Developing Solutions for Agility Problems
By Rachel Sanders When starting out with our puppies or young dogs, they are a blank slate as far as agility is concerned. We all hope that they will enjoy agility as much as we do. We hope that they will be fast but not wild, they will learn quickly and not have many obstacle problems, and they will have a great mind and body to perform this sport well. However, it is rare for any of us start with a dog that completes that wish list. It requires patience, effort, good dog training, and consistent agility handling to develop those qualities in our dogs. Agility is an exacting sport. Some dogs turn on to this sport almost immediately showing great speed but little precision, which makes the learning process frustrating for both dog and handler. For other dogs we must keep them motivated while we humans struggle with learning how to handle and how to train all the equipment. This is made more diﬃcult since often we are not sure of the criteria ourselves! Let’s face it—doesn’t much of what we learn in the beginning seem totally unnatural to us? Problems with training our agility dogs seem to fall into three general categories: 1. Lack of enthusiasm for some of the obstacles 2. Lack of focus or control in specific areas 3. General distraction by outside influences When attempting to solve a problem I apply the following formula: 1. Identify the problem. 2. Detail the goal. 3. Formulate a training plan to get from where things are today (#1) to where they need to be tomorrow (#2). 4. Evaluate the plan weekly and amend it until the goal is achieved.
When developing a training plan I will look at three areas: 5. Reinforcement 6. General behavior 24/7 7. Obstacle training
Does your dog enjoy his rewards? For some dogs who have access to toys all day working for just another toy may not be exciting enough. Keep some special rewards that can be used when you need an extra boost to your training. Find things that your dog gets really excited about and then use them in your training. Such as:
· Chasing the hose · Chasing a soccer ball · Chasing squirrels · Swimming · Special food types such for the · Special toysfor theas furdogs terriers or feathers bird · Playing with another dog
Clean Run | December 12
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clean Run - December 2012