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Not sure we will be ready...

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HI everyone.

 

I am looking for some advice.

 

I train at an obedience club in country Australia, which has all the agility equipment and holds agility trials twice a year but does not have regular agility training or a coach. My friend and I started training at about the same time, essentially self-taught. We had some advice and assistance with foundations, but not a lot since then. We pretty much learn by trial and error, and by the odd helpful piece of advice from fellow triallers.

 

So far I have only done two trials, and ran my dog Oscar in jumping only. In novice jumping, there are no weaves. I have been training Oscar on agility equipment, and he has pretty solid contacts, does the scramble, the walkover etc with no problems. I have also been training weaves through the channel method for quite a few months, but fairly inconsistently. I think he has been making good progress, and I was recently able to narrow the channel from about 8 inches to about 1.5 inches.

 

So my dilemma is, I was so excited by being able to nearly close the channel that I went ahead and entered Oscar in novice agility as well as jumping for our club trial in late October. Now I am having second thoughts about whether we will be ready. I know the trial is a month and a half away, and I will do my best to get Oscar ready with more regular (but unpressured) training, but I am not sure what is best to do if he is not ready.

 

Do I scratch Oscar from Agility if I am not very confident on his weaves? Should I let him have a run, attempt the weaves and see how he goes? Or should I run the course but bypass the weaves and not even attempt them? We will be disqualified but he loves the scramble etc so I know he would still have fun.

 

I really am doing this for Oscar's enjoyment (I recently posted some photos from his second trial on the gallery board, and he had a grin on his face in every shot!) and the mental challenge for him. I am leaning towards the "have a go" mentality, which is very Australian. I feel he is learning a lot every trial run we do. Should I perhaps try the first run and if it is an abject failure, scratch the rest?

 

And of course, this may be me just being over-sensitive and Oscar may be weaving nicely before the trial.

 

I would love to know how other people have approached this issue. Do you enter trials only once you are confident your dog is ready, or do you enter to give you something to work for?

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I would not scratch him. I would make a cursory attempt at the weaves, but I would not get caught up on making him try and try and try again - because that would be an unpleasant experience for him. If he does them, great. If he does not, move on with the course and do whatever else you can. If it is a disaster entirely, do a couple of more obstacles on your way out, and throw a party for him. Even if it is an abject failure, I would put him back in the ring for the rest of his runs, but skip the weaves.


I would not, under any circumstances, drill weaves into the ground to try and get him ready for this. You will DESTROY your progress if you stress him about them, now. Do what you can, but whatever you do keep this trial and the environment fun for him.

 

I have entered trials before my dog was ready. I have entered trials before my dog was close to ready. I fully intend to put my young dog in a trial in January (first home trial where she's old enough) and do nothing but the outside ring of obstacles (or less) throw a party and leave. Trial stress is a thing, and the only way to work with it is to put the dog in a trial and make it a positive, fun, experience.


And frankly, I've seen enough trials to know ALL THE DOGS are ridiculous sometimes and just plain don't do things the way they're meant to. Blow contacts, break startline stays, knock bars, take off courses, and, yeah, blow the weaves. No big.

Edited by CptJack

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Thanks CptJack and Donald McCaig, that is what I was thinking. Better to have a go so long as I make it positive for him. And if he is not ready it is more my fault than his!

 

I entered Oscar in his first trial (our Easter home trial) this year having only really trained for a couple of months. The day before trial, when he was measured for height, I found out I had been training him on jumps that were 10 cms or 4 inches too low. He was one millimetre over the height limit! I was also acting as steward in another ring during the trial, my boy can be a little reactive, and I had no understanding of how to get him ready for the ring. Needless to say our first run was a disaster - he went through one tunnel but refused to jump a single jump. By the end of the trial (on his fourth run) he was doing much better and was starting to string together nice sequences in the ring.

 

For our second trial I had just one goal - not to be disqualified in every run. On the last run of the trial, he had two refusals and a bar down but did not DQ. I don't think the judge had ever seen anyone so happy not to be disqualified!

