Sunday, September 16, 2012

Our First Try

The end of the year is steadily approaching and time is running out for our goal to complete Rugby's novice agility titles before 2013. It is time to take the next step if this will become a reality. With that in mind, we have been reading the agility rule book, watched our first agility trial and went to our first agility run through in the past few weeks. He has been introduced at least once to all of the agility equipment. I am hoping that it will be enough to get us three qualifying scores.

Here is a video from Rugby's first agility run through. He wasn't as confident with the teeter, or the weaves at this new location. I know those skills need to be generalized more, but we just have to find places to do that.

I was really happy with his performance. I liked that he was running (even if it wasn't that fast) for the whole course. I liked that he was able to work off of my right side, and was comfortable with me switching sides. I also liked that he is starting to pay attention to my body language and not wait for a command for each obstacle. It gives me hope that we are on the right track. There is still room for improvement though, so we will keep working until he makes his real debut in the agility ring next month.


  1. He looks good! Sam doesn't like running on those rubber mats, but at his age, we are catering to his whims and keeping him on grass!


  2. Coming from someone who has a dog that was not terribly confident at first (which is what it seems Rugby is exhibiting) I urge you to make sure he actually knows what he's supposed to do before you push him too hard. To train an agility dog properly it can take years to get to the level where they should be at when starting to compete. There are a lot of components other than running your dog over obstacles and knowing how to sit/stay or come when called. There are conditioning and fitness exercises, handling exercises, body awareness, teambuilding, drive building, etc. Check out Susan Garrett for excellent info on all that. I get that you're ambitious, but don't forget the relationship with your dog and the journey through the sport rather than focusing on the letters.

    Just an honest question here... Are you having ANY fun with agility? You don't seem to be from the video. Agility is supposed to be a game, it's supposed to be a good time. Reward him out there! Give him a cookie or play tug with him or say "good boy!" when he does something great! This is something I see with folks coming into the sport from rigid disciplines such as OB. They're very strict and run agility like it's a job, not a game. Agility is a game so have fun with it! If you get excited, I guarantee your dog will get excited about it too and you will see much greater success in my experience. You're running a very green dog and he's looking to you for encouragement and a sign that he's doing things properly, if you don't give him that then you run the very real risk of him shutting down.

  3. Amanda, I don't think you understand just how much training Rugby has.

    To train an untrained dog in a agility might take years. Rugby already has years of training. Agility is just taking what he already knows and applying it to a different situation. It is a completely different than you training your dog, and probably different than most of the dog you have seen trained.

    This is especially true because of the training method we have chosen. While there is no Koehler Method of Dog Training agility book, we are applying the same philosophy to our agility training, and it is working. He is behaving exactly how I would expect him to behave. He will gain speed and confidence with time. That is how the method works.

    This was the first time he did agility other than the place he has been training at (and he only has been 1-2 times a week for two months). I don't expect him to be 100% confident right out of the gate. It takes experience and exposure for him to be sure of himself. It takes setting him up for success and practicing, practicing and practicing some more.

    There is a difference between praising your dog and throwing a party. Throwing a party is not conducive to learning, and if I plan on throwing a party each time he follows a command we would never get anywhere. My saying 'yes' to him throughout the course gives him plenty of information, like 'you are on the right track,' and 'that is correct, keep going.' You can see him celebrate at the end of the video. He is clearly proud of himself and happy of a job well done. He is getting plenty feedback. Not to mention that doing agility is self-rewarding for Rugby. He thinks most of it is fun without me telling him that it is.

    Try training your dog to do something that is not self-rewarding. Put a UD on your dog. You will have a much different opinion then, and a much different take on what you see Rugby doing.

    Or maybe not. People said a lot of those same things when we started Obedience. They were wrong too.

  4. Sam,

    Nicely put as a rebuttal to those who do NOT train obedience making assumptions about what they see. Ask them to put a UD on their dog? Nope, they couldn't even get a CDX with good scores.


  5. When is time for Cattle Dogs to do agility, is time for to RUN AND RUN AND RUN and be most crazy. Contacts? Not important. Actually clearing bars? Not important. When Sidekick makes mistake? Is time for to stop what am doing and bark and bark at Sidekick.

    Speed most important but sometimes, is nice to see much and much control from little white fluffies!