don't starve him (her?!) to death, but don't try to put that weight on. Another agility note: thin dogs inevitably have fewer problems than even slightly overweight ones(not to say that thin ones NEVER do....). I just had an agility trainer look at my skinny little, very muscular BC at 42 pounds, and say that she needed to lose 10 pounds! I strongly disagreed, we discussed it, and she finally conceded to losing only 5. I still maintain MAYBE two or three. Her rule was not just feeling ribs, but feeling them with the palm of your hand, not your fingertips. But with a pup - fat usually isn't the problem. Just keep her healthy and fit, and agility shouldn't be a problem. Have fun -it's a hoot!

diane

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Guest Kat

I personally would not start any dog on jumping until they are at least one year old. You need to let their growth plates fully develope before you start putting that kind of presure on them. Please let the bones be through with growing before doing any jumping. If you want to have many, many years ahead of you, then please wait. I am not just talking about hip problems, I am also referring to shoulder problems. What joints do you think take the force when a dog is jumping, the shoulders. I have seen many dogs have front lameness problems later in life because their owners were in such a hurry to have them start jumping. I wouldn't even recommend doing a low A-frame as they do tend to want to jump off the bottome when they are starting. Just ease up, you will have plenty of time.

 

Also, you can certainly switch your puppy to a good quality adult food, if she is getting that big. I usually switch mine to adult food by the time they are 6 months old. I had a food rep tell me once that what most dog food companies do to make their puppy food is up the protein percentage a little bit and slap the name puppy on it. (Just a little food for thought.)

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Thanks for all the great advise everyone. Believe me I will be taking it easy with Ash - I have a lot of experience with horses and know from that experience the importance of allowing for proper growth to finish before subjecting the joints to any sort of concussion. Also, from watching Ash try to repeatedly jump off the front steps that she's going to be the type of dog that jumps off of A frames (contacts! contacts!) but I have found an excellent Agility Organization that are very safety oriented. But for now, we'll work on basic obedience and go out to play of playground equipment occassionally.

 

The vet did say at our last visit that Ash isn't overweight at all (her body condition is such that there is a light fat layer but you can still feel the ribs) but I think once she is spayed that I may switch her over to adult food since she IS a heavier build and therefore may be susceptible to being overweight. For right now, she's still busy having growth spurts! Ah, children!

 

Thanks again for the advise!

Emma & Ash.

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