 

I suppose what I am saying is I am not super competitive and think I will have a go. Even a complete disaster will not be a new experience for me. I know I can cope and not take it out on Oscar.

 

And you are right CptJack, I do not believe in overdoing any sort of training. I train with a friend and we take it in turns to run our dogs. I may do a dozen runs with the weaves, then go run a jumping course a few times then finish up on a few more weave runs. Or we set up a little course with a tunnel, the weaves, a few jumps and the scramble and run a few circuits of the course in turn. And we let the dogs have some fun chasey time before and after, while we set everything up or pack away.

 

Besides, I am not built to run weaves over and over beside my dog, which I currently need to do.

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I agree with what others have said. Go ahead and have a go, but have fun and make it a party for your dog. I also agree not to drill your dog on weaves, but think Late October is far enough away, that you can be ready. for the weaves, I personally like training with both channels and two x twos. Channels help a dog with speed and with going all of the way to the end. two x twos help a dog understand entries and how to shift their bodies through the weaves at speed. Both can be made into fun games to train without drilling.

 

On another note, it sounds like you don't have access to good instructors,one resource is Susan Garrett's handling360 course. Not sure when she will open it up again, likely at the end of the year, but it is really helpful.

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I also say go for it. It will be fun and a good learning experience no matter how well you two do.

 

Last april we participated on the first portuguese dog disc competition. I was about the only person there that don't train dogdisc with a team, Tess and I just play together, and I thought I would get really nervous and throw awfully. Turns out Tess did great, I was not a complete disaster and we finished 3rd out of 8 in beginners. But even if we did really bad it would have been great fun.

 

By the way, does anyone know how come several dogs there would only catch the first throw, as afterwards they would play catch me with the owner and not give the disc back? Someone told me it's because those owners are more focused on freestyle than toss and fetch, and in freestyle the dog isn't asked to bring the disc back but to let go of it and run for the next one. But come on, they're bc's, how hard is it to teach them that in some situations they're required to bring it back and in others they're not? The dogs from the top competitors had no trouble doing both... I was a bit puzzled.

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Give it a go, and have fun! What I love about agility is that you can get yourself disqualified (accidentally or deliberately) and still carry on the course, so you can still get the experience for yourself and your dog. My young dog has been doing jumpers courses only for a few months but I have him entered for entry level agility (weaves) this weekend. I had hoped when we entered he would be ready to weave....but he's not! So I have every intention of just running past the weaves and carrying on the course. At present he has no weave command (haven't closed up the channel fully yet, so don't see the point putting a word to it yet), therefore, he won't know any different in the ring as I call him past. Had he been doing them fully closed, I might have given them an attempt or two in the competition, but then moved on if it wasn't happening. My best advice... Go out have fun, make your dog think that running around a course with you is the most fun in the world. If he makes a mistake (including the weaves), keep smiling, carry on then tell him he is the best dog in the world when you finish.

Good on you for entering competitions with very little instruction! I hope your club is supportive and continues to give guidance where they can.

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Thank you to everyone, I will keep training and have a go, emphasis on the FUN!

 

dsmbc I have been lucky enough to be able to attend a half day seminar by a H360 instructor on basic handling, and will be attending another one a week after our Club's trial. The first I only audited, the new one I will be participating in with Oscar. I only have to travel two hours each way to attend!

 

I am unsure but I gather Susan Garrett does online courses? You film yourself and get feedback, or something similar? I may need to look into that.

 

Our club does have an agility judge who is a member and occasionally she puts up courses for us to run, but she is often away at trials. She will give us the occasional piece of advice, but she is not a coach or instructor.

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Don't know about Garrett, but I HIGHLY recommend Loretta Mueller's online classes through the Fenzi Academy.

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Thank you to everyone, I will keep training and have a go, emphasis on the FUN!

 

dsmbc I have been lucky enough to be able to attend a half day seminar by a H360 instructor on basic handling, and will be attending another one a week after our Club's trial. The first I only audited, the new one I will be participating in with Oscar. I only have to travel two hours each way to attend!

 

I am unsure but I gather Susan Garrett does online courses? You film yourself and get feedback, or something similar? I may need to look into that.

