I had a post in Lab Chat this morning saying that last night was the last night of our obedience class and the trainer set up some small, basic agility equipment for us to try.
I could see that it could be addicting........it was a lot of fun even tho we only got to go through the stuff twice because of the rain.
How does one progress in it? Do you have to find a trainer who just does agility? Do you have to be at a certain level of obedience? Is it all off leash? I'm assuming there are levels of agility, like obedience?
Yes, I would find a trainer. I also strongly suggest, as others do, that your dog be 2 years old before really getting involved in agility. Plus, a couple of obedience classes are a must, in my opinion because it is off lead and you must have verbal control over your dog. Plus, it is very adiciting!!!
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My trainer stated that my black lab (Cody) took real well to his agility course. We have a big backyard (fenced in) and I would love to put an agility course back there for her...any suggestions on website or places to go to get info on building your own agility course?
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Agility, even at the novice level, is all off lead so basic obedience training is a must.* The dog needs to have a reliable recall, reliable stay, and be able to work off leash. Also, FYI, agility dogs do not run with collars on because they could get caught in the equipment.* *AKC will allow a flat buckle collar but prefers no collar.
Your dog doesn't have to be 2 to get started in agility. It should be 2 before you begin competing though. There is a lot of foundation work that needs to be done before you ever compete. It takes about 18 months to train a dog for competition so it doesn't make sense to wait to start until the dog is 2. You do need to make special considerations for young dogs in training though.
Beginning agility classes teach the proper (ie safe)performance of each obstacle covering 2-3 each week.* There are rules in place for obstacle performance to minimize the risk of injury to the dog and handler.
Once you've learned the proper performance of the equipment, you will move onto short sequences (for example jump, jump, tunnel).* This is to begin working your handling skills.
Each level of class after that will increase the difficulty of the course and handling required.
I strongly advise training with an instructor who actually competes in agility, preferrably one that has trained dogs other than just BCs.* Labs do not run like BCs.* The best advice my trainer gave me (she has BC) is that I need to drive Murray like a Suburban, not a mini Cooper.* ;D
As for equipment, it is very expensive.* You can buy it from a number of different websites such as J&J (http://www.jjdog.com/Merchant2/merch...de=1CATAGILITY) but I'd suggest making as much as you can.*
There is a Yahoo group that is wonderful for plans, ideas, help http://groups.yahoo.com/group/agility-equipment/
You really don't need a dog walk and an A-frame if you are space limited.* A contact trainer works great.* They look like this http://www.agility-equipment.com/contacttrainer.shtml .* You can make one just as easily and for about 1/4 the price.
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Definitely have a good, reliable sit, stay. You need to be able to sit your dog at the start line and remove his collar/leash and then walk away from him to start the course. He needs to STAY there while you do this.
Also work on keeping your dog with you when you run! Dogs that leave the course are a pain in the you know what. It ends up being no fun. And, in training, you waste more time trying to control your dog than actually learning anything on the course.
Learn what motivates your dog and keeps him happy and USE that on course. The agility field should ALWAYS be a place for fun. I do not allow students to even use the "no" word on course. Make it upbeat and a happy place for your dog to be.
You can train at home with a couple jumps and a board (at least 10 inches wide). You can make a ramp or teeter with the board and practice.
Find an instructor in your area because lessons are invaluable if you really want to compete
Most importantly have fun with it!!!
Just wanted to add. I made all of my equipment except the tunnel and the chute (closed tunnel). If you are handy, you can do it too
PVC is really easy to work with. All you do is cut and glue it.