 

Our club does have an agility judge who is a member and occasionally she puts up courses for us to run, but she is often away at trials. She will give us the occasional piece of advice, but she is not a coach or instructor.

 

I don't think Garrett's online courses are what you're looking for. Fenzi Academy sounds more up your alley.

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First just give it a go, as others have said give the weaves one go and if it doesn't work keep on going. That advice actually applies to the whole course, if he misses a jump or goes by an obstacle don't go back EVER just find a new out of the course so the dog has fun. When a dog misses an obstacle it is usually because he did not under stand what you told him to do.

 

I am relatively experienced in agility but I still have amazing amounts to learn to improve my handling, to get smoother and faster etc. I now live in Mallorca, Spain and take online lessons as I do not have access to a trainer, I teach the novices in my club. It is well worth it, you can audit, or get personal instruction maybe mix it up.

I am taking a class with Amanda Shyne at the moment, I used to take classes with her personally, the format is not as slick as others she just uses Facebook but she gives good feedback.

I have also taken Daisy Peels online classes both as an auditor and a participant and found them really good ( I only switched because Amanda started teaching online)

There is also Agility University that has a number of trainers offering classes.

Another option is Slyvia Trkman.

Lots to google

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I started trialing with Tessa before she was technically ready. I had lost my Agility dog somewhat suddenly in September (2011). Tessa and I had been training, taking our time, and suddenly she was pretty much all I had. Winter was rolling around and I was just wanting to have an Agility day, so I entered Tessa in a New Year's weekend NADAC trial.

I knew she wasn't ready, but I did know these two things:

1. She would be safe in the environment and in the ring. I had no worries about her leaving the ring or being a danger to herself or anyone else.

2. She could execute all of the equipment that we would see in the trial safely, even if she needed a bit of babysitting for her weaves.

I entered her and off we went.

I have always been glad that I did. We went in with no expectations except to be there and see what we would see. Her runs were awesome!! She didn't qualify, but actually came very close on every run. But mostly, I got to see that she loved the environment, that she had a ton of talent and potential, and our trialing journey began.

We wouldn't be where we are now if I hadn't taken the plunge and jumped in.

Now - on the other hand - back when I started trialing with Dean, I put him in too early, he was overwhelmed and stressed, and the experience did him more harm than good.

So, it's very important to read your dog and make sure the experience is not unduly stressful or overwhelming. It was right for me to start with Tessa "too early". It was not good that I did that with Dean. I didn't really understand Dean, or his anxiety issues, at the time. With Bandit, I will make sure he is ready because he is the kind of dog who is more confident when he is familiar with his task and knows exactly what I expect of him.

Alligade's advice is good - if your dog misses something, just go on and have a fun run. If it's a fun experience for your dog first time out, that's like gold!!

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Well, after some weeks of low pressure training, Oscar finally did a full weave of 12 poles in the backyard. It may have been slow but he got there!

For the last couple of weeks he has been doing great with the poles oh so close together, or he would do six poles in a line then pop out. Then he started repeatedly skipping the third last pole. He finally put it together, and it was with my other two BCs running around the backyard to distract him.

I was so excited and happy he got huge praise and pats. And then he promptly kept popping out of the weaves. Sigh.

At least I know he can do it, and hey, I still have just over a week to the trial!

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I'm going to warn you not to be surprised if he doesn't do it in trial and to prepare yourself now so that you don't get stuck trying and trying and trying to make them work. I did that with my dog. Then she promptly had to be started completely over at home because I'd made them so stressful for her.


That said you are making amazing progress! Go Oscar!

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Thanks CaptJack I am fully expecting that he won't do the weaves at trial. My first trial with him he refused to jump a single jump in our first run although he had no problems in training. Then the next run he decided he did not feel like going through a tunnel.

I will be really happy if he does a few weaves, but my motto with a dog trial (or going to the movies) is expect the worst and at least you won't be disappointed. I suspect it will be 1, 2, skip a few and out! We will give the weaves a go and then move on whatever happens.

On the bright side, I have been really happy with how he is entering the weaves. We set up a practice course and he went from a touch position at the bottom of the scramble into the weaves at a run. The two items were at right angles to each other, about six big paces apart. It definitely was not a straight line entry.

I have 12 weaves set up in my back yard and I will take him out once a day (most days) and practise weaves for about 5 minutes, then take a break, do some touches or tricks then do a few more runs. I doubt I would even spend 10 minutes on weaves with him, and it is not continuous.

His current issue is doing all the weaves except the last pole. But it is such a huge improvement from where he was a month ago I am still impressed with him.

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Well, overall I was happy with how Oscar went at the trial. I can honestly say that most of the problems were handler error. I think Oscar learns much more quickly then I do! He did not manage to do the weaves properly in any of his three runs at agility, but by the last run he did them all except for the last three poles, so he was improving over the course of the weekend. He stuck the contacts beautifully every time and he is a lot more confident through the runs, so it was still a good trial. He even managed to not get disqualified on his second agility run. Three course faults (the weaves, one refusal on the entry to the weaves and a bar down) but not disqualified. I would have got a pass on the first jumping run if I had remembered not to lead out too far when the tyre is the first obstacle. I went too far and he ran straight under the tyre then completed the rest of the course beautifully.

I will have another chance this weekend, as I have 12 runs at a trial, 4 in agility and 8 in jumping. Then on Monday I am attending a half-day handling seminar run by a H360 trainer.

I do have a couple of videos but I am not sure how to put them up.

Most of all Oscar seems to love the excitement of the trial. He sits very calmly but alertly in his crate, watches all the other dogs go by, tries to pull me into the ring but is totally focussed on me during the run. I just wish I was a better handler for him. Still, while he is having fun, we will keep trying.

Next goal is a qualifying run. I know Oscar has it in him, the question is do I?

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Hi CptJack,

 

The second trial went well, Oscar actually nailed his weaves in one run, and had two runs where he only had two course faults. His previous best was three course faults, so he is still improving. On one of his jumping runs, Oscar ran the entire course perfectly except the tyre was the first obstacle and he decided to run straight under it. Then in a later agility course, the order was scramble, tyre, table, then three jumps to home. Oscar went scramble, tyre, table, tyre..... He can't decide if he likes the tyre or not. He is still sticking his contacts and having fun. And I always praise him and make it a happy experience. If he misses a jump, well, on to the next.

 

One thing I found very amusing was how many compliments I got about my lovely calm dog. Oscar sits in a covered crate with the front of the cover lifted so he can see out. He has his head up and ears pricked watching the world go by, while other dogs next to him are barking and barking, even when fully covered. He does not whine, growl, bark or react. But for much of his early obedience training, I was working 20 metres away from the other dogs because of how reactive he would be to them. Trials actually seem to make him calm down.

 

The seminar was great. Oscar was probably not as advanced as some of the others there, but I have decided I like the H360 system (from what I have seen), I just need to teach Oscar properly. I came away happy with what we learned but also seeing how much we have to work on, but I think any good seminar should leave that impression. I was told that I should do Recallers with Oscar, and I need to build his toy drive (essentially non-existent at the moment except for rare occasions at home).

 

I don't have any more trials within easy reach for the rest of the year, so there will be lots of work to do before our next trial, and plenty of time to do it!

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I thought I would update everyone on how Oscar and I are going. We just finished our first trial of the year in Warrnambool Victoria. And we got our first ever clear run! The first run of the trial, I was very unsure about the course, but decided to just give it my best and we got a clear run, first in our height grade. Admittedly, there were only three dogs in my height grade, which makes placing MUCH easier, but a first is a first and a qualifying run is a qualifying run. The run was in Novice Jumping.

 

I do have video of the run, but it is on my friend's tablet, so I will have to figure out how get the video to share.

 

We had a couple of other runs where we were unlucky, one where Oscar misjudged the broad jump and landed on the last board, then pulled up before the next jump. And I still need to work on his stays at the start line. But he did not run under or around the tyre at all, which he pretty much did every time last trial, and his weaves are improving. All in all it was his best trial yet!

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